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10/16/2017 @ 08:56 PM

The Best Day Ever

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The Best Day Ever

July 23rd 2016. For those of you who do not remember the date, it was a Saturday. I will never forget this day because it was one of the best days of my life. I will set the scenario for you. Bear with me please cause I am not what you would call a novelist.
My wife works for the post office as a substitute rural carrier, which means she carries the mail every Saturday. This is really good for me and my two kids. Now I don't want to sound like I am thrilled she is gone every Saturday because it has its bad points too, however; my kids and I love the outdoors and her…. not so much. Her idea of enjoying outdoors is canoeing. Im not a fan due to the fact we cant stop and fish, at least when I am with her. The only time you stop whilst canoeing with my wife is to have a few beverages.
The wife was working and my son ditched old dad to go to a friends house and spend the night. He is 11 so he is at the age where friends are way cooler than dad. I was left with my daughter Isabella. I call her Izzy. I asked her what she wanted to do. Without hesitation she says, “ Oh my god dad lets go trout fishing.” At this point I was excited as she was. I don't think I have ever loaded up tackle and a cooler so fast in all my time on this earth.
We head for Bailey’s Ford near Manchester. This is one of our favorite spots to trout fish due to the fact I can get the kids to catch fish fairly easy. After a 25 to 30 minute drive we arrive. We park at the stream beside the nature trail bridge which is usually a honey hole. To my demise there are 4 people fishing and two kids throwing rocks. We grab our gear and head down the stream towards the river.
Between the parking lot and the river we stop at two more holes that are usually productive. They were not productive on this day. I think the fisherman came out in droves there was nothing there and anglers all over the place. I decide to switch gears so we headed back to the truck. On the way back to the truck Izzy asks me what we are going to do. I tell her honey we are going to another place.
We head up to Greeley to Fountain Springs park. Fountain Springs is a diamond in the rough. For those who have never been to this park you should go. All primitive camping very quiet and good trout fishing. A very well kept county park. While driving to get there you really wonder how far back into nowhere the road takes you. The trip is all worth the dust on the truck to get there.
I don't know if the truck was even in park yet when she jumped out of the pick up. We started fishing by the upside down bridge. The water by the upside down bridge is very murky. I am glad it is murky cause my lovely daughter wore a bright pink shirt and some pretty wild colored gymnastics tights. We fish here for about a half hour and no luck.
I am so determined to catch something we move to another hole towards the middle of the park. With the water running dirty I had a feeling we could catch something in this particular hole. It is a narrow strip of swift water with an exposed system of tree roots. It is about three to four feet deep. I have had luck here before. Where the water goes around the tree roots is an area of calm water just outside the main current. I have a silver lead head with a white glittery skirt tied on my ultra light. I showed her how to flip the jig in there and bounce it.
She flips the jig into the exact location I showed her. About 2 feet down I see that silver head disappear and the line go tight. She screams. To an innocent bystander you would think this child is either dying or hurt badly. No everyone she just hooked her first trout. My heart is racing because I know if she looses this fish she is going to be so disappointed. I tell her what to do to get it to the shore. It is a beautiful Rainbow Trout.
I take the hook out of it and she wants to hold it. I let her hold it while I get the stringer ready and realize it’s back at the truck. Now, in my mind I am really praying that this fish does not squirm its way out of her hand and back into the stream from which it came. I move her and the fish back away from the water well into dry land so I could go all the way back to the truck and retrieve the stringer without worries of a sad little girl upon my return.
I place the beautiful fish on the stringer and her and I both start jigging again in the same hole. I managed to get a very nice brown trout after about a half hour and she had a couple hits but missed hooking them. I decide once again to move.
We relocate about 500 feet up stream to a hole right beside the road. Her and I climb out onto some big rocks to get a better vantage point. With the same jigs previously used, we commence to fishing again. Her fifth cast the fight is on once again. I can see it is a nice rainbow hooked very nicely in the top of the mouth. This fish is much bigger than the one she landed before. Somehow through all the screaming and jumping up and down I got through to her how to bring in this one. She drug the fish onto the bank and just before getting it totally out of the water the hook comes out. I jump into the shallows to grab ahold of it and luckily retrieve the escapee. I put him on the stringer and we fished about a half hour longer.
I suggest to my daughter that we leave for home. It is starting to sprinkle off and on and I could tell it is getting cooler. My wife and I had to meet up some friends of ours for The Great Jones County Fair. I had to go back to get ready anyway. Her and I together cleaned the trout and started for home. On the way home she asked how come we had to ruin this day. Feeling really bad I tell her the day isn't ruined we just have to go. Needless to say she didn't want to go home. We hit about Manchester and the rain was pouring down which made it a lot easier to go home. The sky the whole 25 minute drive looked very eerie. Almost a greenish color.
We pull in the drive way of our residence and unload our equipment. Of course she couldn't wait to show mom what she had caught. In the house she goes. in the house channel nine KCRG had tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings all over the Eastern part of the state. A tornado warning for Delaware county had been issued and a video of a twister going down the river to around the lake Delhi area was played. I told Izzy we are lucky that we left cause we were really close to the tornado they played video of. Once she realized we would have been impacted by the storms she was feeling much better about being home.
This was one of the most memorable trips I have had with her. If you are a father of a daughter you all know about Daddy and Daughter dates. This one will be with me forever and I hope one day she can share this with her kids. I’m not a professional writer (as you can probably tell) nor am I a professional fisherman. I just hope that I am teaching both my kids activities they can pass on to their kids as I have. I love taking the kids along and I hope all of you take a kid out hunting, fishing, or hiking in the near future.

Written by: Christopher Taylor

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Antler Shed Hunting With Your Dog

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Antler Shed Hunting With Your Dog
By Chris Wise

We are little over a month away from one of Iowa's greatest hunting seasons. Yes it's antler shed hunting! Outside of trail cameras, which many hunters don't leave up year around, there's no better or earlier way to get an idea of the caliber of bucks that made it through the previous season. In this way I think it's actually important and strategic to go hunt for sheds.

I remember the first sheds I ever found. I was on my ATV checking fences and honestly hoping to see a coyote dumb enough to stand still for a few seconds. I had just come out the woods into a secluded field in the northern most section of my property and I look over to see a very nice matched set of antlers laying not 10 feet from each other. I couldn't believe my luck. After thanking the very generous deer for having lost his rack in such a convenient manner I proceeded to the nearest Casey's store to purchase a lottery ticket.

Despite being a fun treasure hunt of sorts, I should point out that there's some money to be had for the resourceful shed hunter. At the time of this writing the lowest bid I could find on EBay for a matched set of sheds was $150.00! Depending on the size, color, and overall look of your sheds, they could fetch upwards of $1300.00! Easily more for a very unique set. This is no joke. Companies and individuals that design rustic furniture are some of the first to bid on deer antlers. Knife makers too. There is a very real and active market for this.

The thing I'm most interested in when it comes to this hobby is training my dog to find antlers for me. Dogs clearly cover ground faster than humans do. Take advantage of your hound's sensitive nose to discover more sheds than you ever have! Tom Dokkin of Oakridge Kennels in Northfield, MN. is at the forefront of this sport. Tom has given talks and demonstrations at some of the nations largest sportsman conventions and continues to offer shed dog training out of his home facility. Tom says, “Anyone can do this. This isn’t just for guys. Women and children are involved as well and it’s a great family activity."

I was privileged to be able to speak with Mr. Dokkin recently and ask him a few questions about the sport of shed hunting with man’s best friend. Here’s what he had to say.

Me: Tom, what type or personality of dog is best for shed hunting?
Tom: Retrievers do this for a living, but honestly any dog that seems interested can be great. People think training a dog to find antlers is a daunting task, but it’s just not that difficult. If you are starting from scratch and are just purchasing a dog, then I recommend a retrieving breed.

Me: What are some basic shed dog training tips or techniques?
Tom: You need a dog that has some basic obedience training. This is foundational. You must have control over your dog. The dog needs to have a strong desire to search and retrieve. You could start by getting an antler and playing fetch.
A lot of people already own a trained bird dog and it can be used to find sheds too. Just remember to give the antler a name (command) that is very different from your bird dog commands. For example you could say, “Find the bone."

Me: What is the fastest way to ruin a dog’s interest in finding antlers?
Tom: To do it too much. Don’t overwork the dog. Keep it upbeat and fun. It’s very important to quit at the point where the dog seems to be enjoying it the most. This way, every time you train the dog, it will be eager to please and interested.

Me: What are the costs involved in training a dog to find antlers?
Tom: Around $30.00. All you need are an antler, some training scent, and a DVD or book to show you how. The equipment is inexpensive.

Me: Where can folks go to find more information about you and shed hunting with dogs?
Tom: The best place is probably my website www.sheddogtrainer.com. You can find products, services, tips, events, the blog, and a link to our Facebook page there.

Tom is featured in a book by Jerry Thoms.(Training your dog to hunt for shed deer antlers) Here are some tips that I found useful:
• Use a foam rubber antler or a real one with the tips rounded to start with. If your puppy gets hurt by the real thing, it could negatively impact your dog's desire for antler bones.
• Simply play fetch with the antler. Toss the bone a short distance within eyesight so it’s simple for your dog to find.
• Hide the antler under a blanket, pillow, or around a corner. Make the dog have to search a little bit.
• Transitioning to outdoors - again toss the antler a short distance, then a long distance. Then begin hiding it under bushes but still in sight. Randomly vary the hide locations.
• Wash your training antler or use a scent remover, and wear rubber gloves. You don’t want your dog always finding the antler based on the scent of your hands.
• Always take some sheds of your own when you go out to train your dog in the field. This way the dog always succeeds and will remain interested in the activity. Tie some bright colored ribbon around the antler so you can find it again.

Obviously there is a bit more to this than simply playing fetch with an antler, so I would encourage you to visit Tom’s website and consider ordering a dvd or book. The training book is an easy read and very informative. Tom outlines a common sense step-by-step approach to get your dog retrieving antlers in no time. A good number of interesting videos can be found on YouTube as well. Search for Tom Dokken or shed dog training.

I have only just begun training my dog Disco to find and retrieve antlers, but I’m hopeful she stays interested. She loves it so far. I keep her antler on the mantle of my fireplace and most days she can be found sitting below, staring longingly at it - Kind of like I do when I go to the bow or gun shop.

Like many of you I enjoy the outdoors, and I enjoy them more when my dog is with me. What better way to keep your dog sharp and active off-season than to train it to hunt for sheds? You are going to be out in the woods anyway, it’s what you do. More than that it’s who you are. Now get out there and enjoy!

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Palo Outdoors Winter Fishing Academy

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Space is limited, sign up NOW!
Winter Fishing Academy – Fishing 101 – At Palo Outdoors 1204 1st St. Palo Iowa 52324
January 10 and 17 – Saturdays – 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Beginners are welcome to join us at each of these sessions where we will progressively learn about the basics of fishing. What line works well, how do you tie knots, how do you choose the right hooks, bobbers, sinkers and lures to make your fishing experience more productive. What fishing rods are best for beginners and why? Join Naturalist Chuck Ungs as we tease out the things you should know to become a successful angler. Free. Open to all ages but children under 16 should be accompanied by an adult. Pre-register to save a seat by calling 319-892-6485. For more information or to view other possible additions to the series, check the Linn County Conservation Department webpage at http://www.mycountyparks.com/County/Linn/Events.aspx or call Palo Outdoors 319-851-5290

Winter Fishing Academy – Fishing 201- At Palo Outdoors
January 14 – Wednesday – 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Intermediate fishing skills will be covered concerning local fish and local waters. Local bass tournament angler Billy Meier will talk about Lake Macbride bass and crappie. Do-it Molds Walleye Pro Steve Miller will cover slow death rigging to entice fish to bite! Learn how to use this method to catch more fish. Captain Dave Nichols will cover selecting rods & reels for crankbaits, jigging & rigging. Free. Open to all ages but children under 16 should be accompanied by an adult. Pre-register to save a seat by calling 319-892-6485. For more information or to view other possible additions to the series, check the Linn County Conservation Department webpage at http://www.mycountyparks.com/County/Linn/Events.aspx or call Palo Outdoors 319-851-5290

Winter Fishing Academy – Fishing 301 – At Palo Outdoors
January 21- Wednesday – 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Advanced Fishing skills will be covered by bass tournament angler Billy Meier speaking to the techniques and methods that are winning bass tournaments in the Midwest. NWT Touring Pro Gary Speicher will cover open water trolling tricks for walleye. Captain Dave Nichols will cover Advanced Equipment Selection for specialty trolling presentations with boards & lead core. Free. Open to all ages but children under 16 should be accompanied by an adult. Pre-register to save a seat by calling 319-892-6485. For more information or to view other possible additions to the series, check the Linn County Conservation Department webpage at http://www.mycountyparks.com/County/Linn/Events.aspx or call Palo Outdoors 319-851-5290

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Snowshoe Building Course offered near Cedar Rapids

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Deadline to sign up is Dec. 8!

Snowshoe Building Class series
This winter Linn County Conservation will again offer the opportunity to build a pair of traditional snowshoes. Conservation Education Specialist Chuck Ungs will guide participants through the snowshoe-building process at Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, 10260 Morris Hills Road, Toddville IA - just outside of Cedar Rapids. Those who have taken the class in the past have been very pleased with the finished shoes and have enjoyed the class. These sets would make a unique gift, functional tools or can be used as a grand decoration.

Participants should plan to attend the evening sessions on Thursday, December 11, 18 and Saturday the 20th. These evening classes will run from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Wickiup Hill Learning Center near Toddville. With some time invested at home, kits can be completed around New Year’s. Additional evenings will be needed to varnish the shoes in the evenings at the Conservation Department shop located at 1890 County Home Road in the week following construction, between the Holidays. For best results, two or three of these evenings will be required to varnish the shoes properly.

Participants must pre-register and pay by December 8, 2014, so we can order kits. The $195 class fee includes the cost of a snowshoe kit, a binding set and varnish for each participant. To pre-register or for more details and options, call 319-892-6485. Attendance at all three lacing sessions is highly recommended. Kit building typically requires the manual dexterity of someone high school age or older. Class size is limited to 15.

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New Titanium Tip Stick from Beaver Dam

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For Immediate Release:

New Titanium Tip Stick from Beaver Dam first of its kind!

Includes Built-In titanium “Spring Bobber”

Beaver Dam is known for the best tip up on the planet so it’s no surprise that they enter the ice rod and combo market with guns blazing and tips glowing. The new Titanium Tip Stick is the first rod that comes standard with a built-in, retractable, no memory, titanium spring bobber so anglers can switch from jigging Kastmaster’s for walleyes with the tip recessed, to finessing panfish with the tip extended.

The rod is made of High Modulus carbon fiber and comes with a fitted cork reel seat with built-in rattles that transmit fish-attracting vibrations below the ice. Why go to the fish when you can draw them into to you!

-Three Rods in One!
1- Ultra-light jigging for panfish
2- Retract spring bobber for gamefish
3- Deadsticking

-Available in 23” UL. 26” ML, and 29” M actions
-Available in a combo that includes custom ice-specific spinning reel with three ball-bearings, aluminum spool, size 300.

Hard & Soft Fishing has roots dating back to 1922, when their first brand, Uncle Josh, began manufacturing in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. They have grown to represent nearly every tackle category on the market for both ice and open-water fishing. From the Pacific to the Atlantic and all the lakes and rivers in-between, they produce bait and tackle that has been helping anglers catch more fish for decades. Employees don’t simply produce tackle, the use it on the weekends.


contact: ddurbin@bastdurbin.com or jbast@bastdurbin.com

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Tri-state Rod Builders Workshop near CR 9/20/14

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Sept. 20, 2014 - Saturday – Tri-state Rod Builders Workshop
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center
10260 Morris Hills Road
Toddville, Iowa 52341

I apologize for any cross posting – want to get the word out! Please pass onto others as you can!

Come and learn about rod building with many masters of the art form from throughout the Midwest at a beautiful Nature Center outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We are arranging a variety of topics, demonstrations and exhibitors. Current presenters include Mark Blabaum, Sam Fox, Kyle Robinson, Andy Wolfram, a session on how to photograph your creations effectively by the past President of the Linn Area Photo Club – Bob Lancaster, and others are in the works. The meeting is free to anyone interested in rod building from beginners to professionals and all should leave with new thoughts and ideas on how to build better fishing rods. We will take a good will donation to cover food expenses at lunch. We will be drawing for a limited number of door prizes at the end of the day. Current sponsors of the event and door prizes include Batson Enterprises, Bingham Enterprises, Linn County Conservation Department, Midwest Rod & Reel, MudHole.com, Rodguild, Archies Handles, and possibly others that are yet to commit. We will have some complete kits, some blanks and other items you would love to carry home!

Topics we intend to cover this year include making dragon scales, shrink wrap grips, photographing your creations, Rod Building for Business or Pleasure?, Balancing form with function, Component fit and finish for a professional look and much more.

Part of the program this year may be a show and tell session with the rods folks have brought in to display their craft. We also will have a limited time at the end of the day for a little swap meet so bring in anything related to building fishing rods for a bit of buy, sell or trade.

Bill Pulk from Midwest Rod and Reel will be present and will offer a 10% discount on any orders placed with him through Sept. 13 with the merchandise available at the event – plus you will avoid the shipping charges. He offers Batson Enterprises components and blanks, if you wish to see his website look at his website here: http://www.midwestrodandreel.com/ If you want to just take a look at some components or shake some blanks you will be able to do that at the show as well. I call this a win,win,win.

For more information or to RSVP so we can plan an appropriate amount of food please contact Chuck at (319) 892-6485 or at Chuck.Ungs@LinnCounty.org There will be time during the day to network with other builders – what a great way to share your craft!

For those who have built custom rods before - please bring a few along to display your work, we’ll have racks set up to display all the works of art - it is always a learning experience to see what other folks have designed. During the workshop the last several years we’ve had visitors here from as many as 6 or 7 states. Hope to see you here.

For location you can click on this link for either a satellite view or a map: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=217452777252840541028.0004bee7249aea224c3e2&msa=0&ll=42.082697%2C-91.764486&spn=0.001439%2C0.002401

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Long Bow Building Workshop, Central City IA 6/21-22

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Saturday, June 21 - 22, 2014

Pinicon Ridge County Park near Central City

Over time, many types of building skills have been lost to modern manufacturing. A skill that is still used today, as it has been for generations, is bow building. If you have an interest in building your own longbow with the help of an experienced instructor, this is your chance. Gene Winter has been building bows for many years and will be sharing his skill with workshop participants on Saturday, June 21, and Sunday, June 22 from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. each day. The workshop will be held at Riverside Shelter in Pinicon Ridge Park near Central City.

Workshop cost is $220 per person which includes one stave. Additional staves may be purchased for an additional cost. Pre-registration by June 18th is required, as class size is limited. For more information or to pre-register, contact Chuck at 892-6485.

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Tri-state Rodbuilders Workshop 3/29 near Dubuque, IA

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Tri-state Rodbuilders workshop in Peosta March 29, 9-4!

Held at the Swiss Valley Nature Center – 13606 Swiss Valley Rd – Peosta, IA 52068.

Join the fun as the traveling fishing rod building event returns to its roots near Dubuque. If you have been to the workshop at Wickiup Hill you realize what a great learning experience these events can be for those interested in building custom rods. We should have a good line up and should cover quite a few topics. Ed Karwacki will be presenting a demonstration on dying wood handles, Al Engling will be doing a presentation on Butt Cap Inserts, Mark Blabaum will be presenting inlaying objects into grips with casting resin. Andy Wolfram will be presenting skinning foam cores with carbon fiber. I may have one more presenter on Morton Guide Placement, but haven’t verified that. Scott Kleppe will have American Tackle prizes and Microwave Guide set ups for several complete kits to give away. The presentations will benefit builders of all skill levels from beginners to professionals.

Please send an RSVP to Mark Blabaum @ Hellsangler@live.com or let us know here on the Tri-State Rod Builders Facebook page if you will be attending, to plan ahead for food or to contact us for more information. The workshop is free – goodwill donations accepted for lunch. Bill Pulk from Midwest Rod and Reel will be there to sell components, also if you would like to place an order with Bill, he’s offering a 10% discount and will bring the components to the gathering saving you shipping. You can contact Bill at Bill@midwestrodandreel.com or you can call him at 612-720-5268. Bill’s web site is http://www.midwestrodandreel.com/ .

I’d like to also offer a table or two for attendees to bring some of your unused or unwanted components to swap or sell, I’d like to run that through the lunch hour. I’m providing lunch and will be accepting a goodwill donation for the food. There is no admission and the day is free to any that would like to attend, please RSVP to let me know how much food to bring.

I’m planning on opening the doors at 9:00 am for a meet and greet and will start off the presenters at 9:30.

Swiss Valley Nature Center 13606 Swiss Valley Road - Google Maps


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Fall Walleye Fishing

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Fall Walleye Fishing, Fall Fishing
Article by guest poster: Cody Brown

While hunting and steelhead fishing takes the prime interest of many outdoorsmen in the fall, for me fall is walleye time. As any die hard angler will tell you fall is definitely a time to get out on the water. All species of fish are on overdrive when it comes to feeding this time of year. The reason being is that fish are building up their fat reserves for winter, this is no different with the elusive Walleye. With this happening those who are willing to brave the weather and sacrifice some sleep have a great opportunity at some Walleye.

I like to get out just before sun down to as late as 2 or 3am and possibly even sunup if I’m feeling adventurous. Just being out on the water will not fill the live well, Walleye are very structure oriented fish so your first task should be to locate any possible fish holding structure. This can be rip rap shorelines, sunken islands, drop offs, and many other types of structure. My preference in the fall usually focuses on rocky areas and especially rocky windblown points. The reason being, that this is the only consistent type of hiding structure readily available this time of year for bait fish and other food sources. By this time of year weeds that would have served as a home for these food sources earlier have now died off pushing them into the rocks.

Now that we have found our structure we must now select a bait or lure to use. As most Walleye fisherman will tell say it is hard to beat a jig. I am a big believer in Northland Fishing Tackle Jigs and use them religiously. I usually use the Northland Fireball jig with a bigger profile artificial such as a 4″ Gulp minnow. With a jig I use a snap jigging approach which consists of simply popping the jig forward on a retrieve or troll. If your not that into jig fishing you can also try shad style Crankbaits or Stickbaits. Just remember natural looking baits for clear water and bright baits for dirtier water. With shad style baits its hard to beat a traditional shad rap size 5 or 7 and a Salmo Hornet. These two lures alone have contributed to many tournament wins in national walleye circuits. For stickbaits I prefer Storm Lures Thunderstick Jr’s, #9/#11 Rapala Minnows, and #12 Rapala Husky Jerks. These baits work good for me year round. Whether you choose a shad style Crankbait or a Stickbait both lures work great casted or trolled. If trolling shoot for a speed anywhere from 1.5-3 mph. You may find that on certain days you may need to go faster or slower than these speeds. Also at night you might want to consider using planer boards to reduce scaring fish if fishing shallow. If casting switch up retrieves until you get something to work. Anything from a simple retrieve to a stop and go retrieve can work.

These are by no means the only ways to catch Walleye this time of year and anglers should experiment as much as possible. However you decide to go about fall Walleye fishing always remember the guy out fishing always catches more than the guy sitting at home!

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Winter Urban Trout Stock - Lake Petocka

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What: The Iowa DNR will be stocking the lake with 1,500 trout
When: January, 25th
Time: Stocking will be between 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Where: Lake Petocka

Lunch will be served to the first 225! First come first serve.

Bring the family out for fish, food, and fun!!!

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