Anyone have any experience using one of these? I'm contemplating buying one for ice-fishing this winter and would love to hear your feedback.
I've read there is a BIG difference in lighting options...IR (Infared) vs. SR (Spectral Response). Any truth to this?
I've got a Cabelas underwater camera with the IR lighting and it's a good camera, I got the 7" screen but you can save some money by going with the 5" and I think you'll be just as happy. I moved up to AK from MN this summer and i'm excited to do some Alaskan ice fishing. I didn't use the camera all the time, mostly just to see what kind of bottom or structure was down there and also to identify finicky fish that were coming in and not biting. For the most part the camera never seemed to scare fish off but that was fishing for walleyes and panfish. It is a fun tool to have especially if you have kids. If you don't have a flasher yet i'd get that over the camera, you'll get much more use from a flasher than a camera, I prefer marcum but vexilar does a good job too.
I like my sonar, but I got a camera 1/2 off on Ebay
I agree with the previous poster, get a sonar instead of a camera if you dont own a sonar already. My friend had a camera and rarely used it, it is a kind of pain to set up, your sonar gives you real time info, if there are no fish around you will know right away with the sonar. If no fish bites in a 1/2 hour move somewhere else. We would use it to see what fish the sonar was showing that are not biting or to look at bottom structure. I have a Vexilar, but the Marcum might be a better sonar with their power and target separation. If you have kids, they would like the camera better. They are too young to understand what a flasher/ sonar is. They are like video games for an adult
I bought a downrigger kit for my camera I just got 1/2 price on ebay aqua-vu and hope to see kings and silvers follow my bait next spring on the downrigger. You can buy a portable dvr and record the video even now.
I personally think the camera scares big lake trout and arctic char, they do sell christmas tree like wire that wraps around the dark cable to make it look like weeds growing straight up from the bottom.
Buy the cam! I have a cam for 6 yrs now, never been skunked with it!
Sonar? c'mon guys lets hear some real advice, be honest, the cam is top of the line in ice fishing. I pull the bait away from the small ones, and catch the big ones! Can the sonar tell you if the fish is mouthing the bait? I don't think so, lets be honest guys. Give nick some honest advice. Buy a cam nick! I'll even tell you were to catch hogs with the cam, I'm all about wanting to spread my fishing spots around. Go to mile 86 on the glenn to long lake, there are huge trout in that lake, and not hard to catch with a cam!
Good luck Nick!
I have caught many BIG trout while my cam was on. It does not scare them off! I fish at least 5 days a week on the ice. I bought it 6 yrs ago in Michigan, killed the walleye there, now after 5 yrs in alaska, I have many hog trout in my BELLY!
Former Michigander Tim.
I fish with both a sonar unit and a cam. The sonar I use is a Vexilar flasher. Very useful when ice fishing. It allows you to see fish in the entire water column, whereas a cam will only allow you to see what's right near the cam.
You can pop the sonar unit from hole to hole very quickly and see what's happening. The really trick thing is that you can see your bait on the sonar while your jigging. The LCD displays have their place, but don't give instantaneous results like the flasher.
In a nutshell, to use both is the best. I use the sonar to locate fish, and then the cam to see if the fish are mouthing baits or like the previous poster said to cherry pick the bigguns!!
Spearing pike is another game all together....that is where a cam really shines!!
That's your opinion, it depends on the situation
It sounds like the guys with the cameras really like them. Having both have their advantages. Maybe I will use mine more often this year.
I myself am NOT using bait, I used to fish Big Lake alot where BAIT is ILLEGAL and I catch and release. What do you consider a HOG trout in a lake. All the HOG Char in Big Lake have been killed already. I used to catch and release 5-8 fish between 4-7 pounds every weekend up there 3-4 years ago. Once Sportsmans warehouse hit Anchorage, and a certain article came out in Fish Alaska magazine, the amount of people fishing tripled and lots of HOG char were killed. To me a HOG lake trout is over 15 pounds, and where I fish there are very few little ones because they are being eaten by the bigger fish. I fish shallow enough I can see them in the hole so I dont need the camera nor the sonar.
I would hope to continue to produce trophy size fish, big fish are released.
It take years for fish to reach that size in Alaska. It is disappointing to fish Big Lake and only catch 1 fish a day now, or all day and nothing when you were used to catching nice fish every weekend. They should make that lake catch and release, those Char spawn in that lake and are not "stocked". You will find with budget cuts, F&G will be stocking less and less. They wont even keep the saltwater fisheries alive anymore due to the large cost of rearing smolts.
The vexilar will tell you if fish are under the ice or mid water column where a camera will not. If you are fishing rainbows in the shallow lake the camera does shine as you can see the bites if you are not feeling them.
If you can afford it, buy both, if not, invite a friend that has one
sonar more versatile and useful
Originally Posted by glassauto
Ill be honest. I agree with Valcobayrunner. The soner is simply easier to use at a wider variety of depths. Also, you can tell some relative difference in fish size with a sonar if you adjust the gain properly. I too, find it a pain to carry both. I can tell you this with the utmost sincerity: If I am going to carry just one, it will be a sonar, hands-down. I use the Vexilar FL-20, though for most situations an FL-8 is plenty. The FL-20 has more features, but I find I rarely use many of them. The Marcums are great too, though they tend to jam other sonars that are nearby much more than Vexilars due to their higher power output.
That being said, it is fun to look around with a camera, and you can surely learn something about fish behavior with them. But, like ValcoBayrunner said, you can watch through the hole when your fishing shallow and learn as much. Valco has caught 20 lb lake trout in water shallow enough that he was looking at the fish as it bit. I have seen numerous lake trout and burbot bite in shallow water myself.
And that ***** hole that wrote about Big Lake, he should be drawn and quartered. He was WAY out of bounds when he went out of his way to explain in the article responsible ice fishing catch and release methods. And the nerve of flat out saying Big Lake will be a trophy char fishery IF people practice catch and release so that the fish live long enough to become trophy sized--the article had a strong conservation/trophy slant to it. Guess you missed that part, Valcobayrunner. Apparently, most everyone else did too because you're right, we're not catching as many big char as we used to there. And because he advocated so hard to preserve and protect the fishery, it's his fault the fish seem to be fewer and smaller. Heck, he probably had something to do with putting pike in there too. Bet that writer thinks a little longer before he tries to help people, and a fishery, again.
For locating fish the sonar is the way to go i agree...but I have to say if you have children nothing beats that underwater camera my kids are hooked because of that thing. I mean they will absolutely fish all day wether the fish are biting or not because they can watch that lure. It really has helped with the kids with the presentaion and the hooksets. Sportmans Warehouse carries a small inexpensive model for about a $100.00 bucks I bought one a few years back since then I have fitted it with a tripod so you can rotate the camera. You can see about 5' feet depending on the clarity of the water.
It does help improve your presentaion if you have located fish because you can actually watch you lure and identify what type of presentaion stimulates the fish and for those timid biting fish its great because you can see when to set that hook. It has definately increased mine and my childrens fish catching ability.