Guttenberg Barge Trip

Catch of the day!

His first experience with fresh fish.. Sheephead and Catfish…

Hello and welcome to the blog today.  We had a break in the weather (and the work schedule) so it seemed like a great opportunity to do some fishing… at two new places!

Tuesday I was only scheduled for a half-day of work and it was a perfect chance to head north.  Leaving Jesse to take care of “Van-Van”, I headed north to a favorite trout fishing haunt – “Bloody Run” park.  But this time I was eager to try a new location,  On Google Earth I saw a picture of a large, lazy pool of water with rapids feeding it.  The location turned out to be worth  investigating.  Five large trout were caught in short order and I saw even more new areas to explore.  Notice there are no pictues of that area… A fisherman has to have a few secret spots.  😀

Naan Pizza 3Dinner was simple and cheap.  I made mini pizzas using Naan (Indian style) bread and some Walmart rotisserie chicken.  (Both were half price items close to expiraion)  Add in some dehydrated tomatoes (from the vines at home) as well as homemade pesto sauce, and a little Meunster cheese.  Cooking over charcoals yielded tasty results.

I ran out of tomatoes so with the rest of the Naan bread, pesto, and Meunster cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches were made for the next day.  Wrapped in foil, the sandwiches absorbed the pesto and cheese and retained the pillow-like bread texture.  With more tomatoes and basil available, the Naan dishes will be made again.  The best part is that there were no dishes to “warsh” (Iowan time for “wash”) upon arriving home.

Bloody Mid FishThe camping spot was Bloody Run Campground.  It’s convenient, safe, clean, and cheap!  While preparing to gut the trout, a young man and woman approached and the lady asked what is on the roof of my van.  I explained it is a 235 watt solar panel to keep my extra batteries charged; she thought that is pretty cool.  The two young folks were gathering Dryad Saddle mushrooms for soup… my type of people!

On Wednesday morning, I got up at the crack of dawn (fell back asleep for two more hours) and had a breakfast of Diet Sunkist and grilled Naan / pesto / cheese sandwiches.  Grumbling that it was late and there’d be too many people at the regular fishing spot, I went back to the new location and got five more fish.  Woo hoo!  No matter what the rest of the fishing day had in store,, there would be fish to take home.

LandingFrom there it was on to the barge in the town of Guttenberg – about a 20 minute drive.  This beautiful old building has been restored to offer rooms at a reasonable price – around $99 to $109 per night.  The view is breathtaking.  This building has been several things including a button manufacturing plant (which closed in 1957).  Even today, clam shells with holes punched out (called blanks) can be found along the shores of the Mississippi River.  I brought a few back as souveniers.


To get to the fishing barge (located below the dam), one pays a $10 round-trip fee to take a boat to the location. Landing 615 Directly on the river (and below the inn), there is a shop that has bait, snacks, a fish cleaning table, etc.  It is from there that you catch the shuttle.

Once a person is done fishing, he/she can call for a ride back by using a walkie-talkie radio.  In a soft-sided cooler on the barge, there is a variety of sodas, water, and snacks.  It’s on the honor system – you just leave a buck for each item taken.  They will even deliver a pizza to the barge from nearby Joe’s Pizza.  The next time I go there, by golly, I’m going to order a pizza!

Sheep head

The picture on the right is a sheepshead fish (also called freshwater drum).  Supposedly they are related to carp but are far less bony.  Sheepshead are plentiful and many love their flavor.  According to the Amish family that was fishing on the barge, they really enjoy the sheephead.  I caught four of thse nice fish and filleted out two of them to take home.  I gave the other two to the Amish folks.

In addition to the sheepshead, I landed an 18 inch catfish.  It weighed about two pounds and was the largest that any of us caught that day.  It’s been filleted out and we’re having it for lunch.


Dam at Guttenberg1Here is a picture of the dam at Guttenberg – just above where the barge is anchored.  The dam is used to control the water level of the mighty river.  To its left is the lock.  A lock is a large chamber that helps ships nagivate around the higher / lower levels of water above and below the dam.  A ship such as a barge enters the lock on the high side, the gates close, and water is drained to the level on the low side of the dam.  Conversely, if a ship enters below, the gates close, water is allow to fill the chamber, and the ship exits on the high side.  The lock and dam approach offers the best of both worlds – water level control and navigability.  As a kid 40 years ago, I used to love to watch the lock in operation… and still do!
Boat shuttleFor now it was  time to head back home and clean the morning’s trout.  This was a fun trip and there was much to see and do although the outing took just 30 hours, including three fishing stops, camping, and such.  I spoke with Sis today and said that Guttenberg is a must visit again this year.  Jesse, Vanse, and I are having fresh fish for lunch today.  It will be interesting to see how “Van-Van” likes catfish and sheephead.  He might just get to go along on the next trip as the weather starts to cool off.

For now, it’s back to the work at the sporting goods department… Sometimes it’s difficult to not daydream when I see a package of fish hooks or some trout bait.  Well, there’s a day off coming up on Sunday….  (some things never change!)

That’s about it for now.  Please check out a few extra pictures below this post… There were too many to include in the text.  Iowa is a beautiful state and there are plenty of fun things to do and places to see.

Thanks for visiting today!  Happy and safe travels always!

Your camping and fishing buddies in Jones County, Iowa

Brad, Jesse James, and Vanse

View from Barge 1

The view looking downstream


Boat Ride

The voyage home


Boat Guy

The guy from the shuttle boat. Otherwise it’s a long swim home!


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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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