In-depth with underwater cameras

Over the past couple of months, I have used the Aqua-Vu underwater camera on my boat quite a lot.
It was mostly for prefishing purposes in preparation for some of the bass tournaments that I was competing in but it was also used to entertain a few kids that I had in my boat and to show friends a school of crappies or walleyes.
I knew that I wrote a column about underwater cameras a while ago but I had to go back through my archives to find that I did one around this time two years ago.
At that time, I had just started to carry a camera in my boat again after years of not using one.
My main focus in that column was just to share the message with people that they are a great tool to help you learn more when you’re on the water.
You can drop a camera down to confirm what you are seeing on your electronics, you can use them in much deeper water than you could with earlier models thanks to better technology in the cameras and monitors and they are also a lot more durable and water resistant than early models.
This past season I actually mounted a camera onto the console area of my boat and after a season of use I’m really happy that I did.
I think I used the camera a lot more for quick drops to check out something that I was seeing on my electronics than I have in the past. Having it right in front of me made it easy to pick it up and use it versus having to dig it out of a compartment in the boat.
My tournament season in the U.S. started way back in February and after mixed results during the first half of the season, my second half went really well and the Aqua-Vu HD7i camera on my boat helped me out at a couple of events specifically.
We had back to back tournaments in New York in August at the St. Lawrence River and Cayuga Lake.
I had 12th and second-place finishes in these two events and my camera helped me out significantly in preparing for these events.
At the St. Lawrence, the water comes out of Lake Ontario on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. This water is ultra-clear due to all the zebra mussels in the Great Lakes. You could see the bottom in 20 feet of water.
There is also strong current throughout the river and drifting and dragging a bait is the most effective way to catch fish.
During the practice period I learned that I could just drift with the camera and because of the clear water I could see up to 30 feet in front of the boat as I moved along quickly with the natural river current.
When I saw some smallmouths I hit the waypoint button on my GPS unit then I could drift over the spot and catch a fish.
I ended up finding most of my good spots this way, some because I saw groups of fish on the screen, others were just little rockpiles I found in the middle of the river that held bass.
At Cayuga I learned early in the practice that there were some big bass located in deep water.
Cayuga is very sandy without a lot of structure and I found that just about any log, branch, cluster of rock, anything different on the bottom in 18-30 feet of water, would likely hold a couple of bass.
I ended up spending most of my three day practice barely fishing at all.
I spent nearly all of my time idling around looking at the Side-Imaging screen on my Humminbird unit, looking for anything different I could find.
Since it was so hard to find anything, whenever I did, there was a good chance that there were two or three bass hanging on it.
After catching a few fish, I just started dropping the camera down whenever I found something unique on the bottom.
In a couple of days I found eight to 10 spots that I ended up catching fish from in the tournament and it almost paid off with a big win.
I finished second and likely would have won if I had found one more good spot.
If I had caught some of these fish in the days before the tournament, I’m sure I wouldn’t have caught what I did during the actual tournament days.
If you fish a lot, these cameras are a really fun tool to teach you more about your favourite spots and they are so great at quickly confirming what you’re electronics are telling you.
I’ve had plenty of times where I’m seeing fish on the screen that I think are bass or walleye, can’t get them to bite any of my lures, then drop the camera down and they are an oddball fish like whitefish or suckers.
With Christmas coming up, an underwater camera could be a good gift idea.