4th of July Celebration

Happy Independence Day from Monticello, Iowa!

Hello and welcome to the blog.  It’s been a fun week so far.  On Tuesday morning (3rd) I went out to friend Jim’s pond and gathered some black raspberries as well as did some fishing.  As Jim and I chatted it became apparent that one of the two fishing bobbers had disappeared.  When catfish bite, they dive and often the fishing float does not come up.  One good jerk of the pole and I brought an 18 inch catfish to shore.  He fought tooth ‘n’ nail but the recently restrung lines held.  But little did I know bigger and better things were to happen in about 36 hours!

Before I forget, I wanted to share a suggestion about black raspberries and a healthy use for them.  As a diabetic, it’s important to watch carbs but in my case there are no excluded food groups.  I love peanut butter and jelly but there is a lot of sugar in the jam or jelly.  It dawned on me to try peanut butter and raspberry sandwiches… and now I’m a big fan.  Heck, if Elvis could eat peanut butter and banana, why not berries?

Rain shower coming in from Delaware County

On the 4th I had to work at the golden arches.  It was busy for a while as people traveled.  We’re the only fast food between Marion (Cedar Rapids) and Dubuque, a 75 mile stretch.  After getting off, I decided to hit another farm pond.  That day I’d just finished eating the catfish caught on Tuesday…

I headed out to friend Fred’s pond at about 5:00.  It was hotter than holy heck out there (90s with high humidity) and nothing was biting, even with a sure fire new catfish bait.  But a shower soon passed over the area.  It fizzled but the wind came up and the water got choppy.  Thankfully the temperature dropped.  When the weather calmed, the water looked like a mirror.  And then it happened.

Something huge flipped next to the line where I was fishing on the bottom of the pond.  I wished that the big fish had been on my line.  Suddenly the pole gave a heck of a lurch and I had to dive to keep from losing it into the pond.  Then the fight was on.  It turned out to be a 25+ inch catfish pushing 9 pounds.  They come a lot bigger in the rivers but this was still the biggest cat I’ve caught in 40 years of [mostly trout] fishing.  Nothing else bit (other than the bugs) for the rest of the daylight hours but I didn’t mind a bit…

From there it was off to see the fireworks in Monticello.  In the grassy area by the fairgrounds people were shooting off their own fireworks.  Bottle rockets were going off in various directions.  I opted to stay in the van until the main show started… not a bad idea.  The fireworks display was a blast and then it was off to clean the fish (which was on ice in the van).

The big cat was so much larger than anything I’ve caught before that it had to be cleaned in the bathtub while Jenny supervised.  The fillets themselves were 15 inches each and so thick that I sliced each into 4 steaks, for a total of 8 nice portions.  Eating one was a belly full!

So here is the post-holiday meal.  I tweaked the contrast (my camera had trouble due to the vibrant colors of the plate) to show the sandwich better.  The fillet was baked using a a commercial coating (Bakin’ Miracle) to which a lot of cayenne pepper was added.  But the sauce that was on the fillet made the difference.  It was like an aioli, a concoction of mayonnaise, some hot sauce, more cayenne, and some minced garlic and cilantro.  It was heavenly!

The salad was made from discounted (close dated) salad blend, blackberries, strawberries, bacon and aged white cheddar cheese.  The other side dish consisted of a couple of bacon wrapped sweet peppers with cream cheese.

The fish was good this way.  I am not sure what to do with the rest of the fillets but might freeze a few of them for later.  Buddy Steve was pretty excited and wants to go fishing with me again soon one of these days.  If can get another big fish, I’m going to do a sweet brine and smoke up a catfish.  It would be the first time since I was a teen.

That’s about all that’s new around here.  A good friend and his wife are visiting early next week and it’s likely we’ll do some van camping and possibly some fishing… At the least we’ll probably have a tasty dinner cooked over a fire ring.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day.  We sure have a lot to be thankful for in this country.  Take care – safe and happy travels!

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"

2 Responses to 4th of July Celebration

  1. Jo says:

    WOW! What a catch, don’t think I have ever seen such a huge cat fish before. That must have been very exciting. And the meal looks wonderfully healthy. You sure did have a great 4th.
    Hope you have fun with your friends.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! I’m having catfish for lunch and dinner… and freezing 7 more portions. It’s providing some good food! My friends will be here this weekend so I’m contemplating something good to cook up over the fire. Friends are a great reason to grill out! Take care! — VT