Monday, April 13, 2015

GoPro Alternative Power Sources

If you have tried using a GoPro to capture your fishing excursions, you know how pitiful the battery life is.  And if you fish from a kayak, you know how much of a pain it is to switch out batteries.  For me, my hands are constantly wet, not to mention many of the places I go have wind, waves, spray, and many other variables that make me more than a little nervous when I have the housing open.  So, I did some homework on alternative power sources for GoPro Heroes(newer models) and thought I'd share.

First up, for those of you with the Hero 3+, the Brunton All-Day battery pack was a great choice for me.  It snaps on to the back of your case and lasts a long time.  I don't record constantly, as in I use my GoPro remote and start and stop recording as I see fit during the trip.  I maxed out a 32gb card in a few hours and turned the camera off with the wifi still on.  The next day, the blue wifi light was still blinking.  I heard from a few others who have the Brunton All-Day and some say they wanted more battery life and bought two to switch out on the water.  They had much larger memory cards and recorded constantly the entire time on the water.  Over all though, I was very happy with it.  Keep in mind that it's not meant to be submerged.  It has no problem being splashed on so it served as my bow camera where I didn't intend to actually put it in the water.  One other thing I would recommend is switching the black O-ring that comes on the Brunton with the white one that is on the back door (that you removed to put the Brunton on).  The black one was thinner and let a tiny bit of moisture in as opposed to the original GoPro gasket which was nice and tight.

When I decided to upgrade to a Hero4 Black, the Brunton All-Day was no longer an option since it does not fit.  Although, I did hear a rumor that one will be available for the Hero4 in the near future.

My continued quest lead me to what I believe is a game changer.  There are multiple pieces and it starts with a 30Pin-to-USB power cable with waterproof backdoor (link).

It's $23.90 + $4.90 for shipping.  It fits the Hero 3+ and the Hero 4. 

Basically, you just plug it in the back of the camera, snap on the door and shut it like you normally would.

Next you need cable glands (size PG7) and a waterproof container for the battery.  For my bow camera I just used a food storage box that I found for a few bucks at Target.  I drilled a hole to match the end of the cable gland and screwed it into place  I added an o-ring (plumbing section in hardware store) between the outside wall of the box and contact point of the cable gland just for added waterproofing.  Then I cut the USB cable about 10-12 inches from the plug and passed it through the gland.  Tightened down the gland onto the cable then spliced the cable back together.  There are only two wires in the USB cable so it's easy to do.  You can look up how-to videos, but I just stripped off about an inch of the outside cable material and half an inch off the wires, slid on heat shrink wrap (or electrical tape works as well at the end), twisted the two wire ends together, and added a little solder (optional) for extra reinforcement.  Then you can either wrap it with electrical tape or shrink the heat wrap with a lighter. 

I mainly use a YakAttack Panfish Portrait for the bow camera and simply tuck the battery box into the main hatch.  The cable is long enough to use extension accessories like the Dog Bone as well and still stow the battery below deck.

I chose two different types of batteries.  For the bow camera I got a 10,000 mAh power bank.  To give you an idea, the Hero 4 battery is 1160 mAh and the Brunton All-Day is 4000 mAh.  The 10,000 mAh battery will last a long time.  For the monopod (or YakAttack Boomstick), I opted for a smaller, lighter 5200mAh battery.  The keep the weight and bulk down, I used a heavy duty ziplock type bag to keep the battery dry.  I added stainless steel washers, neoprene washers and a little contact cement for the cable gland since the plastic bag is flexible.  

The E-Case 13 had two slots at the corners so I attached a velcro strap through each one to wrap the battery bag around the pole and keep it in place.

I've taken these set ups on 3 long trips so far and have been very happy with them.  I have yet to run out of juice on the bow cam.  The one on the monopod runs out after about 6.5 hrs of keeping it on the whole time with the wifi connected to the remote and maxing out a 64gb card (I upgraded the card recently).  The new Smart Remote from GoPro lasted about 6 hrs as well without turning it off.

 Now if only they made a waterproof microphone for GoPros...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Still Messin' Around on the River

While looking forward to getting back to the Chesapeake, the James River in hometown Richmond has kept me entertained.  Quick trips after work have yielded an abundance of hickory shad as well as some white perch, herring, and American Shad.  Reports of big catfish and some stripers have picked up as well.

American Shad.
Remember you are not allowed to possess herring or American Shad.

Jeff Lockhart and I hit the river after work on Monday.  It took a bit to find the fish but once we did it was hook up after hook up.  Shad flies as well as spoons produced many hits.  After the sun went down we put out chunks of hickory shad on 8/0 circles hooks.  It was slower than I was expecting but after a while, Jeff's kayak started dragging anchor as he went to work hauling in a good size fish.  An impressive set of splashes caught enough interest from me to pull my anchor up to see what it was.

Jeff crushed his previous personal best blue catfish with this fat 43"er.  

We stuck around a little longer, messed with smaller cats, and called it a good night in RVA.  The short drive back home left little time to plan the next trip, 
but we both agree...
The salt calls.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Start of the RVA Shad Run

Things were off to a slower than usual start but it is starting to get good on the James River in Richmond.  After two blanked trips, I went on a trip with Wayne Tu after work on Wednesday.  

We took the kayaks out of Ancarrow's Landing and Wayne started getting into a few Hickories on a large gold spoon.  I stuck with the 6wt. fly rod and got a few as well with the two biggest going 1lb 14oz.  Light faded quickly and we soaked a few chunks and caught a couple of blue cats (neither of which were worth measuring).  

Photo Credits:  Wayne Tu

Remember to check river levels and predictions before heading down there.  When the water is running over 10,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), line/depth control will be very difficult and paddling against that kind of current can be strenuous. 

Best of luck.  The shad are definitely here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pressure Drop Bassin' and a Perch Fishing Surprise

The weatherman's crystal ball showed warmer temps, but lots of wind and rain...
while my mind envisioned the barometer dropping 
and largemouth appetites growing.

Soft mud squished under my boots as big drops plopped on the hood of my Kokatat Goretex Full Zip. Sharing the same anticipation, Drew Camp slid into the clear dimpled water first. The smile inducing "fish on" came before I even sat down on my kayak.

Drew quickly picked up several fish on various baits but we couldn't really pin point a good pattern.  A few fish were caught a little deeper on jigs.  A few were also caught on shallow diving crank baits so we went back and forth not focusing enough on either... until we ventured into a cove where the water temps were a few degrees warmer.  They were stacked up and it was literally hook up after hook up for what felt like an hour.  My preferred lures were a Sebile Magic Swimmer (realistic sunfish pattern for clear water and no shad population) and the new Rapala Shadow Rap in olive. 

We both lost count of fish but I can definitely say that Drew outfished me by a lot.  He's got a great detailed report here (link).

In my defense, I was busy playing around with cameras all day.  Here's a short little video of some violent splashing recorded at 120fps 1080 resolution.  

The following afternoon, I was given the opportunity to go grocery fishing since my kids loved the previous week's perch so much.  Jeff and I went to the same spot as before, hoping for similar results.  Unfortunately, the perch were not there anymore.  Small catfish dominated the action until Jeff hooked into something very, very different. His tiny 4' super ultra light perch set up withstood the nerve racking dilemma of trying to land a 25" snakehead with no net and no lip grippers. 

Lip grippers borrowed from Chuck Wrenn after landing it.
Textured plates on the side of it's head.
We could have sworn it was too cold for snakehead, but then again, snakeheads don't cease to amaze those who have encountered them.  Jeff was generous enough to share a fillet off the invasive specie and my son and I can definitely say they're delicious.  Interesting note: it had roe in it.  Prints coming soon...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Perchin' After the Thaw

I went into it with little to no expectation.  
And as with many trips without the possibility of a big let down, 
it turned out to be a memorable one. 

Work, babies, and an extra hour and a half in the wrong direction made what used to be a once or twice a week thing into a rare occurrence.  The message from Justin Mayer saying that he's actually planning on fishing reminded me of some great trips we've had.  Naturally, I accepted the invite...

My more recently acquired fishing buddy, Jeff Lockhart and I met Justin at a creek northeast of Richmond hoping for yellow perch.  Their spawn migration should be in full effect in most rivers in the area.  But having heard of a lot of ice still on many of the normal spots to find them or the water being high and muddy, I didn't get my hopes up.  If it was fishable, I planned on locating schools with live minnows then switching to grubs and blade baits.

Well I definitely found them in decent numbers and sizes.  Jeff, Justin, his dad Curtis and I couldn't get them to take any artificials but we did have good luck on the minnows.  I happened to have the hot rod of the day and landed 16 with 5 over trophy sized (12") and one at 13".  Not being an avid perch fisherman, I didn't know the best live minnow rig for them so I just macguyered a small sinker, with a little dropper loop 10" above that with a little aberdeen hook.  It seemed to get the job done.

From not expect much to ending up with 5 little big fish trophies in one day definitely put a grin on my face.

Needless to say, my kids were eating good.  They even got into a discussion about how they liked it much better than the speckled trout they had last time.  Natalie went on to say she thought flounder was better.
"That's debatable, sweetie."

Fish prints to coming soon...

Thursday, March 5, 2015

"Nothin' But Love" - Video Compilation

Fast paced cuts of hook sets, drag rips, kayak dragging, headshakes, camera slaps, and more...
"Nothin' But Love"

Sunday, February 15, 2015

YakAttack Boomstick Review

Arguably, there is no better way to share a fishing story than through video.  The hits, the sleigh rides,  the facial expressions, everything you love about the sport can be shared through amazing resolution nowadays.  In my constant pursuit of fun footage, I've had the opportunity to use the Boomstick by YakAttack and as usual with their products, I was not disappointed.  In fact, I was actually kind of giddy with all the different angles the Broomstick helped achieve with ease.

It's GoPro ready.  It's 43".  It floats.  And it's super easy to change the angle and pivot.  A quick release button allows the user to remove the pole from the base with one hand and the multiple articulation points allows for virtually any vantage point whether it's mounted or in your hands. 

Floats with Hero3+ with GoPro extended battery without the Floaty Back Door.

I used a RAM Post and Spline base on a Gear Trac for the attachment point to the kayak (Predator 13 in this case).  The Boomstick also fits well in flush mount rod holders.

Quick Release Button
"Plunger" release pin and pivot point

Another pivot point

When your buddy is hooked up next to you, or something cool is happening in the water below, getting that camera out of the base quickly is crucial.  

The 43" length enables a good height to capture a wide view. 

If you love getting those cool angles to share your days on the water, you're gonna want the Boomstick.  It's definitely my go-to.  Paired with the Panfish Portrait toward the bow of the boat, I feel like I have all the bases covered.  

Cool angle with the Boomstick 
On top of all that, the customer service is second to none at YakAttack.  They stick to their values, make quality products and are committed to making sure it's all MADE IN THE USA.