As a columnist, outdoor writer and professional bass angler, I feel blessed to have access to wonderful products including fish finders, rods, reels and more tackle than you could possibly imagine. However, this week’s story is about the newest addition to my angling arsenal, the Aqua Vu HD10i Pro underwater camera.

An underwater camera is exactly that — a camera system that enables you to watch a screen which displays what the camera views under the surface. A 20-year veteran of Aqua Vu ownership, the advances in this new camera system are simply amazing. From Infrared (IR) lighting for low-light filming and digital camera depth and direction indicators to hi-def video outputs, auto clear technology and a one-touch zoom, this is a marvelous underwater viewing system.

I use the Aqua Vu for discovering the exact species of fish under the ice or below my boat. Although I pride myself on being able to read the marks on my Lowrance and Humminbird fish finders to identify species, there is no way my knowledge of fish finders is as good as an actual picture of the fish.

When practicing for a tournament, I drop the Aqua Vu camera down to see the structure, grass and bottom contours holding fish. Although I don’t use the camera system in actual tournaments, it can be a huge help to me during practice, especially on water of which I am unfamiliar.

The Aqua Vu camera has other capabilities and my little tale this week highlights just one of many applications of this little beauty.

A week ago, a friend of mine lost his wallet and cellphone (in a folding billfold) down a hole in the ice where we were fishing. There are few things that can ruin a fun day on the ice than losing something down the hole in which you are fishing.

When my friend, Todd Wake of Cedar Hills, told me about the disaster, I offered to get my Aqua Vu and see if I could find and recover the billfold. Assuming that wouldn’t be possible, Todd decided not to pursue a recovery.

Fast forward a few days and I decided to try to at least locate the lost billfold. I headed back out on the ice, drilled a few holes in the exact area in which Todd had been fishing, dropped down my camera and instantly spotted the open billfold on the bottom with the cell phone’s camera pointing up at me.

I was amazed that even in semi-clear water, the billfold containing credit cards and the cell phone was easily visible at 20 feet. Next, I devised a plan to recover the items from the bottom. As I thought about it, it became clear that I couldn’t hook the billfold because it had settled into the bottom and try and I did, even a large treble hook never got under the billfold.

Finally, I called Ryan Mosely of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and asked if he could think of something I could do. He allowed me to borrow a clam shell contraption used to take sediment samples from the bottom of lakes. Its opening was 6 inches by 6 inches and I estimated the open billfold was close to 5½ inches wide and long.

After waiting out a very windy day, I finally got back on the ice last Friday, drilled new holes, lowered the camera and re-acquired the image of the billfold on the bottom.

While watching my 10-inch screen, I was able to maneuver the clam shell directly on top of the billfold, engage its claws and snag the billfold. My buddy, Todd, was genuinely surprised that I not only found but recovered his lost billfold.

If you want to get a brand-new view of the fish you target and want to better understand real-time views of structure, grass, or even a lost billfold, you might want to look into owning my new secret weapon — the Aqua Vu camera system.

Don Allphin can be reached at don@donallphin.com.