Be a better Fisherman through Cameras

I’ve been a Lake Superior charter captain for 30 years and have learned much about the habits and behavior of fish. Up until a few years ago, I was only able to guess what was going on underwater. Underwater cameras have been used for ice fishing for years. And those who have used one know these have increased their knowledge into the behaviors of the species they’re after.

And so it is with the trolling camera.

The concept captured my imagination and I experimented with these ice-fishing cameras by attaching them to downriggers. It was a cumbersome procedure putting the camera down and then aiming them at the bait. When used, the depth was limited by the heavy video cable that needed to be secured to the downrigger cable every 6 to 8 feet. I did have some success, but still yearned for a wireless alternative.

When the smaller waterproof cameras like the GoPro came out, I fashioned a downrigger mount and sent the camera into the depths of Lake Superior. Seven minutes into my first trial I captured a coho salmon taking my lure. The fish, and I, were instantly “hooked.”

Later, I refined my technique and started getting even more positive results. I learned many things from the videos I recovered including how the fish reacted to my lures, what my presentation looked like to them and what sounds were present near the camera.

Factors to consider before sending your camera down are visibility (brighter or lighter conditions vary with water clarity and angle of sun), waves on the surface (wave action causes lures to bounce around) and using a stable downrigger, as weight must track straight through the water.

After you have made your “fish movies,” you need to view them. I find it saves time by downloading them onto my computer and fast-forwarding them with a video player like QuickTime. Spending your evenings watching your lure has a hypnotizing effect, and if you’re tired it is sure to put you to sleep after a long day on the water.

I recently acquired a new camera called Water Wolf HD. It’s streamlined and you can attach it directly to your line. This has many advantages over the downrigger-mounted camera in that is has excellent resolution and can record up to four hours of video with very good color. I’m looking forward using it on the big lake when we start fishing deeper in clear water.