Camping With Buddy Steve – Day 1

Even Mother Nature is a little confused by the weather!

Hello and welcome to the blog today.  The Iowa weather has continued to be unpredictable.  We had another snowstorm over the weekend and it dumped about 4 inches of snow in northeast Iowa.  Steve and I decided to go camping and fishing anyway.  Jenny did not come along for this trip.  Due to the cold weather and risky driving, it seemed better to let her relax at home.

“I know this place that’s easy to get to….” (Don’t believe it… Translated “I want to fish here no matter how bad the weather.)

The Little Turkey River is not far from home – perhaps 45 miles – and it’s a straight shot.  Knowing there was a little snow on the ground, I told Steve it was easy driving.  Well, that was a miscalculation!  About a dozen miles from the stream Steve took a corner too fast and nearly went in the ditch!  As we got farther, the road turned to gravel and there was about 4 inches of snow covering it.  Driving  up and down steep hills was tricky.  Little did I know Steve’s car had nearly worn out tires!  The big van sits higher and has great tires but it’s only rear wheel drive.  It was a white knuckle drive getting to the parking lot for the stream.  But it was worth it.

There’s nothing like the peaceful tranquility of an Iowa trout stream.

Once we arrived we both fell down the embankment leading from the parking lot… and cussed.  Then it was about a 1/3 mile walk to the stream.  Steve forgot his gloves and I forgot to put the collapsible trout poles in the tackle bag.  What a pair of bozos!  We had to trudge back through the snow again and navigate that slippery embankment, grabbing tree branches along the way to keep from falling down again.

This little bird was watching us… Not sure if it is a chickadee?

The fishing was incredible.  The stream had been stocked several days before but apparently had not been fished due to crappy weather.  I limited out (5) in short order after finding a hole and some rocks (providing fish habitat).  Steve had trouble with his new fishing line and was unable to catch anything using his equipment.  I encouraged him to use my poles and he nailed a nice brook trout on nearly every cast, quickly catching his maximum.  The fish were hungry and aggressive.

Steve and his five brook trout. He was pretty happy!


Looking upstream at the Little Turkey River.

It was time to clean the fish, especially right here because there was a shallow spot in the stream.  I stooped over (a real back killer) to clean my own five.  Steve was on his knees on the rocks.  I looked up and saw a young man in a DNR (Department of Natural Resources) outfit watching us from the bank.  We chatted and I offered the officer my license and showed him the limit of fish.   The officer asked Steve to do the same and my buddy replied “I got one more fish to clean – wait a minute.”  (He’s got more courage than me!)  After Steve finished cleaning the last of his fish, he couldn’t get back up (he’s 67 years old) and it took the officer and I to lift my buddy back up.  Steve produced his fishing license and trout stamp and the game warden was on his way.  We both laughed and said how you just never know when those DNR guys will show up and where!  It’s best to always follow the rules to the letter because not to is very expensive!


There’s hardly any work when you make the mix in advance and throw it in the cooler!

Our view while enjoying lunch at Guttenberg. This is lock and dam #10.   I occasionally fish on a barge just below the dam.

From there it was a short (but harrowing) drive on snow covered, steep gravel roads to a pavilion in the town of Guttenberg.  For lunch I’d brought along a small freezer bag of homemade sloppy Joe mix (tomato sauce, onions, green peppers, garlic powder, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce).  After browning some ground beef, we added the sauce, simmered a few minutes, and had a very tasty lunch.  I’m definitely going to do this one again due to the simplicity.  I often bring this mixture to work and the kids love it.

Pike’s Peak Campground in Clayton County, Iowa

After the good meal we stopped for an ice cream cone and decided to go to the campground.  At this time of the year, camping in only $11 / night including electricity.  On the downside, the only crapper is a pit toilet.  After setting up for camping, both of us took a long nap.  Between getting up early, the long walk fishing, and such, we were tuckered out.

Too lazy to bring along the TV antenna, I had downloaded 5 TV episodes to watch.  Unfortunately, the laptop was dropped and broken on Monday.  So much for watching “Bonanza” while camping in the pines.  🙁   I’ve vowed to get a smaller computer the next time.    No use hauling around a “boat anchor” any more.  Thank goodness for a radio to listen to for entertainment!

Steve standing by supper… A few brats with hash brown potatoes and cheese,

After supper we both turned in early, eager for another day of fishing on Tuesday.  The temperature was dropping at this point as the wind whistled over the remaining snow.  Things were starting to feel winter-like again.  The fishing on Tuesday was enjoyable as well but that will be on the next post.

Thanks for riding along on this spring (say what?!?!) fishing trip.  Take care and happy camping!

Brad and Jenny
Jones County, Iowa



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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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