Underwater Cameras for Ice Fishing: All You Need to Know

ice fishing camera
camera for ice fishing
underwater camera for fishing

Underwater cameras are a great tool to use while ice fishing because it takes the guesswork out of the sport. These devices allow ice fishermen to get a greater view of what lies beneath the ice. Seeing under the water can prevent things such as fishing lines breaking or getting caught in vegetation.

Underwater cameras are useful pieces of technology to help ice fishermen. There are various types of ice fishing cameras all intended to complete one job. Underwater cameras identify where fish are in the water along with potential dangers that could damage equipment.

Certain types of underwater cameras are equipped with sensors to measure depth and temperature. A greater variety of fish can be spotted through the screens rather than drilling a hole, casting a line, and waiting to see if anything bites. Underwater cameras provide a more pleasurable and rewarding experience. These devices enable the ice fisherman to distinguish whether or not the fish is taking the bait.

They are not invasive as they do not disrupt a fish in their natural habitat. These are solely used as a resource to locate the fish and to indicate whether or not it is a safe area.

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Uses for an Underwater Ice Fishing Camera

Maximize Catching Time on the Ice

Cameras make it possible to see the nearby surroundings underwater. Drilling small holes in different parts of the ice and then lowering the camera helps determine if fish are there. This process allows ice fishermen to settle down in a specific spot to get the most time catching fish on the ice.

If you prefer to stay in one location with a shanty set up then you can use the camera to find a good spot for some fish and then hover over them with your hook. This means you can stay comfortable while reeling in the fish.

If you would rather keep mobile or have multiple holes active at a time the camera can help with that too. No one wants to be fishing where there are no fish; that’s pointless. Use the camera to quickly sweep the area and if there is nothing, move on. If there are some fish in the area then you can drop a line down there hoping to pick up some of the fish in the area.

Alleviate Boredom

Ice fishing transforms from a winter recreational hobby to a mundane task without a camera. Staring into the watery depths attempting to pick out a flash of movement gets dull after a time.

Having a camera in the water keeps things interesting as a singular fish swims past the lens. Or one emerges out of a clump of algae or from behind a rock into view. Bodies of water come to life with the help of a camera to capture every moment.

It can be really interesting just to watch how the fish are interacting, without even worrying about whether or not you can catch them, though I’d try to catch them.

Not wasting bait or line

Instead of waiting to feel a tug on the line, cameras show whether or not fish are nearby. This saves from spending too much unwanted time in one area with no results. The camera picks up how the fish reacts to the bait being used. It also shows if the fish is approaching the line or swimming in the opposite direction.

Cameras are useful because fishermen can detect patterns with the fish. Discovering which fish take which types of bait or the best length of line to use, results in a profitable trip.

Protects the Line From Obstacles

Trying to see what lies inside of the ice hole is difficult to capture with the naked eye. Especially in deeper or murkier water, it becomes impossible to detect objects that might snag or break fishing line. The use of a camera resolves this issue by locating rocks, debris, vegetation, or drop-offs before the line is lowered into the water.

You can further use this to your advantage by identifying the bottom composition that you are fishing over. While often overlooked there is a lot that you can learn about fish if you know the bottom composition of the lake that you are fishing in.

Shopkarl’s.com has a great article on the subject of bottom compositions that will introduce you to the topic. You will need to do the work required to apply this information to the specific environment in which you fish but knowing about it gives you an advantage. This is why the underwater camera is so significant it gives you extra information.

ice fishing camera
camera for ice fishing

Catch various species

The camera is able to locate and identify different kinds of fish in the water. This allows ice fishermen to broaden their horizons by catching a wider variety of fish.

In particular, it can be a pretty big challenge to switch from one kind of fish to another. You get so used to the habits of one type of fish you forget that other fish don’t necessarily act that way.

Use the extra information afforded you by the underwater camera to learn the varying species habits and then you’ll be reeling them in.

Locate a prime spot to fish

Trout are different from pike in that they prefer to be closer to the surface of the water. Underwater cameras enable fishermen to figure out where different species of fish are going to be in the water.

Cameras help to establish patterns about where fish are the most likely to be in certain parts of the water. One area may be abundant with fish while another area is sparse. Using the camera in different spots sorts out the best and most reliable places to fish.

Beware of murky or discolored water

Some brands of cameras such as the Aqua-Vu are equipped features to scope out fish in murky water. Other brands or types of cameras are not going to be able to provide a readable image in murky or discolored water. Depending on the camera’s capabilities, it is recommended to be cautious while navigating murky water.

This is one of the largest complaints made against underwater cameras is that you are only able to see the water a foot or two in front of the camera. That’s okay though, as overall, you only need to see those few feet.

Especially when you are just scouting the area before you fish you can learn a lot even in murky water just by seeing the fish or just the bottom composition of the area.

The Best Ways to Ice Fish with an Underwater Camera

Before placing the fishing pole in the water, create a hole that is big enough for the camera. Spend time scoping out what is happening in that area with the fish activity. Continuously repeat this process until locating a place where the bottom is not overcrowded with objects.

There is plenty of fish to make it a worthwhile area to stay put for an extended period of time. Take advantage of all the features on the camera to optimize fishing in that part of the water. This includes the different angles to catch sight of all the fish and using the lighting to see more of the water.

The camera is not to simply be used as a pre-emptive measure before proceeding to start fishing. This piece of technology is meant to be used throughout the course of the experience. Starting with discovering a fruitful fishing spot and then plunging the line in for the catch. Its purpose continues as the fisherman watches what is happening to the line.

Watching the catch happen before even feeling the tug on the line. This all wraps up to an awesome ending by being able to relive the experience. Because some cameras are equipped with recording and playback features.

You can then later use all of that underwater footage to learn more about the fish that you are trying to catch, so that next time it won’t be as large of a hassle trying to catch them. This is one of the best natures of using an underwater camera you get to constantly improve your fishing ability. You can see what does or doesn’t appeal to the fish, what bait to use, if your jigging is doing anything, etc.

ice fishing camera
camera for ice fishing

Best Underwater Ice Fishing Cameras

Lower-end Cameras

These cameras do not have all of the bells and whistles of higher-end cameras, but they still get the job done. The inexpensive kinds work well as a beginner camera to navigate how they work. Before moving onto an expensive model with additional features and modes, consider purchasing a lower end camera. They range in price anywhere from $100 to $350.

A good example of a low-end underwater camera for fishing is the LUCKY Underwater Fishing Camera Viewing.

With a 4.3-inch screen, you’ll be able to experience what the fish view under the water with 300,000 pixels to video. You’ll be able to capture what you need at a reasonable price.

Mid-priced Cameras

These are great for those with more experience who do not want to spend a lot. They are of higher quality than the $100 kinds because they have better resolution, battery life, interactive screens, and other features. These range in price anywhere from $400 to $700.

An example of a middle priced camera is the Professional Fish Finder Underwater Fishing Video Camera with 7″ LCD Monitor and 150 Feet Cable found on Amazon.

You get high-quality color video out of this camera and 150 feet length in your cable so you have plenty to discover. Additionally, you can pan a full 360 degrees so you’ll know what is behind you if you need it.

Higher-end Models Cameras

These offer about the same amount of features as those that are in the middle. They are better quality, may include a warranty, and provide a professional looking picture. These range in price anywhere from $700 to $1000 or more.

An example of a high-end underwater camera is the Nemo Underwater Drone with 4K UHD Camera and LED Fill Light available on Amazon.

This is not your usual underwater camera it is a full underwater drone that will be taking and recording high-definition footage. Use this and get 120fps recordings of all your fish are doing under the water.

Nemo features the QA5- Balancing Stabilizing system which allows you to capture this high-quality footage and have it sent via wifi to your smartphone using the Aquarobotman app.

You can even view this in VR with compatible VR glasses to get that much closer to the fish you are aiming to catch.

My Choice For an Ice Fishing Camera

Ice anglers face a unique challenge as they are typically confined to a single fishing location. While the best ice fishing fish finders focus on revealing fish and underwater structures beneath the ice hole, underwater fishing cameras offer a different perspective by showing the surroundings surrounding the opening. Vexilar, a renowned name in portable ice fishing fish finders, has leveraged their expertise to introduce the FS800IR Fish Scout, a mobile underwater fishing camera system.

This system includes a seven-inch screen with a resolution of 420 lines, a 12-volt power source through a 9-ah battery, a 90-foot cable, and a camera, all securely mounted on a sturdy carriage. The entire setup fits conveniently within a soft case, making it highly portable for ice fishing expeditions. To use the Fish Scout, position it on the ice and lower the camera into the water. Its energy-efficient display can operate for up to 9 hours on a fully charged battery, ensuring ice anglers can rely on it throughout their fishing trips without worrying about the cold affecting its performance. The system can function even in extreme temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit.

In essence, the Vexilar FS800IR Fish Scout portable underwater fishing camera is a valuable tool that provides ice anglers with a unique and clear perspective of the aquatic environment, making it an essential asset for their fishing endeavors in icy conditions.

What to Know Before Purchasing an Ice Fishing Camera

There are a plethora of brands selling underwater cameras out on the market. Understanding what to look for in an underwater camera is ideal because this device will truly enhance the experience.

Battery life and temperature should be two factors that are considered together before anything else. Certain models have a battery life that only last up to 2 hours. While others have a battery life lasting anywhere from 10 to 12 hours. These models may or may not include temperature range durability. It is important to understand both factors due to the fact that water temperature impacts battery life. The colder the water, the less amount of time the battery is going to last.

Screen size and resolution. Some of the “micro” models are designed to be compact enough to easily fit into a pocket. These miniature types have screen sizes as small as 3 inches with a lower resolution. They have the benefit of being portable, but will not produce as high quality of an image.

The more “standard” models have screen sizes that range from 5 to 9 inches. They also have higher resolutions to distinguish fish species from one another. What they lack in portability, they make up for in a clear, crisp picture. Also, these larger models come with carrying cases to be able to fit everything.

Cable length is going to be another major consideration. It is difficult enough to have to carry the ice augers, picks, rods, shelters, and other equipment around. Having 60 to 100 meters of cable on top of everything else may not be the wisest decision. Every model is different and it is based on personal preference as to how deep the camera will be plunged into the water. Most models come with a minimum of 15 meters of cable while some reach the 100-meter threshold.

Viewing accessibility is another crucial specification. Some cameras are only able to see the immediate surrounding in front of it. They also come with an interface that can be used to adjust the camera angles. Only one perspective of the water is able to be viewed at a time. This limits being able to discover whether or not there are fish lurking behind or above the camera. It is best to find a camera that has the ability to provide 360-degree views of the water.

Pros and Cons of Having an Underwater Camera

What are the Benefits of Using an Underwater Camera When Ice Fishing?

Better time

Waiting around for non-existent fish reduces the enjoyment of ice fishing. Cameras find where fish are at thus, taking the wait and see the process out of it. You want to come home with some fish, even if it is just one. Returning empty handed is one of the worst feelings out there for an ice fisher.

Using an underwater camera will both give you a better opportunity to find more fish and will give you something to do while you wait for a fish to bite.

Learning About Prey

Observing fish for long periods of time through a camera makes for a better fisherman. Understanding which techniques work and which ones don’t increase the likelihood of catching fish.

This can be especially effective when you are trying out a new place with new kinds of fish, or if you are trying out new bait.

You can see what the fish are in the mood for generally what you learn about one fish is going to apply to their whole species so if minnows work best for those fish then send down more minnow. If wax worms are catching well than go for them. The benefit here is you can see what is attracting the fish’s attention not just when they choose to bite.

This helps you learn the area and the fish in the area faster it may take a bit but fishing is always about patience so study your prey and with the underwater camera you’ll have better and more reliable information to catch those fish.

Protect Equipment

Noticing a flowing current before the ice breaks up saves tools from being swept away. The camera can detect this and other invasive objects from ripping the bait off the hook or snapping the line. This can easily be the difference between a catch and nothing but water.

Additionally, you can know what you are pulling out of the water, so you can get fish without having to worry about reeling in some miscellaneous piece of trash that someone disposed of in the lake.

Quality and Quantity

Using a camera to find a large school of fish to catch is a rewarding experience. Finding a higher quality of fish is made possible through the camera. This is particularly useful if you are aiming at catching a specific type of fish.

It can also be useful in catching many more fish than you would have been able to in the first place. While you can use your resources without the underwater camera, most of the time it is too deep, dark, or murky to see where your hook is, much less the fish swimming around it.

This is where the underwater camera helps you get a much closer look at what is happening so you can move to the densely populated areas where the fish are at and then drop a line. Trust me you’ll be able to catch much more fish that way.

What are the cons of using a camera when ice fishing?

Scares the Fish Away

The largest complaint that I have encountered about underwater cameras is that it scares away the fish. This might be the case if you are being very intrusive but generally, there is little to no effect on this fish from using an underwater camera.

Keep in mind that there are plenty of items that appear in the water generally, so fish aren’t going to particularly mind a camera that is going on by. The camera’s light is the only thing that you would want to avoid pointing directly at the fish.

Less Organic Feel

One of the biggest complaints against the use of an underwater camera is the less organic feel that it has. This may be a legitimate concern for you and if it is then there is no amount of technology that will correct this particular grievance.

Battery Life

Cameras that only last for 2 to 4 hours and then need a long recharge are frustrating. This disrupts the ability to scout out and productively ice fish. If you had been expecting to use your camera for the whole night and had it die on you within the first couple of minutes you’d be frustrated.

There are plenty of options for underwater camera’s with better battery life but keep in mind that the water’s temperature also can affect how long your battery lasts so just because the package says something doesn’t mean you are going to get the battery life that you want.

Limited view

Not every model is built to have a 360-degree scope of its underwater surroundings. Which means you’ll have to reposition the camera to get yourself the best view that you can in the depths.

One large difficulty that I find with this is that while moving the camera around you may bump into fish, which definitely would disturb them.

Another issue which relates to the less genuine feel of using a camera is that you don’t always need an underwater camera while ice fishing. Use it as a tool don’t depend on it. Some people won’t ice fish in an area unless they have scanned it with their underwater camera. Don’t concern yourself with that just start ice fishing. You won’t catch anything if you don’t have a hook in the water.

Will a Camera Freeze Underwater when Ice Fishing?

The short answer is no. Your underwater camera will not freeze when ice fishing.

Underwater cameras have evolved into incredible tools for ice fishing, thanks to their distinct benefits. These rugged cameras are engineered to endure the frigid conditions of winter fishing while providing ice anglers with an immediate window into the underwater world beneath the icy surface.

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Striped Bass.

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