Joe Balog from Michigan has won several bass tournaments. Balog sleeps and breathes smallmouth bass fishing, and when he needs to put a few bass in the boat relies on underwater cameras as well as other electronics to help him catch lots of fish. Balog prefers using the camera when he fishes deep structure on lakes like Lake Erie.
Fishing Large Bodies of Water
The Aqua-Vu comes in handy on Lake Erie because finding smallmouth bass on large lakes can be difficult.
“With large lakes, finding fish can be difficult, especially when you consider that the smallmouths spend 95 percent of their time in deep water hugging structure,” Balog said. “I use the camera to find the deep structure like old shipwrecks and find out where the fish consistently hang out on those wrecks. The camera tells me where the fish are and then I can target those areas on a regular basis. Any angler can toss a lure on the shady side of a stump in five feet of water and catch bass. On Lake Erie, instead of being in five feet of water, the fish are in 30 feet of water and sometimes we have six-foot waves on top of the water. The only consistent way to catch those fish is using the camera.”
Using the Camera as a Scouting Tool
Balog often uses the camera as a scouting tool. Instead of pre-fishing before a tournament, he puts his camera down on his favorite deep structure fishing locations and finds where the fish are hanging out. He returns the next day and fishes a tournament based on what he saw the day before with the camera.
“I usually check out eight or 10 different locations a day before a tournament, knowing that a few of those places are going to hold fish,” Balog said. “After I find fish, I mark the spot so I can come back the next day. I don’t have to disturb the fish or the area by fishing. I can quickly check out a shipwreck structure and move onto the next location. If I had to fish each location, I might spend half an hour or more in one location, trying to catch a smallmouth. The Aqua-Vu Camera makes me more efficient.”
Finding Isolated Honey Holes
“Most of the shipwrecks on Lake Erie get fished heavily for smallmouth, but the camera enables me to find exactly where fish like to hang out on a certain shipwreck,” Balog said. “While other anglers are blind fishing a shipwreck, I fish a certain location of the wreck and catch fish. Some time ago, when dropping my camera down on a deep shipwreck, I saw a large anchor. I heard that the anchor wasn’t at the main wreck sight; it was several yards away. After investigating the wreck, I found the anchor and noticed that smallmouth regularly hung out near the anchor.”
When the weather is nasty the water rough, Balog doesn’t have to blind fish and hope to bump into fish. He is able to place his boat over the top of structure, like the anchor, that he knows holds fish because of scouting the area with his camera when the water was calm and clear. Using Electronics
Balog relies on a variety of electronics to help him increase his chances of catching small-mouth bass. He regularly uses a GPS with his Aqua-Vu.
“I am always on the lookout for that small group of boulders or structure that no one knows about,” Balog said. “I fish one location on Lake Erie that is a small pile of rocks surrounded by a sea of mud and flat lake bottom, but I can always count on catching a fish or two on that small pile of rocks. Without a camera, I wouldn’t have found that sweet spot. After I find the sweet spots, I mark them on my GPS so I know where they are next time I fish.”
Fishing deep structure can be difficult but with the right tools like a GPS and an underwater camera. But using that equipment to find isolated spots that hold fish can be relatively easy, which could mean more tournaments won, or fish on the wall.