12-04-04 - The 2nd Annual Pet Fly Smackdown - Payback's
a Fish, 2004!
Waters Fished: Personally Fished MP's Secret Stream,
Turkey River, Big Springs Pond
Fish Caught: 18
Outing Date: 12-04-04
Weather: Mostly Cloudy
Air Temp: low 40's
Water Temp: MP's Secret Stream - 40F, Turkey River - 39 to 40F,
Big Springs Pond - 44F.
Water Level: normal (low)
Water Color: Secret Stream - Gin Clear, Turkey River - Clear, easily
5-6' visibility, Big Springs Pond - cloudy blue, 9" visibility
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, WALLEYE?!?!?!
Pattern Fished: THE TUCKER
Pattern Color: as per original pattern
Fishing Quality: challenging but excellent
It's here, the day we've been waiting for since
last year - The 2004 Pet Fly Smackdown! Last year's 1st
Annual Pet Fly Smackdown was a huge success; this year brought
more interested competitors as well as a chance to revisit a yearlong
rivalry - The Tucker vs. the Jubb Jubb!
With new competitors we knew we would totally blow
the "11 or less" rule; Red Hat and myself had been working
on our formal Iowa Tournament Application since July. Red Hat admittedly
did much of the work and deserves a round of applause for his efforts.
The Iowa DNR approved everything with a couple stipulations that
required some amendments to the 2004
Pet Fly Smackdown Rules.
So everyone (except for FAT) had arrived and was
accounted for last night...the plan was to meet up for breakfast
at the Sportsmen's Restaurant around 6:30 AM.
Well HMM...not sure how it happened but somehow
the Alarm in the Smokin' Tahoe's room went off at 5:00 AM or so!
Consider it a sneaky Red Hat plot; they're already hard at work!
Since we were already up, what better way than to start the day
waking up our fellow anglers for some breakfast! Still, somehow,
I don't think we really all got in there until at least 6:15 AM.
As always, breakfast at the Sportsmen's Motel, Bar, Restaurant and
RV is always cheap and delicious!
Fat arrived during Breakfast and shortly thereafter
we reconvened at FAT's
RV for entry fees, flies, rule reminders and the 2004 picture!
We also distributed these awesome little kits that Fred Anderson
came up with; a ziplock containing a retractable plastic measuring
tape, notepad, and mechanical pencil (no sharpener needed, no problems
with wet pens!). When it was all said and done everyone disappeared
in a cloud of dust - time to get busy fishin' the 2004 Pet Fly Smackdown.
As our "slogan" goes, this year, Payback's a FISH.
By the time I was finally out everyone had hit
the streams...I was the last guy to get underway. Driving down to
the Secret Stream, I had a serious worry that I might find one or
more of the opposing teams camped on my personal favorite spots.
By the time I finally made my way down there, thankfully, I had
it all to myself as always.
Instantly I hit 3 fish, landing one, a nice stocker
that had obviously been in the stream for a while. Without evening
thinking, I took his measurements and released him - D'OH, no picture!
Another couple hits came and that was pretty much it for the first
hole...every time I'd cast there'd be an explosion of fish heading
away from my landing point in every direction. This was not really
Upstream wasn't much better - again tons of fish
in the prime spots but they were all simply too skittish. I did
manage to "compress" a pod of fish into the tail of a
pool (it simply got to the point where they either had to turn and
run downstream through shallow riffles or FACE ME!). This tactic
did produce my #2 fish, a smaller wild brown.
3 hours of this and I was very very frustrated.
The fish should be more cooperative, but in the low water situation
they're all just too spooky here. I really wasn't sure where I'd
turn next - I had gambled (hoped) that I could simply sit on the
Secret Stream all day and land 20 fish or so!
With the Secret stream definitely not working,
I decided to drive to the Turkey River and hoped I'd get better
news from Jim K. and Matt J. Right as I was driving in, I saw this
large black Chevy Tahoe coming at me - Jim and Matt were on their
way out! We conversed briefly; they were heading all the way down
to Spring Branch in hopes of better fishing, between the two of
them they only had 10 fish...the bite had pretty much shut down
on the Turkey River. Matt asked if I had tried "the pond",
referring to Big Springs Pond. I suggested that it sucked yesterday
so it wasn't worth a shot today...with that Matt and Jim were off
to Spring Branch.
I got onto the Turkey River and quickly landed
two fish...then nothing! As per my own suggestion to my teammates,
I moved. I was seriously considering leaving the Turkey, but I again
stopped by the pond...come on...this thing has to have fish. I cast
On the second cast, I gave the fly much longer
to sink...a risky move considering I could not see the bottom and
had no idea what snags and hangups laid below. My line jumped...I
set the hook and came up empty handed.
By my fourth cast, my first Rainbow Trout was banked.
The action picked up dramatically - I figured out that I'd have
to let the flies sink for at least 10 seconds, then retrieve VERY
slowly back to shore. This produced strikes with extreme regularity
although only 1 out of every 3 strikes brought a fish to shore.
All in all, I went 5/15 in just an hour and a half.
I was hungry, yet without food, so I got the the
Camaro and downed a couple Mt. Dews instead. Back to the pond for
a bit, and while I fished an angler walked up...carrying a STEELHEAD!!!
Ok, actually of course it wasn't a steelhead, but rather a steelhead-sized
rainbow trout in the 3-4 lb. class. I KNEW the Turkey could produce
fish like that! Why hadn't my boys nailed that monster! Talking
with the anglers who were coming off the river, it turned out that
there is definitely more fish holding water than I initially thought.
Action on the pond had died down, so I was back to the Turkey.
This time, I found what looked like an handicapped
angler's platform, although there was no way someone in a wheelchair
was getting down to it. Again, once I got that first hit I had figured
out where the majority of the fish were holding and several fish
came to net in relatively rapid succession.
6 fish more! Once the action tapered off with no
hits in 15 minutes, I went to a third spot where fish were clearly
rising. Despite this rise behavior, I couldn't get a bite...they
were definitely keyed in on the tiny mayflies coming off the water
in heavy numbers. While desperately trying for some of the risers,
Jim and Matt appeared above me on the shore. Spring Branch was a
relative BUST - not the luck we had hoped for. They were back in
a desperate attempt to bring up their numbers. While I tried for
just a while longer, I suggested they hit the pond again as it had
easily been rested for an hour or more.
Shortly thereafter I gave up on the Turkey and
found my boys thrashing the water. They had some success; their
take on it was that a faster retrieve was in order...Jim had landed
a WALLEYE??! Well, the way he described it, it could have been a
walleye or a sauger - Jim hadn't noticed if there was a white tip
to the bottom of the tail.
Suffice it to say the pond was good to us; we had
to leave not later than 5:00 PM. With my last fish on shore at about
4:58 PM, I was done and in the car, ready to go. Somehow, not sure
why, but 15 minutes later Jim and Matt were finally ready to go
as well. Thankfully they had some food - I was in severe hunger
pains after the whole day of nothing but fishing!
I was worried, and rightfully so, that we wouldn't
make it back by 6:00 PM, our scheduled meeting time. Matt J. was
navigating for our 2 car caravan...I think he made a wrong turn
or two in there. When we got to Waukon, Jim's Tahoe went right into
town and I cringed...I bypassed and arrived at camp around 6:15
PM. Jim and Matt didn't show up for another 20 minutes - they had
been driving on "Negative E" for the last 30 minutes!!!
This is probably a good time to interject with
some info from the other teams. HDS spent his day on the Waterloo,
fishing the fly only section. Meanwhile the Fat Tribe forged ahead
and fished the French for much of the day. My teammates followed
through on our plan, Fred and Randy fished Coon, Trout River, Trout
Run and Twin Springs, the last of which being on of the more productive
streams of the day. The Red Hats? Well, Neil sent me this quick
pictorial and commentary; his Team spent the majority of the day
fishing the South and North Bear Creeks. Thanks Neil!
After getting changed (my hip waders are now leaking)
I was able to get back to what the PFS is all about - our Pot Luck
FEAST! This year's was HUGE! We started off with Red
Hat's "Smackdown" Beer Cheese Soup.
Next Up, Randy's
"Manly Campfire fodder Salad", a cucumber based concoction
that Randy claims is sure to please the ladies! The lid was also
off the pot on Fred's Cheezy Bean Dip, and shortly thereafter Heath's
perfectly hot Venison
Chili. Oh but that's not it by any stretch, fresh out of the
fryer came a beautiful bird, the Przybelski's Deep
Fried Turkey. As if there wasn't enough meat already involved
in our smackdown, Matt J. produced a stunning smoked brisket! G-man
broke out the beer, as did several other potluckers, my own contribution
being utensils, plates, bowls and a massive cube of Mountain Dew
While most of the crew sat around the campfire
and continued to stuff themselves, Redhat, myself and Heath headed
back to my room and started tallying up the scores. We came back
just in time for Fat's delicious ultimate campfire cobbler, this
time in Chocolate Cherry Peach. Around 8:30 or so, it was time to
meet up in G-Man's room and announce the results.
Before we announced the winners, it was time for
everyone to get their T-shirts! G-man unveiled another spectacular
logo and shirt for the 2004 Smackdown. Next up, the MVP fly box
made it's way around the room - everyone got a look at the box that
would become property of the winning team's MVP. And yes, after
that came a surprise to most of the contestants - the "Stanley
Cup" of the Pet Fly Smackdown, a
7' 6" Rainshadow Rod I built, all good hardware with a
gold Pfluerger Reel and Hook & Hackle DT line. The deal with
the rod; each year the winning team takes possession of the rod
and fishes it throughout the year, to return the following year
with the rod to defend their championship status! I have to say
this went over real well.
Last year, I had the honors of announcing the awards;
this year that duty fell on Red Hat's shoulders. He did a great
job, starting with our "Fish Awards". The results for
largest and smallest of each species for the 2004 PFS are:
Largest Brook Trout -
Jim K: 12"
Smallest Brook Trout -
Randy C: 4"
Largest Rainbow Trout -
Matt J: 13.5"
Smallest Rainbow Trout -
Matt P: 7.25"
Largest Brown Trout -
Heath S/Matt P Tie: 12.25"
Smallest Brown Trout -
Randy C: 8"
Largest Trout Overall - Matt Jennings with a 13.5"
rainbow taken at the Turkey on the Tucker Nymph.
Now the tension builds, as Neil reads off this
year's team results....
In 4th Place:
The Red Hats - Neil, Brennon,
Tim S., John, Connor
Team (Average) Score: 19.6
Brennon S. - highest team inches - 33"
In 3rd Place:
The Fat Tribe - Rich, Matt "FatMatt" P., Mitch
Team (Average) Score: 25.56
Rich B. - highest team inches - 33"
In 2nd Place:
Team Sershen - Heath Sershen
Team Score: 95.5
As a one man team, Heath landed 95.5" of fish!
And there it is, in 1st Place for the 2004 Pet
Fly Smackdown, fair and square:
The Smokin Tahoe
- Matt P., Matt J., Jim, Fred, Randy
Team (Average) Score: 101.20
Matt P - highest team inches - 188.5"
There was quite the roar as we had thoroughly trounced
the Red Hat Nemesis ;) There was just a little bit more business
before the results were finished. Neil made the very thoughtful
gesture of awarding this year's communal MVP award to Fruitbat,
my fellow Smokin' Tahoe teammate currently stationed in Iraq. As
Neil put it, he's truly our MVP, "Oversees so we can be here
fishing". Next year, well, Dan "Fruitbat" will be
our ringer for sure...those Tigris River Steelhead are the most
challenging out there...
Finally, the award of the Smokin' Tahoe's MVP.
Do I award it to Randy for the most fish besides me? Do I award
it jointly to my whole team? In the end, I had decided the true
MVP of the Smokin' Tahoe wasn't a Smokin' Tahoe at all. Instead,
our MVP was Mr.
Heath Sershen, who single-handedly lost to us by ONE 7"
fish! I guess next year he'll skip the afternoon nap!
After closing our "awards ceremony",
we all retired to the campfire for beer (or Mountain Dew) and the
usual Pet Fly Smackdown "Smacktalk Session". This year
it lasted well into Midnight!
A brief update - Red Hat now has his own version
of how it went down posted on his site! Check
it out (a great read)!