Help me shoot some fish!
July 11, 2011 2:22 AM   Subscribe

What techniques can I use to get close to the fish in the creek behind my home (for the purpose of getting underwater photographs)?

There is a little river ('creek' to Americans I guess ...) running directly behind my home. This year, due to some particular combination of circumstances (weather, rainfall levels, etc.) it is full of fish, far more than I have ever seen here before. I have been trying to use my little (underwater model) digital camera to take pictures of them, but - as you would guess - none of the larger fish will let me get anywhere near them.

Looking down from my balcony into the water I can see plenty of fish around 20~25cm in length, so I know they are in there, but when I sit in the shallows (with some 'bait' placed on the gravel about a meter or so in front of me), although I am soon surrounded by hundreds of small fingerlings [sample pic], nothing of a 'substantial' size will come close. Is this simply because I haven't sat long enough (or quietly enough), or is it just 'not gonna happen'?

I was thinking perhaps of getting a sheet of plywood with a couple of holes in it, propping it up in a suitable area, putting a bit of bait in front, then sitting behind it peeking through the holes. Would they be 'fooled' by this, or would I just be wasting my time?

Any suggestions?
posted by woodblock100 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
Do you have a remote control for the camera so you do not have to be close to it?
posted by episodic at 2:29 AM on July 11, 2011

No, no remote, sorry. We're talking pretty low-tech here. And something as extensive as digging a submerged 'blind' in the river bed (or similar endeavour), is kind of more than I can get involved with just now. (This is just something to do in 'breaks' from work, etc.)

Mostly, I'm curious about the behaviour of the fish. When I sit quietly in the woods behind my home, all kind of insects, birds, small mammals, etc. soon come very close - as long as I sit quietly. Will fish do the same?
posted by woodblock100 at 2:34 AM on July 11, 2011

Is your shadow falling in the water? They may be avoiding the shadow.

Also fish are very sensitive to any kind of movement in the water, in addition to having pretty good vision (they are able to see beyond the surface to some extent)

I have gotten fish in aquariums to ignore my hand or a net if I stayed still for a while. And once, I stood in a big river for 5-10 min and attracted all sorts of little fish that nibbled on me. Then they would all scatter the instant I made any movement at all. I think staying really dang still for a few minutes is worth a shot. Though it's also possible bigger fish may be more cautious.
posted by everyday_naturalist at 3:00 AM on July 11, 2011

Then they would all scatter the instant I made any movement at all. I think staying really dang still for a few minutes is worth a shot.

This is my experience so far. I sit very still, for quite a long time, but even something as slight as moving my finger onto the shutter button spooks the little guys who have come close. And then even the sound of the shutter being pressed (which I can't hear) spooks them again (I guess sound underwater perhaps travels quite well).

So the little ones seem to be willing to come close - although only with great trepidation - but nothing over about 5~6cm seems willing to even try. And I can certainly understand this; being very careful is presumably how they managed to get big. (Although there is no fishing in this river, so I can't see how they could have learned to be afraid of people specifically ...)
posted by woodblock100 at 3:07 AM on July 11, 2011

With the aid of a simple periscope, you could get out of the water altogether, and shoot from the bank. This would eliminate your biological scent, your electrical fields, and your involuntary body movement/sounds (pulse, bowels, breath), as cues to larger fish, which are picking you up at a distance, better than the small fry, by means of their lateral lines. I've made fairly effective simple periscopes out of lengths of PVC tubing, and hand mirrors glued to internal scraps of the tubing with fitting cement.
posted by paulsc at 3:30 AM on July 11, 2011


Now that's something worth looking into! :-) The banks are quite steep and high (2~3 metres) so this wouldn't be trivial, but this does sound like a good way to approach the 'problem' ...
posted by woodblock100 at 3:39 AM on July 11, 2011

Does your camera have a setting that allows it to take images automatically (perhaps intermittently) or take video?

If so, simple attach it to a fishing pole and go fish. Pull it out after a couple minutes and see what you get.
posted by Murray M at 4:25 AM on July 11, 2011

if you can set something up that you can sit there for a while and allow them to get used it it, like set up some type of periscope that can be semi-permanent, and then bait the water... every 10-15 minutes, come back later and fish should be there...
posted by fozzie33 at 4:30 AM on July 11, 2011

A small aquarium works well for taking underwater pics of fish without any fancy equipment. Put the camera in the aquarium and use a remote shutter release to snap photos. If the water is cloudy then this won't help but works well otherwise. You may want to set this up in the shallows and get a radio-controlled remote to snap the pictures from afar assuming your camera can use a radio remote.
posted by JJ86 at 6:13 AM on July 11, 2011

Lots of interesting ideas here ... thanks for the input! Talking to one of my neighbours here - who has been living in the area far longer than I - I have learned that the 'reason' for the large fish population this year is the fact that the river channel has become very much overgrown with brush and grasses, with a lot of silt also forming embankments here and there. I guess this provides a much better environment for the wildlife than the 'normal' condition of a straight, dredged channel. He added that he expects the water board authority to be coming through any time now on a maintenance pass, ripping all that stuff out and leaving it as a clear (and 'safe') channel once more. So I had better get something going here before I lose my chance ...

Thanks again!
posted by woodblock100 at 3:14 PM on July 11, 2011

You can do motion detection and scheduled snapshots and scripting on a old Canon by installing CHDK.
posted by jayCampbell at 4:11 PM on July 11, 2011

« Older Page turning sci-fi for non-sci-fi buffs   |   Why doesn't my landline ring? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.