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

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

Testing the four-piece wonder and five-sided whomper

I have not fished for three days during the past two weeks. And they were a sad few days. Ok, dry your tears and I'll continue to describe a couple days I got some fishing done.

A little while back, I got to float a river with Scott Anderson of Montana Fishing Company. He is the outfitter I will be guiding for this season, and being that we both love Sweetgrass bamboo and fish, we thought to spend a couple days testing rods and waters. I primarily fished the prototype four-piece, six weight rod that Glenn and I have been working on. It turned out to be a smooth-casting, powerful and sensitive rod. It will be the perfect traveling rod and available this season from Sweetgrass.

Getting ready to launch, and hanging loose. Or, that was the size fish Scott caught. 

Check the bend on my back-cast! As a rod designer and maker, I pay lots of attention to what the rod and line is doing most every cast. Fishing is as much enjoying the outdoors as it is enjoying your equipment. We hooked up with many fish on this day, primarily swinging wet flies. Once Glenn gets back from fishing this rod in the Bahamas, we will discuss any changes that we need to make, and get to the second round of prototypes. Might mess with the ferrules a bit...

And later that week, I made it to another great river, but waded around some islands. I used my three-piece pent with the five-weight tip, and had a great time fishing midges, and stoneflies. I had some luck in the surface, but most the fish were feeding on midge pupae just below the surface, so that's what I fed them!

Ariell watches as I show her how to catch fish on midge pupae. It was an over-cast day that varied from calm gray to blustery gray, that ripped whitecaps on the main channel. I stayed on a side channel, and fed flies to rising Rainbows most the afternoon.

"Look at this fine Rainbow trout! Can I eat it?"

Even though Ariell could have eaten this little beauty, we released it, hoping that it will grow a bit larger. I was not able to get to all the water I planned to fish, as we were surrounded by other anglers (weekends are not the best time to fish alone...), but I stayed on my side channel and landed around eight fish with the Sweetgrass pent, while none of the other six anglers that worked around me caught a thing, with their silly graphite sticks! It's all in the grass, eh. It's all in the sweet, sweet grass.

Then it rained really hard and blew harder and harder.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Booboy
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So much fishing, so little internet!

Glenn is off to the Bahamas for his annual, saltwater research trip. And as Ariell and I await the first, promising Spring days, shivering after we fall in rivers, at least we can think of Glenn casting away in sweltering sunshine. He is packing a couple four-piece bamboo rods that I am excitedly waiting to hear his report on. I took one prototype hex rod to Argentina, and it worked beautifully. It slipped right through security and in to overhead bins, allowing me to cast, fish for, and fight fish in to my grasp. We are sure we have figured how to make a great-casting rod that is able to be taken anywhere. My version is a hex configuration, while Glenn continues research with his eight-sided rods -- this time with four pieces. I will update as Glenn's reports trickle in.

In other news, I am still working on the raw footage I shot with my friend Farhad, while filming a movie in Argentina. The movie follows the journey of Rainbow trout from the McKenzie river in Oregon, to the many watersheds throughout Patagonia, Argentina. It will be a lengthy project, but I will share glimpses along the way, here at Sweetgrass. 

Lastly, recent winds have destroyed my internet connection. So, before this coffee shop closes, I will end by saying I am about to go fishing, I can't figure out how to post any frickin' photo or video, and so will work on it later. After I catch a fish! 

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Booboy
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Back from testing rods in Patagonia!

I am just back in Montana after my first fishing trip anywhere outside the lower 48! It was an amazing time, made even better with new friends and testing a prototype travel rod Glenn and I have been working on designing. I think you'll love it fishing anywhere in the World, as much as I did testing the first prototype in Patagonia, Argentina. Below is a pic. from one memorable trip. More to come later, as I download photos and video.

Me with a typical Collon Cura river Trucha Arcoides (Rainbow trout)! The prototype rod is resting behind me.

Stay in touch.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Booboy
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Zac, hope to see more of your pics. I returned from Chilean Patagonia last Sunday putting my new 8 1/2' hex Mantra through its fir... Read More
Friday, 02 March 2012 18:25
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No one said it would be easy

Rolling clouds crested nearby mountains, blocking the sun, and leaving my approach to the river in shade. I pulled a wool hat down tighter, and watched the clouds. Like any trip to the river, I enjoyed every moment I stood near rushing water. My nose was a bit cold, however.

I had driven past this river stretch many times, yet it had been about a decade since I stopped to fish. Last time, I caught many trout, only a few Whitefish, and was able to relax in a riverside hot spring. This time, the fish were not hungry.

Looking downstream, you can see the mist from the tributary hot spring on the right. I was too busy fishing and freezing to stop and relax in the springs. The sun was far below the western ridge, and I had yet to catch a fish. How does that happen?

My guides were freezing on every fourth cast, and darkness seeped through the valley. My time on the river was about up, and I was about to go home fishless. This has not happened in a long time. In fact, I'm not sure when the last time was, I have not caught a fish on a fishing trip, no matter how brief (I usually don't quit 'till I catch one...). Not that I have to catch a fish. I just really like to catch them when possible, you know.

In my fish drought, I had switched to many fly patterns styles, and none produced. I fished through most of the water surrounding me, and caught nothing. I switched back to my Marathoner pattern, which I started with, but cut after not having luck. My fifth cast at the far end of the hole -- about 60 feet upstream, plopped in to a good-looking hold. My strike indicator stopped and sunk down, but I ignored it. Yep, ignored my bobber. It had been indicating my flies getting tugged by so many boulders, that I had given up on reacting. After my indicator stayed oddly put, I lifted and felt a fish tug! But, my slovenly hook set left me fishless. I could feel the fish twist on pop off the fly, through the sensitivity of my Sweetgrass, 3 piece, pent.

I cussed a little.

Then, I cast back to the same spot, ready like a mountain lion watching a cottontail emerge from its hole. Instantly, I felt a pause, set the hook, and this time...

I was secured to a beautiful trout! It was a brilliant sensory awakening to be fighting this native fish on a cane rod. Just perfect.

Yep, a native Yellowstone Cutthroat trout that thought my Marathoner delivered by a Sweetgrass rod was irresistible. Or it could see the icy tears streaming down my cheek because I was not catching fish. Hard to tell.

A kiss and a release (after I slipped the Marathoner out, of course). Check out that orange slash!

And that made me happy.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Booboy

P.S. I do remember Christmas day and that I may not have caught a fish then. However, that was many trips ago, and I tend to repress such depressing memories....
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Catching up on a lot of fishing

My hands have been so slimy from catching fish, I need another pair of pants to wipe them on. Okay, maybe I have not been that busy catching fish, but I have still been pretty busy fishing. I also have upgraded my computer to a different operating system, and am in transition on software updates. And, because of frozen hands, and hooks snagged in my arm while trying to release a Rainbow trout -- I dropped my underwater camera deep in a river, where it is gone forever. Collecting fodder for blogging has been slowed down, but my time on the water has been steady since my last writing. Below is a summary of what I have been doing through the end of last year, in to this year. Keep in mind many days are missing, just like my frickin' camera.

Holidays are always a time for me to fish. So, this past Christmas, Sarah, Ariell and I made it to my old man's place to celebrate. It had been a while since I drilled a hole in ice, and Sarah had never been, so I talked her in to a day of ice-fishing on Christmas Eve. It was great to be in my home mountain range, on familiar water, on a beautiful day.

I kept thinking, maybe the dogs should have been attached to the sled so I could work less. But, I guess it is not like fishing is really that hard...

But as simple as it is to drill a hole, find a stick, tie a line to it and bait a hook, I still managed to only catch one tiny Cutthroat. Tiny. Sarah caught a pretty nice 10 inch or so, Brookie. I have pics. somewhere, but this is where my computer swap and camera drop come in to play. And as much as I enjoy fishing with natural materials, I thought there must be a better way. Besides, once your girlfriend starts out-fishing you on her first time out, it is best to change the game! Actually, I am very happy for her. It was very wonderful to see her freeze and still have fun.

On Christmas day, Sarah wanted to walk around, and see my home town. I brought a 2-piece, Sweetgrass pent. rod to try my luck on the crick that runs through town.

I am fishing literally 100 feet from Main St. in this pic. The school I used to go to is on the ridge across the river, about a 1/4 mile away. You can see the tire tracks from vehicles that drive by once in a while. And beneath the ice banks are trout! This stream is pretty terrible in the Winter. The latest I have ever caught a fish on this stream was early Dec., and the earliest was early March (on a dry fly). I had high hopes, but no luck catching anything. Sarah and I saw the town, and looked in many holes, but alas Christmas 2011 went fishless.

I needed a sign. Something was amiss, as I was not catching fish. I had to talk to the mountains and see what they said.

I climbed the nearest mountain -- okay a huge boulder covered in snow, to seek solace and guidance. I had some dogs to help out. They chewed on sticks while I looked over the mountain-side. Finally, something reverberated within my soul. I think it was hypothermia.

The next day, on our way back to Montana, we stopped on a little river that started my habit for Winter fly fishing. As soon as I could drive, I started fishing this stream through frozen months, and often had good luck. This day, I stopped not too far off a highway, at the foot of the mountains to see if a secret hole of mine was still fishing like I remember.

There is an obvious hole just below where I'm standing. My secret hole is a section upstream in seemingly featureless water. Below a tree is a deep scour where two faintly converging currents push edible organisms in to many trout noses. It only took a few casts with that wonderful Sweetgrass pent. before I hooked up. Oh yes!

I knelt to worship the fish that broke my fishless, holiday spell. It is good to honor the honorable Whitefish!

Ariell was relieved for me to catch something finally. She gets stressed when I get skunked, because she is such a thoughtful dog. I was happy, happy, joy, joy to have fish slime on my hands!

Okay, not every fish I catch has a small, down-turned mouth. Some are invasive, non-natives....

And they fight with vigor!

This little Brownie truly made my day. Several other Whitefish came to hand, but this guy fought quite brilliantly. The Brown was a great Holiday gift from the spirit of the mountain.

I fished a couple more times to end 2011. It was cold, my guides iced up frequently, but it was worth it. It was even worth loosing an important part of my life -- my camera. Before that tragedy, however, I filmed this New Years Day catch on a magnificent river. I fished a Sweetgrass 7 weight, hex rod to fight the battering winds in the valley. Follow the link to the Meandering Booboy channel on Youtube, and enjoy! It was an amazing Yellowstone Cuttie I will never forget.

January was busy, as most are. I was busy on the 23rd, getting another year older. Wiser I like to think, and I take some pride in having more jokes learned each year. The problem is I'm the only one that usually laughs...

At any rate, I visited some friends in NW Wyoming, and on the way home, stopped to fish a large tailwater on my 34th birthday. I fished my custom, 4/5 weight, 3-piece, pent, in a rather blinding snowstorm. The winds varied from a lot to quite a bit, while the snows sometimes pelted me, and sometimes just tickled a bit. After an hour or so fishing, and finding nothing, Sarah spied a pod of rising fish. She let me have a go, knowing I get cranky if I don't catch fish, and I was a ways away from the mountains to be talking to any mountain-spirits for help...

I cast, switched flies, cast, and switched flies...

Check out the bend in that beautiful rod!!! It just punched my dry and emerger flies right on in to the wind. Soon, I figured out the flies, hook-set, and all the goodness that goes in to catching fish on bamboo.

The first fish on my birthday was a fine, native specimen! I love how you can see the blowing snow streaking across my face. Real warm. I caught so many of these guys I lost complete track of numbers and time. But, those two subjects are some of my worst, anyway. I worked downstream, trying the edges of the rising pod, looking for a trout. About the time I was ready to pack 'er in, I hooked in to a fish that fought with a different spirit. It even jumped three times!!! I thought it was a Rainbow, but a minute later, I had it close enough to notice the chrome-colored Brown. Crazy. A jumping Brown. It was likely around 16 inches, but I released it quickly after catching it. My photographer was back in the car getting warm, and that beautiful Brown is left to keep in my mental Rolladex. It is such a nice memory. Every trip to any water anywhere is wonderful, as long as I'm casting Sweetgrass.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Booboy

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