Fun with underwater cameras

As somebody who makes their living in the fishing business, I try to stay on top of all of the tools and gear that can help me put an extra fish or two in the boat.
In a tournament situation or on a guiding trip, one or two extra bites can make or break the day, so it pays for me to have the latest and greatest gear if it might help.
When Aqua-Vu released the first underwater camera for anglers in the mid-1990s, it was ground-breaking stuff. Famous Minnesota angler Jim Lindner and his partner, Ted Capra, won the 1996 Kenora Bass International and it was speculated that they used an Aqua-Vu to find smallmouths hanging around deep points in the north end of the lake around Kenora.
Soon after, underwater cameras were banned from many of the tournaments across Northwestern Ontario, which I always have thought is a strange rule. While they show us fish under the boat, often times they may not be catchable fish.
In a tournament situation, using a camera would be more time-consuming than not because you would waste a lot of time messing with the camera rather than actually fishing.
As a pre-fishing tool, these cameras are excellent because they can help us understand the type of cover or structure where we catch fish. They can help us to understand why our favourite spots are appealing to fish.
I have dropped these cameras down on humps that are good for walleye and it never fails that they reveal a patch of sand or rock-something different-on the same corners of the humps that always produce fish.
We will drop them around docks or trees in the water when we’re pre-fishing for bass tournaments so we never have to cast a lure and potentially catch and burn a big bass the day before a tournament.
Finally, these cameras are really good at revealing the fish under the boat that are showing up on our electronics. There have been quite a few times when I have marked fish that I think are bass under the boat but when I drop the camera down, they turn out to be something else.
On our lakes in Northwestern Ontario, these often are perch, walleye, or even suckers.
When I was pre-fishing for a tournament earlier this year in Texas, I drove over a deep point and marked a bunch of fish suspended off the bottom. My mouth was watering thinking I had found the winning school of bass for the upcoming tournament.
The fish looked exactly like big bass would on my sonar.
My brother was with me and I had him drop my Aqua-Vu under the boat–only to reveal that the fish I was seeing were spawning gar, packed tightly together.
Had I not had a camera with me, I probably would have kept coming back and fishing this spot during the tournament thinking they were big bass.
Underwater cameras also are great if you often have kids in your boat. I did a guiding trip in October with a father and son. The son was an eager 10-year-old angler but after five or six hours in the boat, he was losing interest.
I pulled my Aqua-Vu out and he stayed busy watching it while his dad and I fished for the rest of the day. It was nice because he would yell immediately whenever he saw the walleye and crappie we were chasing on the camera display and I would know when to slow down the boat.
If I have kids in the boat with me, I always bring my camera along because they all love using it.
A lot of anglers use these cameras for ice-fishing, as well, which is something I plan to spend some more time playing around with this winter.
Look for my feedback on that later this winter.
As a gift idea for Christmas, Aqua-Vu cameras are available in a variety of models and would be an awesome present for the angler on your list!