Visiting Gary and Woody

Woody, fish hatchery mascot and guest food taste tester.

Good evening and welcome to the blog today.  A year ago Monday there was a large flood on the Turkey River at the  Big Spring Hatchery.  The water nearly inundated the hatchery’s raceways and the trout had to be moved to Decorah.  The river is normal but again the trout are being moved to the Decorah hatchery… but for a different reason.

Loading the trout from the concrete raceways to pickup trucks.

Gary Siegwarth, hatchery fish biologist and owner of dog Woody.   He’s willing to get into the trenches to help Iowans.

Gary is running for governor in 2018. One of his priorities is taking care of the land and water because without them there is no life.

The trout are being removed due to plumbing issues – some giant supply tubes are being replaced.  The Big Spring Hatchery is fed by the largest freshwater spring in Iowa.  The water surges through a network of pipes, through the raceways (where the trout are raised) and out through exit tubes that combine and lead into the Turkey River.  These tubes provide 52 degree water 24 / 7 and the point where they empty into the river never freezes during the winter.  During frigid weather the trout bask in the warmer water and wait for any food that is washed into the river.

Finally… a bath tub I can fit into… Too bad it’s 52 degrees cold!


When I arrived on Monday, the desire was to fish but I was very sick with a summer cold.  The lungs have been a mess for a couple days and the bugs seemed to also create a low grade fever.  Instead of walking to the river (about 1/2 mile), I was too weak and ended up fishing from the hatchery pond.  Afterward, I cooked some steak for Woody while the guys did their work on the raceways.

After fishing it was necessary to head to a nearby farm store and get some propane.  While there I also picked up some new metal skewers.  Those now reside inside the van’s side door.. with the tops of the skewers hung by a strong magnetic hook.

Steak on a stick at the Turkey River

Friends Terre and Frank offered some great suggestions for the evening meal.  I made a “blooming onion” – an onion sliced open like a flower, breaded, and fried.  They also mentioned the “steak on a stick” idea.  The blooming onion didn’t turn out so good because it is best accomplished using a freezer after the onion is breaded.  I might make one and freeze it beforehand one of these times.  Nonetheless, some of the petals turned out fine and were delicious.  Using the leftover seasoned flour and egg mixture, I battered and fried some mushrooms that were brought along just in case.  Tasty stuff.  🙂

A waterproof plastic first aid box re-purposed into a spice kit… It was acquired cheaply at the military surplus store.

The steak was fabulous!  It was marinated overnight with a mixture of red wine vinegar, soy, garlic, onion, and a bit of powdered mustard.  Roasted over my little burner (which badly needs cleaned now!) the steak was to die for!

The side dish (green peppers, red onions, diced Roma tomatoes, fresh sweet corn, and black beans) was a tasty addition.  In the morning I used some of the veggies and made them into a “skillet” breakfast with hash brown potatoes, eggs, cheese, and leftover steak.

One of the objectives of this trip was to economize.  Times are getting tougher right now.  I cannot earn more money to pay the credit card bills or will lose medical coverage.  (Thank you Obamacare – not!)  But it is still possible to have  lots of fun camping and fishing and that will surely continue… even if I someday have to live out of a van again.

Hopefully the weather will be a touch cooler for the next trip. I’m going to get Jenny out overnight but without fancy meals or fishing… mainly so I don’t have to carry extra coolers, etc.  She’s constantly pestering me to go outside and will get her chance.  Check out the pic below – she’s got Styrofoam on her nose from gnawing on the fishing cooler.

Thanks for visiting and have a great week.  Safe and happy travels!

Brad and Jenny
Jones County, Iowa


 388 total views