Out and About to Get Some Yummy Trout!

Hi and welcome to the blog!  I hope the many friends are well and can enjoy some kind of outdoor fun!    Iowa has been treating us to a variety of weather extremes.  In the middle of the week we had about 3 inches of snow in town… It was all gone just 5 hours later.


The tree in my yard… On the way to work the other morning and on the way home.


Work has been difficult lately.  Iowa has a wishy-washy stay-in-place recommendation, prohibiting social gatherings of any size unless it is only people from under the same roof.  That’s not slowed folks down at all.  I’m working with a very small crew and people are going nuts spending the stimulus money, ordering enormous orders of drive-thru food.  There are many out-of-state plates coming through from all over the country… especially from Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  Lovely…

By now I was getting stir crazy and decided to go for an overnight trip.  All the campgrounds were locked down but it would be possible to sleep by a trout stream undisturbed.  With that idea in mind I packed up the van and after opening the restaurant on Saturday, it was on to the north for a fishing expedition.


It helps when you put the new one on the right (which is the correct) side!    It’s just 4 screws and about 266 angry words to do this.


Earlier that morning I realized that the right front headlight had failed.  Along the way to the stream, a stop was made at Wal-mart in Manchester, Iowa for a new sealed beam light.  I quickly stuck it on the LEFT side (dropping the hardware multiple times) and then tested the lights… only to find I’d installed it in the wrong place… The Wal-mart cart pusher kid heard me grumbling while digging in the trash to find the left light bulb (which was still good) so I could put that one on the passenger’s side.  We had a good laugh.  I explained to him what I tell the kids at work…  “I’m not as dumb as I look… I’m a lot worse than that!!!”  Any adventure is a good adventure.   🙂  🙂


Just to the right of the light pole is a water tower for the distant town of Elkader.


From there it was up Highway 13 toward the trout hatchery.  I’ve always enjoyed fishing the Turkey River and the hatchery’s pond.  Along the way there was a brief stop at the Chicken Ridge scenic overlook.  I don’t know how long this has been in existence – maybe I’d just missed it before – but the views of “Hill Country” are beautiful and relaxing.


Southwest of Elkader near Volga


From there it was to the hatchery pond.  Nobody was catching anything and there were at least seven vehicles there.  I tried 5 different kinds of bait and then managed to catch one decent rainbow.  The wind was strong, gusting to about 30- 35 miles per hour.  I walked down to the Turkey River with hopes of catching some decent fish down there.


He’s kind of an ugly sucker…


The trout were not interested in my various baits.  The river flow was very brisk and the wind formidable.  A little ways down the river I fished an eddy and caught a number of good sized carp and sucker fish.  They fight like the devil and man, did it get this old caveman’s blood pumping!


The Turkey River


Unfortunately, I didn’t see the dog Woody, nor owner Gary (the guy who runs the hatchery).  I didn’t go looking.  Determined to get the limit of fish, I returned and kept fishing the pond, trying various parts of the perimeter.



Under the trees you can just make out the dock. Below the shed on the left is a scary white van.


Eventually everyone cleared out and it was just this obsessed fisherman.  The trout only seemed to want the worms and I had plenty.  Right on cue, as the sun went down the pond fish became more active.  I had a little time to reflect, give thanks and unwind.  I remember thanking the Lord for the fish and good times and asked for just one more to get my limit.  A very short time later I thought to myself it was almost time to stop with four fish and go home.  The line suddenly went taught and the last fish of the limit grabbed the worm.  After landing him I threw my arms up and yelled “Thank you Jesus!!!”  and hurried to field-dress the trout in the twilight.


God gave us fish… and what a gift they are!


What a peaceful place to relax and think about how good life really is!


I was exhausted at this point, having fished for seven hours after getting up at 4AM and working that morning.  It was getting very cold and I didn’t bring a heater.  The decision was made to skip camping this time.  The camping meal never was cooked – I could grill up the food at home.  The only meal along the way was cold, mushy pizza and Faygo Diet Grape soda pop.  Man, did it ever taste good!


I hadn’t planned on coming home in the dark. That headlight adventure was worth it!


In any case, thanks for visiting!  Life is still good and we just have to keep our chins up.  There is much sadness and worry in the world right now.  But God is great, the fish are biting, and every day is a blessing!  Take care and safe and happy camping!


Brad and Jenny and Mister Duke
Cooking up fish in 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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