Give a New Home to Your Old Gear

It's Sunday...a great day to tinker in your garage or man cave and sort through your fishing equipment. You know you have one rod or one reel that you just don't use any more. Now's your chance to give it a new life.

One of our most popular programs is back...the Rod and Reel Trade-Ins, as part of the Spring Fishing Classic. This is your chance to save money on a new reel or rod but, more importantly, your opportunity to pay it forward by helping a local youth organization with your trade-in.

How does it work? You bring in your old equipment and receive a discount coupon to use toward the purchase of a new rod or reel. All rods and reels are inspected by our fishing associates, when donated, to make sure they are in good working condition. Why do we do that? Because we pass the rods and reels on to an organization that uses them to teach kids about the joys of fishing!

This year the rods and reels will be donated to the Lake View Camp based in Pella, Iowa, and the Boy Scouts. Lake View hosts kids at Christian-based camps throughout Iowa over the summer and one of the favorite activities is fishing. So your gently used rods and reels bring a fun and often new experience to these special camp attendees!


Reel Trade-In    Feb. 28-March 5, 2014

Trade-in your old working reel and receive a discount coupon to use toward the purchase of a new reel. Limit 1 coupon per new reel. The program does not apply to any combo purchases and applies to prices marked. The coupon must be used toward purchasing a new reel between Feb. 28-March 5 only.

Reel Trade-In Feb. 28-March 5, 2014


Rod Trade-In  March 7-11, 2014

Trade-in your old rod and receive a discount coupon to use toward the purchase of a new one. Limit 1 coupon per new rod. The program does not apply to any combo purchases and applies to prices marked. The coupon must be used toward purchasing a new rod between March 7-11 only.

Rod Trade-In Bass Pro Shops


Winter Blahs Be Gone

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!" 

~Robin Williams~

One day, when we least expect it, we'll wake up and be ready to party because it's spring. In the meantime, I'm 99% sure we'll be getting more snow, and there's surely going to be some rainy days, too. So, instead of bemoaning Mother Nature and something we have no control over, here are a few suggestions of ways to make the days seem a little brighter. 

Have kids, a spouse, significant other, or roomies? Get them involved!

Snowball Maker1.  Spring Cleaning - Do those little tasks you've been putting cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen! How about using a Bass Pro Shops Tackle Storage Box to help keep some of the "junk" sorted?  And have you seen the Fishing Butler Ultimate Rod Ties? These handy dandy little gadgets can be used for hanging rods, but also organizing items in crafting areas or in shops and workrooms!

1. Bake/Cook - Tackle a new recipe or cooking style. View cooking as a pleasure and not a chore. Make something not because you HAVE to feed someone, but because you WANT to. Bake with kids...teach them a practical, fun skill that involves using their head and motor skills. Cook with your spouse or partner - assign tasks or leave the cooking to one and let the other do the clean up. Make it a team effort.  Hey, pick up a snowball maker and make meatballs! Take about repurposing!

2. Learn a new craft - You're never too old...grab the kids' Wonder Loom and have them show you how to make the rubber band bracelets, etc. They may teach YOU something.

For the "of age" crowd that likes a frosty beverage, try making your own brew with a Mr. Beer kit. We have some refill flavors, too, like Bewitched Amber Ale and American Ale, and the brand new Diablo. Mr. Beer

For the non-drinkers or kids, you can pick up a Mr. Root Beer Kit and make your own root beer!

3.  If it's winter outside, why can't it be summer inside?  Use that electric ice cream maker that you usually only drag out in the summer and make some homemade ice cream.  Fry up some chicken (see #1 above), throw a blanket on the floor and have an old fashioned picnic inside! Open the curtains and let what light there is outside come inside.

4. Drag out the outdoor yard games...indoors! Bag toss, ladder toss...they can be played inside, too. Have a competition! Drag out the board games or swing by and pick up some new ones, like Animalopoly or Fishopoly or the UNO Wildlife Edition...make it a learning experience while they're having fun.

5. READ - Snuggle everyone together and read some books. Out loud. There is a not a kid in the world who doesn't like to be read to. Have the older kids take turns helping out with the reading.

6. Grab the camera and take some goofy photos and video footage for archiving. But really archive them, not just post them on Facebook. Keep them for the future. How about a GoPro? How cool would that be to make some fun movies with it for the future?

7. Likewise, drag out the scrapbooks and photo albums and reminisce. Start a scrapbook for your family, if you haven't already. Doesn't have to be fancy and you don't have to invest all the bells and whistles that some do when scrapbooking. Photos and a few mementos are what it takes. Our family has a camping scrapbook that my mother started in 1962 that I still look at.

8. Do manicures and pedicures...include the dog. Rarely has a dog gone without getting their toenails painted at some point in their life.

9. If it's nice enough, go outside and enjoy a little fresh air. Feed the birds and clean out their feeders...they like clean dishes, too.

10. Lighten up. Spring will be here soon and the party will begin.

Summer Fun








Walleyes in Skinny Water

By Chris Grocholski
Fishing Lead
Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Growing up in northeast Iowa, I was faced with no lakes, or any big water for that matter, to fish. What we had were small rivers to spend our days fishing in. Small towns, like Elkader, Eldorado, and Clermont, and small rivers, like the Turkey, Volga, and the Cedar Rivers, provided lots of opportunities to catch walleyes while wading down the river or in a small boat.  Many summer days were spent with a zip lock bag full of 4” plastic worms/grubs, a small tackle box full of jigheads, and occasionally a small crankbait

What makes these rivers such a challenge and also rewarding? The rivers are never the same from year to year.  When the snow starts to melt, and the spring rains come, so does flooding and many instances of major flooding. Many times, this will change the complete look of a small river and, in some cases, completely change the river's course!

Places/Things to Look For

Some of the easiest places to look for, when trying to catch walleye in smaller rivers, are bridges and dams. Most likely, those are going to have the deepest water available for fish for quite some distance and the fish will tend to congregate there. However, keep in mind that “deeper” might only be 2 or 3 feet deeper. 

If you are on a particular river that does not have any dams or bridges, the next areas that you should be looking for are places that have sharp bends in the river. A bend will usually have an area close to the shore that has significantly more water than the rest of the area. Currents hitting the bank causes the bank to have a steep drop and any sediment coming up stream does not have a chance to Chris Grocholskisettle. Depending on the amount of current, these areas may be as long as a half mile or can be as small as just a few feet, but all have the potential of holding walleye. This picture of me holding a nice 17-inch walleye came on a bend area that was no more than five or six feet wide, and about 15-feet long, but the fish was in five feet of water, and I was standing in about one foot of water.

Another area that I like to concentrate on are rip rap shore lines and steep rock facings with any current on them. The big key to what I look for is water depth of five feet or, again, the deepest water available. If the shore has any irregularities to it, that is definitely a bonus as well...things like indentations, points, a change in rock type, etc. Anything that will divert current will have a good chance to hold fish; the stronger the current the better, because those irregularities are almost a guarantee to hold fish and will cause a larger eddy with the more current in the area.

What Baits?

My #1 choice for walleye in smaller rivers is a combination of 4” ring worm and a jighead. However, things like three- or four-inch Chris Grocholskitwister tails, small shad body baits, and even a fluke-style minnow are all good choices as well. I also, on occasion, will choose a suspending Rapala stick minnow or also a small vibrating rattle trap-style bait, as well. Jighead weights will be from a 1/16 to a 3/16 oz., but most occasions will call for the 1/8 oz. The key to jighead selection is to keep it the smallest that you can get away with, to make the bait look the most natural, but at the same time keeping in close contact to the bottom. I will sometimes go up a lure size to make a change in the way the bait looks in  the water, but not even change the jighead size, for example. Switching from a smaller 3 inch twister tail grub to a 5 inch grub will give your bait a bit more buoyancy in the water and also a bigger profile. This is a go-to presentation in the fall when fish are looking for a larger meal going into the winter season.

Questions? Please post them here or on our Facebook page and I will answer them!  Don't forget about the Spring Fishing Classic Local Tips and Seminars sessions on March 8 and 9! We'll be on hand to answer questions then, too!


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Are you Ready to Hit the Water?

Spring is one month away!  We all know what that means (hopefully)...say goodbye to the snow and ice and hello to the open water! 

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for open water and to be out on the boat. As a reminder here are some things to make sure to check before heading out this year for the first time.

  • Make sure all batteries are fully charged and hold their charge! No one wants to get out and realize they have dead batteries at the boat ramp or even worse be dead out on the water! 
  • Know your laws! Make sure the fire extinguisher is in proper condition and that everyone who is going to be on board has a proper fitting life preserver.  Keeps everybody safe, PLUS keeps you in good with the authorities.
  • Make sure the bilge pump is still working properly and that you have the boat plug in. These are two things that people can often overlook in the haste to hit the water.
  • If you plan to be out after dark, check that the navigation lights are in excellent working order.
  • Another safety feature - Have a horn of some sort on board, whether it’s a canned air horn or one that comes on the boat.  Better yet, have both!
  • Lastly, and quite often the last thing that people will think of - Make sure you have good boat shoes as well as sun protection on board, especially for the little ones! 

We want you to have a safe, successful, and fun spring and summer in the sun! If you have any questions, make sure to ask them here or contact us at the store. Also, you can do a virtual check of your boat using this handy tool from the Coast Guard.


boat checklist


This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Batter Up!

No, not baseball...Uncle Buck's Beer Batter! In town for the tournaments? Stop out and give it a try!

Uncle Buck's Beer Batter

Saturday, February 22, Noon-4 (or while supplies last)

We'll be frying up some onion rings for you to sample, so you can see how great this beer batter is! Of course, onion rings HAVE to be dipped, so we'll also have some Ass Kickin' Habanero Ketchup for you to try! (yes, that's the brand name...not just our opinion!)


Saturday AND Sunday, February 22 and 23 - Girl Scout Cookies are in the house again!

Troops will be selling them each weekend through March 9 from about 10 a.m. to approximately 2-4 p.m., depending on the group.

This weekend we host:

Saturday, February 2 - Troop 409, Altoona

Sunday, February 16 - Troop 317, Des Moines

Coming Up - The Spring Fishing Classic

Join us Saturday, March 1, for our first weekend of special guests! Our National Pros take the spotlight for the annual BassMaster University!

1 p.m. - Win Stevens, Missouri B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Angler - "Using your Hummingbird Electronics"
2 p.m. - Chase Parsons, host of The Next Bite TV and walleye tournament champion - "Walleyes 2014"
3 P.M. - Casey Scanlon - Bassmaster Elite Series Pro - "Jig Fishing"

Spring Fishing Classic BassMaster University - Altoona, Iowa


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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Venison Meatballs Espanol

Last weekend I was a quest to cook something new...something different. I started looking through my mother's recipe box and found one called Meatballs Espanol. It had to be Venison Meatballsat least 25-30 years old, clipped from a newspaper. It seemed basic, I had most of the ingredients, and, heck, meatballs are all the rage right now, so I decided to make them. However, I had to switch things up a bit and use VENISON, of course!  These are VERY easy to make and extremely tasty!

Venison Meatballs Espanol

2.5 lbs ground venison
1 c. wheat bread crumbs
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1/4 c. chopped celery
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black ground pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 (16 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 1/2 c. thinly sliced zucchini - I actually used two bags of frozen shredded zucchini that I had from our garden...thawed, of course.
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. beef broth ( I used chicken stock...I didn't read the whole recipe ahead of time (my bad!) and didn't have beef broth. It was fine.)
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
Combine the first nine ingredients and shape into 2 inch meatballs. Arrange in a 13 x 9 inch pan and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, zucchini, oregano, basil, garlic salt and sugar in skillet or saucepan and mix well. Combine cornstarch with beef broth, mix well, and stir into Venison Meatballstomato mixture. Simmer about 5 minutes, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. Pour over meatballs, top with shredded cheese, and bake at 400 degrees for at least 10 minutes longer until the cheese is melted. 
We served it with saffron rice and they were great as leftovers, too!


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Family Baking Fun

Baking as a FamilyIt's February and everyone has cabin fever.  So, it's fitting that February is Bake for Family Fun Month. While children can start learning about cooking at an early age, baking can be a fun, engaging way for children to pass the time when it's just to darn cold for man, woman, child, or beast to be outside. 

Baking and cooking will help young ones (and old!) with learning such things as:

1. Math - Measuring and gauging 

2. Mechanics - Which tool and utensil to use and how to use them properly and safely. Just how to level a measuring cup, spoon out biscuits, or gauge the correct level of water in a measuring cup, can be a big feat.

3. Cleanliness - Starting clean and ending clean. Cleaning your equipment after use and keeping them properly maintained. 

4. Following directions - Wow, isn't this a huge one when it comes to kids?

Now, how about some ideas for baking with the family? Of course, you can start with using basic mixes, like our Uncle Buck's Biscuit or Pancake mixes and have them help with the measuring and mixing...and eating, of course! While you may actually conduct the steps that involve hot griddles or ovens, they will be in "the mix," so to speak. Practice "safety first" in the kitchen, so they learn from you.

Baking with Family

Bass Pro Shops has some fun items that will appeal to most any child's sense of fun AND taste!

Dirt Pie with Wiggly Worms - This no-bake treat in a flower pot uses chocolate pudding for the mud, chocolate cookie crumbs for the dirt and gummi worms for just the right amount of tastefully disgusting fun! Mudd Puddle Pie - This fun cake is  a chocolate brownie with chocolate fudge "goo" on the bottom...of course you have to have some gummi frogs, too!

Monkey Bread and S'Mores Brownie Mix are also among favorites...everything in a bag you need for easy baking goodness!

Dog cookie cuttersLast, but not least, Bass Pro Shops carries cookie cutters that kids will have fun being creative with, featuring nature set, backwoods, and Northwoods themes...and let's not forget our canine pals! The What a Good Dog cookie cutter set can be used for kids to make healthy treats for their dogs, too! 

For some easy recipes, visit these posts from our blog:

Smart Cookies

Individual Baked Oatmeal



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Hot Breakfast Anyone?

Hot Breakfast Month
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, 

"what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.” 
― A.A. Milne

When the cold winds blow, a hot breakfast makes it all feel better. When you're camping in the summer, a hot breakfast outdoors just tastes better. 

February is National Hot Breakfast Month. There's also a National Pancake Week thrown in February 9-15...and then March 4 is National Pancake Day, which traditionally falls on Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday).

Breakfast is my favorite meal...hands down. I was raised that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which I truly believe. I'm not a scientist or researched, but my mother (a nurse for life) always told me it gave you brain power and got your body engine started, even if it was just a bowl of cereal, or oatmeal, or an English muffin and fruit. No child OR adult should leave a house in the a.m. without some brain power in their stomach, in my opinion.

Bacon Pancakes

Try some pancakes...make extra and wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze. They're easy to thaw out in the microwave and the kiddos can quickly eat one (or two) before school, even if just by hand! Uncle Buck's Pancake Batter is easy to use and comes in a convenient storage container...throw in some cinnamon chocolate chips, dried fruit, or pecan chips and they'll be in breakfast heaven!  Last weekend, my husband threw a couple of pieces into the pancake after he poured it...just for me! 

Uncle Buck's Cream Gravy mix is also quick and tasty. Personally, I doctor it up because I like my gravy peppery, so I add some fresh ground black pepper, and maybe some ground sausage or venison. Throw it on some toast (a veteran's delight!) or use Uncle Buck's Biscuit Mix, which is ALSO very easy to use and comes in the same type of watertight storage. I often throw shredded cheese and a bit of garlic in my biscuit mix to jazz them up.

Don't forget the Uncle Buck's or Bob Timberlake jams, fruit butters, and preserves to top off the biscuits...honestly the Strawberry/Rhubarb is to die for and we have customers who buy our Bob Timberlake Carmel Apple Fruit Butter by the CASE. 

So, this weekend, fire up the griddle and serve up some love. Really, is there anything nicer you can do for someone, including yourself?


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More Fish Donation Month

Did You Know?NFWF
  • More Americans fish than play basketball (24.0 million) and football (8.9 million) combined.
  • The number of jobs supported by anglers could employ all attendees of the last seven Super Bowls – TWICE!
  • Fishing as a leisure-time activity ranks higher than playing golf, target shooting, hunting with firearms, backpacking and wilderness camping, baseball, mountain biking and skiing.

(Statistics from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, 2nd Edition)

During February Bass Pro Shops sponsors the More Fish Donation Campaign. For a $2 donation, your name is entered for a chance to win a $500 Bass Pro Shops gift card. But what IS the More Fish campaign and how is your $2 helping?

The More Fish Campaign monies collected go towards the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.  This nationwide plan was established to protect, restore, and enhance our country's fisheries.  The plan was led by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies around the country, state offices, the Department of Commerce and over 700 federal, state, and non-governmental entities, including Bass Pro Shops. 

The plan established several partnerships around the country based on geographic location, key fish species, or aquatic life.  Iowa is effected by three of the partnerships: the Driftless Area Restoration Initiative, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership, and the Fishers and Farmers Partnership. These three groups have also come together with three of the other National Plan partnerships to create the Midwest Fish Habitat Partnership. 

Visit the links above and check out the Plan's and various Partnerships' goals, objectives, and some of the projects completed and in progress.

jumping bassStop in to Bass Pro Shops Altoona and make your $2 donation to help keep our streams, rivers, and habitat healthy for fish and keep our next generation fishing!

  •  More freshwater anglers prefer largemouth bass (52%), followed by panfish (28%).
  •  Most fishing tackle purchases include lures (46%), followed by terminal tackle (26%) then fishing line (24%).
(Statistics from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, 2nd Edition)

Pro Tips - Switching Your Hooks

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff Kary RayBass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff team member Kary Ray has more tips for you as you're getting ready for spring and summer open water bass fishing! This tip is for when you're out on the water throwing crankbaits. 

Kary says while most hooks are pretty nice and sharp, he likes to switch them up. There are a couple of reasons for this. He explains why and how to switch the hooks and what it can mean for your fishing excursion in this video:




The Spring Fishing Classic is coming February 28, 2014!

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops - Treat Your Tastebuds

Girl Scout Cookies are in the house again! Troops will be selling them each weekend through March 9 from about 10 a.m. to approximately 2-4 p.m., depending on the group. This weekend we host:

Saturday, February 15 - Troop 17, Altoona

Sunday, February 16 - Troop 01011, Bondurant

Also, this weekend:

Try Before You Buy! 

Our Gifts Department is serving up tasty bites of jerky! Sample all of the different flavors of Uncle Buck's jerky - have you tried the bacon jerky? Jalapeno? Buffalo jerky? Those are just some of the most popular and you can sample before you buy!

Coming Up:

Spring Fishing Classic

The Spring Fishing Classic is just two weeks away. We have a full lineup of weekends of activities for all ages!  National pros, local pro seminars featuring tips and techniques, and the always popular Next Generation Weekend, including a Beginning Fishing Workshop just for women!


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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Dirty Rag Smoked Chicken

Don't let the entertaining name throw you's just for descriptive purposes. This recipe comes from our Camping Associate Chuck Stevens, who can cook just about anything on a grill. In fact, he does all of his smoking on a grill, too. 

Dirty Rag Smoked Chicken

Dirty Rag Smoked Chicken

You're going to smoke one or two whole chickens with apple wood. You'll start by preparing the chickens with your favorite seasonings inside the bird and out. Don't be afraid to season this a little heavy, because the seasoning on the skin plays a very important part to the "dirty rag" concept!

After the chickens are done, let them rest for about 30 minutes.

Take a sharp knife and carefully take all the delicious skin off the birds. Pull the chicken into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl.

After the chicken is in the bowl, take all the skin pieces with tongs and drag the skins through the pulled chicken to rub the seasonings into the pulled chicken. This will provide some great flavor and color to the final product.

Buy some of the best sandwich buns you can find. Your pulled chicken will only be as good as the roll you serve it on!!

Serve warm with baked beans and coleslaw.


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Valentine's Gifts...from Bass Pro Shops?

Absolutely! There's something for everyone and it doesn't have to be in camo, although there's a lot of that, too, of course. Valentine's gift buying doesn't have to be stressful...just be creative. 

GSI Nesting Glass

Grab a backpack or tote, throw in a bottle of wine and these sturdy, nesting wine glasses and you're ready for a picnic. Made for easy transport in the outdoors, you can find them in our Camping Department.
For the nature lover, how about a wind spinner or a beautiful red, glass hummingbird feeder?
For the scent lover - there are candles galore, from hazelnut & chocolate to the spicier side of cinnamon or espresso, there is a "flavorful" smell for every nose in the form of candles, like Swan Creek Canisters or Drizzle Melts, or McCall's candles or scented reed diffusers.

Now, if your special someone DOES like camo, or pink camo, you can go load up on gifts! Handbags, wallets, iPad and iPhone covers, tops, lingerie, swimming suits, sunglasses, automobile accessories, compound bows and guns...something for the gal OR guy.

There is a Valentine's Day gift waiting for you and your loved one at our store...sometimes you might just have to think outside the box...a box of fudge that is. Although our fudge would also do the trick.  

Message in a BottleLast, but not least, for the guy searching for a romantic gift but not wanting to get the same old same old - our Message in a Bottle necklace. A petite bottle on a chain holding a piece of paper on which YOU write those special words. Marry me or simply I LOVE YOU - give her your message to carry with her all the time. 

Be sure to include us in your Valentine shopping adventures!


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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 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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