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On the Road & the River

Photos and Meditations on Fly Fishing in Southwest Montana and wherever.....

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Posted by on in On the Road Blog
I've been wandering around tributary streams, juicing every last bit of dry fly fishing I can. The colors I find myself surrounded in are soothing to my angling soul. The fishing's been pretty decent as well. Below is what I found on a momentary journey with a 7 1/2 foot, 3/4 weight, three pc., Sweetgrass rod:


The setting sun highlights every color in the forest.

I found mostly Brookies on a previous trip to this stretch of stream, and expected to find them again. However, there seemed to be fewer. It took some exploration, but in a deep hole, bordered by downed timber, I found this brightly-speckled specimen.




This brilliantly-colored Brookie slashed below my camera lens, threw my hook, then disappeared back to its black, fluid home! Man he was pretty.

A while later, in another deep hole, this one bordered by boulders:

A haloed Brownie that took a Royal Wulff (one of my favorite dry flies)! It is such a tiny stream, so to find large, painted trout like these, taking flies at the business end of my Sweetgrass rod, is how Fall should be. Just a great day.


Makes me smile, son;-)


Yet, all things must come to an end. I eventually had to leave this wondrous stream bordered in painted colors. The mysteries that swim in blackness still swim daily in my meandering mind.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Booboy

Posted by on in On the Road Blog
It's Fall. Seems like Summer was just a waking dream that slipped through my fish-slime-covered fingers. Now, seeing leaves turn yellow, I think back to when leaves were just getting Kelly green, during guided trips with friends from all over. One particular trip I think back to, was with Hanna Garner and Klayton Mai (German last name...). They have been coming to the Ranch for the past couple years, and I have been lucky enough to guide them, hang out and become great friends. We are friends mainly because Klayton is a fishin' fool, and Hanna makes amazing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

On this trip, I got to fish a bit, as Hanna and Klayton can pretty much do everything on their own, now. The three of us strung up an assortment of Sweetgrass bamboo sticks, and hit the stream for what was to become a very memorable trip.


Hanna is showing Klayton how you are not supposed to come this far back on your back-cast. She remembers it is very important to keep your rod tip at one O'clock. But Sweetgrass rods are so forgiving on casting technique that...


...Hanna was able to land an assortment of trouts, including this nice Brownie!


And back to the crick for the ol' Brownie.


While Hanna was slayin' trouts downstream, Klayton and I worked a ways above to see what we could see. Klayton is lost in braided channels about the middle of the frame. What a great place to be lost!




Klayton fights a healthy Brownie with an 8'3" 6 weight Sweetgrass hex rod. He naturally casts bamboo rods, a fact we found out last year. He started fly-fishing after lots of bass fishing, with a silly ol' graphite rod. When I let him borrow a Sweetgrass stick, he fell in love with it, and never looked back.

Klayton Mai fighting Brown trout with Sweetgrass rod
Klayton enjoys the delicate but powerful rod-action, finesse and love of nature one must posses to truly become one with the outdoors while fishin' cane. And when he isn't fighting fish on Sweetgrass rods, he...well, be likes to beat the hell out of people.


Klayton is on the left, beating the fellow on the right. He is an MMA cage fighter, and is now 1-0 in his professional cage-fighting career. That fight lasted 2:37 with Klayton winning by TKO.


It also took Klayton about two and a half minutes to hook and land this guy.


A little finesse, grace, love and understanding leads to a nice Brown trout to be released from Klayton's delicate hands.


"What'd you say about Sweetgrass rods?! You don't like Sweetgrass?! Now it's time to pay!!!"
I'm kinda paraphrasing what was likely going through Klayton's mind while pummeling this guy.


Look, Daisies and clover blossoms!


In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering MMA Fighter Wanna-be



Once a year I fish upstream for 26.5 miles, wading continuously. It seems crazy every time I do it, more so, every year I get a little older. This year, fishing for the fourth time on the Greys River in western Wyoming, was no different. It was crazy! But, I got to share the experience with my younger brother Robert Walters, his buddy Alex Muedder, and my good bud from childhood, Joe Larson. Tricia Curley, my mother and Tom Sexton, my father also showed up to keep us heading steadily upstream, as did my wonderful girlfriend, Sarah, and the mutts: Ariell, Moriah, and Teagan. Below are some pictures to take you to the event, the 7th annual Cuttiethon -- the most extreme fly-fishing event in the World. I do it primarily as a fund-raiser for Cutthroat trout restoration and to fund research to find a cure for diabetes. I am a type I diabetic, my dad a type II.


Why am I the only one laughing? Well, whatever. I am building a leader for Alex, and tying on a suggested fly, while Robert (R) rigs his rig. I started fishing a Sweetgrass 8'3", 6 wt., Robert fished a 7'6", 4/5 wt. I made him, and Alex had some graphite rod. Man it was early. Before noon, even....


It rained all night before we started, soaking the surrounding vegetation. It was evident from the start that it wasn't going to be easy navigating the river channel. Places where we normally avoided thick, riparian vegetation in the cobbled river bottom had to be avoided, or we'd surely be pushed over like this old-growth Spruce tree. It meant more walking through what Joe later termed, "Willow Hell."


We walked quite a ways before fishing too seriously. And it took some fishing before Joe managed to land this nice Snake River Cutthroat! He caught it on a Sweetgrass fiberglass 6 wt. Good job, Joe! Now I had to catch a fish....


I think this is me lost in "Willow Hell." Only one who has had to walk miles upon seemingly endless miles of thick willows, mixed with stinging nettle will understand. It was worse than Purgatory.


In the middle of Willow Hell, making a path where none exists, Sweetgrass rod leading the way!


This is me real happy to be in Willow Hell. The only real highlight to this experience was later, when Joe was caught in his own Willow Hell. Here's a somewhat accurate quote from Joe, "The willows are so thick I can't see the end of my d!c$. I'm in the middle of Willow Hell. I think I'm in Idaho!"


But, somehow I managed to spend some time in Greys River Heaven, and hooked up with my first fish.


A healthy Snake River Cuttie! This mean gal, slammed a brown and yellow streamer.


The 'Thon consists of constant movement -- either walking upstream, or working water that seems like it might have fish. This year the water was a bit off color, still coming down from a late run-off. We noticed lots of changes in the stream from previous years. Many pools were washed out, with the logs that formed them, and the deep holes were mostly too deep to fish effectively in the short time we had to fish. Walk-fish. Walk-fish. Get tangled and frustrated. Walk-fish. For twenty-six and a half frickin' miles!


Alex fishing, surrounded by the Greys, trees and willows.


Robert wading the middle of the Greys, surrounded by water, trees and willows.


Alex, Robert and myself fishing one of our favorite holes. Actually, the water Robert (middle) was fishing was the only real hole. He missed a take there. I usually fish a pocket above him (where I am pictured fishing), and manage to land a couple/few Cutties most years. Not this year. Robert got the one take, and I didn't move a thing, as my pockets were part of a rushing riffle:-( Sad, I know.


After a while, fishing harder, and using more weight on my line, I managed to get a beautiful fine-spotter before sunset, along with about nine other fishies. Then the sun set, making time for the walk-a-thon. We mostly hike at night, because we never catch anything when we fish the few holes we can find in the dark. Time to put down tracks!


Sarah keeping her hands warm while we take a short break at night. Thank goodness for Dad, Mom and Sarah for keeping a camp/break station handy and moving along the way!


The next morning was a bit dryer, but man were we tired. Casts get sloppy, but it still feels good to fish the familiar Sweetgrass cane.


Dad films us fishing as Mom and Teagen make sure we don't fall in... too many times.


Moriah makes her way over a pile of sticks left when the water was easily two feet higher. Moriah somehow found some poison along the route, and Mom brought her to the veterinary clinic in Alpine. But, it was too late. Moriah was not able to recover. We fished the rest of the way thinking fondly of Moriah, and the many days I've spent with her on streams, and the happiness she always brought Mom. We miss you, little girl!


My biggest fish is dedicated to Moriah. A good-ol' Cuttie for a good ol' puppy. It goes to you, too Mojo. And you, Gal.


Here's Ariell taking time to sniff the flowers while we meander upstream. This is one of the last bends before we hit the home stretch to the finish line. My back, knees, and legs burn just thinking about it.


Sometimes we get so tired, we take a break any way we can -- while fishing at the same time.


Five of us trudging along the bank in wonderful grass (not willows), for the last few yards....


We made it! From L to R: Alex, Joe, me and Robert enjoy a favorite brew at the "finish line." Man, I don't think I've ever been so happy to see a bridge. We were dog-tired and happy to finally make the end of a mind-boggling event. Thirty and a half hours to hike/fish 26.5 miles of river. Wow. I landed 10 Cutties and six Whitefish all told. Everyone else did quite well, though I forget numbers. They don't matter much in an event that means much more. Thank you Sweetgrass for your support.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

Posted by on in On the Road Blog
Not long ago, Glenn Brackett and Jerry Kustich made it to the Ranch for a little shin-dig. It was during this event, Jerry handed me my first, custom-made, Sweetgrass bamboo fly rod!!! I know, you're thinking, "but you fish Sweetgrass all the time!" Most the Sweetgrass I fish are prototype or "shop" rods, lacking the finish work on a custom Sweetgrass. In fact, I cast the first Sweetgrass prototypes, many years ago, and instantly fell in love. And after many years of friendship, peanut-eating and beer-drinking, I was able to order my first, made-to-order rod. I can not tell you how excited I am, but will try anyway -- mostly using pictures.

I make rods as a hobby, and have learned much from the shop Booboys. I have cast many bamboo rods, and have a pretty good idea of what I like in a fly rod. And the one design that kept piquing my interest was the pentagon, or Pent, rod design. There is just something different about this configuration, and Jerry designs them like no other. More on that later. First, I had to find a frickin' place to fish my rod!


This place seemed perfect. Seemed that way...

I had cast my rod a million times (I'm terrible at math), but was chomping at the bit, to get the thing on the water and see what she could really do.

The unveiling of my rod begins -- with a sweet, prototype tube cap! Nice. Real nice. I love the yin-yang troutsLaughing!


Oh, and look: a rod sock that actually fits my rod sections! Doesn't happen that often with shop rodsWink.


And there's the sections: butt, mid, and two tips (yep, three pieces so's I could go hiking and find native trouts)!


There she blows! A Sweetgrass, 7'9", 3 7/8oz., 3 pc., 4/5 wt., pent. rod with a dry and wet tip. It's pretty much designed where one tip is a 4 weight and the other is a 5 weight, but because I always switch my lines and rigs, depending on the conditions I am fishing in, it's pretty much capable of doing pretty much whatever I want in standard trout waters. I wanted a little rod designed for remote-stream fishing, but could handle large tailwaters if needed.

Also, every "booboy" had a hand in making this rod for me, however, it was a project spear-headed and mostly done by Dave Delisi, one of the newer boys. He did a hell of a job. I only had a point-and-shoot camera, so the pics's don't do much justice, but the ferrules fit perfect, the grip is like touching a woman's thigh, the wraps are perfect, the varnish near spotless, and the blank -- perfect. Such a great job, and work I revel in every time I take my rod from it's tube (lots of times!).








The moment I had been waiting for: unwrapping the plastic! I cast the thing with the plastic on, and only take the plastic off when I intend to get fish-slime on the rod!


Time to head to the river. Only a few willows to walk through....


And Ariell thought it would be a great idea to follow the stream through a cave. Seemed like a silly idea to me, but who am I to argue with Ariell?


Sure, Ariell. Fall behind and whine, once it gets dark in here! Wuss...


Look, Ariell, a Water Ouzel (I know they are supposed to be called American Dippers, but that is pretty boring compared to "Ouzel!"), both our favorite birds! OK, you like pheasants just a bit better....

And, I found many great places on this amazing river to fish. The rod cast like a dream, and send my flies to every pocket I pointed my finger to.


And this is normally the time when I would write about all the fish I caught. However, on my custom-Sweetgrass-bamboo-rod-maiden-voyage-story, I have to admit, the fish avoided my fly-puppet offeringsFrown. Amazing, I know. But, I loved the water, willows and casting so much, I didn't really care. It was a great evening. Relaxing, even. Got to take a nap. Until...

Ariell decided it was a great idea to run over and jump on my face. Then, stay there, nearly suffocating me. It was pretty funny. The nice thing, was she kept the mosquitoes off me, by biting at them, and I managed to get a couple more winks in, before deciding to drive back home.

But the story doesn't end there.

Two days later...

My first fish on my first custom Sweetgrass rod, caught on an annelid pattern I tied! A twenty-inch Brown trout...


In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Booboy


Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • J.o.n.
    J.o.n. says #
    Hello. Looks like a beaty that rod. Great blog about the lovely filing fishing a bamboorod. Jan Norway http://www.fishingbamboof

Posted by on in On the Road Blog
Every once in a while, I meet a person that I know will appreciate fine art. When that happens, I take them fishing, and hand them a Sweetgrass bamboo rod. Not long ago, I was pond-side with Vic, a guest at ol' Rock Crick Cattle Company. He had never fished bamboo, so we hit the trail looking for fishy water to try a Sweetgrass creation on. We found cruising Browns on nearby pond and were soon stalking and casting aquatic beetles to somewhat finicky trouts.


It's always interesting to watch someone who is used to casting mass-produced graphite, grab a Sweetgrass gem and toss bugs. Vic did a great job of waiting just a bit longer on his back cast, to shoot line effortlessly. "I really like this rod," Vic said on several casts.


"There we go!" Vic is hooked fast to a fat fish that refused to come shore-ward.


A full-flexing bend in a medium-actioned 6 weight! Vic is really putting the wood to this fine fishy, hoping to get some slime on his hands before his tippet pops!



And finally, Sweetgrass, Vic and a tubby Brownie come together for a splendidly spotted moment. :-)



Fish bites soft-hackle Hare's Ear, angler bites cushy cork. Life's better that way. Afterward, Vic smiles brightly upon catching his first fish on a Sweetgrass bamboo rod. 


In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy





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