Vogel State Park On My Mind

Sharing the same name I knew that fate would one day find us within driving distance of Vogel State Park and when that day arrived, the park did not disappoint.

Vogel State Park On My Mind © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Vogel State Park On My Mind © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As we entered Vogel State Park from US Highways 19/129, 22-acre Lake Trahlyta opened to the right, a fitting memorial to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that both dammed the lake and built the park. Georgia’s poet laureate, Bryon Herbert Reece, was born in a cabin on the land where Lake Trahlyta now sits.

In 1929, Augustus Vogel and Fred Vogel Jr. donated nearly 259 acres to the state, much of it still encompassed within the 233-acres within Vogel State Park. At the start of the 20th century the Vogels set up a lumber mill on the site of present-day state park to harvest oak trees, a major source of tannic acid for their leather company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Vogel State Park is in the heart of north Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains, 11 miles south of Blairsville.

One of Georgia’s oldest and most beloved state parks, Vogel is located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Driving from the south, visitors pass through Neel Gap, a beautiful mountain pass near Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.

Vogel State Park On My Mind © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Vogel State Park On My Mind © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vogel State Park has been an escape of families for generations. Returning soldiers following World War II found Vogel an ideal vacation spot to renew family relationships. Grandchildren of these early visitors have continued the tradition. Vogel offers a slower pace in these fast-paced times.

At 2,500 feet elevation Vogel State Park maintains a cool evening temperature even in the dog days of summer, making this a great stop for camping. The park provide a range of overnight accommodations including 56 campsites with electric service suitable for RVs up to 40 feet in length, 22 tent/pop-up campsites, 14 tent-only walk-in campsites, and 34 cottages. All accommodations are available for reservation.

A lake for swimming and boating, and miles of hiking trails adjacent to the famous Appalachian Trail offer something for everyone. The park’s 22-acre lake is open to non-motorized boats, and during summer, visitors can cool off at the mountain-view beach.

The park offers 17 miles of hiking trails from easy to strenuous. Hikers can choose from a variety of trails, including the popular 4-mile Bear Hair Gap loop, an easy lake loop that leads to Trahlyta Falls, and the challenging 13-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail.

Vogel State Park On My Mind © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Vogel State Park On My Mind © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An annual wildflower pilgrimage is a favorite time for those who want to see a variety of spring wildflowers. This mid-April event provides an ideal opportunity for wildflower lovers to enjoy a casual walk with a naturalist and search for the hidden beauty of the forest floor.

Constructed by the CCC during the depression years of the 1930s, Vogel’s park rustic architecture harkens back to a simpler time. The CCC history runs deep through the park. A museum recognizing the efforts of the greatest generation of natural resource workers.

The park hosts an annual CCC reunion of men who actually worked as President Roosevelt’s Tree Army soldiers. They have tales to tell of planting trees, fighting fire, building dams and parks, and other experiences that some say were the best days of their lives. This program is held in May. Everyone is welcome to attend this fascinating event.

Wildlife viewing at Vogel is a favorite pastime. There are deer, black bear, birds, and smaller creatures, but fishing is one of the more popular activities. The park hosts an annual Kids Fishing Rodeo the second Saturday of June. Youngsters 12 and under have the opportunity to fish for rainbow trout in Wolf Creek. Wildlife Resources Fisheries stock Wolf Creek with hundreds of trout which pretty much guarantees a catch for each child present.

Every Saturday evening during the summer, musicians and groups play on the theater over the lake. What better way to experience a summer evening than with a cool breeze on your face and beautiful music.

Vogel State Park On My Mind © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Vogel State Park On My Mind © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Appalachian Mountains wouldn’t have the character they do, were it not for the music that has emanated from the hollows. September 12 (2015) is when Vogel hosts its 12th annual Mountain Music Festival. This all-day event has bluegrass, country, gospel, and mountain musicians playing on the lake shore. Crafters will also display their handmade wares in much the same way they would have done in an earlier time. Concessions will be provided by Vogel volunteers.

Vogel is fun year round but particularly popular during the fall when the Blue Ridge Mountains transform into a rolling blanket of red, yellow, and gold leaves.

Worth Pondering…

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through

Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.

Georgia, Georgia, a song of you

Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines

—words by Stuart Gorrell and music by Hoagy Carmichael

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Angel Fire RV Resort Now Open

Angel Fire Resort, located in the Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico, has opened its RV resort for its first summer season. The new state-of-the-art RV resort offers guests a scenic 35-acre location to camp and play.

Angel-fire-entrance-slider-960x360Some places start with RVs and call it a resort. Angel Fire started with the resort and added the RVs. The luxury resort, constructed on mountain meadowland at the foot of Carson National Forest, is now open with 102 RV spaces and will grow to offer 325 spaces in later phases.

The new RV resort includes a well-appointed private clubhouse, paved roads, fully concreted, over-sized spaces with easy pull-through access, and 30/50-amp electrical pedestals, DirecTV access, bathrooms, showers and laundry facilities, convenient Wi-Fi access and Jacuzzis, a putting green, horseshoes, a dog park and more.

With frontage access to U.S. Highway 64, the multi-million dollar resort will offer guests access to golf, fine dining, horseback riding, a zipline adventure tour, fishing and a mountain full of outdoor activities.

Additionally the resort is located on the Enchanted Circle and is in close proximity to world-class fishing in Cimarron Canyon and Eagle Nest State Park, guided hunting, and ATV trails. Guests also have access to Carson National Forest for biking and hiking.

The resort’s popular Bike Park, ranked No. 1 Bike Park in the Southwest for the second year in a row, has nearly double its trail access to more than 100 miles making it one of the largest bike parks in the North America. Additionally, the bike park is launching a new Global Gravity Season Pass—which allows season pass holders from any bike park in the world to purchase a single day pass for half price.

Entrace to Angel Fire RV Resort
Entrace to Angel Fire RV Resort

The resort will open a fully stocked fly fishing lake at the summit and offer fishing camps, lessons, and rental equipment. The resort is already home to New Mexico’s largest zipline tour, an 18-hole PGA championship golf course, and mountain lodge.

Continuing to build on its reputation as one of the largest world-class mountain biking destinations in the country, the Angel Fire Bike Park’s goal is to engage more beginners and intermediates to the sport and expand its cross-country trail network throughout the Angel Fire region and nearby Carson National Forest.

The park will also expand its new blue trail, Devinci’s Code, by two additional miles and will open to the public at the 5th annual Gravity Games and Bikes, Blues and Brews Festival, happening over Labor Day weekend. Rounding out the improvements for the park bike carriers have been added to the Chile Express chairlift for an easier transport to the summit.

A year in the making, the resort will officially open a fully stocked, fly fishing haven at the summit July 1. Summit Lake will be home to colorful Rainbow Trout and will host a series of fly fishing clinics, private lessons, and full rental equipment.

The resort is continuing to improve on its ever-popular Rocky Mountain Zipline Adventure Tour, which takes thrill-seekers through multiple zipline stages at the summit. The tour is the second highest elevation zipline tour in the United States and the largest in New Mexico.

Angel-Fire-ResortThe six-segment tour opened in 2012 and has been so popular that the resort is now adding additional early-morning tour times to give adrenaline seekers more opportunity to fly 200 feet high above the forest floor.

A zipline tour connects multiple ziplines of varying lengths and descents. The adventure begins with an introductory zipline of only 100 feet and works up to the Super Zipline, which carries guests on a 1,600-foot cable 200 feet above the forest floor.

Situated at 8,600 feet elevation, Angel Fire Resort’s high-altitude, 18-hole Championship golf is rated as one of the top five courses in New Mexico by Golf America, the course winds through two unspoiled canyons of aspen and spruce high up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Located at Olympic Park just south of the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort on Highway 434, the Angel Fire Resort Tennis Center includes six hard courts. Clinics, lessons, tournaments, and weekly play are available and start in June.

Details

AngelFireResortAngel Fire RV Resort

Some places start with RVs and call it a resort. Angel Fire is starting with the resort and adding the RVs.

Rates: $45 (May 1-June 30; October 18-December 10); $55 (July 1-October 17)

Pet Policy: Pet Friendly; Dog Park on site; 2 pets maximum on a 6-foot leash at all times: do not leave your pets unattended

Location: In Angel Fire, New Mexico in the Northeast corner of the state

Address: 10 Miller Lane, Angel Fire, NM 87710

Directions: From Taos, 24 miles east via US-64 & North Angel Fire Road

Phone: (844) 218-4107

Website: www.angelfireresort.com

Worth Pondering…

If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life.

—Georgia O’Keeffe

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America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016

Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, in partnership with noted conservationists from around the world, introduced plans for America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri.

America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016
America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016

Envisioned as the most elaborate conservation attraction of its kind for fish and wildlife conservation, America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium is scheduled to open in spring 2016.

The 315,000-square-foot educational experience will consist of multiple thematic attractions and exhibits on a scale unlike anything else in the world.

Anchored by an all-new world-class aquarium, the massive facility brings together a variety of opportunities for visitors of all ages to engage with nature like never before, according to a news release from the organization. Through immersive environments and incredible live animal habitats, the experience aims to showcase the beauty of wildlife while celebrating the critical role hunters and anglers play in wildlife conservation by honoring past accomplishments and ongoing efforts.

“Responsible hunters and anglers are often the unsung heroes in conservation despite playing a significant role,” said Johnny Morris, the visionary behind the experience.

“Our vision is to create a world-class experience that celebrates hunting, fishing, and conservation in Springfield where half of the U.S. population lives within a day’s drive.”

America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016
America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016

When fully realized, the attraction will consist of an all-new 1.3-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds in an immersive tour through the world’s marine habitats; a wildlife museum that brings visitors eye-to-eye with amazing mammal specimens from North America, Africa and the Arctic; and a conservation education center for youth programs, conservation groups and events.

Construction on the project—funded entirely by private dollars, primarily from the nonprofit Johnny Morris Foundation—is underway with a grand opening anticipated in spring 2016.

Specific components include:

All New Aquarium Adventure & Fishing Heritage Hall: The centerpiece is an entirely new world-class aquarium adventure designed by renowned aquarium architect Michael Olesak that plunges guests into a thrilling tour of the world’s oceans, lakes, and streams, bringing them eye-to-eye with more than 35,000 animals.

America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016
America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016

New Fishing Heritage Hall: Visitors will first enter the 60,000-square-foot entry hall, home to a dramatic 300,000-gallon “open ocean” habitat teeming with saltwater marine life including mahi-mahi.

New Aquarium Adventure: Designed to transport visitors to some of the world’s greatest undersea environments, visitors will discover an elaborate trail system that winds in and around marine habitats teeming with life, including a sunken shipwreck, colorful coral reefs, tropical coasts, underwater caves, steamy rainforests, freshwater swamps and more.

New International Fishing Hall of Fame: The new International Game Fish Association Fishing Hall of Fame will highlight some of the sport’s most accomplished men and women through interactive exhibits, personal artifacts and recreated replicas of world-record fish mounts from both freshwater and saltwater species.

All-New Wildlife Museum & Hunting Heritage Hall: Walk amongst the largest land mammals on earth, go eye-to-eye with the Arctic’s top predator and discover some of the most spectacular game animals on the planet in this sprawling 50,000-square-foot showcase of amazing mammals from around the world.

Hunting Heritage Hall: Meticulously recreated lifelike environments will educate visitors about the importance of conserving the icons of the animal kingdom.

Boone & Crockett Club’s World-famous National Collection of Heads & Horns: Experience a part of history through more than 40 historically significant North American big game mammals that originally helped bring conservation to the forefront of public awareness in America when it debuted at New York’s Bronx Zoo in 1922.

America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016
America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016

John A. & Genny Morris Conservation Education Center: The conservation leaders of today and tomorrow already gather together at the completed 50,000-square-foot Conservation Education Center, which connects to the Museum facility.

The Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility School: A comprehensive outdoor learning school operated in partnership with Springfield Public Schools, Missouri Department of Conservation, and Bass Pro Shops, is a national model for outdoors education.

National Outdoor Recreation & Conservation School: Which runs outdoor conservation education programs for families across Missouri.

Elaborate Banquet Spaces: With a signature wilderness atmosphere are available for national conservation organizations as well as local community groups throughout the year.

Additional Conservation Partnerships

AmericasWildlifeMuseumAquariumAdditional Conservation Partnerships include the National Archery Hall of Fame and the NRA Sporting Arms Museum which complements its neighbor, Bass Pro Shops’ iconic flagship store. Known as the “Grandaddy” of all Bass Pro Shops locations, this is the largest Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, and the number one tourist attraction in Missouri, attracting four million sportsman and outdoors enthusiasts each year as Missouri’s most popular tourist destination.

Worth Pondering…

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

—Aristotle

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4 More Ice Fishing RVs

Ice fishing can be whatever you want it to be.

Salem Ice Cabin
The Forest River Salem Ice Cabin travel trailer is your little fishing cabin oasis just waiting for an adventure.

You can sit in comfort in a ice fishing RV all day waiting for a fish to come by. The only time you need to go outside is when you want to move to a new area.

Or you can sit on a pail, moving whenever your instincts tell you it’s time to move.

Following are four manufactures of ice fishing houses.

Salem Ice Cabin

Choose one of six models each with plenty of room to move about in while you wait for the big one. With six fishing holes in each model there should be plenty of action. You’ll even have a place to fry up a few when you get hungry on the 3-burner range with large oven.

Salem Ice Cabins range from 20 feet 5 inches to 24 feet 1 inch.

The Salem Ice Fish House is manufactured by Forest River, a Berkshire Hathaway company.

Website: www.forestriverinc.com

Ice fish in the comfort of a True North Ice Lodge
Ice fish in the comfort of a True North Ice Lodge

True North Ice Lodge

Ice fish in the comfort of a True North Ice Lodge. Choose one of six models each with plenty of room to move about in while you wait for the big one. With six fishing holes in each model (one model offers eight fishing holes) there should be plenty of action. You’ll even have a place to fry up a few when you get hungry on the 3-burner range with large oven.

With the touch of a few switches, the True North Ice Lodge can be lowered to the ice making your ice fishing experience a breeze. Salem Ice Cabins range from 20 feet 5 inches to 24 feet 1 inch.

The True North Ice Lodge is manufactured by Forest River, a Berkshire Hathaway company.

Website: www.forestriverinc.com

Ice Haven

Ice Haven from Gulf Stream Coach
Ice Haven from Gulf Stream Coach

You know the fish are out there. Now you can get to them while staying warm, sheltered, and comfortable in an Ice Haven from Gulf Stream Coach. Rugged construction, winter-weather insulation, a powerful furnace, a galley, and bunks mean no fish is safe.

The Ice Haven 20FH comes in a length of 25 feet 1 inch with a GVWR of 5,500 pounds. Standard features include a 20,000 BTU furnace, three-burner range with oven, and six fishing holes.

The Ice Haven is manufactured by Gulf Stream Coach.

Website: www.gulfstreamrvtrailers.com

Ice Seeker

Ice Seeker is a hard shell fish house that is fast and easy to set up and is built to fit your needs, whether it's for fishing, hunting, or camping.
Ice Seeker is a hard shell fish house that is fast and easy to set up and is built to fit your needs, whether it’s for fishing, hunting, or camping.

Ice Seeker is a hard shell fish house that is fast and easy to set up and is built to fit your needs, whether it’s for fishing, hunting, or camping. Built with every luxury you need for solitary use or fishing with all your friends.

The Ice Seeker is available in two floor plans with an exterior length of 20 feet 2 inches and 21 feet 8 inches. Standard features an 18,000 BTU furnace, three-burner range top with oven, and five ice fishing holes.

The Ice Seeker is manufactured by Crossroads RV.

Website: www.crossroadsrv.com

Please Note: This article is part of an on-going series on ice fishing and ice fish houses.

Worth Pondering…

‘Twas Night Before Christmas – Ice Fishing Version

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the ice fishing shelter,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a minnow;
The rods were all sitting by the ice holes with care,
In hopes that a walleye soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their parkas,
While visions of crappies danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my fur cap,
Had just got to fishing a new spot on the map,
When down through the hole my bobber plunged like a stone,
I grabbed for the rod and heard my reel groan.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a 30 inch walleye, hooked in the rear,
Since he was foul hooked he was lively and quick,
I knew a good capture would be a real trick.
I stuck in my hand, and pulled up the fish,
I finally had gotten my holiday wish.
He was golden in color, from his head to his tail,
We snapped a quick photo, he’s not bound for the pail.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the spot on his tail was as white as the snow;
The end of my thumb he held tight in his teeth,
It hurt quite a bit and I let out a shriek.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
I lowered him back to the hole for release,
And he slid from my hands as if he’d been greased.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he swam out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and keep your lines tight.”

—Tom Uehling, 2008

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Top 3 Ice Fishing RVs

Ice fishing is different things to different people. Some folks are out there with very serious intentions of catching fish, as many as possible.

That's the fun part of ice fishing: It can be whatever you want it to be.
That’s the fun part of ice fishing: It can be whatever you want it to be.

Other folks like the social aspect of ice fishing. They enjoy sitting in a warm shelter and generally just enjoying time outdoors with friends and family. For these folks an ice fishing house might be more to their liking. You walk in, light the heater, and before long you’re in shirt sleeves. That’s fun stuff.

And then there are those truly hardy anglers who sit on a pail out in the open. These folks like to travel light. They’ll pop a bunch of holes, then travel from hole to hole with their bucket, a depth finder, and a rod. These folks sit at a hole for a few minutes watching their depth finder closely.  If they see a fish, they’ll sit on the hole until it bites or moves on.  If no fish are seen in a few minutes, it’s off to the next hole. In the course of a day, these anglers catch a lot of fish.

That’s the fun part of ice fishing: It can be whatever you want it to be.

You can sit in comfort in a ice fishing cabin all day waiting for a fish to come by. The only time you need to go outside is when you want to move to a new area.

Or you can sit on a pail, moving whenever your instincts tell you it’s time to move.

Following are three manufactures of ice fishing houses with a history of building quality ice fishing RVs.

Ice Castle Fish Houses is the largest manufacturer of premium Portable Ice Fish Houses.
Ice Castle Fish Houses is the largest manufacturer of premium Portable Ice Fish Houses.

Ice Castle Fish House

Based in Montevideo, Minnesota since 1993, Ice Castle Fish House is the largest manufacturer of premium Portable Ice Fish Houses.

The road licensed Ice Fish House, featuring deluxe double pulley suspension with retractable wheels can be used year round. Use as a Hunting shack in the fall or use as a trailer for hauling snowmobiles, four wheelers, motorcycles and other toys in the winter, spring, and summer months.

Their top-end model is the luxurious King’s Castle, which stretches 8 by 30 feet (with a V-shaped front for extra space) and has a suggested retail price of $36,250. The smallest, most spartan model—the Scout—sells for just under $5,000.

Address: 3134 E. Highway 7 – P.O. Box 326, Montevideo, MN 56265

Phone: (320) 269-5428 or (877) 269-542 (toll free)

Website: www.icecastlefh.com

Custom Cottage
A Custom Cottage is a multi-season mobile shelter for ice fishing, hunting, camping, construction sites, overflow visitors, and more.

Custom Cottages

A Custom Cottage is a multi-season mobile shelter for ice fishing, hunting, camping, construction sites, overflow visitors, and more. The objective of Custom Cottages is to provide one shelter that can be used for all of these pursuits. Constructed with aluminum alloy frames and shells, Custom Cottages provide a strong, lightweight, and easy-to-move solution any time there’s a need for a comfortable mobile shelter.

Custom Cottages manufactures a variety of mobile cottages in varying lengths.

Address: 3005 East 4th Avenue, Shakopee, MN 55379

Phone: (612) 221-3214

Website: www.customcottagesinc.com

Canvas By The Stitch

Canvas by the Stitch is a custom canvas and upholstery design shop located in Wisconsin’s great north woods at Webster.
Canvas by the Stitch is a custom canvas and upholstery design shop located in Wisconsin’s great north woods at Webster.

Canvas by the Stitch is a custom canvas and upholstery design shop located in Wisconsin’s great north woods at Webster. They are the developers of the Original All Season Sports Trailer.

Weighing a mere 900 pounds, it will get you out on that ice earlier in the season and keep you there longer. And an optional foam coating under the flooring allows it to float, a potential safety measure for those venturing onto questionable ice.

Strong enough, you can pull it through the woods to reach your favorite hunting spot or ice fishing lake or fill it with your ATVs, lawn tractors, or whatever. It is rated to haul up to 2,600 pounds.

The Original All Season Sport Trailer is customizable—design it how you want it, how you need it, and how you’ll use it. Change it all up, add a door, adjust the sizes of the windows, or even add a few more, Canvas by the Stitch can do it all. The possibilities are endless.

Address: 24745 Anchor Inn Road, Webster, WI 54893

Phone: (715) 338-0391

Website: www.canvasbythestitch.com

Please Note: This article is part of an on-going series on ice fishing and ice fish houses.

Worth Pondering…

Winter giveth the fields, and the trees so old,
Their beards of icicles and snow…
—Charles duc d’Orléans, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Take Me Ice Fishing in an RV

No need to stay inside during the long winter months anticipating the annual spring thaw and another RV camping season.

Ice Seeker is a hard shell fish house that is fast and easy to set up and is built to fit your needs, whether it's for ice fishing, hunting, or camping.
Ice Seeker is a hard shell fish house that is fast and easy to set up and is built to fit your needs, whether it’s for ice fishing, hunting, or camping.

Be adventurous, get outside, and try fishing in a whole new way—through the ice—in an RV that doubles as an ice fishing house.

Ice fishing is more than just a way to fill the long days of winter. Ice fishing is a sub-culture and there is a strong camaraderie among the anglers.

It’s a chance to breathe the cool, clean winter air, to spend quiet time outdoors with family and friends, and to relax and collect one’s thoughts away from the hustle and bustle of a busy world.

If the winter’s subfreezing temperatures make you dream of dropping a line in the ice, there’s no need to spend all your time in the elements.

Ice fishing was unheard of in the North Country until the late 1800s. In 1888, Sven Stevenson built a cabin on a hill overlooking Minnesota’s Lake Minnewaska. It was a very wet fall and the hill had suffered a few mud slides. While the details are sketchy, it appears after a heavy January snowfall, Sven’s outhouse and a sizable chunk of frozen dirt slid down the hill and out onto Lake Minnewaska—all while Sven was inside doing his business.

Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV
Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV

The friction from all that frozen dirt sliding across the ice created enough heat to open up a small hole in the ice. Amazingly, the outhouse ended up right over the top of it. Sven, of course, wasn’t sure what was going on but when things settled down, he stood up, looked through the hole and saw fish swimming below the outhouse.

Being a fanatic angler, Sven ran to the cabin, grabbed his fishing pole, ran back to the outhouse and lowered some bait into the hole. It wasn’t long before a crowd gathered to see what Sven was up to.

A few days later, other area residents pushed outhouses onto the lake and a small community was born.

Many ice fishing pioneers built additions onto their outhouses and even put in wood stoves and a week’s worth of food so they could enjoy extended periods away from home. This tradition is still practiced today.

Finally spring arrived and the community of outhouses was pulled away by horses (equipped with special ice-gripping horse shoes). Sven’s outhouse was not removed in time and plunged through the thinning ice on April 12, 1889. The Minnesota Historical Society attempted to recover the structure in 1975 but, despite weeks of searching with a one-man submarine, failed.

Ice Haven
The Ice Haven 20FH showing storage area, folding game table, bay window, overhead bunk, and rubberized floor with 6 fishing holes.

Things have come a long way since Sven’s first Minnesota ice fishing house. Today, most have a heat source, television, satellite dish, reclining chairs, bunk beds, rustic dining table and chairs, carpet, paneling, and in a few rare cases, mortgage.

Ice fish houses are a great way to stay sheltered from the cold and spend time with family and friends while you wait on your tip-ups.

What began as an experiment in mobile fishing houses built on retractable wheels has blossomed into a business with many competing manufacturers, each seeking to upgrade winter anglers to amenities unknown to previous generations,

Ice cabins have become very popular. They’re made to RV specifications, and many are outfitted with air conditioners, so they can be used in summer as travel trailers.

Most manufactures offer a variety of models and floor plans ranging from six to 30 feet and in a price range of $3,000 to over $20,000.

Lightweight for easy maneuvering, fish houses can be towed onto the ice.

Custom Cottage
A Custom Cottage is a multi-season mobile shelter for ice fishing, hunting, camping, construction sites, overflow visitors, and more.

While some are very modest shelters providing bench seating and shelter from the elements, some fish houses come complete with all the amenities of a travel trailer, making long days on the ice more pleasant and providing refuge for overnight stays near the lake.

After a successful day on the ice, cook up the catch of the day on the stove while relaxing with friends.

Please Note: This article is part of an on-going series on ice fishing and ice fish houses.

Worth Pondering…

When ice fishing remember this rule of thumb: Thick and blue, tried and true. Thin and crispy, way too risky.

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Palo Pinto Mountains State Park: Newest State Park In Texas

In earlier reports in Vogel Talks RV, I reported that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) was proceeding with the acquisition of 3,331 acres in Palo Pinto and Stephens Counties for future development and operation as a new state park in north central Texas.

Palo Pinto Mountains State Park: Newest State Park In Texas. (Credit: strawntx.com)
Palo Pinto Mountains State Park: Newest State Park In Texas. (Credit: strawntx.com)

The newest state park, Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, is a little more than an hour west of Fort Worth, in the rolling woodland near the picturesque community of Strawn, population 700.

The new park offers a great diversity of topography, as well as a great variety of plants and wildlife.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department acquired the property for the park in October 2011, using funds from the sale of Eagle Mountain Lake State Park in Fort Worth a few years earlier. Since the sale of that property the Parks & Wildlife Department had been looking for a suitable location within easy driving distance of Fort Worth, and was fortunate that this property became available.

It was acquired with assistance from the Nature Conservancy. The state purchased the property for the price of 7.14 million dollars, or about $2,142 per acre.

Texans have yet to see the new park.

A view from Raptor's Edge in Palo Pinto Mountains State Park
A view from Raptor’s Edge in Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. (Credit: Doualy Xaykaothao/KERA News)

The property is currently completely undeveloped. This site was formerly a ranch owned by the Copeland family, and will need extensive work before it can be formally opened to the public.

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials say they need more money to add trails, campsites, and other facilities before they can open the park.

The Palo Pinto park is one of four state parks bought but never opened for the lack of funding. Besides an estimated $30 million to finish all four parks, it also would take about $1.5 million each year to operate them.

The mountains are lined with a dense forest of live oaks, post oaks, blackjack oaks, mesquite, and cedar elms. The trails will draw hikers who currently go to the Hill Country or the Arbuckle Mountains in southwest Oklahoma.

The city of Strawn is also counting on the park, negotiating to locate the front gate just west of town and draw tourists to a region halfway between Fort Worth and Abilene now known mostly for the Thurber ghost town, chicken-fried steak cafes, and landmarks along the old Bankhead Highway cross-country motoring route.

A public hearing on the park last week attracted a big crowd, and locals had lots of questions about the 4,400-acre Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, reports KERA-TV.

John Ferguson is steward of Texas' newest state park, Palo Pinto Mountains State Park near Strawn, Texas
John Ferguson is steward of Texas’ newest state park, Palo Pinto Mountains State Park near Strawn, Texas. (Credit: Doualy Xaykaothao/KERA News)

After hearing two hours of questions from his neighbors and explanations by Texas Parks and Wildlife employees, 74-year-old Shawver Abbott was pretty enthusiastic.

“This might be the greatest thing in the state of Texas here,” Abbott said.

“I don’t have a clue, but it’ll take time. If people think it’s going to happen overnight, I think they’ll be disappointed. But in time, I think, I think it will be good.”

Good, not just for nature lovers and birders, but for the local economy too, says Strawn Mayor Tye Jackson.

“It’s going to force the town to grow,” Jackson said.

“And become maybe a little more modern than it has been.”

Decades ago, Strawn was a booming ranch community, but as in many rural Texas towns, its young people left for jobs in the bigger cities. Jeff Hinkson’s family has been here for a century and a half.

Palo Pinto Mountains State Park: Newest State Park In Texas
Palo Pinto Mountains State Park: Newest State Park In Texas (Credit: strawntx.com)

Hinkson, who founded the Strawn Chamber of Commerce, said a park of this size could draw up to 150,000 visitors annually, from Dallas/Fort Worth, Abilene, Brownwood, Wichita Falls, and beyond.

Out at the park itself, John Ferguson is in his element. He’s with the state Parks Division and lives in the park. We get to Raptors Ridge, a migratory route for falcons, hawks, and other birds. The smell of the ridge, the sight of the steep cliffs, the lake and rivers, the moving clouds overwhelm him.

The park won’t be open for a few years, but in the meantime, the public can already enjoy pre-approved star-gazing nights and the occasional chance to ride on a horse on new trails.

Details

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) manages and conserves the natural and cultural resources of Texas and provides hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

From mile-high mountains, canyons, and pine forests, to Hill Country rivers and the legendary Gulf Coast, Texas has over 90 state parks that offer hiking and biking trails, canoeing and kayaking, places to fish, nature centers, and much more.

Website: www.tpwd.state.tx.us

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…
I am humbled by the forces of nature that continuously mold our great state of Texas into a beautiful landscape complete with geological diversity, flora and fauna. It is my goal as a photographer to capture that natural beauty and share it with others.

—Chase A. Fountain

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RV Camping and Fishing

It is always fishing―and RV camping­―season somewhere in the U.S. and Canada.

Recreational or sport fishing has become a popular sport and outdoor recreation activity. Pictured above is Parker Lake in southern Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Recreational or sport fishing has become a popular sport and outdoor recreation activity. Pictured above is Parker Lake in southern Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and ocean waters are filled with fish just waiting to test your skills.

Recreational or sport fishing has become a popular sport and outdoor recreation activity. Estimates indicate more than 30 million anglers over the age of 16.

Start checking your supplies, packing your tackle box, and preparing the RV. There is no better time than now for an RV camping and fishing trip.

Preparation is the key to any successful RV camping and fishing trip. To avoid that, “Oh, no, I forgot…” scenario, get into the habit of making an RV checklist when you prepare for any RV camping trip.

Consider the following when you develop your RV camping and fishing list:

  • Are you fishing saltwater or freshwater?
  • What species are you fishing for?
  • What’s the weather like?
  • What season is it?
  • Are you fishing from a boat or the bank?
Fishing (and birding) is great along the Creole Nature Trail, a National Scenic Byway, in southwestern Louisiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Fishing (and birding) is great along the Creole Nature Trail, a National Scenic Byway, in southwestern Louisiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Your RV camping and fishing checklist may include fishing supplies and tackle box, fishing vest, fishing license, sun protection (wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, bandana), coolers with ice, first aid kit, insect repellent, compass, portable GPS, small fixed blade knife, needle-nosed pliers, and a multi tool. And don’t forget your digital camera for a photo of that one that didn’t get away.

RVers can choose from a variety of fishing experiences when they plan their trips―fly fishing, fresh water fishing, salt water fishing, and the popular winter activity of ice fishing.

At its most basic level, fishing is simply the act of catching fish. The variety comes in how you chose to fish. The most basic way is with rod and reel. Then comes the choice of bait―natural bait (salmon eggs, cheese), live bait (worms, minnows), or artificial lures (spoons, sonar, glitter).

Then there is fly fishing which uses a different type of rod, reel, and fishing line as well as artificial machine or hand-tied flies. Beyond that you can get into more exotic forms of sport fishing such as bow fishing and spear fishing. And the popular cold-weather pastime ice fishing.

Freshwater fish can be caught throughout North America in creeks, streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Pretty much anywhere there is a substantial body of water can be home to game fish. Fish may be caught from the shore, by wading into the water, from a boat, or from a dock or pier. Anyplace with solid footing to be able to cast a line will work.

Whether you prefer to drop a line from a cane pole or tie flies in hopes of catching fish, there’s a fishing hole that’s perfect for your next RV camping trip. In fact, there are RV resorts especially designed with the avid fisherman in mind.

Locate an RV park or campground as close as possible to where you’re fishing if you want to get those early biters.

As it name indicates the fishing is great at Utah's Fish Lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
As it name indicates the fishing is great at Utah’s Fish Lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RV campgrounds are located on lakes, rivers, or streams with game fish. It is not uncommon for an RV campground to have both a lake or pond as well as streams or creeks for fishing. Some RV parks offer fishing right on the property and even stock the lakes on their property with game fish.

Missouri’s Basswood Resort in Platte City, for one, has RV sites located just a few steps from stocked fishing lakes. Stocked with catfish, bass, crappie, bluegill, and carp, the four freshwater lakes at Basswood are fed by the ever-bubbling original Basswood spring.

Some RV parks including Live Oak Landing on the Florida panhandle (near Destin) partner with charter fishing services to help guests catch the big one. In Live Oak’s case, Wounded Warrior charters take guests out to the Choctawhatchee River and its tributaries.

Great fishing awaits you at Virginia’s Gwynn’s Island RV Resort on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

For additional RV camping/fishing locations, see Good Sam Top RV Parks for Fishing.

Worth Pondering…

There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.

―Paul O’Neil, 1965

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Good Sam Announces Top RV Parks for Fishing for 2014

The Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory announced its list of Top RV Parks for Fishing for 2014.

Good Sam 2014-Top September-Fishing-ShieldGood Sam editors and consultants chose the list of Parks for fishing from the annual publication’s database of 8,000 private parks.

The RV parks featured below provide guests with great angling opportunities on rivers, lakes or off ocean coasts.

In compiling this list, the Good Sam RV Travel Guide’s consultants and editors included parks that offered a variety of RV fishing experiences, from boat fishing to casting a line from shore. Many parks offer tackle and bait services for anglers.

The highlights of this list include:

  • RV parks like Live Oak Landing in Florida partner with charter fishing services to help guests catch the big one. In Live Oak’s case, Wounded Warrior charters take guests out to the Choctawhatchee River and its tributaries.
  • Some RV parks offer fishing right on the property. Missouri’s Basswood Resort in Platte City, for one, has RV sites located just a few paces from stocked fishing lakes.
  • RV resorts that allow guests to hone the fine art of fly fishing include Walker River RV Resort in Nevada’s Smith Valley. Here, RVers can cast a line in the fish-rich stream that runs through the property.

Facts about RVing Anglers

Pristine stretches of marshland, punctuated by small islands known as hammocks, define the breathtaking landscape of the Georgia Golden Isles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Pristine stretches of marshland, punctuated by small islands known as hammocks, define the breathtaking landscape of the Georgia Golden Isles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Close to 50 percent of RVers go fishing when they go on their RV travels, according to a recent study by PKF Consulting.

Almost 48 million people participated in freshwater, saltwater and/or fly fishing in the U.S. in 2012, according to Statista.

RV retailers such as camping world stock fishing equipment for RVers who enjoy casting a line.

Top RV Parks for Fishing

Arizona
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort, Casa Grande

Florida
Live Oak Landing, Freeport
North Lake Estates RV Resort, Moore Haven
Rainbow RV Resort, Frostproof
San Carlos RV Park And Islands, Fort Myers Beach
Upriver RV Resort, Fort Myers

Idaho
Redrock RV And Camping Park, Island Park

Missouri
Basswood Resort, Platte City

Nevada
Cottonwood Cove Resort, Searchlight
Walker River Resort RV Park Smith Valley

Oklahoma
Marval Resort, Gore

Ontario
Campark Resorts, Niagara Falls

Experience life in old Luling (Texas)  at Zedler Mill Park and Cotton Gin—a turn of the century Cotton Gin—on the banks of the beautiful San Marcos River. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Experience life in old Luling (Texas) at Zedler Mill Park and Cotton Gin—a turn of the century Cotton Gin—on the banks of the beautiful San Marcos River. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

South Dakota
Oasis Campground, Chamberlain

Utah
Willowwind RV Park, Hurricane

Virginia
Gwynn’s Island RV Resort And Campground, Gwynn
New Point RV Resort, New Point

Good Sam RV Travel Guide

A different category of Top Parks will be featured each month in articles released by the Good Sam RV Travel Guide.

In addition to comprehensive listings of RV parks and campgrounds across North America, the 2014 Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory features travel itineraries, helpful maps, and informative tips that RVers need for a journey anywhere in North America.

Additional camping and RV Travel information is available on the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory Camping Blog.

Worth Pondering…

Most of the world is covered by water. A fisherman’s job is simple: Pick out the best parts.

—Charles Waterman

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Top 100 Family-Friendly Fishing & Boating Spots

Getting out on the water to boat and fish is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with your family.

TakeMeFishing
TakeMeFishing

But, finding the time and the right place to fish can be a challenge.

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) has made planning easy with its recently released list of the top 100 family-friendly fishing and boating spots in the U.S.

The RBFF released its Top 100 list to encourage Americans to get out on the water during National Fishing and Boating Week, June 1-8, 2014.

People are encouraged to visit their local parks and other fishing holes, perhaps one of the Top 100, during this week. Other ways to celebrate follow:

Free Fishing Days: Perfect for those who are new to the sport or who want to mentor others, most states offer free fishing days that allow the public to fish without having to purchase a fishing license.

Special Events: Sites all over the country will host events, such as fishing derbies, regattas, boating demonstrations, and festivals.

Kids Activities: Take Me Fishing Little Lunkers section offers games and information to learn before getting out on the water, and even certificates to commemorate their catch.

The RBFF Take Me Fishing campaign initiated a nationwide vote to provide families and outdoor enthusiasts with a recommended list of the best family-friendly places to experience the joys of boating and fishing as the weather warms up around the country.

“We enlisted the help of state fish and wildlife agencies to identify popular locations, and asked fishing and boating enthusiasts who belong to our communities to vote on their favorite spots that are easily accessible and where the fish are known to bite most often,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson.

The top 10 family-friendly places to boat and fish include state parks from Florida, Texas, California, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.

In total, park and recreation areas in 24 states are represented in the Top 100.

NBFWBannerGalveston Island State Park (6th) is accompanied by eight other Lone Star State fishing and boating spots in the Top 100. The states of Florida, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania each are represented six times on the Top 100. Georgia, Illinois, and Wisconsin have five placements in the Top 100. North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, Minnesota, and Washington have four park and recreation areas on the Top 100 list.

Criteria for the top family-friendly places to boat and fish have some or all of the following qualities:

  • Within an hour’s drive of a major city or town, so they are easily accessible
  • Have a public body of water that is known for having plenty of common fish species such as bass, crappie, bluegill and trout; often times these public places are stocked with fish for all
  • Part of a park that also offers amenities families need like parking, restrooms, playgrounds, picnic areas, or campgrounds
  • Has plenty of places to cast a line, like a fishing pier or has boat ramps to allow you to reach other areas on your boat
  • Is recommended by other anglers

Who Hooked the Top 10 Spots?

The top fishing and boating spots for a memory-making adventure include:

Lake Berryessa, Napa Valley, California

Bahia Honda State Park, BigPine Key, Florida

Skyway Fishing Pier State Park,St. Petersburg, Florida

Everglades National Park, Homestead, Florida

Kissimmee State Park, Lake Wales, Florida

Galveston Island State Park, Galveston, Texas

Lake Chabot Regional Park, Castro Valley, California

Blue Springs State Park, Orange City, Florida

Table Rock State Park, Branson, Missouri

Presque Isle State Park, Erie, Pennsylvania

Details

Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF)

fishing_littlelunkersThe Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating and thereby increase public awareness and appreciation of the need to protect, conserve, and restore this nation’s aquatic natural resources.

RBFF’s centerpiece, TakeMeFishing.org, is the key destination for individuals to learn, plan, and equip for a day on the water.

Address: 500 Montgomery Street, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: (703) 519-0013

Website: www.takemefishing.org

Worth Pondering…

Everyone should believe in something; I believe I’ll go fishing.

—Henry David  Thoreau

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