June 17th, 2002

Wet Cameras and Fly-Fishing
By James Castwell

Something has happened in fly-fishing, and 'Catch-and-Release' caused it. Cameras. You see them everywhere. These days most of us are not keeping any fish, but, darn it, we want SOME proof or record, at least of the more noteworthy ones, or just having been out there.

When I started fly-fishing, Kodak had a box camera, called it a 'Brownie,' every family had one. There were some funny looking cameras back then, the lens pulled out on two neat little rails, looked almost professional. And of course, there were 'view' cameras, big outfits, only real photographers had those things.

I sometimes took a camera with me on fishing trips. It may have been for a 'Hero' shot, you know the ones, smiling face and a dead fish on a stick, board or stringer. Things were different back then, most of us fished for fish, we ate the things.

As times changed better and somewhat smaller cameras became available. The SLR came out, and with it pictures that were actually in focus, something often lacking with the older models. Next, not counting the 60 second Polaroid numbers, came the 'point-and-shoot.' Size had been concurred, little cameras we could actually carry in a fly vest if we chose to. Most rarely choose to though. There was no urgent reason to carry them on the stream or lake unless you were writing a story or such.

Along the way some nearly tragic events have occurred however. For instance, I was fishing with Vincent Marinaro on the Au Sable in Michigan one spring. Through a comedy of errors, his Nikon got dunked, dunked real good. Never was the same, pictures were lost as well. Costly error.

I was doing some writing in the 60's and had, along with a fine Miranda SLR, a dandy little 35mm 'Rollie.' Expensive thing, but, great lense, and very small. I still never took it on the stream, well, almost never. In later years I lent it to a pal who wanted it to shoot some pictures on a trip to Costa Rica. They spent every day on a boat after big fish. When I got it back it looked fine. In two months of sitting on a table, it died. The salt air had gotten into it and rust has taken it's toll. It was not 'Air-Proof' and as it took pictures, the salt laden air was drawn in, depositing enough nasty stuff to eventually kill it. I sent it in, nothing they could do to fix it, the whole camera was shot. I was not at first thrilled with my friend, however realized that it was in no way his fault.

Less than a year ago this happened to me. The day was cold and nasty. Light drizzle and all that goes with it. We were after salmon, fishing an estuary of a stream where they congregated. I had on a heavy jacket and a down vest under that. Inside, in a shirt pocket was my little (Nikon 775) digital camera, keeping nice and warm. A heavy fog had formed and visibility was perhaps fifty feet at best. I could see the potential for some interesting pictures and during the afternoon, took the camera out from inside my jacket, turned it on, (the lense automatically comes out when turned on) took some shots and returned it to it's nice warm hiding place.

About ten days or so later it died, died real dead. You may recall I had a bit of a time getting it repaired, they basically put everything new in it. It was my fault! Just another dumb thing I seem able to invent. Take a nice warm camera out of a shirt pocket into the cold SALT fog, make the thing function, which draws air into it, them put it back, DUH! When I come in from that kind of fishing I can taste salt on my lips ithout having ever taken a drink. I know, stupid of me.

The fix of course is to put my camera in a zip-lock bag from now on. And not take it out into the salt fog, ever. Well, I guess, if I zip-lock it in the future, it will not get wet if I fall in, but what about taking pictures? Right, take it OUT of the bag, huh? Not. What am I going to do? Well, with a few hundred bucks wrapped up in gear, and if I want, or need a picture, I am going to get one of the bags I can shoot thru. They are made with a special plastic which will not mess up the picture and I don't have to take the camera OUT OF THE BAG! I can turn it on, extend the lense, take the picture and never subject it to any outside pollution, no matter what it may be. Let's hope it works as well as I think it will.

It will not get wet if I fall in, and even will allow me to take pictures UNDERWATER if I want to, how about that? They come in several sizes, but, I only need the little one for my (re-built) Nikon 775. You will see shots here on FAOL in the future taken right thru the bag. For about twenty-five bucks, how can I not get one. Old JC may be slow, but eventually I do get there, usually. You can read a Product Review on the Aquapac Camera Bag here. ~ ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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