I have several hundred hours using an underwater camera while ice fishing. They are not just a toy to pass the time, they serve as a very useful tool.
In my adventures watching fish ignore my tackle, I discovered things that most people never knew about fish.
Did you know that the reason bluegills and other sunfish are so flat is for them to be able to swim between the bottom stems of cabbage and other assorted weeds? With an underwater camera, you can see that for the first 4-6″ on average, the weeds have no leaves. It’s just the stem reaching vertically to the sky with leaves starting higher up. One day, while watching sunnies appear and disappear, I noticed that they would slip along the bottom (think bamboo forest) and can pop out anywhere in an opening, virtually undetected by northern pike and largemouth bass, both of whom like to snack on ‘gills. Meanwhile, the northern pike has a wider flat nose that does not allow him traveling with grace through the weeds. He’s still faster than greased lightning under water, and the leafy parts of the weeds don’t impair his ability to blast through them, but the stems are the strongest part and act like the bars on a jail to a northern. He has a heck of a time getting though and down to where the bluegills are as they zip through underneath without even disturbing the leaves up above. So that means the northern has to rely on cunning, surprise, and extreme acceleration to catch them.
Without an underwater camera, I wouldn’t know beans about bluegills and their nemesis, northern pike. I have now witnessed it twice wherein a northern, two feet above sunnies will slowly turn his entire body vertical to prepare for an attack straight down. The sunnies will hang out and let him slowly rotate vertically with nose pointing to the fish below. When his tail is just about completely vertical and directly overhead and it’s a half second before he explodes downward, the sunnies split – into all directions and disappear under the canopy of leaves into the bamboo forest. The vertical posturing of the northern allows him/her to attack unsuspecting sunnies hanging out in small openings of the weeds He can’t (they still try) easily plow through the weed stems with his wide flat nose, but he sure can turn into a javelin and attack vertically from directly overhead. Had I not spent as much time watching and observing on an underwater camera, you would not be reading this. In fact, other than myself reading boring facts that “northerns eat sunnies” I have never seen a written word as to how they hunt and attack. If you like knowledge and facts to dazzle those around you at the office Christmas party, pay attention to your underwater camera while ice fishing. You’ll see how fish respond to your tackle. You’ll see how less-than-impressive some of your tackle really is (I’m not naming names). You see that live bait and artificial lures are about equal when the fish are biting well. When they are skittish and not biting, you’ll find that they skew either towards reaction-strike based lures in particular colors/actions or wiggling minnows on a hook. I’ve watched them ignore both. I’m convinced that artificial lures work just as good as live bait in the long run after watching with an underwater camera.
Now, I have the great fortune of fishing in really clear water in NE Minnesota. If you can’t see your lure when you drop it down, say two feet, an underwater camera won’t be that great for you. Muddy water, dark, tanin-stained water will make your camera worthless even with the light on. Been there, done that. So, if you always fish in dark water, a camera is probably not right for you. However, if you bounce around to different lakes clear and otherwise, a camera makes the day immensely more interesting. Plus, you’ll get to see what those fish are that keep showing up on your flasher. Are they perch? sunnies, small splake? You’ll know with a camera.
This Marcum Recon 5+ has is a compact design with a built in DVR. Easy to use and you can record what went by so you can show ’em at home “what was there” with the touch of a button.