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Frank D.

a small stream, if I must

Every once in a while an angler just needs to fish a small stream. I really can't tell you what it is about small streams, because they don't have what the magazines keep ballyhooing: big fish. Sometimes fatties find thier way in trickling rivulets, but often times, a 10-incher is a trophy. Fine with me! I love flicking flies under brush and along banks with my Sweetgrass bamboo rod. This is water that cane rods shine in. The tight confines require a rod that reacts instantly -- often with just the leader past the tip top. Sometimes there's a need to crawl to position, but many feet from the water, to keep from spooking fish. Sweetgrass bamboo will reach down a bit farther and punch line just where you want it to the far, undercut bank. It makes my soul sing soprano, eh!

Below are photographs and comments from a day I spent on a small stream with my good friend, the 7'9", 2 pc., 5 wt. Sweetgrass beauty:

Oh, yes, get me to that undercut bank, you little sassy bamboo
rod, you!

It took some work, as the fish weren't willing to come up. I had to dredge the bottom to find some trouts willing to play. But, that's what makes fly-fishing rewarding -- challenge. The easy-casting 5 wt., sure helped a guy out however....

My first trout -- an 11ish-inch Brownie! She's a good-lookin' specimen don't you think?!

Yep, had to go deep. But look at the silvery shine on the Brown and honey-glow
on that sweet-cane.

"Hello darlin'. Nice to see ya'. It's been a long time, you're just as lovely...
(Conway Twitty!)

I finally figured out what was going on. They were right on the bottom, right tight to the banks, and stuck surely to any sort of cover they could find. It took exacting precision to pull these Browns from thier hiding places. But, if you hold your mouth right, sometimes it can be done.

And this was the trophy for the day. Look how frickin' fat this Beastie Boy is! I could
only imagine what this blimp was chowin' on -- besides my flies.... 

And, like all good things, this day had to come to an end. After letting Mr. Pig, go, I took a moment to enjoy the canyon I stood encompassed by. Good times. Only getting better, eh.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

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ponds 'n' trout

I guess an angler has to fish a pond every once in a while. Not too long ago, after a rough day of work, Ariell and I decided we'd take a Sweetgrass 6 wt. rod and go see if we could entice some fatty trout to bite a fly. It was an eventfull day, but I think I'll just let the pictures tell most the story, and fill in some blanks with my own words. There's a bunch of pictures!

I scanned the deep green water while digging through my fly boxes, and noticed something vewy intewesting (as Elmer Fudd would say...). There were several Browns cruising the shoreline. And they were rather big.

This bruiser is challenging me to a dual, I just know it.

Right after it gets a little snack at the Shoreline Sammich Shop! This water can't be
more than 2 inches deep. How do they do it?!

I tied on a Black and Pink attractor pattern that looked similar to a Humpy, as I couldn't see exactly what they were munching on, a buddy tied the fly and I wanted to catch something on it. The cruising Brown pictured decided to NOT eat my fly. Man, I was heart-broken. Oh well. There are always more fish in the pond, as they say, eh. I found a pod of three Browns making a lap around the shore, and zipped the attractor a few feet in front of their intended path. It wasn't long before the bravest (also the smallest) of the bunch hurled it's maw at the fly and munched victoriously on it -- until it found out it was stuck to the mighty Sweetgrass bamboo rod! Yes.

Check that bend out! What a fighter!!!

But, after a few minutes, something felt kinda funny. I felt the fish wriggling, but less so. And, I could hardly pull it anywhere. Ummmm....crap. It seems the little fighter wrapped itself around a submerged tree I had somehow forgotten about.

Ooops. "I'll get you my pretty" (like the Wicked Witch of the West).

After tying on more tippet, I searched the shoreline for more cruising trouts. I didn't find any, so I cast to the depths with weighted nymphs to see what would out there. A few scattered casts, and jerky retrieves later, I was hooked-up again. Determined to not mess up this time, I moved away from any obstructions and did my worst. A cool characteristic of Browns in this area, is that they tend to jump -- sometimes often!

I know it's a bit out of focus, but I wanted to illustrate
the madness with which these Browns battle.

But I put the wood to this one and got 'er to shore. Go home team (like a cheer-
leader says...).

Very nice!

Blackness rolled in over the mountains not long after letting the Brownie go. It didn't scare me, and I just kept right on fishing. Ariell wandered the hills looking for various rodents. But, by the time I reached the far shore, fishing seemed pointless, as it seemed the clouds burst open and dropped everything they had.

...Rain drops keep falling on my head...

     Ariell and I decided to hide in the cover of a Fir tree. It was a relaxing break.

The storm lasted only 15 minutes or so. After it passed, Ariell and I went back to work. I stayed with the nymphs and blind-cast to some of my favorite spots. It took some effort, but I found something a little different.

Oh, goodness, could it be a Cutthroat?!

Yes, it is. A big, fat Westslope Cutthroat trout. Oh, man,
I love these fish! Oh, and the rod isn't so bad either;-)

See ya' later little buddy.

I stayed in the same spot, cast 180 degrees down the opposite bank, and found another feisty-finned-fishy. One characteristic in bamboo that I love, is how it shoots signals from fly-to-hand easily. I could feel this Cuttie shake its head, shoot along the bank, and leap from the water (I could also see that clearly now, since the rain was gone...). The feeling in cane just puts me closer to fish, and I like it.

Check this beauty out. It had such delicate shades of green contrasting with reds
and oranges. One of the more beautiful fish I have ever caught!

After that bright Cuttie, I looked to the sky, watched a Golden Eagle circle overhead, and thought I should head home. Afterall, I had another tough day of guiding people on trout water to get ready for.
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I love this stream!

There's a place in the Rocky Mountains that I keep going back to. I recently fished it on two separate trips, and thought I'd share some of my experiences. I'll preface this entry with the fact that the BIG ONE got away. Well, from my camera. I'll explain later....

I hate to get my head swollen too much, but I met two different anglers on the hike in. Each was carrying a 4-piece pack rod, so I asked how they had been doing. Both had not caught anything, then mentioned they missed a couple. Each ended the conversation the exact same way, "You'll probably catch one." At least they were optomistic about my possibilities.

Once reaching the Wilderness, I slowed down from my normal brisk hiking pace, and enjoyed some of the greenery.

The wonderful Wilderness sign! Two miles in, and at least another to go.

Ariell turning on a Chipmunk trail. The river flows in the background, giving a sense
of the drop-off to the valley bottom. Though Grizzlies wander this region, I've only
seen tracks; what was Ariell sniffing again?

A Wild Rose covered in Rocky Mountain Rain.

I had an idea of where the two anglers had fished -- as it's rather a nice hole, but much too obvious for my liking. I like to hike in a bit more, and get off the beaten path. This is where I ended up:

Not bad, eh?! I'm standing waist-deep in this freezing river, and loving it.
There's just something about being surrounded by water.

Oh yes, my goal was to catch a fish -- unlike my brotherly wilderness anglers (who were fishing run-of-the-mill graphite sticks...). I brought a 2 piece, 6 weight rod for this outing, knowing the big water might call for a longer and heaftier rod. Also, there are some real-live trophy fish in this stream, so I wanted to be ready, just in case. I put the hex Sweetgrass rod together, and tied on two nymphs. The stream had made most my familiar holes unrecognizeable, but I found a great hole behind a large boulder. Standing high on the boulder, I just dropped my flies in to the current, let them sink a bit then felt an instant tug. I half-heartedly set the hook, as I thought I'd have to fish all day before getting any action. But, the hook-set stuck, and I was quickly fighting a leaping Rainbow!

An Angler/Eagle's eye view of my Rainbow.

She wasn't huge, but I had a monstrous smile on my face for actually finding a fish. I took a couple photos, then slid down the boulder and released the Bow back behind it's boulder hideaway. I felt good.

That boulder was just part of a complex pool that I decided to work for the rest of the afternoon. I landed two more fishies -- both Cutties. The first was a palm-sized beauty that happily posed with the fly rod. The other -- a much larger fish I guessed around 18 inches, got to my feet -- only I was still waist-deep in the hole. I turned to get to the bank so I could land this dark Cutt, but almost lost my footing and went for a swim. Almost. I regained my feet just in time to realize I lost the fish. Oops.

That was about it for me. I was happy that I moved some fish, and rain began to pour down more steadily. Ariell was cold, and I was freezing. Thoughts of huge Cutties kept me just warm enough to make it to the nearest bar for a bison burger covered in green chilli, washed down with a local microbrew. The bartender -- a rather attractive kayaker, asked if I caught any fish that day. I said, "I went fishing didn't I?!" Everyone in the bar laughed. All one of them...not including the bartender....

...some other fish I have caught there, recently:

"I don't know Ariell. Do you think we should come back here again sometime?"

"I don't know? Is it going to be this frickin' cold, again?!"

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

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a new river with old friends

We reached the put-in after driving for several hours, and thought maybe we should go somewhere else. Not only was the hillside incredibly steep, we couldn't see the river in the distance. And the mosquitoes were biting. But this is where we were going to fish, and we had to drag the raft to some point in the unknown distance. Joe assured us the river was amazing. Maybe the torturous trail was worth the sweat and blisters.

 This trip was my first on a legendary river. I was fishing with Joe Larson, my buddy since childhood, and large influence in my fly-fishing-bum lifestyle, and Morrison Simms, daughter of John Simms, founder of Simms Fishing. Morrison is an amazing angler, even though she likes to fish dry flies, and has taught me a flood of fly-fish guiding knowledge. Also bumming on the river with us, was Matt, a guiding buddy of Joe's. He decided to take his personal cataraft, and would be our satellite while drifting through the canyon.

Before the float could begin, we needed to get the Red Rooster, Joe's raft, to the river. It is a doomsday task that, it turned out – Matt and I didn't have to do! Since we drove our vehicles, we had to run the shuttle while Morrison and Joe toughed-out the journey to the river. I love those two. Those two kinda hate me....

Matt hiking down the "access" point. Where you can't see the trail is where it
drops precipitously to the river!

Once to the river, however, the Earth seemed a magical place. Birds chirped, the sun ducked occasionally behind cumulus clouds, and a few caddisflies were busy dipping eggs in the river. I rigged my Sweetgrass 7'9”, 5 weight with a medium-sized caddis dry, but put a nymph dropper behind it just so I couldn't be confused with some dry-fly-and-bamboo-rod-fishing purist. Not that there was anyone else within miles to care.

Joe and Morrison getting ready to rock after dragging the raft a quarter mile down
the mountain.

We loaded up, hit the first big rapid – a good 3 foot vertical drop, and had a great day. I had a bit of adrenaline flowing, and started fishing the moment Joe jumped in to row. The small pockets behind boulders were like magnets. My flies just stuck to the pockets on every cast. The Sweetgrass rod seemed to be thinking for me. I looked, paused a bit on the back-cast, then flipped flies forward where my gaze led. Joe pulled expediently on the sticks to keep us from getting flipped in rapids, while I sought pockets that might hold fish, and hit them naturally.

I got a hit in the first pocket we passed, but missed the little guy. Morrison, fishing in the bow, had a few hits on top also, but they were also lacking in size. I switched to nymphs, intending to find bruisers below the surface. And, while I found fish, they weren't huge. They were, however, enough to keep me laughing and smiling all day.

About ready to land my first fish on a 5 weight, Sweetgrass rod.

It's hard to tell in the picture, but it's about a 20-inch Rainbow!

Another one!

And another!

At some point during the float, Joe said, “It's beautiful here. Morrison look up and check out this canyon.” Morrison, who was also fishing dutifully, and focused on her dry fly, finally took a look up. “Wow, it really is pretty.” Keep in mind Joe and Morrison live in Jackson, Wyo., and see beauty every day.

I decided maybe I should see what they were oohing about, and looked up. Yep, it was beautiful. Then, I started fishing again.

Joe and Morrison real happy about the day's adventure! Go Pokes!!!

Sunset before we got to the pass....

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

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Love reading your stories. Someday you might even think about taking the old man on a father/son fishing trip. I did have a litt... Read More
Sunday, 04 July 2010 20:19
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a few friends on a big river

Joel Thompson, my boss, and the outfitter for Rock Creek Cattle Company, needed to get out and fish. He was getting cranky. I needed to fish also, as I had been working so hard for him. We asked around and managed to get enough friends to use two boats on the only local river that was mostly clear and fishable. We were all excited for a day floating in the middle of the week. I was especially excited, as I was going to try out a Sweetgrass 7' 9”, 5 weight, 2 piece rod that I picked up the night before from Jason Fox, who works part time at the shop. The rod felt good with a few test wiggles, but I wanted to put it to the test. 

I planned on rowing most the day, to give my friend Kyler a chance to catch fish, as he doesn't get out much during the Summer. He is too busy keeping the golf course at the Rock Creek Cattle Company (RCCC or “Ranch”) playable. We had an extra seat in the back, so Kyler brought Roy, his 18 month old French Brittany Spaniel, and I brought Ariell, my 3-year-old Large Munsterlander. The boat was filled with good friends – and beer.


Roy and Ariell, look for rising fish, while Kyler and I try to figure out what they're hitting.

The day proved for difficult fishing, as the river was rising quickly, even as we drifted. The bugs were off, and the fish were off. The day was beautiful, however, and Kyler seemed to enjoy me yelling at him for going too far back on his back-casts. Soon, Joel's boat disappeared in the distance, and it seemed as if Kyler and I had the river to ourselves.

It took a while, but finally we found one fly the fish were willing to bite, as Kyler's strike indicator zipped sideways, and he promptly set the hook. He battled the athletic trout well, as it lept from the water. We saw the buttery sides, and knew he was hooked fast to a Brown trout. This river is one of few where the Browns will flip their way skyward. The fight ended with me netting the 19-inch beauty in my handmade net. A couple pics. and the Brownie was home again.


Kyler with a beautiful 19-inch Brown.


Kyler setting the Brown back from whence it came. 

Not much happened the rest of the day. The swallows swirled several hundred yards above us. Apparently the bugs were no where near the water. That was unfortunate. Dark clouds drifted in on a slight breeze and it looked like the weather could get interesting. Fortunately it was time for lunch, and it was ready by the time we got to shore. Nick, the Ranch's chef, Joel, and Scott, a local guide, had made camp under a bridge, and readied lunch just before rain started to fall. A full belly, and cover from the brief storm were welcomed by all. 

Scott asked if I minded if he rowed for me a while. I said I didn't mind at all, and couldn't wait to try out the Sweetgrass rod. I got it rigged with a couple nymphs, weight and indicator. Well, one of my nymphs looked suspiciously like a worm, but it was the only fly to catch anything yet that day. Who could blame me?! 

Scott manned the oars perfectly, as we drifted along the willows. The rod performed wonderfully. It worked progressively down the blank as I worked more line out, then sprung forward to deliver the last of my casts. Flipping line in the air was so rewarding that I almost didn't care if I caught anything. Almost. 

Pretty flowers (Yep, I don't know what they are called...)clinging to a cliff.

It didn't take long before I got distracted by bugs, birds and beer, so I was a bit slow to notice a fish had taken my fly on a long drift. A tap on the rod's tip was my first sign that I had hooked in to something. Once I got the slack out of the line, I realized I still had a fish, and it was not happy about being hooked. It broke the surface several times, displaying its brilliant namesake red stripe. A Rainbow! It was plump and healthy. I had a difficult time heaving it in, but finally Scott scooped the trout to the boat, and we “high-knuckled” each other in celebration. 

We snapped a couple shots, then I kissed and released the Rainbow back to its lair. Kissing fish before their release is a habit I started as a kid. My dad told me it was good luck, and I'm a bit superstitious. I was satisfied with the one Rainbow and rowed Scott down the rest of the day. We missed a few nice fish that managed to bend the hook just enough to get free. One of those fish, Scott guessed at more than 20 inches long. Even though the big one got away, I still had a great time with that wonderful 5 weight. I can't wait to get it on another river.

Trying to get the upset Rainbow to the net. Note the healthy bend in the rod.

A brilliant and fat Rainbow with a brilliant and beautiful Sweetgrass rod.

In Wild Waters, 

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

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