Birdshot and backlashes

by Bob Cary

We simply had to go use one. An underwater video camera. These things have been around for months. We have read about them and we have talked to people who used them; but we never before got to use one. Until last Sunday. Edie’s son-in-law, Joe, has one. He talks incessantly about watching the lake bottom, watching fish and watching the fish bite. We simply had to see what all this was about.<BR><BR>We can recall a few years ago when various electronic depth sounders and fish locators came into existence. We have had several, including Bottom Line, Lowrance and Hummingbird. Not only did these show the depth and contour of the bottom, but also revealed fish as dots; but the new aquatic video cameras are totally different.<BR><BR>Joe had his portable nylon fishing shelter, complete with soft seats and propane heater located over three holes - two for our fish lines and one for the device which transmitted the video picture from the lake bottom to the fish house on the ice above.<BR><BR>“Two walleyes, several bass and three pike came through earlier,” Joe explained as we stepped inside the shelter and zipped the door shut. “The perch were biting like crazy earlier, but not much now.”<BR><BR>We settled in comfortably and dropped our lines down the holes. <BR><BR>Joe was using a small jig Rapala with a minnow and I had on a tiny panfish ice spoon with a grub. In a moment, a dozen perch raced over for a look. Our cone of vision appeared to be perhaps four or five feet which could be expanded to perhaps 10 feet. Our lures showed brightly in the pale blue water. The perch came in view looking silvery with the telltale black stripes. But they didn’t bite with much enthusiasm.<BR><BR>There were all sizes. Some were about two inches long and some up to nine or ten inches. The bigger ones hung back which is probably why they got to be bigger ones.<BR><BR>Little perch came in bunches, some racing up to nibble at our baits, but only a few really slammed into the hooks. A couple of times, largemouth and smallmouth bass, singly and in twos and threes, came cruising up, eyed our lures and moved on. No takers.<BR><BR>Twice large schools of bluegills, some real slabs, came swimming up to our lures, looked, sniffed and moved on without hitting.<BR><BR>“Something’s wrong,” said Joe, changing his bait. Still, that didn’t alter the video show. Fish continually swam up for a look, a sniff, shrugged and moved on. Some of the smaller perch went after the lead jig heads instead of the bait. Sheesh! <BR><BR>Suddenly, all of the perch looked to the right, then streaked off the screen to our left. From the murky background we saw a long shape moving slowly into view, the greenish, saw-jawed form of a northern pike. It came over and eyed our baits, circled, left, came back and suddenly shot forward so quickly I couldn’t react until the lure vanished inside its mouth. The rod bent over, the reel drag squealed, the fish kicked up a cloud of mud on the bottom as it thrashed and churned below.<BR><BR>The pike could have made supper except my rod had gossamer, two-pound panfish line on the reel. The fight was lengthy, but the result inevitable. With a twang, the monofilament snapped and the pike headed off for safer territory.<BR><BR>We saw perhaps six pike during the afternoon, all scaring the perch out of their wits. We were on the edge of a sunken weedbed in about 15 feet of water, obviously a well-traveled gamefish thoroughfare. We saw a lot of fish but we didn’t catch many, only four perch that were keepers. <BR><BR>But the entertainment was priceless. Without the video camera we would never have known what was swimming around below. Indeed, we would have assumed the water was nearly fishless.<BR><BR>It is amazing to see what goes on underwater; but it can also be frustrating when the fish that show up won’t bite.<BR><BR>Frankly, I’ve just got to acquire one of those underwater video devices. I just wish that they didn’t cost $600 or more. <BR><BR> <BR><BR>