Installing Clear Acrylic Livewell Lids

Swapping in a clear acrylic livewell lid lets you more easily keep tabs on the health of your live-bait supply.
Clear acrylic livewell lid
Easily check on the health of your bait with a clear livewell lid. Jim Hatch

Keeping a lid on your boat’s livewell keeps the crew and the deck dry in rough seas, but an opaque lid prevents you from easily checking on the health of your live-bait supply. That’s why so many new saltwater fishing boats today feature clear livewell lids. 

Lending impetus to this trend is the growing number of pressurized livewells requiring lids that latch and seal tight to keep water from overflowing. With a clear hatch, you can easily glance inside to check the bait without opening the lid, which otherwise allows water to gush out the top.

But what if you have an older boat with a lid made from fiberglass or King Starboard? Boat Outfitters makes and sells a wide variety of boat accessories and solutions, including custom clear acrylic livewell lids. Their expert staff will work with you to design and build a new clear lid using CNC machining and milling to perfectly replace your old one. The DIY part of this project is delivering accurate dimensions, removing the old lid and installing the new one.

To see how this process works, we asked Boat Outfitters to create a new clear acrylic lid for a 20-gallon livewell on our project boat: a 1986 outboard-powered ­center-console.

Skill Level: 1 of 5

Finish Time: Approx. 3 hours (including ordering details)

Tools and Supplies

  • Custom 11 5/16-by-9 3/4-by-3/4-inch clear acrylic livewell lid with all new hardware and milled perimeter ($495.38;
  • Digital calipers for precise measurements ($19.99;
  • Tape measure
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Socket- and box-wrench sets
  • Marine-bedding compound
  • Assorted stainless-steel fasteners
Opaque livewell lid that's being removed
An initial consultation gathers information about your project goals. Jim Hatch


This project starts with sending a ­detailed message about what you are trying to achieve to Boat Outfitters at Attach up to five photos of your old livewell lid, the opening to the well, and the hardware. You can also call 866-633-7961 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, but it is usually better to start by outlining your project in writing through the message portal so that the staff is better informed when getting back to you. Boat Outfitters also welcomes walk-ins if you happen to live close to the company’s facility in Ocoee, Florida, allowing you to consult in person.

Tip: Boat Outfitters also offers a number of stock clear acrylic livewell hatches for many of today’s most popular saltwater fishing boats from brands such as Boston Whaler, Key West, Mako, Regulator, Robalo, Sportsman and others.

Designing the replacement livewell lid
Precise measurements are needed to ensure proper fitment. Jim Hatch

Measure Precisely

Boat Outfitters will email you three sheets to complete, including the dimensions of the molded lip of the livewell pass-through (sheet 1), and dimensions of the pass-through opening of the existing livewell hatch (sheet 2). Sheet 3 is a template for determining the radii of the corners of the hatch. Use digital calipers to measure the dimensions on sheet 1; a tape measure works for sheet 2. (If you lost the old lid, make a template to help guide the new design.) Email the completed forms to Boat Outfitters, which will help determine the feasibility of the project and quote a price to create the new lid.

Unscrewing the old livewell lid
Sending in your old livewell lid might be necessary during the design process. Jim Hatch

Ship the Old Lid

Once Boat Outfitters reviews your completed forms, they will send a confirmation and might call with more questions. In some cases, including ours, it might be necessary to remove and ship the old hatch cover to them. They can use the original hatch as a prototype to scan and create a software file needed for machining. We did this, leaving all of the original hardware attached, including a pair of friction hinges and the pull handle. While Boat Outfitters replaces all of this with fresh hardware, it allows them to drill and attach the new hardware in precisely the same locations as on the old lid.

Order for new livewell lid
Computer-generated drawings show you how your new livewell lid will fit. Courtesy Boat Outfitters

Approve the Order

Based on the supplied dimensions and scan of the existing livewell lid, Boat Outfitters will email you computer-generated drawings of the new lid for your approval. These drawings include specifications such as the material; length, width and depth of the lid; the radii for the corners and routed edges; and the location and model numbers of the hardware. Carefully review everything to ensure accuracy, and once you are satisfied, return the ­drawings with your signature of ­approval, and Boat Outfitters will move ahead with ­production and, once complete, will ship the new lid (as well as your old one) to you.

Read Next: Installing a High-Speed Center-Console Livewell

Installing the new livewell lid
Installing the new lid is easy. Jim Hatch

Install the New Lid

Once the clear acrylic livewell lid arrives, remove the old hatch if you have not done so already. The new hatch will come with new, pre-­installed hinges that match the old hinges. Use fresh stainless-steel fasteners and marine-bedding compound to through-bolt the hinges in the same location as the original hinges. We ordered friction hinges for our lid; these can be a little tight initially, so the lid without a latch might not close and seat completely. However, friction hinges do wear in over time to articulate more freely, eventually allowing the lid to seat completely on the rim of the livewell.

Tip: Boat Outfitters uses barrel nuts on the underside of clear acrylic livewell lids to attach hinges and other hardware. This results in a flush fit on the underside that eliminates interference issues with the lip on the livewell pass-through.

Let There Be Light

In addition to letting anglers readily keep an eye on their live-bait supply, clear lids also help keep bait alive and injury-free by allowing abundant natural light in to illuminate the interior. This lets the bait see better and avoid bumping into the walls of the livewell­—­artificial barriers that ­baitfish normally don’t have to deal with.