Hunters know how important it is to scout before the hunt. Anglers are not as dialed in to this concept, but underwater cameras make it a very realistic prospect. Scouting for what? It’s the same for hunters as it is for anglers—fish move for a variety of reasons including weather conditions and availability of food.
Big game creatures such as deer and bear do the same thing. Seasonal patterns for fish are not readily observed at the surface but can be viewed by going underwater. Color cameras with daylight viewing capabilities are changing the approach for open water fishing and giving anglers who know how to use an underwater camera a leg up
. Anglers are using cameras to help find the fish and eliminate locations that might look good on a map or sonar but aren’t holding fish. Anglers who fish around the same time each year have to understand that the fish don’t follow the same calendar as humans. Fish the same location every year and you ignore the fact that conditions change from year to year.
Conditions this year are different from last year by a few weeks thanks to a late ice out and unseasonably cold weather. Scouting gives the angler an advantage so less time is spent searching and more time can be spent catching. A scouting expedition is also a tremendous teaching tool for an angler to learn about a body of water and specific locations.
Combine an underwater camera with a GPS and liquid crystal graph and an angler can connect what something looks like on a television screen versus a sonar reading. Spending time scouting will create a more productive angler because it improves the ability to use electronics during the season, especially a sonar because you know what subtle differences to look for because you saw them on the camera while scouting.
Those subtle differences include specifics of structure, positioning of walleye on various structures, and how walleye are relating to that area. Plan of action Scouting is simple. Launch the boat, drive to the closest locations that looks good on the map, drop the camera and start searching. Moving from location to location is very easy with the camera and you will find structure you didn’t know existed.
When you are scouting you should not be fishing. Because you are using the camera with a depthfinder and GPS all of your attention will be occupied. The camera works best next to the sonar and GPS so all three devices can be worked simultaneously. Following contours from a Lakemaster map chip is the job of the GPS while the depthfinder is used to track the reading from the bottom. Mark something up high and you easily pull the camera up and take a look. A camera with the ability for daytime viewing like is preferred for this application simply because you don’t have to wear a shroud to see the screen.
Color cameras also better enable an angler to determine bottom content and green weeds versus dead ones. Start with the places where you think the walleye should be located and then expand from there. As you are marking fish, mark the locations on the GPS and keep track of the waypoints relative to the conditions. Record waypoint numbers by fish location and surface temperature so you can apply the lessons learned year after year.
Fishing the transition zone is a frequently discussed concept in walleye angling but finding those transition areas where there’s a change in bottom content from rock to sand is easier said than done. It shows up on the sonar in a very subtle way but it’s worth learning what this looks like using your camera because walleye use transition zones as ambush points. Fish the plan Once you find the fish you can make a game plan of how to fish them.
Anytime surface temperatures are in the range of 48 to 50 degrees the fish are going to be in shallow water and difficult to find on sonar. Pre-scouting locations puts an angler ahead in the game and able to stay on top of those schools of fish.
You can spend half the day trying to key in on the best walleye locations on a lake until you find the mother lode—acquire some prior knowledge of where they are located and spend more time catching fish. The camera works great throughout the season.
A lot of the time it’s to answer a question about what you are seeing on the sonar. Big clumps of algae can show up as fish-looking arcs on the weed edges, large arcs in that ideal walleye hotspot can turn out to be suckers—the camera is a tool to understand those issues. The more confidence you have with your sonar the better an angler you’ll become. Confidence is a big thing.
Using a camera and mapping chip will help you spend more time catching fish by doing an efficient and effective job of advanced scouting.