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12-04-04 - The Pet Fly Smackdown's official 2004 logo courtesy of Greg Posdal (G-Man) - logo designed and updated by Brent Riggs. Copyright © 2004.

Everyone convened around 6:30 AM for breakfast at the Sportsmen's Restaurant in Dorchester.

Same Table, from the other end!

Tim "The Enchanter" greets the late-arriving FATMAN!

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 or so.
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, WALLEYE?!?!?!
Pattern Fished: THE TUCKER NYMPH!
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.

Team Sershen's entry - the Pink Lab.

The Smokin' Tahoe's Entry - MP's Tucker Nymph.

The Red Hat's entry (and last year's champion pattern) - The Jubb Jubb.

The Fat Tribe, aka. "Team FAT" had two entries. This first one is called something like the "Mad Jack Fly".

The Fat Tribe's 2nd Entry - The Slutty Chihuahua.

15 official contestants entered the 2004 Pet Fly Smackdown. From left to right - G-man (Greg Posdal), Skinny Mitch (Mitch Pryzbelski), MS2 (Jim Kercheval), FatMatt (Matt Pryzbelski), FAT (Rich Brown), Tim "The Enchanter" (Tim Schulz), FlyFishKid (Connor Naughton), DragFree (Randy Cochran), "The Clutch" (John Naughton), Red Hat (Neil Fredericks), MJ (Matt Jennings), T-Bone AKA Mountain Goat Boy AKA B. AKA 10 other nicknames (Brennon Schaefer), FMA (Fred Anderson), MP (Matt Pedersen), HDS (Heath Sershen)

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.

Why I neglected to photograph my first fish of the day is beyond me - this was #2, a wild brown, from the Secret Stream.

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 working.

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!

A first look at the Turkey River.

Not too shabby, my first rainbow from the Turkey River today!

Another look at my prime location on the Turkey River, this time looking upstream.

The Turkey indeed holds some NICE rainbows!

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 my line...nothing.

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.

Big Springs Pond.

Surprisingly once I figured it out, there was a LOT of action in the Pond!

Another Rainbow from the pond.

Yup, 3rd rainbow in this sitting.

Another FAT rainbow comes from the pond!

That's 5 'bows from the pond!

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.

Back to the Turkey to try another spot...here looking downstream.

The same spot, looking upstream.

This spot coughed up a few more rainbows...

...including this dinker (I'm the KING!)

Talk about a DINKY RAINBOW but it still counts for something!

Look at the high arched back on this surprise stocker brown from the Turkey River!

I had to get a headshot of that brown trout...it's just starting to get a kype!

This female brown meant back-to-back brown trout from the Turkey River!

I thought this spot could cough up another fish or two...yet another Rainbow Trout from the Turkey!

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!

It's getting dark and late - this is the best shot I have of this fish!

How many more rainbows before we have to leave at 5:00 PM? This was my 2nd to last!

And there it is, the last Rainbow Trout for me before I call it a day at 4:59 PM!

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!

Connor goes in for the netjob...
(Copyright © 2004 Neil Fredericks)

"Connor's FIRST fish on the rod you built for him. Also, he got us started at the PFS and it's the FIRST fish for team TOW caught on a <choke!> MP Custom Rod." - Neil Fredericks
(Copyright © 2004 Neil Fredericks)

"The fish pic ain't great but he wanted to get it back in the water...." - Neil Fredericks
(Copyright © 2004 Neil Fredericks)

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.

Alright, we've figured out the scores - everyone into G-man's room for the results!

Everyone here yet?

Time to get this show on the road...someone's missing?
(Copyright 2004 Matt Jennings)

There he is, B., now dubbed "Flapper" - our late arrival.

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.

First things first, G-man breaks out this year's T-shirt and gives the first look to the man it honors, Red Hat.

FAT is loaded down with PFS T's for him and the rest of his tribe.

Next up, the new PFS Champion's Rod, our "Stanley Cup". G-man drools...will he fish it this year?

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:

As Red Hat starts to announce the "fish awards", G-man examines this year's MVP flybox containing everyone's entered patterns.

"We're in 4th PLACE this year?! That's so dismal I have to laugh"

FAT eagerly awaits the FAT-Tribe results...

"AWESOME" - the Fat Tribe retains it's 3rd place standing from 2003...which means this year they beat the Red Hats (along with everyone else!)

FMA and MS2 react when they learn that Team Sershen comes in 2nd, having lost by only 1 6" trout. You know what that means...?

That's Right BABY, Brennon gives his #1 salute to the Smokin' Tahoe, 2004 Pet Fly Smackdown Champions!

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
11 Fish
Brennon S. - highest team inches - 33"

In 3rd Place:
The Fat Tribe
- Rich, Matt "FatMatt" P., Mitch P, Greg

Team (Average) Score: 25.56
10 Fish
Rich B. - highest team inches - 33"

In 2nd Place:
Team Sershen - Heath Sershen

Team Score: 95.5
10 Fish
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
54 fish
Matt P - highest team inches - 188.5"

Neil dedicates the PFS MVP award to Fruitbat Dan, our fellow Smokin' Tahoe currently stationed in Iraq!

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)!

  MP 

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