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Article - Recording Underwater Videos - Part 2

Page history last edited by Jerome Moisand 11 years, 12 months ago



In the first part of this article, we went through all sorts of practicalities about recording underwater videos. This clearly isn't an easy process, but this can be done if you put a good deal of research, time & patience into it. As the success of my videos on YouTube demonstrated, this really provides a new view on the behavior of our favorite quarry, as well as bait & rigs.


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So ? What did you learn ?


Admittedly, I am not a carp angler having spent 20 years fishing hard waters, and some of my rigs gave a laugh to specialists. Well, those were the nice people. I was also lambasted by obnoxious people (so easy to do it in an anonymous way on YouTube). The best one was a racist guy from the UK who labeled me as a “fucking cow-boy”, thinking that I was born in the US - er, not quite, je suis Français! The guys who suggested that I was starving groups of carp in a pool for my experiments are also high on my list of do-not-meet people. At the beginning, this was quite irritating, I had the feeling of bringing something really new to carp fishing, and I could have kept the video material to myself instead of bothering with YouTube.


Now I am past that. I actually smile when I see the know-it-all guys post dismissive comments. Because it became quite clear that most of those fellows don’t have that much of a clue about the way things happen under water. For fun, let’s go through a few myths.


Myth#1: I have a perfect anti-eject rig, if a carp sucks my bait, that’s it, it will be hooked up.


Myth#2: once cast, my rig will sit on the bottom and not move at all until I have a run.


Myth#3: carp are very shy, and if I have a run, there is just no way I’ll catch another carp at the same exact spot in the coming 30 minutes or so.


Myth#4: carp don’t go after moving bait. And any noise or movement will frighten them.


Let’s take them in reverse order. Anybody having seen carp eating crayfish should know that myth#4 makes little sense, but this is still a bit counter-intuitive to watch carp attracted to (and following) a moving target, like when I'm dragging my rig on the bottom to line it up with my underwater camera. I’ve also clearly seen them at times moving towards the water disturbance before my sinker hits the bottom. Makes you think to the long hours we often spend with nothing moving. Have you had any experience where you recast after hours of nothingness and you get a run within minutes? I sure did, albeit not that often. Watching my videos, it became really clear to me that noise and movement can indeed act as a trigger, notably when carp are already feeding. As to myth#3, I was struck by how different carp behavior is when they actively feed or when they are just idly roaming. Sure enough, in the latter case, noise makes them scatter and not come back anytime soon, but in the former case, they scatter yet come back within minutes if not seconds. 


Now myth#2. Why wouldn’t this be true ? Well, watch my videos. Check how carp use their pectoral fins to stir the bottom, and how they suck and spit out sand, gravel and bait. I know a famous carp angler who likes to pull a bit on the main line after casting, so that the hooklink gets straightened. Well, the initial position might be improved (although the risk of grabbing something with the hook in the process would make me nervous), but this seems a bit pointless, as his hooklink will probably be sent flying in the water quite a few times, and end up in a different position on the bottom before he gets a successful hook-up. In one video segment which made me roll my eyes in disbelief, a very skillful carp created a hopeless tangle between my hook and the sinker, just by using its pectoral fins!


As to myth#1, this one entertains me a lot. I did more tests with my camera than published on the Internet (due to various issues with the electronics, not all video material I’ve seen was recorded), using my rigs or using rigs from more experienced anglers. The D-rig? Check out the way carp spit out what they don’t elect to swallow. There is quite a small maelstrom of water in the mouth of the carp, and when it spits something, rig & bait are ejected out with such speed & strength than there isn’t much hope for the hook trajectory to be decoupled from the bait. So if the hook didn’t grab the mouth before the ejection, then there is truly little hope left! I’ve come to the conclusion that D-rigs work as regular rigs if the fish moves with the bait in its mouth, that’s it, no more, no less!


More generally, what about the super-secret rig which unlocked a difficult fishing session and gave you one great catch? Er, I mean, if you assess the value of a rig on one run, you might want to rethink how random (lucky?) is the process to successfully hook up a carp, and maybe you’ll question yourself a bit more. The miracle rig which led to a fantastic session with a run every 15 minutes? Well, are you sure that you didn’t just stumble upon a large school of starving fish which started to compete big time, and that your rig wasn’t spit out 5 or 10 times before each run? In my most popular video (Hooked & Hooked), this was indeed the case, yet I did land carp after carp at a very high pace that day.


I am now truly convinced that there is no perfect rig, and that it’s part of the normal fishing cycle to have carp take and spit out your rig, and if you prick one every few times they take your bait, it’s already pretty good. Plus, if you miss one, this isn’t the end of the world, they come back. This being said, a well tuned rig with a sharp hook does make a big difference for sure. It's all a matter of probability, instead of a matter of certainty. With some tuning, I certainly increased the percentage of hook-ups on the rig I use most of the time. Videos don't lie, you can really assess the ratio between successful hook-ups and failed ones, irrespective of how active carp are or some other external circumstance.


Here are a couple of nice pics I took after playing a fish I saw being hooked on the underwater camera.


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A couple of more observations


As previously mentioned, after chumming with some good stuff, carp become quite excited and much less cautious. This isn't exactly new to most of you, I am sure, but the extent to which this is true amazed me. I've hit a carp on the head while lowering my rig. And seen it shake its head, and keep feeding. Once you start decreasing the amount of chum that goes in the water, they get even more competitive. Again, nothing new here, but I've seen no less than three carp rush to a single hookbait that I just lowered in the water, bump their heads, miss the bait, turn around and come back to it as soon as possible.


This just speaks volume to the strategy of throwing method balls and freebies to a tight spot, wait for signs of carp, top up the bait, start catching them, and every time you get one, throw more bait but not too much. I rarely take a picture or weigh a fish I just landed without topping up the bait first. An hour before you plan to leave, just recast with a single hook & bait after a run, and you might still land a couple of fish. In some environments, I can now succeed to create and sustain activity for half a day (recently, I got it just right for 15 hours in a row! I slept well that night and was a little sore the day after!). It's a tough balance, which really depends on the number of fish you have in front of you, and I just wouldn't have fully appreciated what was going on without my videos.



One last thought. Do you think carp locate specific bait, either by eye or by scent, and go after it like you would pick a food item in your plate? Well, it really depends. Some segments of my videos clearly show carp swimming around, spotting a specific kernel of corn and going straight at it. No discussion this was done by sight. This being said, I sometimes start the process with no carp swimming around, and 30 minutes later, I have a nice group feeding. It has to be scent for the first few ones coming around, and then a combination of scent and noise attracting the other ones. Now, I occasionally used a hookbait with a fairly strong flavor and lowered it in front of the camera. And saw carp exploring the bottom, and missing the hookbait by a couple of inches, while sucking and rejecting a bunch of uninteresting dirt. Was my flavor too strong? No. It was fine, and the next carp coming around might very well pick it up. Fact is once they are very excited (and I believe scent having dissolved in the nearby water plays a big role), they become really dumb eating machines. They just blindly (I mean it!) vacuum the bottom, in a completely random manner. You still get hook-ups, mind you. It is one of those situations where this is mind-boggingly frustrating to watch the video, and the number of times carp go near your hookbait without touching it, yet you actually catch a fish every 10 minutes or so, because their random exploration is so active that they get to your bait by complete luck! And here you are, a happy angler, really convinced that your super rig and bait did the trick. Well, stay happy, you're catching nicely, but lady luck did play a much bigger role than you might have perceived.


Actually, some anglers just use a plastic bead on the hair, no flavor, nothing edible. Those guys are really good at flavors and method packs, carp schools get in an amazing transe of excitement, and they would pick up absolutely anything. This is very impressive to watch. Or really frustrating when you fish 20 yards from such anglers, and you catch absolutely nothing, while they keep hauling...


Waldo and Snow White


Now for a few anecdocts. In the US, there is a series of books for children dubbed “Where is Waldo?”. On every page, there is a busy crowd and you have to find a specific and slightly goofy character named Waldo.


Early 2009, I left the recording on while carp were happily feeding on my bait. I was assembling some rigs without paying attention to what was happening on the camera screen, except for the fact that a nice group of carp were there. It was quite cold, below the freezing point, but I was feeling good, ready to try something that would revolutionize carp fishing (yeah, well, maybe not this time!). I lowered my rig in the water, checked the camera and noticed that the battery level was already low. I had forgotten to recharge it. What a dope. So I gathered my things and came back home grumbling. In the evening, I idly watched what I had recorded and surprise, surprise, a small linear made an appearance several times. This was cool, there are less than 1% mirrors in this venue, so seeing a linear on video was quite something. 



There are many hundreds of carp roaming around in this part of the river, so my hopes of seeing Waldo again were pretty slim. The following week-end, I was back with my video gear, and while I was going through my next experiment, I couldn’t stop thinking that it would be cool to see Waldo again. After two hours of recording, the SVAT recorder displayed a “memory full” warning. Just a few seconds later, I glimpsed a carp on the camera screen being hooked up, I played it without paying much attention, and… you guessed, I’m sure… to my utter amazement, I landed Waldo! What were the odds? Incredible.



To read the full story of Waldo, and see the corresponding footage, check this Web page.


Now let me share a secret with you. Somewhere in the video footage I never published, there is a ghost. Not the phantom of the opera, but the phantom of the camera! It’s a small koi, bright white, which I named Snow White. It crossed the screen, made a U-turn, went back, and I never saw it again, never. I’m not a prince nor am I charming, that is for sure (no comments, please!), but I keep hoping that some day my koi will come…





Experimenting with an underwater camera is a unique experience allowing to dissipate many myths and assumptions which lasted for many years by lack of proper information. This being said, one has to be careful. Given all the practical limitations in doing such video experiments, it is real hard to generalize to all types of carp fishing, this mainly gives indications for the environment where this is recorded and not much more. Just a case in point, carp on my videos are fairly small, usually 4 to 12 pounds, not terribly wise (to say the least), so what’s happening with much larger carp is probably quite different.


Is this a big deal? Of course not. Being able to publish a nice video makes you quickly forget how difficult it was to do it, this is already very fulfilling by itself. And if the experiment was quite narrowly focused on specific circumstances, isn’t it already quite fascinating to have a (small) window on this underwater world? Actually, given how narrow is the window of observation, my fascination towards the mysterious underwater world is absolutely intact, if not increased by the realization that we know so little about carp behavior and about the way how rigs work – or not. As somebody famous said, the more you learn, the more you appreciate how much you don’t know, or something like that.


If you’d like to give it a try yourself, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have; wherever you are, e-mail should work, so just write at jmoisand@gmail.com and I’ll try to help - as long as you don't call me a "fucking cow-boy". If you’d rather wait for my next video, subscribe on YouTube and I will undoubtedly publish more footage at some point in time. Enjoy! 

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