|Walker Downrigger Feature Release
NEW STRIKE VISION PUTS THE CONTROL BACK IN CONTROLLED-DEPTH FISHING BY TAKING THE GUESSWORK OUT
Innovative New Video Camera System Elevates Underwater Eyes to an Unprecedented Level by Showing Fish Following, Striking and Fighting 150 Feet Below the Surface While Trolling!
Stayner, Ontario: When a fish is on camera, the anglers on my boat are so fascinated by what they are seeing on the video monitor that they sometimes forget to grab the rods, says charter boat captain Carl Stopczynski about the new Strike Vision underwater video camera system from Walker Downriggers, Inc. Its not only cool to see whats going on under the boat, he adds, its the greatest trolling tool since the downrigger was invented.
The South Bend, Indiana captain, who prowls southern Lake Michigan for trout and salmon in his Cherokee 300 Sportfish, says he wont leave the dock without the innovative fishing aid. I have learned more about fish patterns and behavior than I ever thought possible, Stopczynski admits. Im a better fisherman today because of Walkers Strike Vision.
The underwater camera, which is available in both black-and-white and color models, is an entire downrigger system with a special spool containing 150 feet of 380-pound tensile-strength cable with a video connection at the end. The downrigger ball or weight hooks up below the video connection, and a tiny, high-resolution camera attaches above. Trollers watching a TV/monitor on board can see their lures action and how fish react to them. Resolution is so sharp they can actually identify brown trout from lake trout and salmon from steelhead.
NEW STRIKE VISION UNDERWATER CAMERA
Now theres never any doubt about what speed you have to troll, Stopczynski says. We long suspected that wave direction and currents affected lure action, but we never knew how great the influence is. This camera helps us adjust our trolling program to get fish to strike.
Strike Vision is Sending Great Lakes Fishermen Back to School
The veteran skipper runs Strike Vision off the transom center, sending the unit deepest in his V-shaped rigging pattern, which includes a pair of Walker corner downriggers and twin out-downriggers. He experiments with lead lengths and says he is learning new things all the time. I record what the camera sees on a VCR. Then in the winter when I have more time, I play back the tapeshours and hours of tapeshoping to better understand fish behavior and why my trolling patterns worked or didnt work on any given day.
To illustrate, Stopczynski posed a question: When you slow down, your lures fall, right? Wrong! What really happens is that your downrigger weight falls so fast it makes your lures flutter up for an instant. Think of a ribbon streamer tied to a rock and then thrown in the air. Lures act like that when the weight drops. We didnt think about this phenomenon until we saw it on camera.
Another tip: Stopczynski says whenever he sees a fish following his lure, he is tempted to speed up or slow down to entice a strike. But what usually happens is that any change in lure speed drives the fish away. The fish spooks and wont come back, Stopczynski explains. Its often better to keep the speed consistent and take advantage of a live decoy in your lure spread.
Other Great Lakes trollers are using Strike Vision to elevate their success, too. Captain Don Rufo of Oswego, New York, fishes for Lake Ontario trout, salmon and walleye from his 30-foot Cherokee. We have a lot of deep water current here, he explains, and now I can believe what I see. Watching the camera at 120 feet down tells me when Im going too fast or too slow. Strike Vision has improved my catch rate by 90 percent.
One day last June Rufos camera picked up a 60-foot-long tugboat, the Cormorant that sank in 1954 in 120 feet of water. Lake trout were using the drowned vessel for structure. We went after them with green Wobble-Glos and chartreuse and red-striped Flatfish behind cowbell-like strings of S & S Blades, he recalls. The final tally: nearly 20 lakers, nine of which were slot-limit keepers (fish either under 25 inches or over 30 inches). That camera made our day, he says.
Captain Mike Dumesnil, who plies Lake Ontario in his 30-foot Chris Craft in the St. Catherines region, says he has used underwater cameras from other manufacturers but likes Strike Vision best because of ease of use and high resolution. It operates under incredible low-light conditions, he claims, and is very stable. Besides aiding in fish identification and helping the skipper discern cross currents from head and tail currents, the sensitive camera allows him to match lure size and shape to baitfish.
Its critical to my trolling success, he says. Depending on the tightness of my rigging pattern, I often can see two lures at once to determine if they are running in harmony. Try to do that with plain old sonar!
Easy to Install, Understand and Use, Strike Vision is Becoming a Great Lakes Staple but Also Has Unlimited Saltwater Applications
Of all the systems Ive tried, Strike Vision is the only one designed to put into service and use right away, Dumesnil says. Other units are heavy and depend on bulky coaxial cables that must be managed by hand. The cameras, which cant be detached, wont troll straight. Strike Vision relies on rugged, stainless steel-jacketed cable that uses 12-volt power to deliver a clear video signal back to the surface.
The cable diameter is only .055 inch, which offers little trolling resistance and can be easily power-set and retrieved with electric downriggers on Walkers special spool. The camera housing is only 2 inches in diameter, which contributes to low drag and helps the unit to track straight. The camera easily detaches for storage and handling. Other system features include an 80-pound-test breakaway lead and a heavy-duty slip-jack connection that automatically disconnects in the event of snagging. Thus, only the cannonball is lost.
Rufo estimates that 20 to 25 trolling boats in the Oswego area are now equipped with Strike Vision. I dont know why everyone doesnt have one, he says. They dont cost any more than a regular downrigger. In fact, many trollers using Cannon, Big Jon or other companies downriggers are adding a Walker Strike Vision unit to their arsenal.
The next frontier? Saltwater, where fixed-depth trolling is increasingly critical for many ocean gamefish such as kingfish, wahoo, and even sailfish. Darryl Choronzey, executive producer and host of Going Fishing TV series in Canada, has long been a Strike Vision enthusiast both in fresh and salt water. Trolling for ocean-run Coho and Chinook salmon from his 28-foot Mako in northern British Columbia near the Queen Charlotte Islands, Choronzey runs a Walker downrigger off each corner.
Individual 12-volt batteries supply power to each camera, allowing the Owen Sound, Ontario native to record action from the two locations.
I capture everything on Mini DV format with a pair of Sony DCR-TRV6 recorders, he says. The key thing Im looking for is how fish react to my lures. What looks good to me doesnt always look good to a salmon. The veteran sport fisherman runs OK-I Flashers five to 10 feet behind the cameras with Williams QuickSilver spoons 30 inches behind the attractors. He experiments constantly with colors and sometimes will add cut bait to get salmon to strike.
Ive learned that fish in salt water react faster than they do in fresh water, he reports. I dont have an explanation for this phenomenon. Maybe salinity affects their adrenaline. Maybe they are more competitive because they certainly are less wary. Whatever the reason, the cameras dont lie.
Choronzey observes similar aggressive behavior from fish in the Florida Keys where he vacations in winter. Crystal-clear visibility near Islamorada helps him monitor the action of feathered dolphin baits and silver-plate spoons such as Big William's Wobblers which he also runs behind flashers. Rigging with five- to 15-foot leads, Choronzey increases the typical fresh water trolling speeds of 2 to 4 mph to 6 to 8 mph. The pair of Strike Vision downriggers has helped him catch sailfish to seven feet and kingfish to five feet along with barracuda to 30 pounds and Wahoo to 40 pounds. He also takes many Dorado from five to 10 pounds.
Strike Vision is a great educational tool, he concludes, but it is also entertaining. Patrons at the local watering holes look forward to the tapes I show at the end of a days fishing. I used to tell people about the big ones I caught or got away. Now I show them proof.
Since Strike Vision we seldom look back, concludes Captain Dumesnil. The underwater world is now in front of us on the screen.
Its the only underwater camera system you can seriously troll with, concludes Captain Stopczynski. If theres a downside to Walkers new technology, its the frustration that comes when fish you can see dont always strike. But hasnt that always been the challenge of fishing?