I shoulda took a
picture of the joint while I was there. Duh.
Introduction: It took decades for the Bass
Pro franchise to make its way to Des Moines -- actually, Altoona,
where we keep our race track and casino. (We just have Bingo within
our city limits). Anyway, Bass Pro provides an excellent display of
Iowa fishes in a variety of species and sizes. You can bowl, eat
(choice clam chowder, chips, and salsa), and stroll their nearly endless
aisles of merchandise (of course, I had to buy some) before you find your
way to their fish display -- complete with a very impressive waterfall.
Without further ado, here's most of their fish ranked in order of angler
preference. Warning: Your
personal preference may differ. Second
Warning: Some of my IDs may not hold up to close scrutiny.
One of the primitive air-breathing Iowa fishes -- the bowfin (also called dogfish)
-- Amia calva.
These guys can survive in water that kills normal fish. They are
pretty AND obnoxious predators.
At one time we could find these in the aquarium trade. They're showing
One of the Iowa gars (probably shortnose) --also known as eagle bait.
They accumulat beneath killer spillways and eat the wounded fish that spill
over. Anglers hate them. Some (siisies) fear them. You can
find these in the aquarium trade -- impressive display fish. They will
bite you and you won't like it.
2-foot drum. He makes a weird drumming noise with his air bladder.
He's also known as a croaker. Not too many people will eat one.
Fun to catch.
One of the species of buffalo fish that live in Iowa. You can see them
skimming the surface on hot August days. Archers love them. They
are tasty. Carp have nearly driven out this Iowa sucker fish.
In case you didn't know it, suckers have soft rays in their fins.
Minnow rays are hard. "Minnow" is most often used to denote bait fish
or any other fish you buy by the dozen.
3-foot carp -- the minnow that has mostly supplanted out native buffalo
sucker. They really are edible. Commercial fishermen net and
sell thousands of tons of carp from the Mississippi River.
Carp get a bad rap because they constantly roil the bottom searching for
anything to eat. They're why much of Iowa's waters are always on the
murky side. The Fish & Game Department brought them to the U.S.
And now there are other species of carp in the Mississippi and Missouri
River which are actually worse. The original carp make a great sport
fish. They fight harder than bass and grow larger (Iowa record 77
pounds, 55 inches).
3-foot catfish that I can't identify. Let me know if you can.
Definitely not a bullhead, way too big. Not a flathead because its
head is not flat.
Maybe it's a channel catfish (Iowa record 38 pounds, 40 inches) or blue
catfish (Iowa record 101 pounds, 53 inches). However, its tail doesn't
look forked. Minnesotans think Iowans are crazy for eating catfish.
Right, lots of them eat lutefisk -- cod that's been made into shoe leather.
Walleyes sport that weird looking eyeball. Very highly regarded sport
fish. Our Department of Natural Resources artificially breeds then
stocks these guys all over the state. Often called "walleyed pike,"
they're not really pikes. They're perch. The Culvers chain sells
lots of walleye filets. Our local Izaak Walton League provides a
walleye menu on a monthly basis. Very tasty.
Saugers look like Walleyes. They're much smaller. They're also a
perch. They do not have that little white trim at the bottom tip of
their tails. I can't tell them apart. And there's a saugeye
which is a cross between the two.
2-foot northern pike (Iowa record 25 pounds, 45 inches), a highly regarded
sport fish. You don't find them in our area -- even though were on the
north side of Des Moines. You have to go way up north to find them in
Iowa -- thus the name northern pike..
18-icnch largemouth bass. For some reason, most anglers consider these
great sports fish. They even buy special "bass boats" to fish for
them. They wil strike at the syupidest looking wooden baits.
They're sort f fun to catch but fight only a fraction as hard as a carp.
They are the largest sunfish.
Largemouth bass tend to develop the traditional beer belly whish could
explain part of their popularity.
This guy looks better.
Foot-long black crappie, another highly regarded member of the sunfish
family. Crappie is a stupid way to spell croppie. So I think
I'll start spelling it croppie from now on.
16-inch "striped bass." Striped bass are actually an ocean fish.
They have been crossed with white bass to make "wipers" (Iowa record 19
pounds, 33 inches). Here's an ocean fish capable of living and
breeding in freshwater. Vast schools of these true bass (not sunfish)
traverse our Des Moines River. When they begin a feeding frenzy, they
will take any bait or piece of tinfoil flipped into the water. When
they're "running," anglers go nuts also.
Last Words: Well, we didn't see
all our Iowa fishes. We did however see a nice selection of well cared
for Fish. Eventually I'll get around to talking to some of the people
behind the scenes. More later. LA
of Sixth & Euclid Avenues
Moines, IA 50313