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12-06-03 - The Pet Fly Smackdown's official logo courtesy of Greg Posdal (G-Man) - logo designed by Brent Riggs. Copyright © 2003.
A bunch of hardy souls who've gathered for the smackdown! Sorry to "out" you all, but here we go (from left to right):

Fruitbat, FMA, G-man, Mystic Mountain Goat Boy B, Red Hat, FAT and Tim the Enchanter.
Dan and I working the warmest water possible, right up by the springs at Trout Run (copyright 2003 Fred Anderson).
Fruitbat's first brown of the day. (Copyright 2003 Fruitbat)
My first stocker brown of the day; I was drifting along the edge of the watercress on my near bank...incredibly slow water. I watched as this fish came out from under the cress and followed my fly backwards in the current. He was maybe 1" away for several seconds, then finally decided to make the stupid (for the fish) choice and sip the Tucker Nymph in! (Copyright 2003 Fruitbat)
FMA with one of his first trout for the day!
Fruitbat gets in the game with another nice brown!
There's a close-up of that nice stocker!
That's me with what we decided was the "Ugliest Fish of the Day" - a heron peck right through the side and 1/2 a tail...shh...don't tell anyone but someone had this fish for dinner (it could have been ME for all I know!). (Copyright 2003 Fruitbat)
I whacked this gorgeous huge brown, 12.75", sightfishing the Tucker Nymph right after Fruitbat had just about given up on the hole...all it took was a switch to lighter tippet material (I started with 6X mono and switched to 2lb P-line Flourocoated) (Copyright 2003 Fred Anderson).
Another nice stocker helps keep our scores going skyward (Copyright 2003 Fred Anderson).
I sent my team off to the Secret Stream while I decided to avoid being accused of "cheating" by fishing the twin Paint Creeks. This was my first time on "Big" Paint Creek.
On to Little Paint Creek, where maybe the fish wouldn't be as skittish.
Well, still skittish and spooky but check out the dark yellow base color of this 10.25" late fall rainbow!
I moved upstream as far as possible without getting in the way of the hunters who were still further up.
Keep on catchin; I had to crouch and rest the pool before FINALLY getting bites...this was the first 11.5" rainbow.
Followed it up with another 11.5" rainbow (or maybe I this was the 10.5"...I honestly don't remember which order I caught them in!)
Meanwhile, the BLTs (Red Hat in this shot) and the Fat Tribe's lone competitor worked South Bear Creek. (Copyright 2003 Greg Posdal)
Brennon working the mojo for Team BLT whacks a NICE Brown on the South Bear. (Copyright 2003 Greg Posdal)
If you're not fat upon starting a "FAT" trip, you will be by the time you're done! Fruitbat looks on while Red Hat cooked up Venison for all...meanwhile Dutton looks on as I stuff trout with Nardo's Mango Salsa and G-man helps out as "Tin Foil B*tch" ;) (Copyright 2003 Fred Anderson).
Red Hat savors Team BLT's victory with a cold-one by the fire.
Red Hat, FMA and Tim the Enchanter sittin' while we all get stuffed on FAT's incredible Cobbler.

12-06-03 - The First Annual Pet Fly Smackdown - Rumble in Iowa, 2003

Waters Fished: I personally fished Trout Run, Paint Creek & Little Paint Creek. Other teams fished South Bear Creek, MP's Secret Stream and the Waterloo.
Fish Caught: 11
Outing Date: 12-06-03
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temp: upper 30's, no wind.
Water Temp: Water Temps were around 40F
Water Level: Normal except that Trout Run seemed LOW.
Water Color: All were clear
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
Pattern Fished: Tucker Nymph
Pattern Color: as per the original pattern
Fishing Quality: surprisingly good!

Alright folks, here's the deal. We organized this trip originally as the "Winter Brookie Trip". As all good plans though, they inevitably get changed. Somehow through lots of discussing and emails back and forth, the Brookie Trip got morphed into what we now all have come to know as the "Pet Fly Smackdown".

Here's the deal, during the summer I came up with the Tucker Nymph, which is tied with hair from my cat for the body dubbing. Somehow word got out as this fly continued to "slay" the fish. Red Hat (Neil) came onto the scene with his Jubb Jubb, another cathair-based pattern which he had devised some time back, independent of the Tucker. Well, apparently the Jubb Jubb (as I like to affectionately call the "Jarr Jarr Binks") isn't too shabby of a fly either. A few more people got in the mix, we kinda thought we'd settle the debates over who's pet fly was really the best via a friendly competition.

In the weeks leading up to the "tournament" a lot of planning and rule-writing was done. Communication via Fat's site as well as email and by about Thursday morning, we had a full blown outing planned with 10 "competitors". You may have notice the terms like "tournament", "competition" and "prize" in quotes, right? Well, it turns out that by law, based on our plans, we would have needed a tournament permit or license and insurance if we were 12 or more people. I'm still kinda wondering how a clave would be governed, but since there was no money involved and we stayed under 12 people, our interpretation was that we were in the clear, especially since this was a non-sanctioned, unofficial anything-but-an-actual-tournament kind of competition, aka. a "Smackdown". Needless to say, if anyone has any legal questions, send them my way and I'll forward them on to my nonexistent lawyer ;)

The RULES were simple (well, actually we spelled them out in great detail just for clarity). YOU CAN READ THEM HERE - note that these are the rules for this first "tournament"; after having this one we've all got some changes and suggestions we're gonna consider, so the "Second Annual" smackdown rules will be different.

Here's the jist, if you are a pet-fly creator (i.e. Red Hat or MP) you will fish your original pet fly pattern. Anyone else can develop and enter a pattern which utilized hair or feathers from a pet as a MAIN COMPONENT of the fly. If you didn't have a pet fly, you could seek out those that did and join up as a team and fish the main pattern or any secondary pet-fly pattern the creator (AKA Captain of the Team) had for you to enter with. You were only allowed to score fish landed on the pattern you entered with. Team scores ended up being averaged. Scoring basically was this; length of fish in 1/4 inch increments (i.e. 11", not 11.125") all totaled up, with the number of fish subtracted from that total.

Two of the teams were originally founded way back on the FAT Canada 2003 trip (September). I retained the "Smokin' Tahoe" team name even though Muskieslayer 2.0 wasn't able to make this trip (but I know he really wanted to, and was missed), and took on the two "outsiders" who were new to the group, FMA and Fruitbat. The FAT Tribe consisted of 2 originals (FAT and Chief) and added two more to their ranks (Greg AKA G-man and Dutton). The newbies on the scene included Neil (Red Hat), Brennon and Tim...who quickly dubbed themselves "Team BLT" (Neil changed his name to Larry or Laurisa or Lauren or something...).

We all arrived at the Sportsmen's in Dorchester where FAT maintains his base camp for inland trout fly school. After the always good and always inexpensive breakfast at 6:00 am (I suggest tipping well out there, the food is worth a lot more than they charge) we gathered up the guys, got our teams ready and headed out. FAT and the boys would sleep in (the arrived around 3:30 AM) and later would fish the Waterloo.

So we made the 40 minute drive to trout run, Team BLT deciding to stay downstream while the Smokin' Tahoe headed straight for the springhead. In the odd chance that the water was cold, I wanted to stay as close to the spring as possible, figuring the fish would be more active.

Well, at first things looked difficult, but after searching a bit we found tons of trout hanging out in the deep channels bordered by watercress. My first trout was actually a 5.75" rainbow taken mere feet from the spring. Fruitbat and FMA started just a bit downstream. After a few fish, and getting to the point that we had probably stung every fish in the river (yes, we lost quite a few) we moved further downstream.

The action picked up again for a little bit, with Fruitbat hooking into (and losing) several. Bart, you would have been proud, he totally has a knack for your streamside verbal displays. FB kept on asking me what kind of hooks these Tucker Nymphs were tied on....wondering if maybe I was purposely dulling the hooks to make the fishing more challenging. Daiichi's and a Chemically Sharpened Knockofff...it's not a hook problem FB ;)

Well, around 12:30 we were doing pretty well; we had run into the BLT's and the lone Fat Tribe member (G-man); they mentioned a couple of fish and I secretly knew we were well ahead. That's right, all on the Tucker Nymph (well, actually I had FMA fishing the Tucker Midge, just in case the Tucker wasn't producing I wanted to have a backup fly that could also bat cleanup on pools we already pounded with the Tucker).

We thought we were all going to meet at Casey's for some lunch, but the BLT and Fat Tribe gave us the slip. No worries, after a wonderful lunch of Mountain Dew and Casey's Pizza my two teammates were itchin to go to another stream. They had one singular location on their mind...MP's Secret Stream.

After some hesitation (there had been discussion earlier that perhaps I should be prohibited from fishing it) I agreed to take them down there. However, while driving I reconsidered. We pulled over, and I gave FB and FMA directions to the stream but said I wouldn't be joining them. 3 reasons - 1. I didn't want to be accused of "cheating". 2. MP's Secret Stream isn't really big enough for 3 to fish comfortably. 3. I kinda was in the mood for a personal challenge...didn't want to have to rely on the secret stream to ensure victory!

I turned around and headed for some scenic water on in the Yellow River State Forest. I figured that the Little Paint would be a good place to fish where I wouldn't get shot (remember folks, we did this on the opening weekend of Iowa's Deer Season). Knowing that a good portion of the Little Paint is in the campground, I knew I'd be safe there.

But hey, it's also late fall, the "Big" Paint should have fish too, right? It DID. Not tons, but I probably sighted 12 in the 30 minutes I fished. The problem was that they were all VERY spooky. While I technically can say I've fished it, I really think it is a stream that will require further exploration.

On to the Little Paint. Again, there were fish! However, still skittish, although not quite as easily spooked as back on the Paint. Most of the fish were congregated in deep holes, and they weren't quite as active as those we had fished earlier in the day on Trout Run.

I hopped from hole to hole, looking for fish, all too often only finding one or two that spooked the second I saw them...heck probably 3/4 of them I only saw because they were FLEEING THE SCENE! Well, I knew I had to be patient.

Eventually I found a good pool where I could hide myself behind a tree and managed my first rainbow for the afternoon. It came up, looked, maybe "blew" the fly. I gave it a quick 2-3" strip and the fish decided the Tucker was GOOD...bam fish on and landed!

I continued to move around the campground, hole hopping, and found again that the fish were all stuck deep. Eventually I "wised up" a bit and put on a #10 clamshot....that did the trick and on my very first cast back into a pool I had already worked for 10 minutes, I hooked up (and lost).

I went BACK to another pool that had NO screens to hide behind, but TONS of fish. My strategy was to simply walk up, let the fish get spooked. Crouch down and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes. In the end it paid off with 2 more rainbows just shy of 12".

By the time it got dark I was back on the road to Dorchester; I had dinner to prepare. We basically treated this like a potluck; prior to heading to Iowa we all figured out what we'd bring. I got back to find everyone else was there. We'd tally our scores later; time to eat.

After a completely filling dinner of Venison, Mango Salsa Stuffed Trout, Brennon's Potatoes, Bean Dip (honestly I never found the stuff, I hear I missed out), and plenty of beer the Team Captains headed to one of our rooms and tallied the score. While adding, subtracting and dividing, I finally got filled in on how the other teams had faired.

The Fat Tribe really didn't get to fish. FAT got the boys out for about an hour on the Waterloo; the boys had opted not to participate in the Smackdown and went at it with worms. 1 10" rainbow in the hour the fished - after that they boys were frozen and FAT spent the afternoon entertaining them back at the trailer.

Team BLT and their tagalong Fat Tribe member G-man happened upon a crucial piece of information; when we ran into them at noon we had told them about the fishing by the springhead of Trout Run. They were headed up that way to take a look at the Hatchery. While there they noticed a report on the stocking board; North and South Bear received weekly stockings throughout November. Without hesitation they skipped lunch and went straight to South Bear because they were way behind in the fish-landed department!

Meanwhile my teammates had surprisingly bad luck on the Secret Stream. They didn't stay long, and made the drive back over to the Paint...granted I said I would be fishing the "Little Paint" in the campground. Somehow this got miscommunicated and they fished way upstream on the Paint...didn't sound like they had any luck there.

So on to the results as we tallied them between dinner and desert. First to present was G-man, who surprised the crew with the sweetest, most hilarious Pet Fly Smackdown shirts! Each had the Pet Fly Smackdown logo on it (see the first picture of the report). We all laughed for a solid 5 minutes before finally calming down enough to actually hear the results as I announced them:

"Honorable Mentions"

Smallest Rainbow - 5" - FMA
Smallest Brown - 6.25" - Red Hat
Largest Rainbow - 13.25" - Tim S.
Largest Brown - 12.75" - MP

Highest Percentage of fish over 12" - G-man, with 6/7 being 12" or better!

Pet Fly Smackdown Results

3rd Place - Fat Tribe (FAT, Chief, Duke, G-man) - aggregate/average score including one worm-caught fish by the boys, 73.00 (G-man carried the team as the little FATs were all out of commission)

2nd Place - Smokin' Tahoe (MP, Fruitbat, FMA) - average score 76.75 - (we were kickin' butt in the AM while the BLTs were hard pressed for fish, but ended up getting creamed by the BLTs!)

1st Place - Team BLT (Red Hat, B., Tim S.) - average score 124.50 - (they cleaned house in the afternoon on South Bear while the Smokin Tahoe were left scratchin' their heads trying to find fish on other streams!)

Red Hat was awarded the "Most Productive Fly" award for his Jubb Jubb, which after much discussion between Red Hat and MP it was decided that the Jubb Jubb & Tucker Nymph are practically the same fly (when I saw it the first words out of my mouth were "That's a friggin' Tucker man!" Meanwhile it has been agreed that FAT knows what the fish want, as his TJ Killa brought averaged larger fish than any of the other patterns submitted.

Team Captain Red Hat nominated Mystic Mountain Goat Boy (AKA Brennon) as the BLT MVP, having landed 13 (or more) of their 37 fish. Late in the game B. found the sweet pool on South Bear and worked it hard, after sunset the bite turning on big time with almost a hookup every other cast! It was clear that the BLTs felt that B had truly secured their victory.

Well, after the "presentation" and "awards" of the "prizes" (a fly box containing a few of each of the Pet Fly Patterns entered + nice photographic certificates for the winning team) we all dug into Fat's Vanilla Cherry Cobbler. It was SUPPOSED to be Double Dutch Chocolate Cherry Cobbler, but FAT grabbed the wrong cake mix and forgot the chocolate chips. Let me just say it didn't matter a bit; I had 3 HELPINGS of the Vanilla Cherry Cobbler. Fat's COBBLER is TRULY LEGENDARY.

To finish off the night, we sat and talked smack around the campfire all evening, and I think we all agreed that this was hands down the BEST IOWA trip of our lives. While laughing at myself (yes, there are a good few jokes of which I'm the butt) I got stuck with a coughing fit that jostled my stomach to the point of the last cough being my most recently consumed cobbler and mountain dew. So when you hear the "What's Up Chuck" and other vomit references on the boards...well..now you know why LOL! Man, my pants fit in the morning, but after 3 square meals on a FAT Trip I actually topped Thanksgiving for the most gluttonous consumption of food in a 24-hour period. Afterall Folks, there's a REASON FAT has his nickname!

I truly wish I could recapture the Pet Fly Smackdown camaraderie and share it all with you, but this report will suffice. Next time you hear of a Pet Fly Smackdown, you better hurry up and join in the fun if we let you (we may opt to keep this a small group thing for MANY reasons)!

But wait, most of us still have ANOTHER day to fish in Iowa?!?! SWEET!

  MP 

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