Have you ever wondered what's actually below your boats? This is a question I've always wondered. So I decided to drop a camera down and see what fish were down there.
The following is a lightly edited video transcription:
On this mission, I wanted to test out a prototype camera mount that I built to learn more about the structure that I'm fishing. First, however, I had to paddle out there. The conditions were about as perfect as it gets, with no wind or swell to speak of. Considering it was September, it felt like summer. I turned the camera on and sent it down, hoping to see the fish that appeared on my fish finder screen. This is an area where I've caught blue cod and tarakihi before, but I never knew what the bottom actually looked like. It seems like it's just a bunch of rocks on the bottom with a few larger ones hanging around the edges.
I normally burley on this spot, and quite a few fish usually come in, but today there didn't seem to be too many there. Oh, here comes a fish! A blue cod is coming up to the camera. He's looking right into the frame, which is quite funny. That's pretty cool to see now. I had the camera sitting about five meters off the bottom, so he's come up a long way to take a look at that.
I've dropped the camera back down, and it looks like we're sitting on a bit of a weed line. There's sand on the left and a bit of reef there, and a blue cod is looking in the middle. Now, when I first watched this, I couldn't quite believe it, but coming in from the right is a nice kingfish, and it just cruises on by, and it goes off to the left. Then, I'm shocked because then I see the tail right next to the camera, and here's an instant replay. The kingfish comes in, has a look at the camera, cruises on by. I'm not quite sure how big it is; it's pretty hard to tell from this distance how big the kingfish is.
But then, I'm not sure if it's a separate fish, but the kingfish comes right up to the camera and is looking right at it. That's clearly a kingfish tail. And then it bumps the camera a few times and then buggers off. And I was none the wiser that a kingfish had been right up to the camera. Even though I could see it on the screen, I didn't think there was a kingfish there at all.
So now I'm going to do a couple of shallower drops because I've been looking for a good butterfish spot to hopefully target one on a hook, which is a very difficult thing to do. So I'm going to drop over bits of reef in about 5 to 8 meters and see what I can see down there. Now almost immediately on the way down, there's a big school of kahawai sitting over the top of this rock. It's pretty common for this area. Now we're on the bottom, and there's a bunch of kelp there, and this is looking really good for butterfish.
Now I just repositioned the camera a little bit higher off the bottom. Now if you look directly at the top of the screen, you'll find a butterfish just cruising. And then moving into the next shot, the butterfish just sort of sits there, and we've got a butterfish, a spotty in the middle, and then a banded wrasse also. So when I'm standing around on these reefs, I often have this fish sign sitting quite high in the water, and I've now discovered that these are most often butterfly perch. These guys here, sitting well off the reef.
So now I've moved out quite a bit deeper, and it's a little over 30 meters here. And the bottom is very similar; it's that little rubbly rock just on the top of the sand, and we've got a blue cod coming up to the camera again. They're so interested in the camera, these little fish. He's looking right in the lens, having a look around, looking right in the lens again, almost having a little nibble there. And off in the distance, you can see a leather jacket coming straight in, actually a second one off onto the right. These fish are notorious bait pickers; there's one of the culprits right there on the left.
Now, on the bar right down the bottom, I've got a fish that I've never seen or caught out here. It's a porae, and these are one of my big target species that I've never caught, so great to see one of those. Hopefully, I'll be able to catch one of those in the future. So I've anchored on this little mark here, and we've already got fish looking at the camera. Got a sea perch coming in, and a scarlet wrasse, also looking right at the camera. Off in the distance, you can see a tarakihi coming in for a look as well. He comes in for a bit closer of a look. And then as soon as he swims past, I've got a blue cod right on the camera and another sea perch trying to eat it.
So let's see what happens when we drop a bait down, and what kind of fish we bring out first.
These mollymawks are always very keen on the sea perch. They're a scavenging bird, so this is pretty normal for them to eat a fish like this. Even though a sea perch is really spiny, they have no trouble getting them down their throat. Although this spot is about 33 meters deep, there wasn't much current, so I decided to rip the burley out and see what kind of fish it brought in.
The first fish going in the back was a lovely fat blue cod. Perfect.
This was a fairly solid blue cod. The biggest I've caught out of Waimarama. It was about 1.3 kilos, and I was very happy to put this big fish in the back.
So I could see a bit of sign on my fish finder about 8 meters off the bottom. So I dropped the camera down, and I was soon surrounded by a school of tarakihi. When I have a sign high on the sounder, it's typically just a guessing game as to what it is. I had a suspicion that it was tarakihi, but I wasn't certain for sure.
So having this footage really boosts my confidence in what I'm reading on my sounder. These fish didn't seem particularly hungry, and were more interested in looking at their reflection in the camera lens.
What started out as a fairly small group turned into a really big school of fish coming in. They're all having a really good look at the camera, and some of them are even bumping it with their nose. This is really cool footage to see. You don't typically see tarakihi underwater like this.
There's quite a large one off in the distance, and he's kind of keeping his distance from the camera. The rest of them don't seem too bothered by it, however.
It took a bit of time, but I eventually hooked up to one of these fish that were down there. I now knew this school was fairly small fish based on this one I pulled up, so I opted to let him go.