Ice Fishing Electronics
January 01, 2015
This past winter, a pair of new tools offered exciting glimpses of the world beneath the ice. Wireless (WiFi) underwater video technology that's affordable to the consumer has been an engineering work-in-progress for at least the past decade. Aqua-Vu developed a wireless system known as "WAV" and released it at ICAST in the early 2000s. The product was pulled, however, due to its $2K price-tag. This past winter, I worked with several prototypes, which enabled seamless underwater video transmission up to 100 feet from the source. Products from Aqua-Vu, Marcum, and Vexilar now retail for as little as $200, remotely displaying live video feeds on wireless phones and tablets.
Perhaps the most fascinating application of this ice fishing technology is remotely monitoring a tip-up or deadstick. From inside a shelter, you can survey rigged livebaits and fish response some distance away. With additional cameras, it's possible to toggle between multiple underwater viewpoints on a single mobile device. By downloading an app, a network of anglers can even patch into the same camera signals, so everyone has a clear view of what's happening below.
On another plane, 360 Imaging from Humminbird is poised to become a major story in ice electronics. Set in a hole, the 360 transducer rotates continuously, scanning the terrain around your position and displaying realistic images of structure, cover, and fish. Because the transducer actively scans the terrain, the screen is constantly refreshed with new information, such as a moving school of crappies or a lone walleye swimming toward your bait.
In-Fisherman contributor Jim Edlund and ice fishing ace Shawn Bjonfald last winter tested a portable Bow 360 Imaging unit rigged for use on ice. Positioned over drop-offs, rockpiles, cribs, and other likely areas, they watched schools of panfish as they swam along, adjacent to the transducer.
Because the unit operates like radar, you can gauge the direction of movement and precise distance and position of fish by watching them on a Humminbird sonar screen. Uses for this technology are far-reaching and exciting — such as learning how and where fish move during certain times of the day as they travel along structure or roam across open water.
Edlund noted that over several hours, he could continuously track a pod of suspended crappies as they meandered about. By gauging fish distance from the transducer as they moved, he'd drill new holes and reposition himself over the school.
Some might argue that such new developments could make finding fish too easy. Of course you still need to understand seasonal fish movements and habitat to initiate a successful search. And once found, coaxing fish to bite is never a given. Finally, anglers need to focus on the important role we play in maintaining good fishing through Selective Harvest — releasing or harvesting wisely to maintain fish population quality.