The tradition continues at Sweetgrass Rods;
crafting fine bamboo fly fishing rods

Thanks for the wonderful craftsmanship. You guys are amazing.
Frank D.

It's my Birthday, it's my Birthday!

Rather, it was my 33rd Birthday on January 23rd. Been thinking about applying for Medicaid. Ha, ha! OK, I'm not that old, but I sure have a story to tell.

The past four years I have spent fishing a tailwater on my birthday. I started on the Bighorn in Montana, working my way south through Wyo., Colo., and finishing in New Mexico, on the San Juan last year. Last year, my English Setter, Mojo, died on the 22nd. My mom went on the fishing trip with me, after I finished burying him near a native Cutthroat stream in the Colo. Rockies. After returning, I found a good friend had ended his life on a trout stream in Wyo. What do you do after that? That was my cunundrum for this year's birthday.

Luckily, I still have a good fishin' buddy in Ariell, my Large Munsterlander, and a wonderfully understanding and outdoorsey girlfriend. On a whim, I decided to fish a river in Oregon I had visited before, and fell in love with. There was a chance Steelhead would be running, but I doubted they would be as far upstream as I wanted to go. My destination was a long drive, and a short but steep hike to an area infused with old and healthy second-growth timber, where few anglers ever venture. Ariell, Sarah and I loaded the rig, being sure to bring Sam's wonderful 9', 8 wt., graphite canon. Yep graphite. This rod is a perfectly-designed tool for tossing the heavy lines and flies I planned on fishing.

We found a few elk on the drive south. I think they are Roosevelts, but not sure. It's pretty
close to where Tule and Roosevelts both live. At any rate, it was cool to see them hanging

After a day's drive, we reached the trailhead. It was in the low 60s, even at our elevation!
It was the warmest b-day trip I have ever had -- by about 30 degrees.

Sarah toasted some Everything bagels (one of my favorite), and combined cream cheese
and the leftover salmon we roasted over the fire the night before, for an amazing b-day
breakfast! I usually just eat a granola bar and go. It was very nice to have something more
than coffee in my belly. Thank you Sarah.

We walked around a bit to check out the area. It was amazingly beautiful, warm and sunny. Hard to believe we were in the Northwest, eh! We found another possible route to the stream, but decided to go the way I had previously taken. Part of the route remained a mystery, as I just followed game trails down the canyon.

Sarah looking for the frickin' trail! I'm about five yards uphill of her, but my feet are about level with her head. Kinda steep.

"Hey guys, the river is right here!" Ariell hangs out near the confluence of the tributary we followed down, with the main river I planned to fish.

Oh yes, we are here. I love this place. Look, It's Jan. 23rd, and I'm not wearing a jacket, hat, or mittens. And I was warm! Crazy. OK, time to get this Sweetgrass rod ready to rock.

I'm gonna need some weight. Lots of it. I like to use the "tungsten putties" for many reasons. I find them easy to adjust, and they are not nearly as damaging to a rod if somehow you mess up your cast and hit the rod with line. Who does that?

Sarah and Ariell hiked around the river while I got my gear rigged. She found some bear tracks! Very cool. Odd that it's the middle of Winter, and bear tracks only a few days old at most, were prevalent. We also found another older set of tracks, likely set down before a previous rain storm, paralleling this set. I intitially guessed the bear to be huge (because that's fun in the wilderness), at around 500 pounds. But, upon later examination, it was probably just a little guy, from 150 to 200 pounds.

The hind foot track. This was a pretty good reminder for me that bears go through torpor, not technically hibernation. They will wake briefly during the Winter doldrums, and wander around.

Time to fish! I had seen anadromous fish working the middle of the channel before. So, I double-hulled a good 80 to 90 feet of line out like a frog slipping off a log. It was so easy.

"Wow, Zac," said Sarah. "You are almost casting completely across the river!" I know. I'm real cool. But it really was cool to see the line shoot out, and the flies plopping where I thought fish should be. Unfortunately, no fish were to be had on this birthday. It was the second time in five birthday trips, I didn't catch a fish. Oh well. It's about the fishing, right! On this trip, it truly was. I had such a great time checking out the beautiful, wildernessesque (It's not technically Wilderness), river. The warm weather and sunshine in the company of Sarah and Ariell, made for a fitting memorial to Mojo and Taylor. I will always remember this day, as I will always remember past fishing companions.

Here we are, ready to hike on out. See you later big river and Mr. Black Bear. See you some day soon. Right after Sarah recovers from spraining her ankle on the hike out; but that's another story.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy
Rockin' the 10 wt. Pent.!
It's show time!


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Sweetgrass Rods ~~ P.O. Box 486 ~~ 121 West Galena ~~ Butte, Montana 59703
406.782.5552 ~~
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