A SondeCAM HD underwater fishing camera retrieved from the ice. (Credit: Jeff Elliott)
Thinking of hitting the ice with a SondeCAM underwater fishing camera? Due to its rugged design, you won’t have to worry about it handling the harsh elements. However there are a few simple tricks to get the most out of a FishSens SondeCAM while ice fishing.
You won’t have to do anything to modify the SondeCAM itself, but you are going to have to bring a few extra things. Most importantly we are going to need a power source. Unless you are hauling your gear with a truck, you’ll want something more portable than the battery you used in the boat. Pick up an inexpensive and maintenance-free 12-volt, 9-amp battery. It is going to provide plenty of power, but will be much lighter and take up less space. Just add a couple female spade terminals to the SondeCAM power cable and you are ready to go.
Next we have some things to address with cable management. I spool my SondeCAM up on an electrical cord storage reel. They are light weight, brightly colored, and allow me to manage the cable efficiently. One quick tip with them is to cut off the edges that are meant to stand the reel up. I will lay the spool on one side so I can pay out cable while it is connected to the power source. If you don’t ensure the outside of the spool is completely round, the cable will often catch each time you unwrap the cable.
Other than a power source this is the most important thing. Have you ever tried to use an underwater fishing camera without some sort of camera panner? Well, unless you like spending your time being extremely frustrated and not catching fish, I suggest you don’t. Do not hit the ice without some sort of camera panner. You can purchase a disc or tripod style, or you can build one. A quick Google search on a homemade underwater camera panner will show you all you need. A camera panner will keep the cable from rotating in different directions, so where you point the camera is where it stays.
Not only do I want to make using the camera easier, but viewing the footage is also important. Building some sort of bracket to hold and protect a compatible fishfinder can help. I primarily use my smartphone or a tablet to watch the video stream, but it’s difficult to effectively fish with either of those things in my hands. To overcome that, I combined a camera tripod with a homemade bracket. It not only allows me to securely hold my device, but I can change the height and angle of it.
At this point we have a whole camera system set up so the next obvious question is where to put the camera. You’ll definitely need a dedicated hole for just the camera. Don’t worry about it spooking the fish though, sometimes they even come in to check it out. Position it several feet away from the lure. You’ll need to find a balance that works for you. Whether there is just one bait to focus on or you can position it where you can see several people fishing. Also keep in mind that a big fish can get tangled in the camera cable. So either be prepared to have someone pull it up quickly, or position it a little further away.
I’m confident that with these tips transitioning the SondeCAM from the boat to the ice will be much easier. You’ll spend less time messing with camera and more time fishing. Most importantly, since you can see exactly what is going on down there, you are going to catch more fish!
Top image: A SondeCAM HD underwater fishing camera retrieved from the ice. (Credit: Jeff Elliott)