Eureka! - A Tent Testimonial

Campers are ready for spring camping weather and should be evaluating their equipment. Whether you're looking to replace or upgrade gear, or you're just starting out with tent camping, usually the shelter is the first stop. We asked Bass Pro Shops Altoona Camping expert Chuck Stevens for his tips on buying a good tent for camping:

I have a Eureka Timberline Original A-Frame 4-Person Tent. People like the classic items that are tried and true over the years, and this is a classic A-frame tent that is celebrating 40 years of production.

I have done, and continue to do, a great deal of camping and kayaking. When I shop for camping gear, I look for quality and I can say I put the Timberline 4 through a VERY rigorous six weeks of spring camping.

I sat through back to back to back to back 3" rain storms with very high winds reaching 40 mph (that's not a typo - there were multiple storms over multiple days). The guy lines on the ends work nicely and the criss-cross guy lines on the sides anchored this tent down beautifully in those super high winds!

The aluminum poles work very well - helps make it light for transport and easy set up. The sturdy well-designed frames, taped seams, and storm shield rain fly did not let me down.

A couple of other tips when outlining your tent camping necessities:

  • I use Eureka ground cloths under the tent and also inside on the floor. They worked especially well with all the rain.
  • I also use, inside the tent, two Therm-a-rest Base Camp Inflatable mattresses. These mats are one of the best investments a tent camper can ever make. The soft cushion with thermal properties make it a must have in my opinion and it has been a camping mattress of choice for other campers for over 35 years.

Find some additional tips on selecting a tent, in general, on Eureka's page. You'll also find a link to Tent Care tips including the importance of keeping your tent clean, sealing seams, and making sure it is put away dry.

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Jig Fishing with Casey Scanlon

Elite Series Professional Casey Scanlon was at Bass Pro Shops Altoona recently for the Spring Fishing Classic. He says the jig is the most versatile lure an angler can throw....all times of year, all depths, all water temps. It's something you can grab a couple of, throw in your tackle box and catch fish all year.  Watch the video for more of Casey's tips:

Casey suggests 1/2 or 3/8 oz. in brown or black and blue.

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Spring Fishing Classic - Local Tips and Seminars Weekend!

Spring Fishing Classic

Local Tips and Pros Seminar Weekend

Featuring Pro Staff – Kary Ray and Lance Baker

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff

 

Join Us March 7-9 for these Great Seminars from Lance, Kary, and the rest of our fishing experts!

Friday, March 7 - Flipping and Pitching for Bass - Presented by Lance Baker

Saturday and Sunday, March 8 and 9:

11:00 a.m. - Locating Bass in New Waters - Presented by Ray and Baker

1:00 p.m. - Topwater Techniques for Bass -  Presented by Keith Kulow – 2010-2012 Brushy Creek Bass Club AOY, 2007 FLW/BFL Regional Qualifier

2:00 p.m. - Spinning Reel Tactics for Bass - Presented by Ray and Baker

3:00 p.m. - Does the Color of Your Bass Lure Matter? - Presented by Bryce Witt, Fishing Lead & Matt Michel, Fishing Associate

4:00 p.m. - Become a Smallmouth Specialist - Presented by Baker and Ray

5:00 p.m. - Choosing the Right Soft Plastics for Bass - Presented by Fishing Lead Chris Grocholski

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A Small Part in a Great March

On Saturday, March 1, hundreds of people will be starting a trek across the country. Iowan Robert Cook will be on that walk and is taking a bit of Bass Pro Shops along. Bob from the Great March for Climate Action

The Great March for Climate Action gets underway Saturday and Robert has been coming in to pick up a few items for the walk. Bob recently retired as a minister after 40 years. He is passionate about his participation in the walk...so passionate, he is committed to completing the walk from LA to Washington D.C. in eight months. Over 200 marchers, from 36 states and 6 countries plan to walk 15 miles a day, camping along an established route that will wind through Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and on east. It's a green march and they will be practicing Leave No Trace every moment on the trail and at their campsites. They'll have a solar-powered mobile kitchen to provide meals for the walkers. They will rest on Sundays.

In preparation for his walk he has purchased numerous items from Bass Pro Shops Altoona.

"This store has played a HUGE part in my preparation. I had never been here and had driven by several times on I-80. Someone told me to check the store out for my supplies. I walked in and was amazed by the size and beauty of the store."

Some of the items he has purchased includes RedHead CoolMax Liner Socks for men. He layers those with RedHead Hiking Socks and he already knows they're going to be a charm! He has purchased several pairs for the journey. The liners help create a great barrier to help prevent blisters. He has been wearing the combination during his daily training for the walk and he says they feel great!

Other items he has purchased include insect repellent, a tarp for his tent to sit on, a wash basin for cleaning up, an LED lantern, a Bass Pro Shops camp chair, and an Ascend Dry Bag.

Best of luck to Bob and the other marchers as they walk for their cause...watch for reports of them coming by your location and give them a wave. We hope to see them here at Bass Pro Shops Altoona mid-way through their walk when they camp in the area!

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Get Organized for Open Water

The Spring Fishing Classic gives you a great opportunity to get organized. From tackle systems, to organizers, utility boxes, and bags there are many great products to help you be prepared and ready to hit the water.  Here are some annual favorites!

Digital Camo 370 System

The Digital Camo 370 system -  This cool soft-sided tackle bag includes two Bass Pro Shops 370 boxes! This satchel-style bag also has two side pockets for extra gear and tools.

Bass Pro Shops 360 and 370 Utility Boxes - You can never have too much tackle, so you can never have too many plastic storage boxes, right?  Plus, is someone in your house a crafter or collector? These are great for organizing anything around the house...so pick up additional for outside the tackle box.

The Bass Pro Shops Extreme Boat Bags - These bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are made from heavy-duty, water resistant, PVC tarpaulin. From tote-sized to big rolling boat bags, these are Extreme Boat Bagsdesigned to protect your gear with easy to see and store compartments for small essentials and bigger items.

Other great gear organizers featured in the upcoming sale and event are the Plano Hip Roof and Magnum tackle boxes, the Plano Guide Special Tackle System, and the Plano Fishouflage Bass Tackle Bag or Rod Tubes.

Just SOME of the great items you'll find during the Spring Fishing Classic at Bass Pro Shops!

Make sure you check out the circular for all the great savings and events going on from February 28-March16.

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Spring Fishing Classic Begins!

Spring Fishing Classic

Friday, February 28

The Spring Fishing Classic begins when the doors open at 9 a.m.! 

The Reel Trade-in runs February 28-March 5...trade in your old reel and save even more on a new one! The trade-ins must be in good working condition and we donate them to local youth organizations and the Lake View Camp in Pella, Iowa.

6-9 p.m. Preferred Rewards Night - A members-only event, with prizes, giveaways, extra rewards points on all purchases made at the event, and the chance to win a Nitro Z-7 Boat! Entry slip and coupon for double points are in the mailed invitation you will receive. You must bring your invitation to enter.

 

Saturday, March 1SFC Speakers

Join us to welcome our national pros during Bassmaster University! Seminars will be back in the Fly Shop area.

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


Saturday, March 1 & Sunday, March 2

What a Spring Fishing Classic without a fish fry! Our Gifts Department will be serving up samples of Uncle Buck’s Fish Batter on Saturday and Uncle Buck's Hot and Spicy Batter on Sunday! Try the Uncle Buck’s Cammo Ammo or Peach Pepper hot sauces for dipping!


Saturday, March 1 & Sunday, March 2

Girl Scout Troops will be selling those famous cookies!
March 1 - Troop #881 from Johnston
March 2 - Troop # 672 from Experience Church

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As always, stay on top of all our events and happenings for young and old:

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Product Spotlight: LEM Burger Press

LEM Burger PressGreat indoor "to do" while it's cold...processing the venison and freezing burgers for the future. My husband tackled this with a new gadget he received for Christmas and we had our first burgers of the season just the other night when we had a tease of spring temps in the 50s for a day.

LEM® Products Pro Burger Press

For Christmas, Santa brought my husband an LEM Pro Burger Press.  He is in love with it. It saved his hands during the patting out of over 50 burgers. After grinding the venison with some uncooked bacon (and the occasional jalapeno), through the LEM grinder a couple of times, he was easily able to form nice symmetrical patties. Easier to freeze and store. Put a piece of the LEM Plastic Freezer Sheets between each patty and you can freeze as many as you need. Then we simply wrapped them in freezer paper and foil (for added extra protection).

This burger makes a nice-sized - almost 4 1/2" - burger AND you can vary the thickness by adjusting the thickness from 1/4 to 1 1/2." It is non-stick and very easy to clean up.

Whether processing venison or just stocking up on regular hamburgers for the year ahead, you really should check out the burger press...bet you'll be glad you did.

LEM Burger Press and Freezer Sheets

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Product Spotlights: A Winning Combination!

Saturday, March 1, our local pros (Lance Baker and Kary Ray) will be at the store representing two of their other sponsors - Lance  for Daiwa and Kary for Lowrance. Come say hello and let them show you the new Daiwa Tatula line of rods and reels and the new Lowrance HDS Touch units that helped Randy Howell win the 2014 Bassmaster Classic!

The pros will show you how these two lines of products will up your game on the water!

Daiwa Tatula 100H

Daiwa

Stop by and see Lance to find out more about the Daiwa Tatula 100H baitcasting reel. With a 6.3:1 gear ratio, Daiwa designed this reel to be tough and smooth. A solid aluminum frame with a gear-side aluminum side plate. The air rotation provides for effortless casting in a rugged low-profile design. Buy one at the Spring Fishing Classic and get a coupon for a free Tatula long-sleeve shirt!Lowrance HDS-7 Gen2

Kary can fill you in on the Lowrance HDS Touch units, like the Lowrance HDS-7 Gen2 Touch with LSS-2 HD Bundle, featuring the built-in, exclusive Insight USA mapping, Broadband Sounder, 83/200 kHz and LSS-2 Transducer. This unit also has a $200 rebate available during the Spring Fishing Classic!

Lowrance

 

Stop in and visit with Kary and Lance this Saturday, March 1, at Bass Pro Shops Altoona!

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An Office with a Different View

Bass Pro Shops Altoona AquaristWe welcome Chris Schuehle as our new aquarist at Bass Pro Shops Altoona!  Chris is a 2012 Drake University Business graduate, which may sound like an interesting background for taking care of a giant aquarium in a big outdoor store.

However, Chris has been around aquariums since he was young. He started with freshwater and went into saltwater aquariums and still has a large reef tank at his parents in Minnesota. But his experience now is to learn the industrial side of things, from the giant pump room to the 33,000 aquarium in the main store and the 1,000 gallon aquarium in Uncle Buck's FishBowl and Grill.

Chris also has scuba experience, which is integral, of course, to maintaining the large aquarium. His scuba experience started after his freshman year in college, when he and friends worked as divers in Minnesota, diving to the bottom of  lakes to remove weeds. He has also been to the Keys diving several times.

He says the most interesting thing about his new position is the size of everything and learning so much more from the experts from other stores who have been training him.

"It's pretty amazing to think about all the goes into making it possible for one little kid to have so much fun running up to see the fish and then running off again!"

That's what it's all about at Bass Pro Shops.

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Product Spotlight - The Beadery® Wonder Loom™

In MY day as a child, we had the metal pot holder loom. With a basic metal square with jagged teeth-like edges, a pick and a bag of fabric loops, I was themost incredible potholder maker in the world. My mom, aunt, and the neighbor ladies all reaped the benefit of just being associated with me, because THEY would undoubtedly receive one of my masterpieces...probably many times over!

Now, today's kids have the Wonder Loom and it is here at Bass Pro Shops!  But the Wonder Loom doesn't make hot pads...you make bracelets out of latex-free rubber bands!

You get 600 rubber bands, 24 clips,and easy-to-follow instructions. There are YouTube videos for those who want to see how it's done first. Its' the perfect gift for young kids and is all the rage right now!

Couple of things that are pretty cool:

1. It's a perfect tool for learning or RE-learning skills...youngWonder Loom or old. Visual perception, finger dexterity, problem-solving, dealing with frustration. Numerous web sites and therapists provide resources stating their usage and support of this as a great mental an physical learning tool.

2.  Additionally,  it's the first rubber band loom made in the U.S.A. 

 

Stop in at Bass Pro Shops Altoona and find the Wonder Loom in the kids toys area. We also carry the book Rubber Band Jewelry with ideas for making bracelets, rings, belts, and more...maybe hot pads???

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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

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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 off...like 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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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
 
SAUCE:
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)
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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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