Turkey Calling with the Thunder Cut'N® Call

Spring turkey season is still a couple of months away, but now is the time to be practicing with your calls and getting ready for the season!

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Hunting Associate Kip Ireland uses the Thunder Cut'N Turkey call and wants you to know more about it.

"Many people are not familiar with it, because it's not the usual type of call. Turkeys have keen eyesight, and when I tried to cut or use a box call they'd see me. I tried mouth calls, but they weren't for me. So, I bought the flextone Thunder Cut'N® Turkey Call. It has a raspy deep guttural type turkey sound I was wanting." 

 Check out the video for Kip's tips on how to use it and more reasons why it's his favorite turkey call! 

2014 SPRING TURKEY HUNTING - Iowa Season Dates

Combination Gun/Bow Licenses

*Youth Season (Residents Only) April 5 - 13
Season 1 April 14 - 17
Season 2 April 18 - 22
Season 3 April 23 - 29
Season 4 April 30 - May 18

Resident Archery-only Licenses:  April 14 - May 18

Bag Limit:  Daily Bag and Season Possession Limit is one bearded or male wild turkey for each valid license and transportation tag issued to the hunter.

Shooting Hours: 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset

*License Valid for Youth Season Only

Visit www.iowadnr.gov/portals/idnr/uploads/Hunting/huntingregs.pdf for details.


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Product Spotlight - Bass Pro Shops Weigh Bag

Bass Pro Shops Weigh BagOur Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff team member Lance Baker wants to give everyone, especially tournament fishermen and women, a heads up about the NEW Bass Pro Shops weigh bags for 2014.


"These are by far the steadiest ones I've seen yet. I tried a lot of different ones during my years at Iowa Premier Bass and have to say this one is built better than any I have seen. They can really help take care of your fish at weigh-ins this year!"


  • Made from heavy duty 600 denier nylon with a PVC coating, the Bass Pro Shops Weigh Bag black material is "spook-proof" and less stressful for your fish while you're transporting them.
  • The bottom third of the bag is protected by a rugged diamond rubber material for durability. 
  • Welded seams add to the waterproof durability.
  • A zip-top helps slow down fish and water loss if it tips over.



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Bucks and Barn Cats - Lessons at Season's End

By Christie Moe, Apparel Associate
Bass Pro Shops Altoona

As someone who loves to write and tell stories, the hardest part for me has always been where to begin. Many experiences and influences in my life led to my decision to hunt this past fall. My family has always been an active, outdoor- loving family. I was six when I first went camping and canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. I grew up doing a lot of camping, hiking, canoeing, and fishing. For me, that was just what you did in the summer. 

I never really got interested in hunting, even after my mom married my step-father, who is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. I started archery when I was a senior in high school, but never even considered going out hunting with my step-dad. At the time, my mom likely wouldn't have allowed it, since I’m her baby girl. She had a difficult enough time with it this season, even though I’m 23 years old and have been married for over a year. However, between my step-father’s excitement to finally have a hunting buddy (neither of my step-brothers have ever taken an interest), and my own determination to go, my mom reluctantly held back her objections.

I spent weeks preparing for the start of bow season. I practiced as often as I could, focusing on improving my ability to hold my bow drawn for an extended period and keep it steady, and spent countless hours completing the online hunter’s safety course. I bought and borrowed all the accessories I thought I would need (my being hired at Bass Pro Shops in late October was no coincidence!). My mom would say I enjoyed the shopping as much as the hunt and that wouldn't be untrue...I love to shop. I enjoy looking good, even if there’s no one but the squirrels and the birds to see me. My husband, a U.S. Navy sailor deployed in the Atlantic, emailed me more than once about what all I could possibly have spent so much on at Bass Pro. I easily won him over with the promise of deer jerky and by saving extra money the next month. 

View from a blindWhen I decided I wanted to go hunting, I daydreamed a lot about the deer I would get; my heart was set on getting a buck. After all, I needed a trophy to mount on my wall and a pair of antlers seemed like a perfect crown for my achievement. A nice little six-point buck didn't seem like it could be too hard to get, and I was hunting with my step-father who gets at least one deer every bow season. Well, deer season has come and gone, and I don’t even have ground venison to show for all my efforts (sorry hubby, no jerky). The most important lesson I learned about hunting is that you can’t shoot what you don’t see and, after passing up more than one shot early on in the season, I didn't see much at all. I had never realized that just being in the right place at the right time is such a huge part of hunting. You can do all the recon you want with your trail cameras and looking for scrapes and prints; it doesn't guarantee that the deer will be there when you are. 

One of the first things I learned was that I am not a quiet person. People who know me might scoff at that, since I’m more inclined to listen than to do most of the talking in a conversation. However, I fidget, stomp, squeak my chair, rustle around in my pack, sneeze, blow my nose, cough, and occasionally snore. These normally inconsequential and unnoticeable habits seem very loud when you are trying to be as quiet as possible and lie in wait for an animal with incredible hearing. I often wonder if the times that we didn't see any deer were because I wasn't quiet enough. Support Pole grazed by Arrow

On one of my first times out I had a beautiful eight-point buck come walking across my sights.  We were in my step-dad’s ground blind and conditions that day were fairly close to perfect. The sun was shining, it was cool, and the wind was blowing elsewhere, but not in the field's edge where we were crouched. The buck stopped about 25 yards away from us, quartering away from me. I drew my bow and took aim, barely able to keep from shaking with excitement. I kept him in my sights, as he took a few steps more, and gently pulled the trigger on my release. One of the difficulties I had with the release was my tendency to punch the trigger, but this time, my pull was smooth as silk.  Everything about the shot felt perfect and right...for about a half of a heartbeat. Then my broadhead grazed one of the support poles on the blind, and my arrow went flying off into the weeds to the left. As I gazed in shocked dismay, my beautiful buck, that should have been ready to keel over, pranced away after a doe. Three hours later, after nothing else came by, my step-dad and I began our search for my arrow. After about a half an hour, we gave up and I was back to Bass Pro to have new arrows cut. The lesson I learned that trip was to be more aware of my surroundings. I should have realized that the support pole was in my way, but I had tunnel vision and only saw the deer.

During another trip, my step-dad and I had nestled our ground blind in amid some tall grass and a deadfall. We knew the area well and spotted tracks that were fairly fresh; we felt confident we would see something that evening. We saw nothing, but I hung in there even though it was a mere fourteen degrees out. Finally, in the last minutes of shooting time, we heard something. I prepared to draw my bow. Suddenly, we heard a buck behind us. Somehow, the buck managed to sneak around us and came upon our blind from behind. We managed to startle each other and the buck took off. We had placed our blind strategically, so that the deer would take the path in front of us. Lesson learned: Deer don’t always stick to the path. Sometimes, they are unpredictable.

I did the majority of my hunting from my step-dad’s ground blind, but there were a couple of occasions when we went out and did some stalking. Later on in the season, we were hunting down by the river. Being goose season, as well as bow season for deer, the spot we picked was not ideal. As the goose hunters got closer to us, we realized that we wouldn't see anything. The noise from the shotguns had likely scared off all the deer off. So we decided to leave the blind and stalk. I got to know the woods pretty well at that time. Thus, when hunting on my own one day, I thought little of going off and seeing if I could find some deer somewhere other than where I was at. I did just fine for the most part, but then, on my way back, I somehow got turned around. I was lost. The big mistake I had made, though, was that I had left my pack at the blind, including my emergency kit, hunter’s license, and ID.  While nothing happened, and I managed to find my way back (slightly worse for wear and a little dehydrated), I did get a bit of a scare and learned a crucial lesson about not being stupid: never ever leave your emergency supplies.

My step-dad and I made a few hunting trips down to my uncle’s place near Indianola. My uncle has a decent amount of land to hunt on, and he and my cousin both managed to get large bucks early in the season. On our first trip down, I drank a decent amount of coffee, as traveling down there meant we had to get up an hour earlier than normal. Suffice it to say, the lesson I learned here was that a hunter never wants to drink too much coffee before going hunting, especially as it gets colder out.Hunting Cat

The cold is one of the things I do not like about hunting. I might get bored while waiting, but I don’t mind being bored. I hate the cold though. During bow season, I easily went through two large packs of hand warmers and three large packs of toe warmers, not to mention a ton of the large 18-hour body warmers. I like things that keep me warm. My uncle, like most people who live out in the country, has a few outdoor cats. On one particular trip, one of the kittens followed us down to the food plot. My step-dad positioned himself at one end of the field with me at the opposite end.  The little kitten was not inclined to leave us, and we weren't inclined to try and bring her all the way back up to the house, when she would likely just follow us back down again. To make a long story short, the kitten ended up in my coat. To keep her out of the way, I just quickly stuffed her inside and zipped it up. She ended up sitting right on top of my body warmers, and only poked her head out on occasion. She was more than content to stay in my coat and out of the way (for those wondering, no her incredibly loud purring didn't keep the deer away). I learned that sometimes sharing the experience with a friend makes the trip a lot more pleasant. Especially when you don’t get anything.

While I never did get a deer this season, I truly enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. I am continuing my outdoor adventures currently by hunting squirrel and rabbit with pellet gun. I haven’t got anything yet, but hopefully my next hunt will be more successful than my last. The thing I've enjoyed most about hunting is having some bonding time with my step-dad. The whole experience has made me appreciate the outdoors and his knowledge of it even more.  


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Spring Fishing Classic 2014 - BassMaster University

Spring Fishing Classic Bass Pro Shops AltoonaBassmaster University

Bassmaster University is back for the 2014 Spring Fishing Classic! This year we welcome three national pros who will share their tips, techniques and all-around expertise on electronics, walleyes, and jig fishing!

March 1, 2014

1 p.m. - Win Stevens - Missouri B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Angler - Using Your Humminbird Electronics

2. p.m. - Chase Parsons - Host "the Next Bite" TV show and Walleye Tournament Champion - Walleyes 2014

3 p.m. - Casey Scanlon - Bassmaster Elite Series Pro - Jig Fishing

Spring Fishing Classic Bassmaster University - Altoona, Iowa

Also happening during the Spring Fishing Classic:

Second Weekend - Local Pro Seminars - March 8 & 9

Third Weekend - Next Generation Weekend! - March 15 and 16 - Featuring the always popular indoor Catch and Release Pond for kids! 

New this year - March 15, 3 p.m. - Women's Fishing Workshop! Free giveaway for the first 50 women to attend. Must be 18 years or older. 


While you're here for the seminars, make sure you register to Win a NITRO Z-7 and Fish with Elite Angler Edwin Evers! The drawing includes: Includes:

  • Guided fishing trip on Table Rock Lake with B.A.S.S.® Elite Series Professional Angler Edwin Evers
  • 3-day/3-night stay at Big Cedar® Lodge
  • Up to $3,000 for travel and accommodations to Big Cedar
  • NITRO® Z-7, 150 hp Mercury® motor and trailer included ($29,000 Value)

Make sure to watch our blog for complete details on weekend activities and specials!


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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Pineapple-Carrot Cake

cakeYes, as odd as it sounds, this is a cake baked in a slow cooker. It's similar to a Dutch Oven concept. I found this recipe in the February issue of Midwest Living magazine and was intrigued, yet a little leery. I had attempted a slow cooker brownie recipe from another magazine once before and it was a flop. But this one just sounded TOO simple. 

While the recipe said to use a 4 Qt. cooker, mine was 6 Qt. So, my cake turned out a little thinner, but that didn't matter to me. The most difficult part for me was turning back over (top side up) after inverting it onto the wire rack. But, a little cream cheese frosting covered the break and it didn't interfere with us enjoying it and eating the whole thing. I used canned cream cheese frosting, but you can certainly make fresh!

So, try something new and slow bake a cake!


Pineapple-Carrot Cake

Nonstick cooking spray
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
1 8 - ounce can pineapple tidbits, drained
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cut parchment paper (I actually cut down a Lodge Dutch Oven liner...fold in half and trim!) to fit in the bottom of a
4-quart slow cooker; coat paper and sides of cooker with cooking spray. In a very large bowl stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in carrots, pineapple and walnuts; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, milk, melted butter, eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla until combined. Add sugar mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Spoon into prepared slow cooker.
Cover and cook on high-heat setting for 2 hours (a long wooden pick inserted near the center should come out clean). If possible, carefully give crock liner a half-turn after 1 hour of cooking-do not remove lid. Turn off slow cooker.
Carefully remove lid so condensation from lid does not drip on cake. Cover top of slow cooker completely with paper towels; place lid on top. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cake. Carefully invert cake onto a wire cooling rack; turn cake top-side up. Cool completely on wire rack.

Pro Tips - Selecting the Right Hook

Kary Ray, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro TeamThe Spring Fishing Classic is just around the corner and it's time to turn our thoughts to warm weather and open water fishing. Our local pros will be on hand to conduct seminars during the Classic, but Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff Fisherman Kary Ray has some tips to share right now:

"This time of year is when you're cleaning out tackle boxes and evaluating, or re-evaluating, gear. Something as simple as the hook you use can change the number of fish that land in your boat!

Whether you’re flipping and pitching into heavy cover, throwing under docks or fishing sparse areas, there are certain hooks for certain situations. He says often people will put a lure on with a hook and, if they’re not catching anything, they’ll just change the lure and not think about the hook."  

As he explains in this video, the correct hook can make all the difference.

Remember, if you're fishing heavy cover, use the heavy hook. For a lighter cover, longer cast, use a light wire hook…and then watch for more fish in your boat!


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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Cookies and Pickles!

It's "Attack of the Girl Scout Cookies!" Girl Scouts

Starting this weekend, and running through March 9, scout troops will be in the store selling Girl Scout Cookies!

Troops will be selling from about 10 a.m. to approximately 2-4 p.m., depending on the group. This weekend we host:

February 8 - Troop # 1033 from Bondurant

February 9 - Troop # 767


Also, this weekend:

Try Before You Buy! 

Our Gifts Department will be serving up tasty bites featuring our products!

February 8 - Fried dill pickles made with Uncle Buck’s Light and Krispy batter. We'll have Bob Timberlake Creamy Cucumber Dressing for dipping!


Coming Up:

The 2014 Spring Fishing Classic!  Three weekends of activities for all ages!  National pros, local pro seminars, and the always popular Next Generation Weekend, including a Beginning Fishing Workshop just for women!

Watch this blog for details on each specific weekend.


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2014 Iowa Fishing Licenses/Regulations

February is Beat the Heat Month. Easy to do in Iowa in February. So, instead of beating the heat, let's think warm thoughts of balmy spring/summer days in short sleeves, fishing away the afternoon...and how you need to get your license for Iowa fishing now!

According to the Iowa DNR, about 400,000 resident and non-residents anglers by fishing licenses to enjoy Iowa's waters. The money from those licenses can only be used for the management , protection, and enhJamie Renshaw Bass Pro Shops Altoonaancement of Iowa's fish and wildlife.

Don't forget, you can also get an Adventure Ready combo license! In 2013, over 39,000 outdoor combination hunting/fishing/habitat licenses were sold. 

*  The Bonus Line License – Residents and nonresidents can fish with one additional line (with the purchase of the annual fishing license, which allows two lines) for $12.

*  The Outdoor Combo License – an annual resident hunting/fishing/habitat combo license for $47.

*  Angler’s Special – a three-year fishing license for $53.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, in 2013, Iowans also purchased:

241,332 annual fishing licenses
*16,470 three year fishing licenses
*6,399 bonus line third fishing line
6,469 lifetime fishing license
1,183 seven day fishing license
2,899 one day fishing license
37,493 trout stamps


A reminder that it's now the law to clean the outside of your boat and drain all water before leaving the water access, along with dumping all unwanted bait into the trash (NOT the water!). This will help in the prevention of aquatic invasive species that destroy our lakes and rivers.

You can stop in at Bass Pro Shops Altoona and purchase your licenses or buy them online. While you'e in the store you can pick up a copy of the 2014 regulations or find bookmark them here


The 2014 Spring Fishing Classic is coming February 28! Watch for details!

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Spring Fishing Classic 2014 Line Up

The world's greatest fishing event is back!

February 28-March 16, 2014

Spring Fishing Classic - Bass Pro Shops Altoona


  • Great savings on the equipment you need!
  • Free seminars from the pros
  • Next Generation Weekend with Catch and Release Pond
  • Free Kids' Fishing Workshop
  • Daily Specials
  • Reel and Rod Trade-Ins
  • Bonus Bucks


First weekend - March 1

Join us to welcome our national pros during Bassmaster University!

1 p.m. - Win Stevens - Missouri B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Angler - Using Your Humminbird Electronics

2. p.m. - Chase Parsons - Host "the Next Bite" TV show and Walleye Tournament Champion - Walleyes 2014

3 p.m. - Casey Scanlon - Bassmaster Elite Series Pro - Jig Fishing

Bassmaster University - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Second Weekend - March 7, 8 and 9

Local Pro Fishing Tips and Seminars!Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff - Kary Ray and Lance Baker

March 7 - 7 p.m. - Flipping and Pitching for Bass

March 8 and 9th - (Featuring our Pro Staff Kary Ray and Lance Baker)

11:00 a.m. - Locating Bass in New Waters -  Pro Staff Seminar
1:00 p.m. - Topwater Techniques for Bass
2:00 p.m. - Spinning Reel Tactics for Bass  - Pro Staff Seminar
3:00 p.m. - Does the Color of Your Bass Lure Matter?
4:00 p.m. - Become a Smallmouth Specialist - Pro Staff Seminar
5:00 p.m. - Choosing the Right Soft Plastics for Bass


Third Weekend - March 15 & 16

Free Kids' Fishing Workshop - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Next Generation Weekend!

  • Noon-5 p.m. Free Catch and Release Pond in our new, larger indoor pond stocked with live fish!
  • Free 4x6 photo with a Keep America Fishing Certificate.
  • 2:30 and 4:30 - Free Kids' Fishing workshops
  • Free Kids' Craft - 1-4:30 p.m. both days - Keepsake magnet fish craft (while supplies last).


Watch for details on specific events and specials in future blogs!


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Girl Scout Cookie Madness

Have you snarfed down all your Samoas?

Are you frowning from a lack of Savannah Smiles?

Have you been crying over a freezer devoid of any sign of a Girl Scout cookie?

Do you stock up on FoodSaver supplies at the end of January to freeze Girl Scout cookies more than venison?

We're here to help...we've got your back! 

Girls Scout Cookie Sales!

What started as volunteer moms in Muskogee, Oklahoma, baking simple sugar cookies as a service project  in 1917 has transformed into a lesson in mega-business skills for young women around the world! Goal setting, money management, decision making, people skills, and business ethics...these are our future leaders in the making. 

Once again, Bass Pro Shops Altoona is the host site for several Girl Scout troops who will be selling thousands of boxes of cookies!  Troops will be selling from about 10 a.m. - approximately 2-4 p.m., depending on the group. 

February 8 - Troop # 1033 from Bondurant

February 9 - Troop # 767 

February 16 - Troop #01011 from Bondurant

February 22 - Troop #409 from Altoona

February 23 - Troop # 317 

March 1 - Troop #881 from Johnston

March 2 - Troop # 672 from Experience Church

March 8 - Troop # 142 from Des Moines

March 9 - Troop # 121




Tournament Talk - North American Ice Fishing Circuit Championships

Rod WotenBy Rod Woten, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff Ice Fisherman

On the morning of December 21, 2013, 78 of the best ice fishing teams in North America launched from Johnson’s Portside in Wahkon, Minnesota, to begin competition in the 2013 version of the two-day North American Ice Fishing Circuit’s National Championships on legendary Mille Lacs Lake. For the 5th year in a row, my partner, Mike Riley, and I were fortunate enough to be among those 78 teams. To effectively tell this story, though, I have to back up a couple of days.

War of Attrition

Ice fishing season got off to a good start on Mille Lacs this year.  Favorable conditions meant that the lake had fishable ice well ahead of last year. Things were looking very positive with two weeks to go until the championships. The only thing that might screw up the whole deal was to get a significant amount of snow on the relatively young ice. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they got. The problem with snow on ice is that it effectively slows down the growth rate of the ice to a near standstill. If there is a relatively thin layer of ice, as there was in this case, the added weight of the snow will actually cause the ice sheet to sink and force lake water up through every available crack and hole in the ice. These are exactly the conditions that greeted us Thursday morning as we arrived to pre-fish. This water forced between the layer of ice below and the layer of snow above created slush pockets that were stopping ATVs in their tracks and even causing snowmobiles to bog down or gets stuck in a few instances. These were certainly the most brutal conditions I had ever seen. To complicate matters, some areas of the ice had frozen into very jagged pack ice, which was hidden below the layer of snow, but very evident once you tried to drive a snowmobile or ATV over it. All of these factors conspired to render useless the ATVs that most of the teams brought.  Machines were constantly getting stuck, and the ones that weren’t getting stuck were suffering breakages of one sort or another due to the rough ice.  I have never seen such a desolate scene of broken, stuck or iced up machines, broken equipment, and exhausted bodies staggering through the snow. As pre-fishing and the tournament commenced, conditions did improve, but only marginally. We were definitely not immune to the carnage either. Luckily, with my snowmobile, I was never stuck; but, the number of times we had to tow Mike’s ATV out of the slush with it sure made up for that fact. Once the slush was caked into the frame of the ATVs, it was there to stay! Overnight the slush would freeze hard on the machines, which rendered as many machines useless as breakages on the ice did. We actually had to forego a half-day of pre fishing on Friday, so that we could get Mike’s ATV into a local car wash and spend $20 to power wash the iceberg that had been forming within its frame.

Insult to Injury

To add insult to injury, the monster panfish that had ruled last year’s championships just were not to be found within tournament boundaries this year. To put it all in perspective for you, the winning weight for 2012 was near 25 pounds! Sadly, the winning weight for the 2013 version wouldn’t even crack the 10 pound mark.  We did manage to weigh three fish of our 16 fish limit (eight crappies and eight bluegills) the first day for a whopping weight of 0.55 pounds. While this weight seems pretty pathetic (which it is, in all reality), it’s still better than 35 teams in the field that failed to weigh a single fish on day one! It was also enough weight to bump us from or 52nd place starting position to 32nd.

For day two, we would be trying to catch a limit of eight crappies and eight perch. During pre-fishing, we had managed to pattern some decent perch outside of the tournament boundaries. These perch were definitely not your typical Mille Lacs jumbos, but were considerably larger than any of the perch we had caught last year during the championships.  I was pretty confident that I could pinpoint some structure WITHIN tournament boundaries and apply the same pattern when it was needed. Crappies were going to be a different story, as we were already well aware of their scarcity from pre-fishing.  We spent a couple of hours at the start of day two fishing for our crappies, but not seeing any, Mike and I decided to talk things over and re-strategize. So many teams were bound-and-determined that they needed some of those two-pound crappies to win it, so that’s where they focused ALL of their attention. Many didn’t even get a chance to go after their perch, since they were so hung up on visions of a bucket of giant crappies. Knowing what we knew about the improved perch populations, it didn’t take Mike and me long to decide that it was time to go perch fishing.  We went to a spot similar to our pre-fishing spot and immediately began catching good perch…some of them approaching a half pound. We ended up catching so many perch that we finally decided that we had caught the biggest perch we were going to and that we should use our remaining time to go back and see if we could add a crappie or two to our buckets. 

We didn’t end up catching any crappies that day, but our limit of perch weighed 2.51 pounds which was good enough for 10th place on day two, and bumped us up another 14 places to land in 18th overall. We had hoped to improve on last year’s 11th place, but, based on the conditions and the fact that we didn’t catch a single crappie on day two, we actually felt pretty good with 18th place. There were many really good teams that finished well behind us, including last year’s champions. A lot of that, I feel, is due to us making a good decision at the right time to go after our perch.  Many of the top teams from last year that finished well down in the standings this year never even had a chance to perch fish. Truth be told, I doubt that many of them even really took the perch fishing seriously and failed to put any time pre-fishing for them. If they had, I’m pretty sure they would have discovered those bigger perch this year and made sure to reserve some time to catch eight for their bucket.

Next up for Rod - Yellow Bass Bonanza on Clear Lake February 9!


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Outdoor Cooking Primer - More "Big Game" Dips

Here are some more easy recipes for the big game from our Inventory Control Specialist Alyssa, one of our Queens of the Slow Cooker!  Dig in!

Hot Spinach Salsa Queso Dip

10 ox. frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 lb Velveeta cheese

8 oz cream cheese

1 jar salsa

A handful of chopped cilantro

Put all ingredients in a slow cooker and heat until the cheese has melted. Stir to combine ingredients as it melts. It should take around an hour or so to have all the cheeses melt. Leave on warm setting and serve with tortilla chips.


Bacon Cheeseburger Dip

1 lb lean ground beef or turkey (or VENISON!)

8 oz cream cheese, cubed

2 C shredded cheddar cheese

10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles

6 oz package of real bacon bits, divided

1 tsp dried parsely

Assorted dippers

Brown the meat. Drain and place in large skillet. Stir in cheese, tomatoes (with their juices) and all of the bacaon bits except for 2 Tbsp. You'll use those for garnish later. 

Cook while stirring frequently until everything is heated through and well-blended. Pour into a 2 qt crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley and sprinkle with remaining bacon bits just before serving.


Outdoor Cooking Primer - Slow Cooker Fresh Veggie Lasagna

It's a new year, so we're all trying to be healthier, right? Here is an interesting recipe from the Midwest Dairy Association. My husband made it and it is GREAT!  We put in a bit of shredded chicken, too, but it would be good without as a side dish.

1 1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheesePhoto from Midwest Dairy Assoc. - Slow Cooker Fresh Veggie Lasagna
1/2 C part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 C Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 C low-sodium marinara sauce, plus additional for serving
1 medium zucchini, diced
4 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 bag baby spinach
1 C thinly sliced mushrooms
Fresh basil leaves (optional)

  • Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, mix together mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, oregano and garlic powder.
  • Spread 2 T of past sauce in bottom of pot. Sprinkle half of zucchini over sauce and top with one-third of the cheese mixture.
  • Break 2 noodles into pieces to cover cheese.
  • Spread 2 T of sauce, then layer half of the spinach and half of the mushrooms.
  • Repeat layering, ending with cheese and the remaining sauce.
  • Firmly press ingredients into pot.
  • Cover and cook over low heat 4-5 hours.
  • Allow lasagna to rest 20 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.

Spoons a little extra sauce over each serving and top with a basil leaf, if desired.




Outdoor Cooking Primer - Big Game Dips

What good is a football game without dip?  Really?! Our associates are ready to share their secret weapons for game time eats!

Photo from Food.comBuffalo Chicken Dip

2 - 10 oz. cans chunk chicken, drained

2 - 8 oz. packages of cream cheese

1 C Ranch Dressing

3/4 C hot sauce

1 1/2 C Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Heat chicken and hot sauce in skillet over medium heat until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Stir until blended. Mix in 1/2 the cheese. Transfer to slow cooker and sprinkle remaining cheese. Heat on low until hot and bubbly. 

Easy Chili Cheese Dip

1 block Velveeta

1 large can of refried beans

2 cans medium heat diced tomatoes and green chilis (like Rotel)

2 cans chili (no beans)

Cube Velveeta and place in slow cooker. Add all other ingredients. Stir occasionally until cheese is melted and everything is blended.


Piggies in Bacon Piggies in Bacon photo from Allrecipes.com

1 bag little wieners
1 package bacon
2 C brown sugar

Cut bacon strips in half. Dip strips in brown sugar. Lay one little wiener on the end of each piece of bacon and roll them up. Dip each roll-up in brown sugar again. Stick a tooth pick through each and lay them in a 9x13 baking dish.    Sprinkle lightly with brown sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.  (Beware the sugar buzz!)



Outdoor Cooking Primer - "Big Game" Eats

Whether you're hosting a "big game" day party or it's a mini-party of two, what good is a big game without some big bites to enjoy while watching?  We asked our Bass Pro Shops Altoona team to share some of their favorite appetizers - smoked, grilled, slow-cooked, thrown together, easy, hard...you name it, we love our food! 

First off - fire up the smoker and try these treats, from our General Manager Jason Truman!

Smoked Jalapeño Poppers


12 fresh jalapenos
6 ounces cream cheese (squeeze packages)
12 pieces of precooked grilled fajita chicken strips

Freeze the jalapenos in a baggie in the freezer the night before you want to cook them.
Take them out of the freezer, cut off the tops and scrape out the seeds. Much easier when frozen. Freezing them also takes out a bit of the heat (if you aren't into the spicy so much).
Squeeze cream cheese into each jalapeno. Stuff a piece of grilled chicken strip into the cream cheese of each.
Place poppers into holder (like the Jalapeno Rack sold at Bass Pro!) and put them in the smoker for 45 minutes.
Serve while hot as an appetizer.

(Here's a Grilled Jalapeno Popper recipe, too!)

Smoked Tater Skins


8 large potatoes

3/4 cup of cheddar cheese

1/2 cup green onions

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

olive oil


Bake potatoes until tender. Cut lengthwise in quarters. Scoop out to make shells about 1/2 thick. Paint with olive oil and coat both sides with dry ingredients. Place in prepared smoker at about 200 degrees F. (93 degrees C.) and smoke for 1 hour. Sprinkle with cheese and let smoke until cheese melts. Top with chopped green onions and serve with barbecue sauce.


Why Ice Fishing?

Rod Woten - Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro StaffBy Rod Woten, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff

As a “professional” ice angler, that’s a question I get asked a lot.  For someone that has never fished through the ice, it’s really hard for me to describe the sensations and emotions I get from ice fishing that are all so different from the sensations and emotions I get from open water fishing. I can tell them all about how the bugs that bother us all summer are now gone, and the absence of personal watercraft, water skiers, wakeboarders, tubers and other pleasure craft roaring through some of the best fishing spots. Most of these folk are SO hung up on the fact that it’s cold out there that my list of positives for ice fishing falls upon deaf ears.

Ice-The Great Equalizer

The lack of bugs and pleasure boats are just the tip of the iceberg. However when it comes to why I love ice fishing so much, probably one of the biggest reasons I love ice fishing is that ice is the great equalizer. Once the lakes freeze over, all of the best fishing spots on the lake are accessible to ANYONE.  No longer is a boat required to get to these spots.  A good pair of boots and the willingness to do a little walking will put you on top of fish, regardless of whether you own a boat or not.  I actually know several people that ONLY fish in the winter for this exact reason. 

Rod Woten
Fish with Surgical Precision

This is somewhat of an extension of the above point.  Because fish-holding spots can be so accessible through the ice, it also means that we are able to dial in our presentation and fish structure, or individual fish, with surgical precision. The vertical nature of most of the fishing done through the ice only adds to this precision. This makes ultra-finesse presentations very do-able, which allows us to even further sharpen our focus on every inch of a piece of structure and the fish it holds. In the winter, boat control also is no longer an issue. Since we are on a solid surface, wind and wave action are really no longer a concern in regard to being able to keep our presentations directly in front of the nose of a fish. All of these things add up to allow us to more effectively target fish through the ice which, in turn, leads to my next point…

Quality AND Quantity

Another reason I love the hard water is that I typically catch the greatest numbers of quality fish through the ice.  Why is that?  I strongly believe it is because of the surgical precision with which I can dissect every piece of structure in the lake.  During the open water season, that precision is just not there.  It goes without saying that fishing so much more effectively can only lead to increased fishing success.  This means we catch MORE fish in the winter, and statistics tells us that the more fish we catch, the greater our chances are that we’ll land a trophy fish.  

Ice Shanties
The Social Sport

Ice fishing has a legacy of being a social sport. Everyone’s favorite ice fishing movie, “Grumpy Old Men,” is a perfect illustration of that. The shanty towns depicted in that movie are very true to real life. Even when we’re out fishing in our highly mobile, portable fish house, it’s not at all uncommon to see groups develop. In these groups, the grills come out at lunchtime and a nice hot bratwurst with all the trimmings as the day’s fishing is discussed is the norm. Ice makes all this social activity possible.

Emotional Responses

Ice fishing also just speaks to the soul of certain individuals. It’s really hard for me toIce Fishingdescribe the feeling I get from walking on water. It invigorates me, just knowing that I’m standing on top of structure that I could only float a boat over a few short months ago.

There is also a certain solitude that comes along with ice fishing. Once the holes are all drilled and the auger turned off, it’s amazing how quiet it can get. It’s not uncommon at all to hear snowflakes as they touchdown on the surface of the lake. Some of my best days on the ice have been on a lake in northern-middle-of-nowhere-Minnesota…listening to the whispers of falling snow as it covers the existing snow pack…eagles circling overhead…wolves howling in the distance as dusk approaches. 

Close your eyes and picture that and you’ll find the answer to the question, “why ice fishing?”


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Using a Map for Ice Fishing

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff ice fisherman Rod Woten was asked:

Q:  "When looking at a game and fish map, what would you look for to find fish when ice fishing?"

A: "First thing I look for is sharp break lines, contour lines close together. Then I'll look for flats that are either above or below those. Depending on water clarity, one of those is going to be a weed bed. If the lower one isn't a weed bed, it's going to be a sticky bottom area."


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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Venison Wellington

Beef wellington is one of those dishes that stirs up images of black tie dinners and gala events. When a friend mentioned they had made Venison Wellington, I was all over it.  Most of the Venison Wellington recipes online were from the United Kingdom, where venison is actually available in the supermarkets. I found one recipe through a  state DNR page and another site. My friend had used a Beef Wellington recipe from Tyler Florence of the Food Network. So, using variations on them all, I dove in.

The biggest thing to conquer when approaching this dish is the, "Oh my gosh, this will take all day" idea. It does take time, however, now I know that I can do some of it ahead. The duxelle (a mushroom, onion paste, so to speak), your key ingredient for the Wellington, can be made ahead of time, as can the compote (warm fruit sauce) if you choose to make one. For the compote, you want to use something on the tart side - cranberries, raspberries, etc. I chose a cranberry/clementine mixture.

I used a 2 pound cut of backstrap, the perfect size for just two of us, but you can go a bit bigger. 

Remember - Have fun!


Venison Wellington      

Venison Wellington Bass Pro Shops AltoonaFor the Duxelle
2 pint containers of white button mushrooms
One bunch of green onions, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp dried thyme (use fresh thyme leaves if you like)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Mediterranean Sea salt and fresh ground peppercorns

For the Venison:
1 - 2 pound venison backstrap
Extra-virgin olive oil
Mediterranean salt and fresh ground peppercorns
12 thin slices of prosciutto
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 pound puff pastry
2 large eggs, lightly eaten
1/2 tsp Mediterranean Sea Salt

*To make duxelle - Put mushrooms, green onions, garlic and thyme in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Put butter and olive oil in large saute pan on medium heat. Add the mushroom mixture and saute 8-10 minutes until most liquid is gone. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

*To prepare the backstrap - Rub olive oil on backstrap and season all over with salt and pepper. Sear on all sides in a hot, heavy skillet lightly coated with olive oil. Remove from heat.

Place 1 1/2 feet of plastic wrap on your work surface. Lay out your sheets of prosciutto on the plastic, slightly overlapping them so they form a rectangle big enough to cover the entire backstrap when you roll it. Venison Wellington

Use a spatula to cover the prosciutto with a thin layer of the duxelles. Lightly season the duxelles with salt and pepper.

Take the backstrap and cover it all over with the Dijon mustard. Place the backstrap on the duxelles and roll it up in the duxelles-covered prosciutto. Use the plastic wrap to help you roll the backstrap and prosciutto into a nice tight roll. Then make sure the plastic is nice and tight all around the roll and put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This will help the roll form and stay in place. 

Preheat your oven to 375.

Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the puff pastry to about 1/4 inch. I found that not much rolling was necessary...they already looked about that thick. You will probably need two pieces overlapped to cover the whole roll. Venison WellingtonJust press them together to make a nice seal where they meet. Put the backstrap in the center and fold over the long sides, meeting in the middle and sealing the seam with egg wash. Trim the extra puff pastry off each end and fold the ends over to create seals. Brush them with egg wash, too. Top with the some sea salt. (don't throw away the leftover pastry - see bottom of this post!)

Put the backstrap seam side down on a baking sheet. (Better to use a jell roll pan or baking sheet with edges...to catch any juices!) Brush the top with egg wash and make a couple of slits for steam to escape. 

Bake at 375 for about 40-45 minutes or 135-140 internal temp for a nice medium rare. Just keep an eye on it and check it at about 30 minutes. You want the pastry to be a nice golden brown, too, but you don't want the meat overcooked. 


We served a nice Cranberry/Clementine Compote. I threw this together with my "things from the fridge" technique.

1 can whole cranberries (couldn't find fresh!)
1 Tbsp orange zest
1/4 cherry juice
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups water
3 Tbsp cornstarch

Put the cranberries, orange zest, cherry juice, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to boil and cook for 8 minutes. 

Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining 1/2 cup water. (A small, plastic food storage container works well for this - put the lid on and shake it up!) Add the mixture to the cranberry mixture. Reduce the heat to medium and stir continuously until it all thickens...about two minutes or less. You can make this ahead of time and reheat. Serve warm. Let each person put their desired amount on their own slices. 

Those are smashed new potatoes you see around the loin. Boil them or microwave them until soft. Toss them in olive oil, Parmesan, and your seasonings of choice, and brown them on a skillet or panini griddle. After both sides are nicely browned, gently smash the potatoes. If you're using a skillet, use another skillet or pan to do the smashing or a bacon press.  

Compote Tart

Last, but certainly not least, use the leftover puff pastry to make little tarts!  Press out into squares, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar in the middle, fold over and throw in the oven...a delicious little treat for later on! (We even threw some of the compote in the middle of them!)




Product Spotlight - Thermacell Heated Rechargeable Insoles

My husband received a pair of the Thermacell Heated Rechargeable Insoles recently as a late Christmas present. 

ThermaCELL® Heated Rechargeable Insoles

He's an ice fisherman and hunter and struggles to keep his feet warm from autumn through the cold Iowa springs. He has tried Toasti-Toes but they were too hot. He needed something where the heat could be better controlled.

He used the Thermacells the first time and became an instant fan!  No more fear of burning or ice cold feet.

They were a late present, but it was worth the wait.


Thermacell Heated Rechargeable Insoles 

  • YOU control the heat on your feet with:
    • Three temperature settings to match conditions (high, medium, no heat)
    • A wireless remote control
  • Uses rechargeable lithium ion batteries
  • Fits easily into your boots or shoes - Just slide them in and slide in your feet!


If you are an outdoorsman or outdoorswoman these need to be in your gear for winter outdoor activities!


The 1860 Grizzly Sportsman for Bowfishing

by Tracker Marine Associate Justin Brown

As an experienced bowfisherman, I'm excited to introduce you to the new, ultimate bowfishing boat from the Tracker Marine Group - the Grizzly 1860 Sportsman! Here are some of the features this boat has to offer:

  • Of course, the first thing you notice will be the raised front platform with the railing.  There are two bike platformseats on it, as well as a bow holder and trap door for the trolling motor.  It's a quick-release platform, so we're not just talking bowfishing...you can use it for regular fishing and duck hunting, too!
  • The decking and platform of the boat is covered with durable camo foam matting for comfort, so you can be out on the water all day either bowfishing for the big buffalo or casting a line to land that record bass! 
  • The boat comes with a foot-controlled Minn Kota Power Drive 12V 55lb thrust trolling motor allowing you to have both hands on the bow, but still go where you need to go! 
  • It also comes equipped with six spotlights to allow for plenty of light at night where the excitement is!  Grizzley Sportsman spotlightsNo worries on running the batteries down - it comes standard with a 2000 watt Honda generator that you can hardly hear!
  • You have a slide out drawer to keep all your arrows in, along with a large, hinged compartment to store the bows while in transport.
  • It has a front, aerated live well to keep the day's catch alive. 
  • When it comes to getting across the lake, it’s powered with a Mercury 90ELPT outboard with sponsons on the transom to quick get up on plane! 


I’ve been bowfishing for almost 10 years now and this boat has features I'd like to highlight that the beginner might overlook.  First, the foam flooring. The soft floor makes it a joy to be out on all day!

Next, the spotlights They're out of the way and the raised platform is the right distance to be able to take a nice shot! 

The on-board generator is a huge luxury because you’re able to use the lights without having the fear of your batteries going dead out on the water!

The storage - You have a separate pull-out drawer for the arrows and the storage compartment for the bows.  Slide out drawersAll that being said, you don’t have to give up your live well.

This boat is an all-round great boat for either bowfishing or just going out on the lake to catch some crappie or even to get out and duck hunt, since you can get this boat in a camo paint pattern!  Come on in to Bass Pro Shops Tracker Boat Department here in Altoona, IA, and see the certified sales team for details!


1860 Grizzley Sportsman for Bowfishing - Bass Pro Shops Altoona, Iowa

The 2014 Spring Fishing Classic is coming February 28! Watch for details!

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