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

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

Discovering Redbands and Coastals

It took a while, but I finally found some feisty fishies. I had some business to take care of near a silly city, and managed to get the afternoon free to explore the upper stretch of a familiar river. A year had passed since the last time I visited, but the cool, flowing waters felt so much like home. An 8'3", 4 weight bamboo rod seemed the perfect companion for this little outing to find some Coastal Cutthroat and Redband trout.

I've seen uglier places... Bedrock riffles plunged in to deep pools throughout this river. I was always excited to see what was at the bottom. However, most my luck was in the riffles and at the very head of the holes.

My tactics were to swing wet flies through every pocket and run, then let the flies slide through pools. Often, I stood a ways from the bank, to better see what was going on. You will notice I'm not wearing waders! Oops. I remembered my waders, but forgot my boots on this last-minute trip. Luckily the water was low and I made due with my "Alabama" boots. I named them "Alabama" boots, because I bought them when I lived in 'Bama (yep, I lived in the deep South at one point in time. Roll Tide!...), for walking through swamps and canoeing adventures. They have proven a whorthwhile investment. I managed to flip line around boulders, and pry a few little guys from the water.

This little Redband took a swung wet fly at the head of a pool. They may be small, but they fight like tornadoes, and love a fast-moving fly cast with a medium-actioned bamboo rod!

Hey buddy. What you got there?

This guy liked an olive beadhead leech.

Near the end of the day, I was getting to noticeably bigger water. The pools were deeper and the riffles tended to braid a bit. I started thinking it was wierd I wasn't catching any Cutthroat. This river had both resident and sea-run forms, but I was somehow not catching any. And it is sooooo not like me to not catch fish, afterallCool! But this pool looked promising.

And it was! This was my biggest fish of the day (a whopping 11-incher), and a beautifully bright Coastal Cutthroat. I was rather pleased.

Cutthroat, Redbands, 'Bama boots, and a sweet-casting Sweetgrass Rod, on an amazing river -- all by myself. Not a bad day at the office.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy
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A new home, searching for fish

The season has changed for this old river guide. I recently moved from my Montana home to an Oregonian ambiance, thinking I could catch some bigger fish. And I'm still thinking one of these days I will.

I moved in with Rob, a buddy of mine from years gone by. Rob and his wife Erin, have given me a place to stay while I explore the Northwest. Sleeping in the shack next to the swamp fits my lifestyle well, and gives me plenty of time to try new mosquito-repelling techniques! For a break from the swamp, Rob offered to take me on a float down the river just across the field from the house. I was stoked to catch some new species with my 5 wt., pent. Sweetgrass rod. The slow-flowing river was much different than those I have been floating in Montana, but it offered some interesting obstacles. 

This was the adrenaline moment of the float: Pictured is the canoe's bow, in which I was seated, with a tree limb passing over my head -- after it hit the back of my cranium. Captain Rob took us backward through this maize of fallen trees, while I tried to push us away with my paddle. However, my paddle somehow shot out of my hand and was swept away by the river. Oops. Rob did, however, do a heck of a job getting through alive....

And I even managed to catch a fish after a time of punching flies in to sunken logs!

While not generally a preferred gamefish, this fat Pikeminnow put up one heck of a fight on
the 5 wt. Sweetgrass rod! Rob made the point that any fish you release is pretty much a
game fish. Good point....

I did manage to get this little Smallmouth bass, a promise that I was
getting better at finding new quarry. Note, the organism dangling from
Parker's mouth. Parker is Rob's German Shorthair Pointer, and an old
canoeing pro.

Oh, it's a Pikeminnow! Good job Parker.

Ariell is getting pretty good at riding in water crafts of various sorts. But she gets bored when
the fish aren't biting and would rather cuddle on someone's lap. Rob was nearby and
kind enough to offer Ariell a place to settle during the float.

The evening progressed with slower than anticipated fishing, but we did land a few Pikeminnows, a baby Steelhead, a few Smallies, and a couple Largemouth bass (we missed photo ops. for most of 'em). We headed down to the river's mouth and enjoyed the open, river valley. The left hand side of the photo is another river dumping in to the main river -- two river confluences within a 1/4 mile of each other. Cool. 

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy
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Bamboo and Ponds

I realize many bamboo rod afficianados are not really in to fishing ponds and lakes. However, I love them! There are a few spots around that enable me to try some stillwater action when I get the urge. My latest urge came while setting up my friend Ron's new-to-him boat. We wanted to give it a test run, and I made sure I packed an 8'3", 4 wt., Sweetgrass rod to tempt the trouts  with. The pond we were to test the boat in is known for being finicky, so I mostly hoped I'd catch something. Good thing that boat floated, and good thing Sweetgrass rods are very durable....

Weedbeds are thick in this glacier-pond, so one must heave a bit to keep the fat Westslope
Cutthroat from burying themselves in vegetation. Check out the bend in this rod as I try
to keep a fish from getting away!

And look what we have here, ladies and gentlemen!

A brilliantly obeise CutthroatCool!

As often is my habit, I like to give a little lovin' to my favorite
fishies whenever possible.

The day went on with Ron and I slowly moving about the pond, and hooking up just often enough to keep us entertained. They were such fat fish, we got a little extra excited every time we boated another one. My batteries died on my camera, so I wasn't able to get a photo of Ron and his fish. But, I have just made a YouTube page to blog on, and will post a video of his first fish on a Sweetgrass rod, soon!

Below is one of the larger specimens I landed, just as a Great Horned owl landed in the top of a nearby Ponderosa. What a day!

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

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sunrise west of the divide, sunset on the east

It doesn't happen often, but I like to take advantage of it, when I can. Chances to fish with rod-design gods come around only so often, afterall. Sam was going to spend a few days fishing with our buddy Bernard Ramanauskas, on a river to the south, just to the west of the Continental Divide. I thought it'd be a good idea to invite myself along and see how those two work water. I only had a day and a half to spend on the trip, so caught up with the two late in the day, after taking about three wrong turns. Saw some pretty country...

Morning rose roughly through a pile of clouds and fog. My eyes felt foggy-groggy, until I took a moment to check out my surroundings. Beautiful.
Sunrise on the river, west of the Continental Divide. Not bad, eh!

That morning Bernard, Sam and I headed to the river of mystique, magic and mojo. I had never fished the section we were heading to, and thought I'd just watch these two, and see if they actually knew how to fish. They did. Silly me!

Sam the master-glass-caster, blasts yards of line in to the biting wind.

The wind decided to blow just about the same time we got to the river. Figures. Sam fished a sweet 8'3" glass rod prototype he has taken a liking to. Having cast a couple versions of the same rod, I have to say it is a true gem. Glass tends to have a slower action than graphite; it is very similar to bamboo. Even though the wind was rather difficult for casting, Sam punched loops far in the distance. He delivered flies just to the noses of rising fish, and...

...he hooked up! But then the fish threw the hookSurprised!

Fish living in this section are very particular about what they consume. It's not that they are watching their figures so much as in tune with what bugs are best to eat. The small flies they seem to like, make it tough to set the hook with diminutive artificials. Often, just getting a trout to take your fly is very satisfying enough. Sort of.

Bernard, the bamboo guy for Scott rods, and maker of Eden Cane rods, whips purdy loops 'or the river. We got seperarted early in the outing, but apparently Bernard caught a couple Beasties before fishing shut down, and the wind whipped around.

I decided to give this fly-fishing thing a try after watching Sam for a while. By the time I got to my own stretch of water, the wind was unrepentant. I used a rod I made just for such conditions. It's a 6/7 weight I designed with lots of help from the other Boo Boys, including Sam (the Carbon-fiber god). I was happy with how it cast in to the wind, but frustrated with the fish's refusals. I kept switching patterns, and finally fooled a little guy.

Even though a small sampling of the river's trout, this guy was a tough target. He took a #20 mayfly cripple I tied up, out of Bison hair. That was pretty cool.

I landed a few more little guys before I started to shiver uncontrollably from the cold river. Wading to the nearest shore, I found a pod of big guys rising just upstream from me. That warmed me up quite quickly. Casting with a fury, I found they didn't want the flies the little guys liked. I switched things up and hooked in to a steam roller!

Oh yes! This guy was a fatty, and gave one heck of a fight!

In fact, this is about as close as I got. I was snapping pictures of him at my feet, when he decided to throw my hook, before I could touch him. I counted him anyway, calling it a quick release. I guessed him at around 20 inches long, and he wasnt' near the biggest one around. The biggest one, his girlfriend I guessed, was just upstream from where I hooked this guy. But, alas, she didn't want my offerings. After more than an hour of casting and switching flies, the most I got from her was a chase or two. What a tease!

I noticed after a while, that no one was around. I was on my own, as everyone had left while I tried to trick my big fish. Needing to get home anyway, for another tough day of work, I decided to fish my way home. Just after crossing to the eastern side of the Continental Divide (then back to the west to get home), I found a decent spot to try. The wind was near non-existant, so I decided to try a Sweetgrass 7'6", 5 wt., pent. rod. I love this rod, as it's easy to cast and just feels perfect in my hand. The evening was a pure joy, just to cast this rod.

Working some pocket water in a side-channel, with the 5-sided wonder.

It took some time, but I finally managed to fool a decent Brown trout, that was hiding behind a boulder. A well-placed cast and natural drift fooled the little fella'.

Hey buddy!

That fish made my day. I fished with some good friends, learned more about fly rod design, and caught fish on both sides of the divide. The setting sun was a perfect gift-wrapping for the long journey.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy
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exploring for natives

Recent talk in the shop about exploring new waters finally got me to adventure to a new stream. The stream I chose was purported to have genetically pure Westslope Cutthroat trout. Oh, the pure Cuttie. How I love thee. What was I talking about? Oh, yes. Cutthroat. I checked the state's info. section on species distribution and they said Cutties and Browns were to be found in this stream. Sounded good to me, as the Browns are about to start running up tributary streams any day now, in search of the perfecct place to spawn. I know how they feel... That's why Ariell and I grabbed an 8'3", 4 wt., Sweetgrass rod and hit the road.

The first stream crossing off the highway, got my blood hot. It looked so trouty, I drove a bit faster than I should have to the first reasonable pull-out I could find. The stream's valley was perfectly still. No wind, no people, and no sound but the crick tumbling down the mountains. Pockets of sunlight penetrated the thick pine canopy.

A moss, lichen and pine-needle aura wafted through Ariell's muzzle and my nose. We were soon treking a few yards to the nearest streambank, and I cast.

The stream!

Ariell's ready to fish.

I am sure ready to fish -- after I finish my beer and get done revelling
in my surroundings.

This water looked so perfect for Cutties. My casts nailed the small pockets, and undercut banks where little native fish should have been. But, nothing came out to play. We moved upstream, hitting some choice habitat. Nothing. Uh-oh. If I didn't catch anything I would have nothing to write about for my blog; what could be worse?! Ariell thought it would be a good idea if we tried a bit farther upstream.

This looks like a possibility...

There's a little native! It even took a fly I tied-up just the other day. Not bad.

Now, I could relax a bit. Everything seemed to meld together. I felt as if this place was my own home. If only I could get cable TV and an internet connection... just kidding. The sound of rushing water was all I needed. I could just be. Ariell chased chipmunks.

Each hole had one fish in it. That was the rule. I kept catching fish and working upstream for hours. Well, until this happened:

I jumped off a large, fallen tree and plunged knee-deep through the soil! Oops. I fell flat on my face, saving the Sweetgrass rod of course. After realizing what happened, I brushed the pine needles off my face, and noticed something edible in front of me.

Thimbleberries!!! These were the first, ripe Thimbleberries I had found all season. They were sweet and crunchy, just like I remembered 'em. Mmmm. After a sweet snack, I kept fishing, of course. But my next fish was a huge surprise.

A frickin' Bull trout!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was a juvenille, but for sure a native Bully. The state didn't mention anything about these little beauties being present... How is it me and my Sweetgrass rod found something as rare as this, when the state undoubtedly used a backpack shocker for the same purpose? Pure skill, charm and great sense of humor, I figure Wink.

That pretty much made my amazing day. A new stream filled with native trout, in a beautiful valley. I couldn't ask for more. Oh, and I caught them on dry flies!
I'll end this session with a couple more trouts. Hope you enjoy.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

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