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
toothpicks


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!)
 

 

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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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:
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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

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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
Flour
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. 

Compote

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!)

 

 

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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!

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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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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Cabin Fever Clearance Sale Bass Pro Shops AltoonaOur Cabin Fever Clearance continues! There are GREAT clearance items in all departments, especially Men's and Ladies Apparel!

 

 

 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Winter Urban Trout Stocking at Lake Petocka

Looking for some family fun on Saturday?  Bundle up and bring the kids to out next door neighbors at Lake Petocka in 

Winter Urban Trout Stocking

Bondurant for the Winter Urban Trout Stocking family fishing event!

The City of Bondurant is hosting a Family Trout Fishing Day at Lake Petocka in Bondurant! The Iowa DNR will be stocking catchable trout between 11 a.m. and noon on January 25. Lunch will be served to the first 225 people and there will be drawings for Bass Pro Shops gift cards!

Come on out and join the fun!

 

 

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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Crawfish and Shrimp Boil

Lance BakerWhat does a pro staff bass fisherman from Tennessee do during the Iowa winter months if they don't like to ice fish? They cook warm food! Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff member Lance Baker shares his "recipe" for his Crawfish and Shrimp Boil.

As Lance says, "The way us Southern folk cook is by TASTE, not recipe! Here is as close as I can get on directions!"

 

_________________________________Crawfish and Shrimp Boil

Crawfish and Shrimp Boil

Ingredients:

2.5 Gallons of Water

6 Bay leaves

2 heads of garlic

2 tsps Zatarain's® liquid crab boil

3 bags of Zatarain's®  Crab Boil bags

3 lemons (quartered)

4 oranges (3 Quartered, 1 halved)

15 new potatoes (white or red)

10 Corn on the cob

2 Onions (quartered)

½ lb green beans

1-2 lbs of smoked sausage (cut in 1-2 inch strips)

3-5 lbs crawfish (fresh or precooked)

2-3 lbs shrimp 6-7 (medium to jumbo pre-cooked or fresh)

Hot sauce to taste (Lance uses Tabasco)

1 tsp vinegar

Lemon pepper seasoning

 

 

First - MAKE SURE TO WASH ALL YOUR INGREDIENTS WELL!

To make the stock

Fill 5-gallon stock pot with 2.5 gallons of water. Add bay leaves, garlic, salt and pepper, crab boil, seasoning bags, 3 of the quartered oranges, both halved lemons, and potatoes and bring to a boil and simmer for about 25 minutes.

While the stock is simmering, take all your sausage and brown it in a pan, so it doesn’t fall apart when added to the pot and stirred.

Add corn, onions, green beans and let simmer for about 15 minutes on high.

Add sausage and continue simmering for 10 minutes.

Add shrimp and crawfish and bring back to a boil. Add in your desired hot sauce and the teaspoon of vinegar, which helps the crawfish meat come out easier.

Let all ingredients boil for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This helps blend all the tastes together as one.

Now here's the fun part! Line a table with a PLASTIC tablecloth. Add newspaper right in the middle stacked up in a nice square to soak up water.

Drain all the liquid out of the pot, and the dump the food right in the center of the table. Take the remaining halved orange and squeeze the juice over the food. Sprinkle with the lemon pepper seasoning.

Then dig in! No utensils or plates required...just a lot of NAPKINS and COLD BEVERAGES!

Once the feast is complete just ROLL UP the entire plastic tablecloth and throw away! DISHES ARE DONE! That’ s a guy's way of cleaning up!

 

Editor's Notes:

This is a great idea for camping, backyard get-togethers, or family gatherings! 

Lance says this recipe serves about 10 people, but he has used containers as big as a garbage can before...just make sure to use a clean one! This is perfect to make with a Bass Pro Shops aluminum fish fryer over a propane cooker, too. You can do it over an open fire, too. Lance stresses the key is the simmering, so that everything has a chance to really come together flavor-wise.

You can use frozen or fresh crawfish and fresh or frozen shrimp (peel on or unpeeled). Of course, a true Iowan would strive to use good old Iowa sweet corn. Unless you've frozen whole corn on the cob in the summer, that's going to be hard to do in the winter.

Called a Low Country Boil in some parts, most recipes have variations on the theme...shrimp, crab, crawfish, smoked sausage, kielbasa, Old Bay , Zatarain's, or Tony Chachere's.

 

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Top Unique Products of 2013 - Marine

We continue to reflect on some of the unique products of  the top "unique" products of 2013...unique in technology, usage, and features.

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Marine Lead Shawn Everson says there are so many cool gadgets and electronics to choose from it's hard to trim down, these two items are specifically his favorites.Hunting Maps from Garmin

Hunting Maps from Garmin - Preloaded maps come on SD cards for hand-held GPSs that designate private, public, and game management land. Our store only carries the regional one for Iowa and the premium map for Wisconsin. the Midwest Regional Map encompasses Iowa, Minnesota, South and North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

What's the difference - The Regional Maps do not have landowner names or property boundaries. The Premium maps do contain the landowner names and boundaries.

Lowrance® Elite-7 Hybrid Dual Imaging™ Fishfinder/Chartplotter Combo - An affordable fishfinder with GPS and Lowrance® Elite-7 Hybrid Dual Imaging™ Fishfinder/Chartplotter ComboDownScan Imaging (DSI) on a 7" screen analog display. It is easy to use and read in bright sunlight. With this unit you can do chartplotting and it can take the Navionics and Lowrance Lake Insight cards. This was also one of our top sellers as soon as it hit the market in early summer.

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Top Unique Products of 2013 - Camping

Once again we're taking a look at the Top Cool Products that 2013 brought us.  This time I asked the Camping Department for their favorites and they had no problem rounding up some very unique and functional items...a great mixture of fun, functional, and eco-friendly items!

Can Cooker Jr.Can Cooker Jr. - This two-gallon version of the popular, larger, Seth McGinn's Can Cooker is perfect for the smaller household. Camping Associate Peter Maley says it's great for two-person homes, camping, and tailgating because of the smaller portions, but also for transport...less space needed for packing! Slow-cooks a meal in 60 minutes!  In the store at Bass Pro Shops Altoona!

 

GSI Outdoors® Commuter Java Press  - This is truly a dream for GSI Outdoors Java Pressthe on-the-go person! Commuters, campers, backpackers...enjoy your french press coffee anywhere you go with this press/travel mug, your course ground coffee and some boiling water! The inner mug press makes it a compact travel mug for use in the car or on the trail!

 

Streamlight SiegeStreamlight Siege Lantern - A rugged LED lantern that floats and is waterproof. The Siege provides 360 degree lighting from 130 hours on low up to 30 hours on high with its three brightness settings, plus it has a flash SOS setting.

 

Katadyn® Optimus Crux Canister Stove - This unique item has a folding burner head and is only 2.9 oz! But, don't let its petite size fool you...it puts out 10,200 BTUs and can boil a liter of water in about three minutes depending on conditions.

Optimus CruxOptimus CruxOptimus Crux in Hand

 

 

 

 

UCO Arka Lantern and Flashlight - The Arka extends from a flashlight to a lantern, and has five lighting modes - including three red LED -  tactical, strobe, or SOS. What's REALLY great about this product is it can also be used as a USB charger for your phone, camera, and GPS. It comes with a USB cable and wall charger. Great for power outages at home, travel, and in your car!  Peter from our Camping Department gives a demo in this YouTube video:

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Trout Stocking at Lake Petocka

Sharpen your hooks and load up the ice shack!  The City of Bondurant, Iowa, is hosting a Family Trout Fishing Day at Lake Petocka in Bondurant! 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will be stocking the lake with 1500 catchable trout between 11 a.m. and Urban Trout Stockingnoon on Saturday, January 25, 2014. Local sponsors will provide food and drinks for the first 225 people. There will also be a drawing for a limited number of Bass Pro Shops gift cards!

The stocking is part of the annual urban trout stocking program by the DNR.  Usually between October and April, the DNR introduces trout to selected lakes around the state, allowing more people to be introduced to trout fishing.

According to Mike Mason, Fish Culture Section Supervisor with the DNR,  the trout  going into Petocka could have come all the way from Montana!

"The 1,500 Rainbow Trout  going into Lake Petocka started off as eggs taken in 2012 from adult Rainbow Trout held in raceways at either the Ennis National Fish Hatchery in Montana or the Manchester Hatchery in Iowa.  Approximately 100,000 eggs are shipped each year from Ennis to Iowa’s  Manchester Hatchery for the urban trout program.  The eggs arrive in early October and are grown to about 6 inches, at which time Manchester ships most of these fish out  to grow larger at the rearing stations at Decorah and Elkader (Big Spring).  The fish for Lake Petocka will be coming  coming from Decorah."  

DNR Fisheries Management Biologist Ben Dodd says the trout tend to bite small jigs tipped with wax worms or live minnows on a hook the best.  He adds that this event couldn't happen without a group effort!

"I would like to thank the City of Bondurant and all of the sponsors who have contributed to this event.  We (IDNR) are very lucky to have such great local partners here in central Iowa. They value our natural resources and support the sport of fishing.  We look forward to seeing you out on the ice!

Note:

Trout Regulations

TROUT FEE: Iowa residents and nonresidents who are required to have a fishing license must pay the Trout Fee ($12.50 for residents or $15 for non-residents) to fish for or possess trout. Exception: Iowa residents and nonresidents under 16 years old may possess or fish for trout without having paid the Trout Fee if they fish with a properly licensed adult who has paid the Trout Fee and together they limit their catch to the one person daily limit of five trout. Children under 16 have the option to purchase their own trout privilege, which allows them to fish without a properly licensed adult and keep their own daily limit (5).
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Seasons End, Maintenance Begins

Rod Slings Guest Blog by Rod Slings, Retired Iowa DNR Hunter Education Administrator

 

As the hunting seasons come to an end, it’s time again to store all your equipment. As always, safety is number one for every hunter and gun owner. Make sure your firearm is pointed in a safe direction, check to make sure it’s unloaded, then it’s ready to be cleaned. Even if you haven’t fired it, it’s important to give it a quick cleaning. Moisture, dirt, and salt from your hands can all have a long-term impact on the condition of your firearms. 

Each year, somewhere, someone forgets to unload his or her muzzleloader. Incidents can happen when you think the muzzleloader is empty and place another “load” on top of the load that was left…last hunting season. It’s never good when you’re expecting a bang and BOOM happens instead. It can cause severe injury or even death by not making sure your muzzleloader is empty before you load it up again. Powder residue will cause corrosion and have a major effect, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on proper cleaning.

Gun storage is very much a huge responsibility for all hunters. Make sure you use trigger locks or cable locks, and lock them in a gun cabinet or gun safe. This keeps your firearms from the curious, young and old, or even the burglar that may break into your house. There are all kinds of gun storage products available to help you be a responsible gun owner.

Opinions differ on storing “muzzle up or muzzle down” in your gun safe or locker. After cleaning oil is used in the barrel, with muzzle up the excess could run down into the end of your wood stock and cause the wood fibers to expand.  This is due to the oil saturating and working its way down where the metal meets the stock. This is not an issue with the newer composite stocks or other non-porous stocks. Muzzle down will eliminate this from occurring. No matter what, always make sure you keep the firearms pointed in a safe direction when placing them in or removing them from locked storage. Remember:  Treat every firearm as if it were loaded ALWAYS!

Ammunition should be stored in a locked container separate from the firearms. This safety practice adds another layer to your firearm storage safety protocol.

Don’t forget to remove batteries from trail cameras, range finders, GPS units and other battery-powered hunting equipment. Storage of arrows and archery equipment requires an edge of safety, too!

Until you’re ready to go target practice, shoot some trap or skeet, or are preparing for spring turkey season, these steps will keep you, your family, and others stay safe!

It’s always great to break out your equipment in the fall and have everything ready to be inspected for another Rod Slingsyear…not to have rust, corrosion, or other issues from not practicing due-diligence now. 

Always focus on safe gun handling and, please, hunt SAFE!

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Rod Slings is a partner with Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants. He was with the Iowa DNR for 35 years as a supervisor in the DNR's Law Enforcement Bureau. He is an active proponent of hunter safety and education through international leadership, instructional, and speaking opportunities for organizations such as the International Hunter Education Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the United Nations.

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Headed North? Alaska Travel Tips

The past month or so, Bass Pro Shops Altoona has had former associate Jake Fergesen, a northeast Iowa native, helping us out.  Jake was with us when we opened, progressing to hunting lead and camping lead positions, then transferred to the East Peoria store where he became Hunting Manager. Now Jake will be the new Fishing Manager at the Anchorage store, which opens in 2014.

Jake is familiar with Alaska, having worked there a few years back. Since so many people travel to Alaska, we asked him to share some basic tips.

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Helpful Tips for Travelling to Alaska

by Guest Blogger Jake Fergesen, BPS Anchorage Fishing ManagerJake Fergesen

*  Bug Spray - The beautiful vistas of Alaska are known around the world. But, one thing you don't always see are the bugs. You will need bug deterrent pretty much anytime you're outside in the summer.

As soon as I got settled into my new Alaska location, I was anxious to do some fishing. I had only been there a few days and was ready to attack the fish. On my first fishing outing, after about a minute into it, I realized I was the one under attack.. Even with all my excitement, the fishing only lasted about 5-10 minutes. 

Now, bug spray is with me wherever I go in Alaska. 100% DEET is the best bet, but if you're wearing Gortex and/or fishing, you need to remember a couple of things. DEET can eat away at the fishing line and the Gortex membrane on waders and rain gear. So, a DEET-free product - like Sawyer® Premium Insect Repellent 20% Picaridin - might be a preferable choice, as Picaridin doesn't harm your equipment and gear. Wherever you go in Alaska, always have it with you. I leave my spray in the fishing tackle, kayak, and in the car.

*  Binoculars - Make sure you have binoculars that are compact and easy to carry. You want the most magnification that you can hold steady...a 10 power is recommended. Again, binoculars should always be with you. I've been driving down the Seward Highway and spotted a grizzly and her two cubs on a river bank far away and could enjoy them with my binoculars from a safe distance. You never know when that moose or bear is going to give you a view to appreciate and remember.Alaskan Bear Fishing  

*  Bear Spray – The chance of having a close encounter with a bear are slim, but you always want to have your head on a swivel and be mindful. I was wading and fishing the Russian River for sockeye salmon and had a few encounters with a bear that was also fishing for its food. The bear was within probably 20 yards. You stay calm – talk to it in a loud non-aggressive tone. Unless they are with cubs, surprised, or have been conditioned to people giving them fish, bears are mostly curious. The last thing you want to do is throw a fish. Keep all your gear within arms length. On the river I was at, and many other rivers, you can actually get fined if you have a pack or tackle box and it’s not within 10 feet or so or within reach.

*  Rain gear - Are you going to be in and out of rain? Then lightweight and packable rain gear, like Frogg 
Toggs, would probably work. But, if you know and are planning on spending all day in the rain, go with a heavy duty rain set, like Helly Hanson – real rubberized stuff. Helly Hansen makes rainwear that the fishermen and oil workers use with 100% waterproof protection.

*  Sun Protection - Visitors to Alaska often overlook sun protection due to the cooler temperatures, but coming from someone who's learned the hard way, it is an item you need to remember to take. I was enjoying t-shirt weather, around 80 degrees, on a raft fishing all day Riverside Camping in Alaskalong...warm, but not scorchingly hot. I was having fun and not feelilng the heat...until later that night when a serious sunburn appeared.

*  Camera/Memory Cards - The camera is an obvious one, but you'll take so many pictures you might need to bring an extra memory along with you so you don't run out. Most cell phones have a pretty good camera, but if you have a good digital camera with a zoom, you'll want to bring it. On a trip to Denali I saw pretty much everything – caribou, moose, etc. I took decent pictures of Dall rams up on a mountainside because I had a camera with a good zoom. 

But, keep in mind:  Try not to get so caught up in taking pictures that you miss actually seeing what's around you. Put down the camera, once in a while, and enjoy the beauty without the lens.

Alaska Glacier

*  Layers - In the summer, the mornings can be in the 40s and the middle of the day can get up close to 80. You'll want layers you can shed as the day goes on. Go with synthetic fibers and avoid cotton because there's a good chance it will rain some and you'll get wet.

Alaska in the summer is amazing. It's light out almost 24 hours a day, which allows you to get more out of each day.  As large as Alaska is, you won't be able to see everything in one trip. Identify the area you most want to see and plan your trip for that. Make a list...the next area on your list that you want to see will give you that reason to take another trip north to Alaska!

Seward Highway

 

 

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Save a Life!

LifeServe Blood mobile at Bass Pro Shops AltoonaDid you know...

  • Only 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood but less than 10 percent donate annually.
  • There is no substitute for human blood.
  • You cannot get AIDS or any other infectious disease by donating blood.
  • About 1 in 7 people entering a hospital need blood.
  • Females receive 53 percent of blood transfusions; males receive 47 percent.

Picture your child, grandchild, spouse, best friend or other loved one in a hospital in dire need of blood...but the resources weren't there.

The LifeServe Blood Mobile will be at Bass Pro Shops Altoona on Saturday, January 18, 2014, from 9 - noon. This is YOUR chance to help save a life...your own or someone else's. The LifeServe Blood Center in Des Moines has a critical and urgent need for blood:

  • Critical Needs:
  • Less Than 2 Day Supply
  • O Positive
  • O Negative
  • A Negative
  • AB Negative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Urgent Needs:
  • 2-3 Day Supply
  • A Positive
  • B Positive
  • B Negative

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • General Needs:
  • 4-5 Day Supply
  • AB Positive

 

Don't know your blood type? That doesn't matter. Every two seconds, someone, somewhere needs blood.

The rarest type is the one not on the shelf when a patient needs it.

Please join us and help the cause.

 

 

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Product Spotlight -UCO® Arka USB Charger/Lantern/Flashlight

UCO® Arka USB Charger/Lantern/Flashlight

This is an emergency preparedness dream! A mighty like flashlight, lantern and charger all in one! The Arka is one of the highlights of our Camping Departments cool products of 2013, and here's why:

  • Collapsible, so very compact and easy to transport - great for backpackers, travelers, and emergency access like power outages.
  • While you're using it as a light you can also be charging your phone, camera, or GPS! Rechargeable battery/ recharging station, plus comes with wall charger and USB cord.
  • Five lighting modes - Including three red LED for night vision, strobe and SOS.

Check out this video demo of the Arka!

 

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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Slow Cooker Pot Roast Soup

Photo from Beef It's What's For DinnerNot everyone likes venison, which I constantly need to remember. However, it also important to remember that any recipe with beef, can be made with venison, although you may have to adjust cooking times.

So, I'm borrowing this recipe from the Beef It's What's for Dinner web site via the Iowa Farmer Today magazine. Personally, I'd use a venison roast instead and would cut it into more than 12 pieces. It is a really interesting compilation of food...I think I just talked myself into trying it...but with venison.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Soup

1- 2 ½ pound beef boneless shoulder roast
2 C chopped onion
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions, undrained
1 C frozen hash browns, cubed
1 C beef broth
1 T minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 C broccoli slaw
1/2 C frozen peas

Cut roast into 12 equal pieces. Place in 4.5 to 5.5 quart slow cooker.

Add onions, tomatoes, potatoes, broth, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. (Instead of store-bought, why not use those tomatoes and peppers you canned or froze from the garden last year!)

Cover and cook on high 5-6 hours, or on low 8-9 hours., or until roast is fork-tender. Note: no stirring is necessary during cooking.

Stir in broccoli slaw. Continue cooking, covered 30 minutes or until broccoli slaw is crisp-tender.

Turn off slow cooker.

Stir in peas.

Let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

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Top Unique Products of 2013 - Ladies' Apparel

A new year typically means taking time to reflect on the previous year. With that thought in mind, I asked the various departments what their top "unique" products were in 2013...unique in technology, usage, and features.

Ladies' ApparelColumbia Tech gloves

  • Touch Tip gloves - With smartphones and other electronics these days, touch tip gloves are one of theTouch Tip gloves best accessories to have. How many times have you gone to use your smartphone but had to take your gloves off first? With a touch tip thumb and index on both hands, these gloves allow you to use any touch screen device without removing your gloves. The technology is also available in men's and hunting apparel. 
  • Thumbholes on cuffs -  These have become very popular in Ladies' apparel and many vendors are on the Ladies Ascend with Thumbholesbandwagon, including Columbia, The North Face and Ascend.  In most cases, it is on an interior cuff, allowing you to have additional built-in protection in your coat.  If you are wearing gloves, the thumbholes help stop wind and/or snow from going up your sleeve.
  • Omni-Heat Gloves-  Columbia brought their lightweight, yet warm technology, to more gloves this year. The Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining uses your own body heat, trapping and retaining it to keep you warm.
  • Infinity Scarves - These scarves have been extremely popular for our cold weather blasts this season! Natural Reflections Infinity ScarfAre you all about function or do you lean more toward fashion? There are some designed for all tastes!  

 

Next up - Camping!

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Banded Together

The banding of birds for identification has occurred for over 100 years in the U.S. The first records of bird banding in North America come from naturalist John James Audubon. The numbered bands help scientists at the United States Geologic Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service study the flight patterns, habitat, and more about birds, from the smallest hummingbird up to the trumpeter swan. For waterfowl hunters, harvesting a banded bird can be a milepost in their hunting career. Each band collected is a band of honor…not only for having taken the bird, but also as respect for the life of the bird it has graced. True sportsmen will know the story of any band they collect and the bird that carried it. Bass Pro Shops Altoona Hunting Associate Frank Lake tells his:

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Being a relatively new resident of Iowa, I have come to enjoy the new hunting and fishing that this great state has given me. I’m originally from Southern California and had done some duck and goose hunting in that area, but it was mostly open water hunting.

After persuasion from some friends a couple of years ago, I was introduced to waterfowl hunting Midwest-style, particularly goose hunting. On various hunting excursions, I couldn’t stop noticing the displays of silver leg bands on fellow hunters’ call lanyards. Some would have a few and a couple of hunters…well, it seemed their lanyards were nothing but pieced together leg bands.

However, the bands weren’t just for bravado. Every hunter had a story about his or her bands. One friend explained that on his first ever hunt he shot two of the three bands that he held in highest regard. Another friend, a few weeks later, showed me his collection, which looked like a massive ball of recycled soda cans. Silver, black, some stained brown… each one had its own individual story. I looked forward to the time I would harvest a banded bird to begin my own collection of stories and remembrances.
 
That moment finally came.

Lanyard band of calls

A couple of weeks ago, the day started out in Iowa, and many other locations across this country, as it has so often this season:  Snow on the ground, freezing temperatures, and the wind pushing the cold right down to the skin. For our hunting group it didn’t seem to matter, as we continued the centuries old tradition of hunting and set up our spread that morning.

It wasn’t long and the geese started to move. With the weather being so cold, they had to fly out of the city to the farm fields to eat, and that’s where we waited. The first group pushed north right into our spread and, with an excited “get ‘em,” we sat up from the dugout frozen ditches that we laid in and surprised our prey. Pops from the guns erupted, and the birds flew everywhere…startled by us hunters appearing from nowhere. There where birds falling from the flock. We quickly reloaded, retrieved the birds we had shot, and returned to our blinds.

About an hour passed, with some flocks passing by, but none could be coaxed in with our decoys and calls. After a little while, a small group worked their way toward us fighting the brutal north wind. It seemed like an eternity, while we watched them from afar, moving their wings with such effort just to come to the field. Like any other hunter out there, the anticipation grew with every passing second. The flock now was a couple hundred yards away and we could really start to hear them call back to us. The only thing going through my head was “here we go.” The group started their final approach, cupping their wings and cackling at us as they drew closer. As they were about to set down, one of their calls didn’t sound the same as the rest and they broke away from us. Seeing this, and knowing that they were still within range, I called out to take them. I lifted my old shotgun, added a little lead into the shot, and squeezed the trigger. With a thunderous clap, that 12-gauge, 3.5-inch black cloud round went off, and the bird that I aimed for started to fall like a maple leaf to the ground.  

Frank Lake Bass Pro Shops Altoona

The other guys in the group looked over and said, “Yeah, yeah, lucky shot,” and the usual phrases we all give each other. I reloaded the gun and walked out to my bird. As I got closer, I saw something that didn’t look natural and was clearly out of place.

It was a band.

The rush of excitement flushed over me and I forgot the cold that day.

“Hey, we got jewelry!” I yelled.

Of course, my fellow hunters were doubtful. I walked over to the blinds to show them the bird. One of the hunters, who has many bands himself, looked at the number printed into the steel and said, “That’s going to be an old bird.”

Another hunter, grinning from ear to ear like a child raiding the cookie jar, good-naturedly ribbed, "Hey, I shot that one!"

We finished the day with our limit. Since it was a weekend, I had to wait until the following day to call in the band and find out the history of that bird. That night seemed like it would never end.

Morning arrived and I dialed the number on the band. At a call center somewhere in Missouri, a very nice receptionist picked up the phone and collected my information - number on the band, when did I recover the bird, did I shoot or find the bird, my name, address, email, phone number - and a list of questions that seemingly went on forever.

“You shot an old bird,” she said, and my interest peaked.

The bird was banded August 4, 2006, in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. I went to a map and explored the distance that the bird had flown from the Southwest area of the Hudson Bay to Iowa.

How many miles had that bird flown for the past seven years?

Where had it been?

Where was the bird’s nesting area during the summer? Had it been further south for the winter than just Iowa?

I thought about the odds of how, over the vastness of the Mississippi flyway, this bird and I met in that field, on that day, in the middle of Iowa, in the middle of the country.

While there are many questions that will remain unanswered, this fact is true:  I'm permanently hooked on waterfowl hunting by this first of many bands to come and many more stories behind every bird.  

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For more information on bird banding, visit www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/homepage/aboutaux.cfm.

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Product Spotlight - BaitBall by LiveTarget - NEW!

Hot off the truck at Bass Pro Shops Altoona...LiveTarget's BaitBall...ICAST 2013's Best Hard Lure of the Year!

Multiple profiles in one body gives the impression of a small cluster of shad that has split away from it's bigger group. Another step in re-creating the real underwater world and nature's survival of the fittest!

 

Threadfin Shad Baitball Crankbait Crankbait

This diver has a maximum depth of 10 feet and at the store we have it in Pearl Blue Chartreuse and Pearl Gray. Details and additional colors are available at www.basspro.com.

 

LiveTarget SquarefishThreadfin Shad Baitball Squarebill

Depth of 3-4 feet and comes in Pearl Blue Chartreuse, Metallic Green, and Pearl Green. Details and additional colors are available at www.basspro.com.

 

Check out the LiveTarget story of how the BaitBall concept came to be and a demo!

 

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