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Frank D.

My biggest fish on a Sweetgrass rod -- so far!

It was a river I have known, however Ariell and I were upstream of that which we knew. I drove to the road's end, in an effort to get above the torrents of water draining the Coastal range. My hope was to find Steelhead pushing their way up with the high water. Though I didn't find any chrome, something else I found sure caught my fancy.

I had rigged the powerful Sweetgrass 6/7 weight, 8'6", quad. with a couple searching fly patterns -- streamers, one bright, one dark. I worked downstream through a few holes, punching the streamers between snags and tangles. It wasn't artful angling, but I was thoroughly working every conceivable lie for a migrating Steelhead.

To reach an intriguing pocket, I had to scoot across the river channel on a downed tree. Three downed trees guarded the deepest part of the lie, which was also protected by tree roots holding up the bank. I plopped my streamers in the pocket while delicately balancing on the supportive, downed, wet Maple that I crossed the channel on. A huge snout rose to the black streamer, at the pocket's tail. It inhaled the fly and shot to the roots after I set the hook. The battle was on.

The quad rod pulsed as I heaved the fish away from the roots. I was loosing my balance on the log and dropped to the river, hoping it wasn't over my waders. It wasn't. My line tangled around every conceivable stick and rock. As I slowly pulled the monster in closer, I could see it was a salmon. Oh man. I was a little excited (still am, really).

After a tripping my way through the snag-infested lie, I was able to get downstream to a cobble bank that offered secure footing. I heaved with the Sweetgrass rod, keeping it bent to the cork grip. The salmon couldn't keep the fight up forever, though it tried. Several minutes passed in the tug-o-war between the salmon and myself, before I was able to land it. It's fatty flanks and huge hooked kype kept me in awe for a moment. Then I leaned over to remove the fly and noticed it's gums were white -- a beautiful Coho salmon!

I didn't measure the beast, but posed it next to the Sweetgrass rod and shot some video of it. Regardless, it was a huge fish to be caught on cane. It only took a few seconds to revive the wild creature and it shot right back to its rootwad home. My s&!t-eating grin stayed on my face the rest of the day.

The biggest fish I have caught on a Sweetgrass rod! A native/wild Coho salmon, caught on a 6/7 wt.
Sweetgrass quad rod.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy
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Awesome fish Zac! That must have been a rush pulling that in on cane!
Monday, 20 December 2010 17:33
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A flood of variables

A flood of variables could have kept me from catching fish: rain, high water, muddy water, cold water, rain, poison oak, rain...OK, I was mostly concerned about the rain. But, by bracing my spirits against the torrential downpours, I found a pleasant surprise.

The winter Steelhead season is beginning to pick up on a few coastal streams. I thought I'd check a couple out and see what was going on. Despite the predicted rain storms, and the very apparent showers outside my rod shop's window, I tossed a few Sweetgrass rods in the rig, along with Ariell, and hit the road to head as far west as I could. I didn't really care what I caught; I just wanted to catch SOMETHING!

My arrival streamside happened hours after the crescent moon peaked over the valley. All I knew for sure was that the river was noisy. Moonlight danced atop the waves rolling in the thalweg (the deepest part of a river channel). I was concerned the river was unfishable, but that would only really mean it would be harder to catch a fish. Any river is fishable at any time, afterall, eh.

A wonderfully starry night gave hope that maybe -- for once this season -- things would work in my favor. An American Dipper chattered creekside to welcome the morning. The ruckus gave me and ear-grabbing grin. Oh yes. The water was clear and very fishable. Hell, I thought, it might even be catchable...

Deciding to hike a ways upstream, just to see what was up there, I put together a 3 pc., 6/7 weight quad. rod, designed my Glenn. Yep, a 6/7 weight quad. You don't see them everyday. As I understand, it was one of a handfull that Glenn was experimenting with, to see how the quads did in heavier line weights. My first casts with the rod on a pond near home, led to a few oohs and ahhs slipping from my mouth. I liked it.

The water was truly inviting. I hiked on a high bank, searching longingly for any sign of fish. A small peninsula, rooted with a large poplar, gave me pause. Trying to pierce the river's depth with purposefull vision, I saw a shadow. It was surely a fish. A big fish, that I spooked with heavy footsteps atop the bank it hid beneath. Oh yes.

Tying on a chartreuse bunny streamer I had tied the day previous, I snuck to the pool's head to try another approach. I didn't have to cast far, but I had to cast accurately, through several tree branches, to hit the thalweg and swing the streamer through the current edge. The weighted fly sliced right between the encroaching branches, just where I wanted it to go. Nice. I held the line tightly, ready for any interruption to the drift. The first take came surprisingly quckly, on the first frickin' cast!

I hooked quickly to a beautiful fish in the mid teens. It looked like a juvenile or jack Chinook salmon! I spurted out a few whoops and hollars. I couldn't believe I caught a fish on my first cast. Then, I reached behind me to grab a camera and document the moment. And the fish flipped off, and I didn't catch a fish on my first cast. Crap.

Ah well. I kept working the water, and it wasn't long before a smaller specimen pounced the streamer. This time I had 'er. I didn't worry about fishing for the camera until I had the trout -- a beautifully native Coastal Cutthroat, secured in shallow water near the bank. A few photos, a couple giggles, a kiss, and she was gone. Oh yeah.

"Hey Zac, this looks like a good spot. Can I go chase mice now?!"

A foot-long Coastal Cutthroat, successfully hooked and landed on an 8'6", 6/7 wt., quad,
designed by Glenn Brackett.

The streamer is as big as its head!

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy
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Ode to the Pentagon rod

If you haven't done it. It really is something you should do before you die; fish with a pent., bamboo fly rod designed by Jerry Kustich! I can't tell you what the Mojo/Juju mix is, in these rods, but Jerry has designed something special every angler needs to fish at least once.

I first wiggled a pentagon rod a few Sweetgrass shops ago, not long after first meeting the Boo Boys. Rods of rarity always intreague my mind, and the five-sided rod Jerry handed me was no exception. However, my first wiggles felt kinda wierd. It felt a little "bendy." It didn't seem to have the steeper, progressive action the Boys were working on. Jerry said, "Yeh, they feel kinda soft when you wiggle them. But you should go cast it and tell me what you think. They really are different when you fish them."

I took Jerry's advice, put a 5 wt. line on one rod, and a 4 wt. on another and hit the Beaverhead. Jerry couldn't have been more right on (as expected). Both rods shot line out in tight loops and easy accuracy. It was something else. I wanted one. Since then, I have had the pleasure to fish several models of pent. rods, including one I built off of Jerry's blank. The pent. has turned in to my go-to rod when I know pin-point casting is needed. They feel so natural in my hand, they are probably psychic.

The desire to have five strips of bamboo, balanced beautifully in my palm has led me to request one of my own from the Boys. Soon, I will be the proud owner of a 7'9", 4/5 wt., 3 pc. pent. rod. I asked Dave what he thought about my order. He said, "That's something we do really well. You're going to love that rod."

Above, is a 3 pc. pent rod made by Thomas Simarud before his departure back to his home in Norway. It is a wonderful example of a packable pent.

Above: A Sweetgrass prototype 7'6", 2 pc., 4/5 wt., pent. rod. Also pictured is a cross section to show the hollowing and design within the magical blanks. This shop rod has become a constant companion for fishing tributary trout streams. I love it.

Jerry's license plate. Yep, he has problems. And a cool license plateLaughing!

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy
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A tribute to our veterans, and my old, wooden boat

I'm not sure what is wrong with me. But, for some reason I have to have grass rods and wooden boats! I guess there could be worse things wrong with me, but still, I may surely have an uncurable problem.

It started in high school, when I decided I needed a boat to get me to shores I could not otherwise touch. And there were a few big rivers around, that needed me to float them. My step-dad at the time bought me an aged, wooden craft and I set about stripping off the old paint and giving it new life. However, college got in the way of that project, and I was never to see my little blue boat again (divorce). Thus, once I got to ol' Oregon, surrounded by water on all sides, really -- I knew I needed to scrape paint again. I purchased an aged 16 foot craft from a guy who lived on a river, and have since been working hard (for a slacker cane bum), on getting my water godess ready to travel vast and wild waters.

Below is a brief pictoral of what I've been working on, and a tribute to our veterans. I am proud to be an American, and love the freedom I have to pursue my dreams -- and fish whenever I want! Many of my family members, and friends have served, and I am proud to know them. Thank you. 

Ariell is real excited to be helping me scrape paint. Just about got the green off, and am almost ready to epoxy and fill the rotten places. After that, some silicone, then primer and paint. Then reassembly... Then, I'm sure something else! I just like the idea of having bamboo rods ready to go at a moment's notice. Pictured are a few Sweetgrass rods: a 12' spey prototype, 7'9", 4/5 wt. pent., 8'3", 4 wt. hex., 8'3", 6/7 quad (That's right, QUAD.), and 8', 6 wt. hex.! So, many choices. I just gotta get on the rivers!

Am I doing this right, Ariell? Boy, I can't wait to paint this thing pink....

I get distracted easily, and decided I should see if the knee-knockers work. They do, and are rather comfortable. Ariell is practicing backing the boat up to the ramp. She's such a good helper. The sad thing is this might be the only time I get to cast in my boat! Seems when you get such a craft, you spend all your time taking everyone else down-river. A guide's work is never done;-) I know. You feel sorry for me.

Here's Ariell and I's tribute to our veterans. Thank you for keeping us free to fish whenever the heck we want -- with Sweetgrass cane!

"Geese, Zac, I'm not sure blue is my color. Can I go chase voles now?" Sure Ariell, go do all the things you want to do!

Well, I'll keep you updated on my progress. Hopefully in another three weeks, all my epoxy-paint will be dried, and I'll have the seats and everything ready to go. We'll see how she turns out.

All photos were taken by my good friend Rob Burns, who spends all his time in front of a computer, and has lost most his abilities as an outdoorsman. You can feel sorry for him too;-) Thanks Robby!

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

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Ariel, Nice work, on the boat and the Veteran's Day wishes. I'm right there with you. The work on your boat has me itching to g... Read More
Saturday, 13 November 2010 13:31
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This stream has been calling my name

A Thanksgiving snowstorm kept me out last year. This year nothing was going to stop me from getting to a little-known stream east of the Cascades. Though it did snow, I was able to slide my way over a mountain pass and in to a deep green, ancient forest, speckled in yellow Tamaracks.

The forest road seemed to be lined with gold -- but it was just fallen
Tamarack needles. I checked to make sure.

Darkness closed in before I was able to find a suitable fishing and camping spot. I pitched my dome tent in deafening blackness. Too curious about what this stream looked like, I hiked a while along its nearest bank to survey its condition. It looked good. The morning was even better.

I've sure camped in uglier places! The stream meanders just beyond the buck and pole fence, behind Ariell. The giant Ponderosas and firs seemed like pillars in a cathedral.

Ariell and I hiked downstream for quite a while. The channel was shallow, with little flow. A guidebook noted deep holes that held big Redbands -- and Bull trout! I started looking for Bull trout water (It's legal to fish for them here, as long as you let them go quickly. I pinched my barbs, just in case.). However, I never really found water that seemed it could hold Bullies. The stream just didn't cut down much. It was mostly a long riffle, with a few deeper runs. By deep, I mean like a foot and a half deep. Some logs and fallen trees dammed the water a bit and provided cover for the occasional Redband.

I worked tight pockets and careened by fly upside logjams, to finally find this banded bullet! At 11 inches, it turned out to be the trophy for the day. My Sweetgrass pent rod did everything needed to get the fly set just right. These little guys can be hard to set the hook to, and believe me, it takes a lot of pure angler skill to catch fish this littleWink.

See ya later little buddy!

"Well, Ariell, that was fun. Think we can get another one out of there?"
"Look. There's a squirrel!"

 I fished for the rest of the day, mostly exploring the canyon. It got bigger, but still didn't form any big holes I was hoping for. Maybe I didn't go far enough (only about 2 miles). Guess I'll have to go again one day! I did land several more Redbands, native like the Earth. It was cool to see their brilliant colors in a crisp, Fall day, and enjoy their presence with a Sweetgrass bamboo rod in my hand.

I left that day and headed back "home," ramming headlong in to a rain, then snow, then rainstorm, over the Cascades. I love all-wheel-drive!

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy
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