GoPro Cameras for Fishing

The next revolution in the fishing industry is upon us and no one even told you. In a sport where promotion is king, every new bait is a “must have” and gadgets and gizmos abound, how in the heck is that possible? No one told you, because you were the ones telling them – nay, showing them. Let this serve as the notice to all anglers; the GoPro revolution has begun.

For those not familiar with the technology, GoPro Cameras are small HD camcorders no larger than your cell phone that possess a fixed lens design without a viewfinder. The concept was developed by amateur surfer Nick Woodman who grew increasingly frustrated with his inability to capture quality action photos and videos while in the act of surfing. He discovered no matter how hard he tried and how skilled of photographers he worked with, there was simply no way to capture the intricacies of the sport without spending a fortune on high tech camera equipment. In other words, only a pro could get the photos and video he was after. His desire for a more accessible, high quality solution led him to start the GoPro company which would develop cameras with the capability to shoot video and take photos like the pros at a price amateur athletes could afford. Fast forward 10 years and billions of dollars later and GoPro is now a household name. Over the past decade GoPro cameras have become the norm amongst amateur action sport enthusiasts, think that’s an exaggeration? Spend one day at a skate park or ski resort and you’ll see exactly why the company’s valued at over 2 billion dollars. Helmets now serve equally as a camera platform as they do for safety purposes and many of those cameras are one of two or three constantly recording in hopes of capturing all the angles as to not miss anything.

Despite the throngs of action sport enthusiasts to adopt the technology early on, fishermen have for the most part been a recent addition to the GoPro market, but one that is increasing steadily. The popularity of GoPro Cameras in bass fishing represents another oddity: the amateurs taught the pros. With platforms like YouTube and Vimeo for video hosting and sharing, amateur anglers post GoPro videos with everything from how to instructional videos to a near head on boat collision and even the opening of their latest online tackle order. These amateurs may not be professional anglers, but they certainly are capable of creating compelling content and establishing a media presence as is the case with guys like MikeyBalzz fishing and Bassmaster Wild Card runner up Shaye Baker, just to name a few.

Professional anglers may have been schooled by the amateurs, but they sure are catching on quick. One such angler is FLW Tour pro Brent Ehrler who characterizes the technology as a game changer for the sport and predicts it will trump just about any other that has come before it. Ehrler, who wasn’t initially sold on filming himself on the water, explains his first impression saying,

“I was aware of the GoPro for action sports, but never really thought of the use in fishing until I actually got one in my hands and looked into the features,” he continues, “I mean it’s kinda like the shallow water anchors. The first time I saw them I thought they were a gimmick, but then I really started to fish with my Talons and they made so much sense. I compare it to that. That uh-huh moment was similar for both.”
The difference between the two is largely based upon which part of his fishing it will benefit. While the anchors are an on-the-water necessity, the GoPro camera is predominately for off the water work. Ehrler explains,
“As a professional angler I knew this was something I needed to have for promotion. That was the first and most important use for me. It gives me the opportunity to promote myself, the companies that sponsor me and the sport in general.”

It’s well established that professional bass anglers are equal parts promoter and fisherman – a duality that is often difficult to balance without one aspect suffering. Undoubtedly, social media has become a big part of any angler’s marketability. The assortment of social media outlets allows fans more direct access to their favorite anglers who are now capable of interacting with their fans in the medium that best suits their personality. However, with great power comes great responsibility and the task of effectively utilizing these platforms has often fallen by the wayside or been riddled with incessant infomercials. For anglers like Ehrler, GoPro footage has been his solution to much of his social media presence. “It used to be such an imposition to spend a day shooting footage for products. It’s a lot of time, money and manpower to get everything setup and you may never even capture the footage you were looking for. For me, keeping my GoPro rolling all day on the water is much more efficient and honestly it’s much more genuine.” Ehrler continues, “We all know when we are being sold on this product or that product, but with the GoPro I think you let fans into your world and they see what’s really going on. ” As GoPro cameras continue to evolve, they have even added features that allow immediate sharing to Facebook, Youtube and other platforms via smartphone apps. It seems reasonable to predict they will play a bigger role in tournament bass fishing, perhaps the future will include live streaming video from each and every anglers’ boat during tournaments. Should a tournament organization put that into practice, it would certainly give fans more access to the anglers and ultimately help to promote the sport.

While angler promotion certainly benefits professional anglers, there’s a much broader scope of use when it comes to amateur anglers and their desire to improve. In virtually every sport, film review is a considerable factor in improving. From breaking down a golf stroke or baseball swing to understanding play development in football, there is no more honest critique than watching yourself in action. Ehrler suggests anglers are already taking advantage of the technology for those uses and specifically cites skipping jigs, hooksets and casting motions as a few examples of what he believes could benefit such review. A few anglers experiencing fatigue during the season even filmed themselves per the request of their doctors and physical therapists in order to better understand the cause of such injuries and determine how to avoid them in the future. As Ehrler offers, “Educational uses are limitless. It’s astounding how much you can really take from documenting your experiences.” Documentation is perhaps the most unique use of the GoPro camera and one that is particularly beneficial for fishermen. While fishing logs and notes are still an important part of any anglers research, video may be the next step in refining one’s approach. Supplementing maps and notes with video clips enables anglers to put themselves back in the moment and relive their past experiences. The idiosyncrasies of techniques and their result are rarely capable of being illustrated with notes and certainly memory is subject to convolution as time passes.

Perhaps the most forgotten element of it all, and one Ehrler was quick to point out, is how fun recording fishing can be. It’s all but certain that since man first picked up a fishing pole, bragging rights over the biggest fish have been part of what makes fishing fun. Friendly competition goes hand in hand with any hobby and the satisfaction of bettering one’s self is second only to besting a competitor. Even as a professional angler, Ehrler admits he occasionally partakes in some boasting saying,

“If I say I caught a 10lber in practice I used to get the “hmms” and “haws” from the guys, but now I can send them over a picture with a comment or two. It’s just part of the fun of being able to fish for a living.”
Fun aside, taking pictures of your catch can be a real challenge when fishing alone. Anyone who’s ever tried to get an accurate picture of a trophy fish knows it’s hard to fully capture the scale of it’s size and even worse it’s almost impossible to include yourself in the photo. What good’s a picture of your personal best laying on the carpet alongside a rod. Certainly that’s not frame worthy. GoPro’s functionality allows you to take still images from your video frames essentially enabling you to sort through thousands of photos for that perfect shot.

So what does the ideal setup look like? After 6 months of testing out different configurations and accessories, Ehrler has settled on the following items for the ultimate GoPro experience:

Ehrler explains his setup, “Of course you start with your camera of choice, I personally chose the best they had because it’s a work expense for me, but all the models are stellar. A waterproof case is pretty self explanatory for use on the water. I chose two basic mounts: the suction cup and jaws flex. The suction cup will allow you to stick the camera on any surface and the jaws mount acts like a clamp with the ability to latch on to just about anything. Finally, the LCD touch screen is an accessory that I felt I needed. It’s a luxury, but it certainly helps when you are choosing settings or want to quickly look at some footage you shot.” Whether you’re a once a month angler or serious tournament competitor, filming days on the water offers a fun and easy way to document your experiences. Unlike some of your other luxury fishing accessories, the GoPro doesn’t have to be all about you. With a combination of the ease of use, high quality footage it’s capable of capturing and the comparably affordable price, it poses a great option for the next family camcorder as well. So catch onto the latest wave of technology in fishing and try you hand at going pro. We’ll be watching.

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