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
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
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
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
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
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?!?!