A Chocolate Bar and Two Worms

Santa and Brad2Hello and welcome to the blog today.

This photo was recently taken at work during one of St. Nick’s visits.  Santa is younger and in better shape than me, belly for belly.  I wouldn’t want his job though!  He’s better with kids.

When we discussed what was wanted for Christmas, the answer was a chocolate bar.  Unfortunately, the outlook is bleak if Saint Nick checks his list of who was naughty and who was nice.  Confessing the sins, I admitted to swearing when fishing.  There were even a couple occasions when Sis called the cell phone and I didn’t answer because I’d gone fishing and didn’t want her to know.  😀

Santa is going to be busy in the coming days and may overlook these transgressions.  Time is flying by.  Winter will be here in 11 days.. and Christmas in just 14 days.

But at the moment there are no meteorological indications of winter!  Thursday’s high was 57 degrees.  Many folks were out playing golf.  I was fishing, of course.

Thursday was one of those ho-hum type days when I got up feeling a little bored and run down – maybe a bit of the December blues?  While packing the car to go north, neighbor Steve came over with a little Rubbermaid container containing two nightcrawlers.  He’d found them in his yard when the sun first came up.  I thanked him for the worms but thought to myself I might not use them.  There are other favorite baits to use in the small creeks.


Passing through Balltown, Iowa in northern Dubuque County. If you look closely, you can see the Mississippi River dividing Iowa and Wisconsin.

The worms did make the trip but didn’t get used right away.  After fishing for an hour at lower Buck Creek, all I caught were two baby fish — not even big enough to make a cat happy – so they were thrown back.  But the mood had lifted.  It was getting later and time was a concern.  The most logical option to try and get decent fish was to visit the Turkey River about 20 minutes away.


The weather was peculiar.  The sky had clouded over and it began to lightly rain.  I parked at the Big Spring Ttrout Hatchery (the raceways of which you can see on the left).  Spring water flows through the raceways (where the fish live and grow) and the water goes through a grate and dumps into the Turkey River via a large tube.  Earlier in the year this area of the river is stocked three times a week.  During the colder months, a few fish can still be caught as they congregate in the river near the warmer, gushing spring water.

I decided to use Steve’s two nightcrawlers first.  The initial cast startled me because the pole suddenly bent over sharply.  Whatever had struck the worm was apparently rather large but I lost it.  The second worm yielded a fat 14 inch rainbow trout – the largest of the day’s catch.  I’m smoking that one for neighbor Steve.  The kitties and I will enjoy the rest.  (They get soaked for a day in 1/3 cup kosher salt to 2 quarts water, rinsed, and then smoked 3 hours with alder wood.)

Throughout this time the cell phone was in the car.  Nature worked her magic; all the worries and stresses melted away.  Nothing else mattered as I quietly fished and caught four more beautiful trout, deeply inhaling the cool air.  Being outdoors is sort of like the spiritual equivalent of taking a long hot shower.  A person feels so cleansed and relaxed and vows to do it more often!

Edgewood Wind Farm

The windmill farm near Edgewood. Iowa gets 20% of its electricity from these wind farms. 6000 jobs are “generated” by this industry.


I’ve had the last few days off and was busy making rum cakes using the small loaf pan mentioned in previously in the blog.  Unfortunately, Jesse James took a liking to the rum cake.  He had the smallest of nibbles and begged for more but didn’t get any; even a couple teaspoons of the rum sauce could be harmful to him.  (Cats’ livers aren’t adapted to metabolizing alcohol)  As I make another batch, he and Jen-Jen will get some mock rum cake but with a butter / brown sugar glaze… No booze!

Rum Loaves

On the horizon is a visit to see buddy Johnnie for Christmas and a New Year’s Eve (work permitting) camping trip.  For now, it’s time to get back to work.  We’ll see if Santa comes through with the chocolate bar later this month.  I’d gladly take a few more nightcrawlers.   😀

Thanks for stopping in today.  Every day is a good opportunity to enjoy some time outdoors to lift the spirits.  Take care and have a very happy December!

Bradford, Jesse James, and Jennifer
Jones County, Iowa

“Cleaning fish in the dark is easier with a headlamp!”

How to Clean Fish in the Dark



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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6 Responses to A Chocolate Bar and Two Worms

  1. Debby hoots says:

    Fun post…Merry Christmas

  2. my_vantasy says:

    Weather has been great in Ohio, too, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has still gotten a hold on me. You are so right though; if I could just motivate myself to spend more time outside, I’m sure I would feel much better. Thank you for reminding me that even in the Midwest, even in December, nature can be healing.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks for the note. I’ve had some really bad SAD episodes in the past, usually around November through February. The last five or so years of frequent camping have really helped make a tough time of the year more fun. Just think… In a few more weeks the days will start getting longer again. Take care!

  3. Jo says:

    So happy you had such a wonderful day fishing and being out in the fresh air. I want to go camping so bad but it has gotten very cold here and my camper is way to small to run a propane heater.
    But keeping busy with holiday stuff.

    Hope you have a wonderful Holiday Brad and kitties

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks Jo! I’m looking forward to hanging out with my buddy Johnnie on Christmas eve and day. The work schedule has me off New Years eve and day as well. I’m putting together some ideas already. 🙂

      Have a great holiday as well.