Ten Fish and a Sausage Biscuit

One of the favorite playgrounds… Big Spring Hatchery

Hello and welcome to the blog today. It’s been a fun one. Buddy Steve had wanted to go fishing today and, of course, I was eager as well. Unfortunately, the weather has been very dry once again and the water is low at most of the creeks.  But there was once place I knew would be perfect today…. and man, did we have a good time!

The two of us left at 7AM in the midst of dense fog. As we headed north, the skies cleared a bit. As Steve and I dined at the Burger King in Manchester, we agreed that the best place to try would be the Turkey River next to the trout hatchery. The water is never too low to fish there… and when it’s low it’s nice and clear. With this destination in mind, it was necessary to buy an extra sausage biscuit for an old friend.

Steve and I arrived at Big Spring Hatchery around 9:00. As we pulled up I saw someone feeding the trout at one of the farthest raceways… and there was a familiar friend watching the action. Holding the bag with the biscuit, all I had to do was yell, “WOODY!” and my buddy came bounding across the grounds, a blur of legs, ears, etc.  In the pictures above he was moving so fast all I could do was take a barrage of high speed pictures to capture the antics and barking.

Washing down the biscuit with some ice cold water…

Just like when Sis and I used to visit Grandma and her cookie jar, Woody was more interested in the treats than the greetings. Just behind Woody was Brandy who is engaged to Gary.  Gary is Woody’s owner and the guy who runs the hatchery. Brandy was riding this cool bike with very large tires.

What an awesome bike! Brandy is pretty cool, too!

Steve and I tried to fish the hatchery pond but the trout were unresponsive. We agreed to fish the river even though it looked like someone might be fishing there already. To my delight, the two anglers were downstream about 1/4 mile in an area where the fish are always very sparse and rarely bite.  Steve and I got the best area to ourselves!

Steve holding our stringer

I caught the first fish… and then the second, and third. Steve was beginning to get frustrated. But then he caught one. While he was trying to get it off the line and onto the stringer, I grabbed a fourth and fifth. The guys downstream kept looking at us.  It did not look like they had caught a single thing!

Once I’d limited out (five) we kicked it into high gear and gave Steve a fun experience. I explained the structure of the river and pools to Steve and helped him adjust the sinkers.  Once coached, he started casting precisely into where the current would sweep the bait to the hungry fish and the rest was magic.  Steve pulled one in, I handed him a new pole and had him cast it in, and took his fish off.  In rapid fire Steve reached his limit of five and was all smiles.

You should have seen the guys downstream staring.

The fish were carried back to the dock where we cleaned them together.  I took off the fins and made the incisions.  Holding the heads, he washed them out, and then I removed the heads.  It’s kind of fun cleaning them and we’ve got the process pretty streamlined.

Rippling patterns in the pond… Check out the 11 second video.

While finishing up the fish cleaning, I became mesmerized by the ripples and patters in the pond.  Check out this 11 second video I made showing the interesting effect.

Limestone behind the hatchery… You’ll often see turkeys and deer roaming the hillside.

As Steve and I were about to leave we decided to clean up in the restroom. As we approached the building, the door on the hatchery office burst open and Woody ran out carrying a ratty tennis ball. We played fetch for a while.  He’s a character and always fun to play with.

After visiting with Gary, Steve and I drove to Guttenberg (along the Mississippi River) for lunch.  I’d brought along some hamburger mixed with garlic, seasonings, chopped bacon, and shiitake mushrooms as well as some homemade potato salad.  Though simple, this meal tasted great to two hungry fishermen.

After the meal, Steve bought us a round of cones at the nearby ice cream shop which sells “Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream”.  A single dip is the size of a baseball. We both had “Rocky Road”. For the foreign visitors, this popular US ice cream flavor is chocolate and is loaded with almonds and marshmallows. It is heavenly!

We were back home by 3:30 or so and later this evening, met up with Steve’s uncle Gene at McDonalds.  It was a terrific day and now Steve’s got the fishing bug.  He wants to visit the Mississippi River fishing barge (at Guttenburg) some time next year and I told him I’ll show him some tricks.

Raceways and hatchery office

What an enjoyable day off.. There was supposed to be some camping tomorrow but the cold took a toll and a warm night of sleep sounds good right now.  Tuesday is another day off from work and it means laboring around home. There is also a new idea for a camping recipe…. That’s how the adventures often begin.

That’s all for the time being.  The next planned camping day will likely be on Thanksgiving day.

Take care and thanks for visiting!  Safe and happy travels.

Brad and Jenny
Jones County, Iowa

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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3 Responses to Ten Fish and a Sausage Biscuit

  1. Laurie says:

    wow…that looks like the best time! it looks so much greener and warmer there than here in South Dakota….and nice coat!

  2. Jo says:

    Another successful fishing trip. You sure gave Steve some excellent tips and made his day. Love the ripples of the water and trees. I watched the video and a couple that followed about your grill I really like it.

    Stay warm my Brad, we are hitting record highs for this time of year. I would rather not and see some nice really cool days.

    If you don’t blog again before next week You have a great Thanksgiving camp out!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! Thanks for the comment. I hope you get some cool weather soon. We sure have around here! Everyone is sick. I’ve been very sick since getting back – sore throat, bronchitis, etc. It’s been pretty miserable.

      I might blog again before next week – not sure. In any case, I hope you also have a wonderful Thanksgiving. There will be camping here and I’ve got a pretty yummy menu planned. Jenny might even go along.

      Take care!