An Appalachian Fly Fishing Adventure

Rod WotenBy Rod Woten
Local Pro Staff
Bass Pro Shops Altoona

I’m very fortunate that the company I work for has a facility in Luray, Virginia, that I get to travel to a couple of times every year.  Luray sits in the Shenandoah Valley nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not long after I started traveling to Luray, I learned of the tiny brook trout that live in the mountain streams around Luray. For a fly angler, to catch a truly wild trout is one of the ultimate goals, even if it is something the size of these small brook trout that come from the small streams up in the mountains. Ever since I first heard about these fish, I’ve been doing research and putting together a plan for that trip where I might have some free time to fish up in the mountains. Finally, I had the opportunity. I was able to time my trip, so that I arrived in the area early on Sunday afternoon, which would leave me plenty of time to fish before checking into my hotel that evening and heading to work at the Luray facility first thing Monday morning. After extensive research, I finally decided that Jeremy’s Run would be the stream I would target. 

Jeremy’s Run appealed to me for several reasons:

  • It was in relatively close proximity to Luray, which would minimize my drive time. 
  • It seemed that fishing Jeremy’s Run was pretty decent year-round, as long as water levels stayed up. 
  • Of all the streams I researched, Jeremy’s Run had some of the best access.  Since time was a premium for me, the less time spent hiking meant the more time I could spend fishing.  Also because I was flying, I was very limited in what I could bring along for gear.  My packable wading boots made the trip, but there just wasn’t room for waders or much other additional gear.

I arrived at the Elk Wallow Picnic wayside along Skyline Drive later that afternoon.  After getting my rod rigged and slipping on my wading boots, I began the trek down the mountain to find Jeremy’s Run. To get to Jeremy’s Run, I actually had to follow the Appalachian Trail, until the intersection with Jeremy’s Run Trail, which was an adventure in itself.  I’ve always wanted to hike the AT, and now I can say that I have. 

It seemed like forever before I finally reached the concrete pillar that designates the intersection of the AT and Jeremy’s Run Trail. I was actually starting to wonder if I had missed it or taken the wrong trail altogether. TheAppalachian Trail marker directions said it was a short hike to the intersection, but apparently the author’s idea of a short hike and mine are two very different things.  From that point on, I added distance to every mention of distance in the directions I was following. Even once I was on Jeremy’s Trail, I still had thoughts that I had taken a wrong turn or maybe Jeremy’s Run had gone dry, because it took what seemed like an eternity before I could even hear the sound of running water. Somewhere in the deep heavily forested ravine that was now on my right was Jeremy’s Run. I wondered how I would even get down to the stream to fish it, and how brook trout could live in the little trickle I was hearing. I continued on, losing altitude as I went, which also brought me to the startling realization that it would take me a lot longer to hike out than it did for me to hike in. The entire time I was awestruck by my surroundings…millipedes as big as a Sharpie everywhere, mushrooms and fungus the likes of which I had never seen, a thick mossy carpet on every rock and massive hardwood trees that were probably as old as our nation. 

I, also, constantly had the thought of bears in the back of my mind. I had noticed two road kill bears on the highway on my way into Front Royal, so I knew that they were on the move and a bear encounter was a real possibility. On one hand, I thought it would be cool to see my first black bear in the wild, but on the other it was situation that I’m not sure I really wanted to have to deal with…especially if it was a sow with cubs.  Regardless, I soldiered on and eventually the trail flattened out, the forest opened up a bit, and Jeremy’s Run had grown much larger. Suddenly the trail ended abruptly at the side of the stream only to resume on the opposite side. I had arrived. 

Immediately to my right was a small pool with a small waterfall above it consisting of rocks and years’ worth of accumulated logs. As I looked further upstream, the entire stream appeared to be made up of this endless series of pools with a drop and small riffle into the next pool. The gradient must have been very steep, because the pool about 100 yards upstream of me was at my line of sight or slightly higher. It was truly a weird feeling looking at that pool of water that was over my head only a short distance away. 

The pool I was on appeared to be about mid-calf deep at its deepest point near the face of the log jam. I roll-casted my hopper-dropper rig into that general area of the pool and, before I could blink, a flash erupted from under the log jam and attempted to inhale my foam grasshopper from the surface of the water. I was so surprised that I totally whiffed on the hookset!  Undaunted, I rolled the hopper back into the same spot. Once again the flash came out, but this time I was ready. I flexed the rod backwards and employed my best strip-set, only to come up empty again. I got a better look at the brookie this time, however, and ascertained that my hopper was too big for him to get in his mouth. I quickly snipped the hopper-dropper from my tippet and threaded on my old reliable elk hair caddis. I roll-casted into that same spot in the pool several more times but the brookie was onto me now and refused to come out again. I crawled my way overWild Brook Trout that log jam and proceeded upstream to the next pool.

It was similar to the previous pool only not quite as deep and with more rocks lining its bottom. I flipped the EH Caddis towards the head of the pool and it was immediately met by an olive green flash. I set the hook and immediately felt weight on my line. I could tell just by the feel that this brookie was larger than the one that outwitted me on the previous pool. I stripped line to bring the brookie to hand and eventually landed a nice 6” wild mountain brook trout!  There is a 9” minimum for keepers on Jeremy’s Run, so, after a quick photo, I slid the fish back into the edge of the pool and he quickly darted from my hand and disappeared back in to the stones littering the bottom. I worked my way upstream repeating this process, catching one or two in every pool before moving along.  Unfortunately, none were as big as the six-incher I landed right off the bat.

This was absolutely some of the most physically demanding fishing I had ever done. This was due not only to the strenuous hike in (and OUT!), but due to all the crawling over, under, or through log jams to get from pool to pool, scaling boulders and tripping over smaller rocks as I waded. The pools are much different than what I was used to at home as well. The deepest ones were only about knee deep and some only as big around as a laundry baskets. It was amazing that these fish can thrive in such small waters. It also made me realize how nice of a fish my 6” brook trout was. The brookies didn’t hesitate to rise to a dry fly, often doing so with fury. If you missed one though, they usually don’t give you a second chance. If you let too much line fall on the pool, or even cast your shadow over the pool, you could forget about getting a rise from that pool as well. 

Twilight began to creep down the mountain, so, with reluctance, I stopped casting, stowed my fly rod and began the hike back up the mountain to my rental car. The hike out was even more strenuous than I had feared. My leg muscles were already sore from all the acrobatics required to fish the stream, as well as working them to control my speed on the hike down, so they began to burn in earnest on the way out.  Somewhere along the way, the barred owls began hooting, which caused me to quicken my step as much as I could. I began to look for my boot tracks from the hike down in the muddy spots of the trial. This not only occupied my mind, but also assured me that I was on the right path.  I actually began to piece this write up together in my head as I walked. I also began to make a game of noting things along the trail…deer track…another millipede…a cairn left by some previous angler…colorful mushrooms…another of my boot prints…bear track… 

Wait…WHAT?!?!?!  BEAR TRACK!! My heart began to race, and I felt the hair stand up on the back of my Bear trackneck. To make matters worse, the perfectly shaped bear track overlapped my boot track from the hike in, so I KNEW that bear had been through there within the past few hours. The single track was SO perfect that I actually thought to myself for a second that someone else was playing a trick on me. Then I realized that I had not seen or heard another soul since I left my car on Skyline Drive. Needless to say, I picked up the pace even more. I as moving as fast as my muscles, heart, and lungs would carry me, but it still didn’t seem to be enough. I was deep in thought trying to determine how much longer I could keep up this pace, when I saw a black streak going up a tree about 100 yards ahead of me. I stopped in my track to see a black bear cub perched at the top of an old dead pine. Within a few seconds, a second cub popped its head out from the other side of the topless tree. Drat! The exact scenario I didn’t want to have happen was playing out before my very eyes. I noticed motion at the base of the tree and then heard the grunting between the cubs and the movement on the ground. The momma bear! My head raced….was she blocking the trail? If so, how do I get back to my car? The forest is way too thick for me to bushwhack and I’d probably just get lost. I slowly eased my way around the corner of the trail to get a better assessment of the situation and spotted the large black mass shuffling around the bottom of the tree. Luckily they were all about 30 yards off the left side of the trail so I didn’t have to worry about coming between her and her cubs. Based on that information, I quickly decided to put my head down and try to scoot past the trio as quickly as I could, attempting to project that I hadn’t even seen them. I was hoping that once they realized I was not a threat, I could just breeze on by. With determination, I stepped out to the middle of the trail and began to move forward with purpose. Within about three steps, the mother bear caught sight of me and bolted into the underbrush the opposite direction of the trail. I let out a slight sigh of relief, but kept right on truckin’ until I got back to the asphalt below the parking lot where I left the car.

It took me a good half day to recover, but, by Monday afternoon, I had already decideWild Brook Troutd to fish Jeremy’s Run from the other direction, starting at the bottom and working my way up. My theory was that I could squeeze that in after work, since it wouldn’t take me nearly as long to drive or hike to the stream. I found good fishing almost immediately and started catching brookies within sight of the bridge over Jeremy’s Run at the start of the trail. The hiking was much easier on the way in and the stream was much wider, flatter and generally easier to fish. I even found a nice pool with an old root ball in the middle of it, where I caught several brookies in a row, including at least a couple that were as big as my big brookie from the day before. I continued to hike upward and fish, wherever the trail was close to the stream. One particular stretch that wandered quite a ways from the stream felt very much like prime bear territory to me. Eventually, I reached a spot where the stream became very narrow and rugged…much more like what I had fished the day before. By that time the sun was starting to set and my legs were in no shape for more log jam wrestling or boulder hopping, so I turned around and headed back to the car. When I reached the spot that felt very bear-like to me on the way in, I spotted the tail end of a smaller, single bear as it crashed into the underbrush headed away from me.  In just two days I went from never having seen a black bear in the wild to having seen four! I arrived back at my car a short time later and brought my Appalachian adventure to an end.

I feel very blessed to have been able to fish in the mountains on this trip. Jeremy’s Run is definitely a stream I will visit again. There are lots of other sections of it I’d like to fish yet. I chuckle now thinking about all the reports that said Jeremy’s Run is one of the most accessible streams in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If that’s the case, I have to wonder what the less accessible streams are like! While the 6” brookies I caught are decent fish by small mountain stream standards, I know there are larger brookies up there, so I’m bound and determined to catch a 9-inch one some trip yet to be planned.

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Third Annual Digs for Dogs!

Digs for Dogs

Our Digs for Dogs event returns with a twist!

Since dogs AND veterans are both dear to our hearts, this year's Digs for Dogs special doghouse silent auction will benefit the Puppy Jake Foundation!

  • Any business or company that builds and donates a house, will have all money raised in the silent auction from that house going to Puppy Jake Foundation.
  • Any non-profit organization that builds and donates a house will receive back half the money that their house raises in the silent auction! It's a win-win!
 

Build a fun & functional doghouse –all sizes, be creative!
Entries displayed at the store Aug. 12-21 for silent auction bidding by the public.

  • Winning bids announced Aug. 22.
  • All dog houses must be wide enough to fit in our aisles for display. Bass Pro Shops Digs for Dogshas the right to refuse any entry they deem unsafe to animals.
  • Money received by Bass Pro Shops Altoona from silent auction winners goes to the Puppy Jake Foundation and, in the case of a non-profit group, half will go to the donating group.
  • Team prizes for creative contest are per group, not individual.
  • Winners must pick up the house they win.

Most creative doghouse contest, too!
1st Place - $150 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card
2nd Place - $100 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card

 

Deliver your doghouse to the store on Aug. 10 or 11.
For more information on how to enter a house, or questions,

Digs for Dogscontact Gail McMahon at glmcmahon@basspro.com.

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This Week @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Family Summer Camp Returns!

Beat the heat and bring your kids to our annual favorite - Family Summer Camp 2016!Family Summer Camp

An opportunity for you and your kids to have fun learning about the outdoors INDOORS with free crafts, free fun workshops, the Daisy BB Gun Shooting Range and the Archery Range.Family Summer Camp

We've moved everything indoors because we want everyone to have a cool time! From the old favorites of archery, hunting/shooting, fishing, backyard adventures (bugs, bees, and trees!), water safety, camping, hiking,and bird watching to the new workshop Outdoor Gardening, we have something for child's interests! Kids receive a lanyard at the first workshop and then a pin for each workshop afterwards!

Here is the schedule for June 25-June 30. The complete Family Summer Camp schedule can be found at http://bit.ly/28JkSq9.

A different craft activity each summer camp day, noon- 2 p.m., while supplies last. Our craft for this week is:

Family Summer Camp crafts

 

 

 

 

Free Workshops start at Noon!

Saturday - June 25

Noon -  Fishing

1pm - Water Safety

2pm - Hunting

3pm - Hiking & Backpacking

4pm - Bird Watching

 

Sunday, June 26

Noon - Hunting

1pm - Outdoor Gardening

2pm - Archery

3pm - Camping

4pm - Backyard Adventure

 

Tuesday, June 28

Noon - Bird Watching

1pm - Fishing

2pm - Archery

3pm - Hiking & Backpacking

4pm - Backyard Adventure

 

Thursday, June 30

Noon - Archery

1pm - Outdoor Gardening

2pm - Hunting

3pm - Water Safety

4pm - Camping

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Plan Your Hike, Hike Your Plan

Thinking about doing some hiking? Warm weather always means more walkers and hikers. Whether you're hiking a trail at a state park, or hiking a mountain trail at a national park, or doing some major walking in the city or on country roads, safety is paramount.

Long time scouting instructor and trainer, Dann Flaherty, says the top thing to remember is safety - using the buddy system, with two or more in your group, and being visible on the road.

Flaherty's third important tip is having a plan and hiking that plan...and making sure others are aware of it!

Know where you're going, but, as Scouts know, you always need to "be prepared" in case you get turned around. Hike in numbers of three or more, so if someone gets hurt one person can render first aid, while others for for help.

Be prepared for emergencies by carrying water, protein and hydrating treats, such as jerky and fruit, and having the means to make fire.

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Tackling Tackle Craft

Have you ever had that one special jig that seems to catch fish, no matter the conditions? Maybe it was the reliable go-to, red and white bucktail jig for walleyes. Or possibly the pink and white marabou jig that crappies couldn’t resist. We’ve all found that one special color combination that seems to perform when everything else fails. But what do you do when your local bait shop doesn’t have it in stock or the manufacturer quits making that jig?

For me, the answer was easy: "I’ll make my own."

I was in fourth grade when I tied my first bucktail jig. All I had was a hand-me-down “starter kit” that belonged to my great-uncle. He passed away before he was able to fully dive into building his own tackle, but I was happy to pick up where he left off.  The kit itself consisted of a few basic jig-heads in yellow, white, and black, some marabou feathers in the same colors, a few basic tools, such as a bobbin anTackle craftd a whip finisher, and a beginner’s “how-to” pamphlet on jig tying. I was eager to open everything up and get to work at my mom’s kitchen table, and it wasn’t long before
I had my first, hand-tied marabou jig completed and ready for the water. 

You don’t need a lot to start making your own fishing jigs. A pack of plain jig-heads, a spool of thread, some feathers from a pheasant or duck that you or your buddy shot, and a bottle of head cement, and you have everything you need to get started. Obviously, if you walk over to our White River Fly Shop, you will see that the options are virtually endless when it comes to colors and materials, but don’t let the vast assortment intimidate you. Keep things simple. 

If you like to fish for panfish, pick out your favorite color and size of jig-head, some material in colors of your choosing (options range from feathers of all types to deer, elk and rabbit hair), a spool of thread (I like red), and a bottle of head cement (fancy name for glue). You will also need some basic tools like a vice, bobbin, and bobbin threader. Luckily, there are kits available that have all of the tools you need to get started, as well as how-to guides that will guide you step-by-step through the process. There are also hundreds of books out there that you can buy that will teach you jig-tying, fly-tying or rod-building (more on that later), just to name a few aspects of tackle-craft. In today’s society of “at your fingertips” technology, you can also get on YouTube and find countless videos from beginners and experts alike that will make it easy for you to get started making your own jigs. 

Besides the fun and relaxation making your own fishing tackle can provide, it also brings with it a sense of accomplishment, and, for me, a sense of pride, knowing that I have made something that the fish deem worthy to bite. Whether it’s because it actually looks like something the fish would eat, or because it looked bad enough to make the fish mad and want to attack, is another discussion for another day. Either way, catching fish on one-of-a-kind tackle that you built with your own hands is much more satisfying, to me anyway, than using something that everyone has in their tackle box at home.

I still have the first jig I tied, and it’s interesting to look back and see where I started and compare it to some of the jigs that I’ve tied more recently. The wraps are neater now, and more consistent. The material length is clean cut and the overall finish is something that looks more appealing, at least to a fisherman’s eye. I’ve used some of my original jigs and some of my most recent jigs, and they have all caught fish at some point - even the odd color combinations, like baby blue and fluorescent orange with silver flashabou.

So, don’t worry about whether or not it will look good; let the fish decide that for you. Stop out to Bass Pro and pick up everything you need to get started making your own one-of-a-kind fishing jigs.

Good luck with your own tackle craft and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Chad BensonChad Benson
Archery Lead
Bass Pro Shops
Altoona, Iowa

 

 

 

 

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - We've Gone Fishin'!

It's the second weekend of our Gone Fishing Event! Dads, celebrate Father's Day with the kids at our indoor Catch and Release pond!

June 18 & 19, Saturday and Sunday:

12-4 p.m.

  • It's the free indoor Catch and Release Pond  - we supply the poles! Plus, kids receive a "First Fish" certificate to celebrate the catch!
  • Free Photo Download
  • Free Gone Fishing Door Hanger to the first 100 who attend the catch and release pond.
  • Free Fishing Seminars

  11am   Gone Fishing - Best local destinations for group fishing
  1 pm    Best Bait - What bait to choose for local fishing
  2 pm    Fishing- Anyone can do it ! Best equipment to have for taking friends or family fishing for the first time
  3 pm    Go Fish- information on how to make fishing fun for kids

  • Free Nibbles and Bites Fishing booklet with local fishing information, tips, and more for those who are starting to fish or want to help someone start fishing.
  • Pledge to take someone fishing and be entered in the chance to win a fishing trip to the Keys!Gone Fishing Video Trade-In!
  • Trade in your old video games, help veterans, AND save $5 off a new youth starter rod and reel combo of $19.99 or more. All video games will be donated to the AMVETS association. Limit 1 per person, no matter how many games you donate.

Last, but not least, don't forget to tag your photos of taking someone fishing with #gonefishing!

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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Smoking Tips from the Top

When it comes to any outdoor cooking, here are five tips that will help you out. These are pretty common rules of thumb:

1. Bring your red meats up to room temp before throwing them on the grill or smoker. Fish and chicken stay refrigerated.

2. Be sure to season all sides of the meat. As Emeril would say, "You don't just eat one side!"

3. Cook to internal temperature, not based on a clock. Every grill or smoker is a little different. 

4. Don't poke and flip your food around, unless you're trying to prevent flare ups. On that note...

5. Use a spatula or tongs to turn...never use a fork. You'll let out all the juices!

 

Now, recently we had the opportunity to visit with Ron Milhous, from the Kansas City Barbeque Society award-winning BBQ team of Down Home Cookin' & Bar-B-Que, Ames, Iowa. They are not only an award-winning barbeque team, but they also have a restaurant in Ames.

In this YouTube clip, Milhous explains his three top tips - the rub, low & slow, and don't forget the water!

Don't forget the accessories and tools!

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Kayaking - Thumbs Up from a Newbie

Tony Tries It - KayakingGuest Blogger:

Tony Conrad
DJ, Blogger, Dance Dad
Faith, Family, and Technology

 

I think this might be my very first non-food "Tony Tries It…" but when I saw that Bass Pro Shop in Altoona, Iowa was offering folks a chance to try out kayaking in their parking lot I knew I wanted to give it a go!

I’ve never kayaked before. The closest I came was in middle school the couple years I went to church camp at Wesley Woods outside of Indianola, Iowa. Every afternoon we’d canoe or rowboat across Lake Ahquabi to the beach to swim.

The crew at Bass Pro made trying out kayaking easy. They set up a large shallow pool in their parking lot.  It was big enough for two kayakers at a time.

My youngest and I decided we wanted to try it while my oldest daughter opted to record video of us and take  some pictures.

There wasn’t a line when we arrived. All I needed to do was fill out a quick liability waver and we were off.  I got in first. I’m 6’2″ and was thinking the kayak might be a little cramped. It wasn’t. There was plenty of room.

It took a little time to get used to how to work the paddle but I got it down.  My daughter did too and soon was going by herself.

So what did I think of kayaking? I thought it was really fun! There were a few times I lost my balance, but I don’t think I was in any real danger of tipping over or falling out.

It makes me want to kayak a little longer. Last year the DNR brought kayaks to the pond in our town and you could rent them for a half hour or so. If they do that again this summer I will participate. It would be fun to tool around a pond.

It would also be fun to kayak down any of Iowa’s rivers. Some might enjoy going by themselves and being alone in nature. I think it’d be fun to go with someone else. Someone to keep you company and share the experience. I could see my brother and I enjoying an afternoon of kayaking.

We’re not it the position to buy a kayak now… but I’m leaving the option open in the future. Of course, if we did want one, they have a great selection at Bass Pro. I haven’t priced kayaks but they seemed reasonable.

Bass Pro Shop Ascend KayakWhat about you? Have ever kayaked? What was your first experience like?

By the way, Bass Pro Shop usually has fun things like this and family friendly activities going on most weekends.  Be sure and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you’ll be the first to know the schedule.

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Fly Fishing in the Black Hills

Rod Woten, ColdWater Guide ServiceOur local pro Rod Woten, ColdWater Guide Services, headed to the Black Hills recently for some vacation time and his favorite hobby - fly fishing! Here's a little rundown of the highlights!

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We had a great time fly fishing in The Black Hills of South Dakota! I had a hit list of streams I wanted to fish and we managed to hit them all. We caught trout in every one of them we fished, too. Even managed to catch all three of the major stream species: brown, rainbow and brook trout. I was also fortunate enough to be able to spend one of the days fishing with my buddy, Zach, that I met through the Hooked on Hardwater Event put on by Craig Oyler and The Rapid City Club for Boys.Black Hills Fly Fishing

 
I am amazed and how unique each stream was....

Castle Creek was very narrow and more open mountain meadow type of fishing. The hopper bite was very good there. We caught lots of small wild brookies on nymphs, as well as some larger ones, and a couple of good rainbows on foam hoppers. I even had a HUGE rainbow swing and miss at my hopper twice before he got wise to me. I didn't know fish that big could live in a stream that size! For many reasons, this was my favorite stream during the entire trip.

French Creek in Custer Park was much more wooded with tall granite cliffs. This is the same creek that Custer discovered gold in during the 1870s, so the appeal of catching browns from those same waters was irresistible to me. Nymph fishing seemed to work best here, but sometimes it was hard to keep the creek chubs off your fly long enough for the trout to hit!

Rapid Creek, through the Pactola Flats, was most like the waters I'm used to at home, except there are LOTS of BIG trout in there. Strangely enough, this was also the toughest stream we fished. The water was shallow and clear and those big old bruisers are very wise to the ways of fly fisherman. A dry fly fished well ahead of their feeding runs seemed to be the best approach.

Spring Creek immediately below the Sheridan Lake Dam was similar to French Creek, only MUCH more rugged. The browns here were hungry, as well, and a tan elk hair caddis was just the ticket.

Rapid Creek in Downtown Rapid City was a real treat for us. If I had access to such a dynamite dry fly bite that close to me, I'd probably be living in a cardboard box down by the creek! We caught mostly browns and rainbows and we caught them on hoppers, nymphs, caddis...you name it! I wonder how many Rapid City residents have absolutely no idea what a wonderful trout stream they have running right through their downtown?
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Going, Going, Gone Fishing!

According to a 2014 report by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation,  participation in fishing among women, children, and Hispanics is on the rise. In that report, of the over 4 million first-time anglers, over 40% were women. Also in the report were three other very telling statistics:

  • Youth – Fishing participation as a child has a powerful effect on future participation - 83.7% of Take the Pledge!adult anglers fished as a child
  • Influencers – Parents, siblings and friends continue to be the largest influencers to the introduction of fishing; specifically, parents introduce 81.8% of 6-12 year olds and 76.6% of 13-17 year olds
  • Social – Over 83% of fishing trips involve more than one person
  • Spontaneous – Most fishing trips are spontaneous or planned within a week of the trip (79%)
  • Reasons to fish – Catching fish and enjoying the sounds/smells of nature. Over 80% of participants report catching fish during their last fishing trip

Bass Pro Shops' Gone Fishing Event is designed to encourage you to help move this trend forward by pledging to take someone fishing. You can start by bringing a child in for our catch and release pond. It's a simple, comfortable atmosphere where they can experience the basic fun of catching a fishing for the first time.

Next step, take our pledge to take someone fishing - partner, neighbor, woman, man, child, young or old. Know someone with special needs? Fishing is something most everyone can enjoy, even if it's simply the physical and emotional benefit of being outdoors in the fresh air and in nature.

So, join the fishing movement with us at our Gone Fishing Event:

June 11 &12, 18 & 19, Saturday and Sunday:

12-4 p.m.

  • It's the free indoor Catch and Release Pond  - we supply the poles! Plus, kids receive a "First Fish" certificate to celebrate the catch!
  • Free Photo Download
  • Free Gone Fishing Door Hanger to the first 100 who attend the catch and release pond.
  • Free Fishing Seminars

  11am   Gone Fishing - Best local destinations for group fishing
  1 pm    Best Bait - What bait to choose for local fishing
  2 pm    Fishing- Anyone can do it ! Best equipment to have for taking friends or family fishing for the first time
  3 pm    Go Fish- information on how to make fishing fun for kids

  • Free Nibbles and Bites Fishing booklet with local fishing information, tips, and more for those who are starting to fish or want to help someone start fishing.
  • Pledge to take someone fishing and be entered in the chance to win a fishing trip to the Keys!Gone Fishing Video Trade-In!
  • Trade in your old video games, help veterans, AND save $5 off a new youth starter rod and reel combo of $19.99 or more. All video games will be donated to the AMVETS association. Limit 1 per person, no matter how many games you donate.

Last, but not least, don't forget to tag your photos of taking someone fishing with #gonefishing!

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Kids, Camping, and Bugs

When I was little our family camped all the time. "Real" camping, some would call it. A large tent that slept 10, good old Coleman sleeping bags, two metal cots that my parents got to sleep on, and air mattresses for the rest of us...the kind you pump up with your foot. Camp stove, pots and pans, along with the tent and all other gear, were loaded into a homemade trailer pulled behind our stick-shift wagon.

I loved camping and those 2-3 week family camping trips gave me memories I will always have and cherish. the tent was our hotel and nature was our view. But, even a nice hotel can have bugs and when you camp there are bugs! My dad tried to assure me that they wouldn't bother or hurt me. I grew tolerant of them outside, but not when they're inside!

Talking about bugs is just one of the many workshops I help with at Family Summer Camp and I think most kids are secretly fascinated by them. We talk about good bugs and bad and the how vitally important some insects, such as pollinators, are to our habitat and food sources. http://www.basspro.com/Home-Gifts-Toys-Games/Type-Kids-Nature/_/N-1z0usrdZ1z0v0sw?ddnv=FlyOHG_NatCtr_KdNtr

A coworker mentioned that her granddaughter loves the Bug Vacuum we sell in our Kids' Nature Department. She loves to go camping, too, and explore. Kids, camping, and bugs, just go hand-in-hand.

Bass Pro Shops has a large assortment of insect-related products, especially from the Backyard Safari line, that you can bring along on that next family camping trip and let your kids be nature explorers. From the previously mentioned Bug Vacuum with laser light, to cargo vests, to binoculars, compasses, mini pop-up habitats and more, there is something to spark an interest in just about every child when it comes to bugs, butterflies, and even birds.

Watch for the details on Family Summer Camp at your local Bass Pro Shops and get your kids started on some backyard & outdoor adventures with bugs.

Maybe when they go camping, they won't be scared of the daddy longlegs creeping up the wall.

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Five Simple Reasons to Take Kids Fishing

What's one activity that most any family can do year-round with very little expense? Fishing.

Here are five reasons fishing is the ultimate family experience:

5. Dads, moms, grandmas, and grandpas can take kids fishing. In today's single parent and broken marriage Mom and daughter fishingworld, fishing is an inexpensive choice for weekend "daddy and me" or "mommy and me" time, providing moments for bonding, laughter, and maybe some snuggling while you both watch the line.  It doesn't have to be as a group - it's a perfect way for one child (or more) to have special time with a parent or grandparent, or extended family members.

4. You can do it from a bank or dock at a small city or county park or you go on a boat on a bigger lake, if that's more to your liking. You don't have to "go big or go home." You can go small, too!

3. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars and be real fancy about it. I mean, you CAN, but you don't have to. You can use a good ol' bobber, worm and inexpensive rod/reel combo or you can go all out with the latest and greatest in rods/reels, lures, and line. There is something for everyone's budget.

2. Kids will learn patience, skills, and etiquette:

  • They call it fishing, not catching, thus patience.
  • My husband caught a 35 lb bighead carp with 4lb test line, while fishing for crappie. You don't have to have a telephone pole and 100 lb line to bring them in...just good fishing skills. Start them learning those skills, and patience to use them, at a young age.
  • The properly taught etiquette of fishing helps with that whole "personal space" thing that children sometimes have a hard time understanding. Plus, it simply helps teach good manners.

1.  Fishing gets a family outside year-round. Family members can be outside fishing in warm summer sunshine or sunny winter days. We need more of that, plain and simple. 

June 3-5 are free fishing days in Iowa for Iowa residents. Take advantage of it, drop the excuses, and go enjoy some fishing!

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Happy Feet for Kids!

New Balance Adirondack Sandal for KidsWe're serving up some happy feet for kids in the Footwear Department! Just in time for summer holidays, we have flip-flops, sandals, and water shoes for kids.

Here's a sampling of what we now carry:

RedHead Ragin' Water Shoes - Keep those little feet moving through water and over land! Lightweight and built to handle wet conditions with it's open, vented design.

New Balance Adirondack Sandals - Fast-drying, with large open vents and reinforced toe bumpers. The quick-release bungee system makes for easy on-off for little hands.

Sandals for kids at Bass Pro ShopsReef Sandals - Flip-flop sandals for every youngster, from the Ahi Thong surfing sandals for the youngest surfer set to the water-friendly Grom Rover with its feather foam foot bed to the soft jersey lining of the Rover Catch, there is a Reef sandal for every young liking. 

Cobian Draino, Jr. - delivering the same performance as the adult Draino, the Cobian, Jr., has anatomical foot beds and arch support to provide comfort for little feet while they play all day on water or land.

Other sandals for kids include UnderArmour slides, RedHead camo flip-flops, and Sanuk. Stop in and get them while we have them - we've never had them and they ARE going fast. You can also find these and more online at basspro.com!
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Leave Them in the Wild

Nothing is cuter than baby wildlife...even opossum babies are cute! The urge to pick one up and "rescue" it from a seemingly future demise can sometimes be uncontrollable. But, don't do it.

When you're out on that hike and find a wildlife baby hunkered down, leave it alone. Kit Foxes

When you're in the backyard and find that ugly baby bird teetering around that backyard, leave it alone...and watch out for mom to swoop in and nail you if you don't.

The Iowa DNR says their field offices will be overwhelmed with calls from concerned citizens who have found supposed "orphaned" wildlife. But they're probably just laying low while mom is sleeping or hunting for food.

"Since most mammals are largely nocturnal, the mother usually finds a safe daytime hideout for her young while she sleeps or looks for food. Consequently, it is perfectly normal for the young to be alone or baby robinunattended during the daylight hours."

What about birds?

"At the beginning of the fledgling period, young birds appear clumsy, dull-witted, and vulnerable. The reason for this is because they really are clumsy, dull-witted, and vulnerable. But as the education process continues, the survivors smarten up fast, while slow learners quickly fade from the scene. Most birds have less than a 20 percent chance of surviving their first year. While this seems unfortunate or cruel, this is a normal occurrence in Nature. In the real out-of-doors, it's just the way things are."

If you are positive the babies have been abandoned, or know for sure the mother is dead or unable to care for them due to injury, contact a wildlife rehabilitationist in your state.

So the next time you see that baby bird hopping around your yard? Leave it alone.

A baby squirrel falls from the next during a storm? Leave it alone.

Don't mess with Mother Nature.

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Iowa Birds - Rascally Wrens!

I'm not a bird expert, but I play one on our patio. Our very favorite backyard bird is the wren and they are back shopping for a new home - hopefully one of ours will be satisfactory. I'll explain that in my fun facts about wrenwrens below:

  • The male wren comes to town first. It's HIS job to find proper housing that meets with his mate's approval. They will build several nests at once to try and persuade a female to mate with him.
  • Wrens build nests in nest boxes and need small wren houses. The house needs a small hole on the front so bigger, nastier birds, like starlings, can't get to the babies.
  • Males who are returning to breed for the first time, often need a little help with what to do. So they will often settle close to a male wren who has some experience. That way they can learn from the older ones on the best type of nest to choose.
  • Wrens are very vocal. They are the first song you'll hear in the morning and the last at night, more than likely. They have a definite cadence to their song. 
  • Wrens often use spider eggs in their nest building. Spiders will hatch and eat the mites and parasites that can often live in a nest and kill the babies when they hatch.
  • Wrens are small but mighty. I equate them to the P-51 Mustang of WWII. They don't back down from any bird and will fight to protect their territory. Likewise, they may sometimes steal a nest that is already being used, sometimes fearlessly attaching bigger birds and dragging their babies out of nests, just to use the nest themselves. We have also witnessed wrens divebombing our backyard squirrels to protect their territory.
  • The wrens get used to us being outside, but will scold us if we get to close...just to remind us that it's our garden, but it's really THEIR garden. They also like use to be sitting in the same place all the time...any swaying from the plan tends to make them a little nervous.
  • We usually have at least two nests of wrens each season. We have two wren houses in areas protected from the afternoon sun...the heat can be brutal on their little babies. We also have a dried monster gourd that a family used for a nest and wrens may make nests in just about anything where they can load up the twigs and create a cup...including boots!

Watch and listen for these mighty little birds. They will provide hours of entertainment and beautiful songs!

 

Resource: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/House_Wren/lifehistory

Do you have birds nesting in your yard? Check out this cool site! http://nestwatch.org/

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Product Spotlight - Uncle Buck's Sugar Free Maple Praline Syrup

Good news for all you heart-healthy eaters! As I continue to become a label-reading professional, I have http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-Uncle-Bucks-Sugar-Free-Maple-Praline-Flavored-Syrup/product/1411261335/discovered that the Uncle Buck's Sugar Free Maple Praline Syrup can be at the top of your "A" list for healthy eats.

Not only is the syrup sugar-free is is also sodium-free! This is one of the best syrups around and not only tastes good on pancakes, but also on that nightly small dish of special ice cream! Throw on some pecan chips and you are one step closer to a mini-parfait.

With our newly-found need for low-sodium, no-sodium foods, this came as quite a surprise. Now, we're not going to just drink the syrup from the bottle, but it will allow us, and especially my husband, to have his sweet tooth enjoyment, without worrying about his health.

Pick some up in your local Bass Pro Shops or online.

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Set Your Sights!

Set Your Sights Event!

Better your long-range shooting skills, learn the basics of handgun concealed carry and home defense from the Altoona Police Department, and get up to speed on the latest in accessories & optics!
Free seminars and free giveaway for the first 25 at each seminar! Quadruple Rewards Points on select items with coupon from sales flyer (May 13 & 14)
• Drawing for 1 Bass Pro Shops® $25 Gift Cards at each advertised seminar
• PLUS, enter for a Chance to win 1 of 2 prizes!

Savage 64F Black .22 LR Rifle
or
Howard Leight Impact Sport Hearing Protection Muffs

Friday, May 13
6:30PM Optics and Accessories for your Modern Sporting Rifle
7:30PM The Basics of Handgun Concealed-Carry and Home Defense - presented by the Altoona PD

Saturday, May 14
1:30 PM Long Range Shooting - Guns and Optics for the 1,000-Yard Shot
2:30 PM Optics and Accessories for your Modern Sporting Rifle
3:30 PM The Basics of Handgun Concealed-Carry and Home Defense - Presented by the Altoona PD
4:30 PM Long Range Shooting - Guns and Optics for the 1,000-Yard Shot

 

Then next weekend it's time to Go Outdoors!

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Go Outdoors 2016!

It's the Christmas event for Camping! Join us for great sales on camping items like tents, kayaks, and more! Plus these great events on the weekends:

May 21-22, 28-29 - KAYAK POOLkayak pool
We have the kayak pool back for a limited time! Come try kayaking in our pool and see if it's something you might like. No cost. Must be 10 years of age or older. Ages 10-17 must be accompanied by a parent.

May 21-22
Our free Family/Kids' Activities weekend with the famous indoor Catch and Release pond!

  • Boy Scouts of America - Tips for the Trail
  • Catch & Release PondsCatch and Release pond
  • Free Photo Download
  • Free Crafts
  • Free giveaway with completion of punch card
  • Food demos with Flossies funnel cakes (11-2) and fish fry sampling (2-5)

May 28 - 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The award-winning Kansas City Barbeque Society” teams of Down Home Cookin' & Barbeque and Gothic Town Grillers will be on hand sharing their expertis and some yummy samples!
 

May 28 - How-To’s for Family Outdoor Fun!
11 am - Best Barbeque
2 pm - Conquering Campfires, Cooking & More

May 29 - How-To's
11 am - Kids, Camping & Comfort
2 pm - Kayaking:  Keeping It Simple

First 25 customers to attend the How-To’s each day will receive a Bass Pro Shops tote bag!

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Product Spotlight - The Reality Series Instigator RC Decoy

With this mobile turkey decoy you can expand your area for bringing in the toms. Want or need to "engage" those turkeys even more? The RedHead Reality Series Instigator RC Jake decoy will take you beyond your stationary decoys to bring in the toms who are lurking a bit out of range or who are just a little smarter and wiser late in the season. 

Hunting Lead Clint Grenier says the range on this decoy's radio control, about 150 yards, allows you to send it out to lure in the toms. Just keep backing it up and watch the toms come in for a fight with this young jake who's putting on a show.

The decoy sits atop a rugged remote-control chassis allowing it to "drive" over varying terrains. Check out the moves of the decoy in this YouTube clip we shot in the archery range. Now, Clint's motoring it a bit faster than you would out in the open, so it will be much quieter and with sound disguised by grasses, and running on the ground as opposed to cement.

Stop in the store for a demo or you can order online!

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - MOM!

This weekend it's all about mom! Grab the kids, let mom have the day off, and come in for a free family photo to present her for Mother's Day. There's also a $10 package!

Mother's Day Photos

May 6 - 5-8 p.m.

May 7 - 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Mother's Day Photos

 

Coming up next weekend?

Set Your Sights Event

Better your long-range shooting skills, learn the basics of handgun concealed carry and home defense from the Altoona Police Department, and get up to speed on the latest in accessories & optics!
Free seminars and free giveaway for the first 25 at each seminar! Quadruple Rewards Points on select items with coupon from sales flyer (May 13 & 14)
• Drawing for 1 Bass Pro Shops® $25 Gift Cards at each advertised seminar
• PLUS, enter for a Chance to win 1 of 2 prizes!
Savage 64F Black .22 LR Rifle
or
Howard Leight Impact Sport Hearing Protection Muffs

Friday, May 13
6:30PM Optics and Accessories for your Modern Sporting Rifle
7:30PM The Basics of Handgun Concealed-Carry and Home Defense

Saturday, May 14
1:30 PM Long Range Shooting - Guns and Optics for the 1,000-Yard Shot
2:30 PM Optics and Accessories for your Modern Sporting Rifle
3:30 PM The Basics of Handgun Concealed-Carry and Home Defense
4:30 PM Long Range Shooting - Guns and Optics for the 1,000-Yard Shot

 

Then the next weekend is Go Outdoors!

___________________________________________

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