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Fishing fun: A gift from the outdoors

September 17, 2011
By GARRY BRANDENBURG , Times-Republican

TROUT had better head for the hide when these ladies pull out their fly rods or open face spinning gear. For Jo Otta, who has lived on a farm since 1951, fishing or hunting has been just one of the things held in high priority. So it was natural to teach the appreciation for natural resources to a new generation.

The mother/daughter team do not fish side-by-side. Instead, they keep discrete distances from each other as they send a dry fly upstream and let it drift down over the rocks and eddies. The other tackle they use are open faced spinning rigs with 4 pound test line baited with a small piece of night crawler on a number 8 or 10 hook. Jo's favorite streams are North Bear, Waterloo and Buck. Kathy prefers Paint and North Bear.

As today's photo can attest, trout must find the baits worth going after. A nice supper of fried trout will make this mother/daughter combo sleep well indeed.

Article Photos

Look out trout when this mother/daughter duo set their goal to test the waters of northeast Iowa streams. At left is Jo Otta, 89, and her daughter Kathy Knickerbocker. They have had 30 consecutive years of fishing together in all the trout streams of Iowa. Jo Otta instilled a love for fishing and nature for Kathy at an early age. The benefits of time spent outdoors has paid off well in this friendly family competition. Jo is the aunt of Caralee Hutchens, of Marshalltown.

For an 89-year-old lady of the land, Jo has also hunted deer, elk and antelope in Wyoming.In Iowa she has taken rabbits and squirrels. What the land has given back to her and all her apprentices over time worth much more in a memory book full of great times spent outdoors. Trout can do that. That's nice.


Other local fishermen did their thing by traveling to the 2011 "Iowa Connections" Walley Derby July 22 through the 24 at Kettle Falls Lodge, Halley's Camp in Ontario, Canada. All the arrangements are made by Denny Baker of St. Anthony. During this annual event, the fun of fishing and friendly competition is part of the experience. The first place team this year turned out to be Larry McKibben, Luke McKibben, Marvin Ozinga, Gary Harrington, Craig Torgeson and C.T. Haesemeyer. If any of the readers of this column are interested in learning more about the Iowa Connections Walleye Derby, do call Denny Baker or email him at Hint: Plan ahead for this excellent opportunity to enjoy good people and great fishing.


Here are some quotes on fishing worth contemplating. First, "The only thing better than fishing with new friends is fishing with old friends." Second, "Done properly, angling is not so much a sport as a way of life." Third, "If fishing were just a sport, there would not be more books written about it than any other sport." And lastly today, " I am a great admirer of spectator sports, especially on television: It keeps the riffraff off the trout streams."

These statements from life's lessons learned while fishing are from Paul Quinnett, author of the book Fishing Lessons - Insights, Fun and Philosophy from a Passionate Angler. His stories are true, easy to read and full of wit and wisdom. Every fisherperson should have this book in their personal library.


Walleye fishermen may not have to go to Canada or northern Minnesota. Try the local facility Sand Lake. Some may call this a 'sleeper' lake in the sense that it may not be expected to produce big walleye. Well, think again. Sand Lake has given up several nice specimens this year. During many past years, DNR fisheries personnel have made available stockings of walleye fry and small fingerlings. Some of those walleye have overcome the obstacles that high water, time and other predator fish. Now the big walleye are top predators in their watery world.


Wildlife Art can be incredibly accurate. To see some of the best of what artists can portray on canvas, check out today and tomorrow Larry Zach's 2011 Open House. One of Iowa's leading wildlife painters, Zach's has the talent to render true to life representations of the critters that share their world with us. His studio is at 3079 NW 75th Place, Ankeny. Saturday's hours for the open house are 10 a.m. until 8 pm. Sunday hours are 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

There will be several Zach art works up for auction at the Oct. 8 PHEASANTS FOREVER BANQUET. The Marshall County Chapter of PF will host the banquet, meal, games and auction at the Central Iowa Fairgrounds activity building beginning at 5 p.m. Adult advance tickets are $55 which includes a membership to national PF. Questions, donations or volunteer options can be addressed to Steve Armstrong at 641-752-8322.


This weekend is the opener for the first DEER SEASONS of 2011. The youth season and the disabled hunter who qualifies can go after the crafty whitetail. Each youth must be accompanied by an adult mentor who has a valid small game hunting license and associated habitat fee. Proper mentoring will help a young boy or girl learn the correct way to hunt with safety being the priority, enjoying time outdoors is next on the list and taking a deer (if it should happen) as the final point.

In 2010, Iowa youth deer hunters numbered 8,550. Together with 230 disabled hunters, they took 3,200 deer out of the population. Hunters in these seasons can use bow or firearm. If it is a firearm, blaze orange vests (or more) must be worn. Mentors are urged to be patient with young hunters who must learn that wildlife live on a schedule of their own primarily driven by food. One may have to wait all day near a food source before a deer presents itself. Nature is not a quick action video game.


PRAIRIE HERITAGE DAY activities are next weekend, Sept. 24, at the Grimes Farm and Conservation Center. The afternoon activities begin at 2 p.m. and last until 5 p.m. Celebrate Oktemberfest and participate in pioneer crafts and skills, candle dipping, rope making, cider pressing, buffalo chip throwing contests and more.Walk through tall grass prairie, look for migrating monarch butterflies, and just enjoy the flowers and foliage of prairie as it once existed over 85 percent of Iowa's landscape. If you can volunteer to assist, call 752-5490 first thing Monday morning. Thanks.


Sept.28, at GRAMMER GROVE, a HAWK WATCH will be hosted from 10 a.m. until noon. Bring your own lawn chair, binoculars and a bird book. Guides will help assist viewers with the correct identification tricks of the trade to properly identify raptors using the Iowa River valley.


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.



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