Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Fly fishing the Murky Water

As the high country begins to experience warmer temperatures, the mountainous areas of Spring produces runoff from the snowmelt.  Increased water production from snowmelt will cause swollen high flow rivers with heavy dimness, obscurity in water clarity, and higher river bottom sediment churning into muddy waters.  While these conditions may not seem optimal for fly fishing for most, it also can be an opportunity to catch some trophy fish.

Search for lagging seams close to the edges of the banks as fish will cling around the inside bends and on gentler banks.  Fish will seek places where food would naturally settle into eddies behind boulders, behind newly down trees and other submerged structures, or a section of slack water where bugs and other food sources will sift.  Pursue lengths of choppy shallow water that are superseded by pots or pools of deep water where the fish will congregate.  These are all secure shelters trout will search out for refuge during high water.  These sections will give the trout to reserve energy by remaining out of the main current and to nourish on the large influx of food sources from the heightened flows and rising water.  Many aquatic insects get flushed off the belly of the river, while others emerge from the freshly engulfed river banks.

During runoff, rising water may create new variations to explore.  High water levels often will expose and conceive new hold pots for fish.  Semi-submerged trees and freshly flooded rocks may move fish into a new slack water as well as at the back of newly submerged or relocated structures.  For the fly angler, muddy water can still offer great fortuitousness fishing expeditions.

On tail water rivers that have a considerable amount of living matter in them, rising water can really churn up a lot of fish grub such as scuds and sowbugs.  The fish will gorge themselves silly on the abundance of bugs from the high water.  Amid these times of runoff, fish are still actively feasting.  So don't let the murky water detour the desire to fish.

Low visibility means usage of a heavier leader and tippet is welcomed, just remember that a heftier leader means your flies will sink slower.  Usage of regular monofilament is an option and the occasion to save on expensive fluorocarbon during these muddy conditions.  Fish are less inclined to spook due to the poor visibility and rapid water levels.  There care certainly opportunities of the ability to get fairly close to the fish near the banks.  Fish tight against the banks.

Yes, I did catch this handsome male in the murky waters!

I generally fish smaller flies and diminutive nymph patterns, but fly fishing in murky water with the lesser transparency allows the angler to fish much larger flies.  Bring weighted flies such Stonefly nymphs, Woolly Buggers, light and dark colored streamers, worms, egg patterns, leeches, to name a few.  Bring an abundance of splitshots to deliver flies hastily towards the bottom to procure that effective drift presentation.  Dry flies are still on the radar, so be prepared for rising insatiable fish.

Safety is the ultimate priority when fishing during runoff.  With high water, it is not necessary to wade.  Obviously with wading, do use great caution with each step and foot positioning.  Wading staff a must, wear a wader belt, and even wearing a PFD while fishing with your buddies is a smart option.  Always inform another of your whereabouts if you are fishing alone.

Runoff does offer alternative fishing adventures to the angler with great opportunities to catch some impressive, outstanding fish.  Be cautious out there, and see you on the river!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

WORN Brand Ambassador Interview

I wanted to share with you an interview I did with WORN.  It reveals a little bit about me and my passion for all things fly fishing! As a brand ambassador, I'm exceptionally proud to represent such an amazing company and their excellent products.

Follow the link here! - 

WORN makes a complete line of technical socks for any kind of activities  you do. 
If you are the person who believes there is a "right tool" for every job, you are in the right place. Each WORN product is designed with features specific to where and how you'll be using it, enhancing both comfort and performance. Check out the complete line of WORN including the frictionless thermal wader socks that make putting on a pair of waders effortlessly.  See the link below to check out their website!

As a brand ambassador, I take my role very seriously.  I represent products I believe in and have thoroughly tested. Besides WORN, I also represent Mcfly, and Togens Fly Shop. Check out the links below and find out more about these fantastic fly fishing companies.  Look for future Fly Fishing with Cat Toy blog reviews about the products they make!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

River Etiquette during these busy times

Fly fishing is a prevailing solitude sport where experiences can be solo on a pristine river.  The resonate of the river, the whish of the fly line, and the enticement of landing in a impressive fish in the net.  With the present worldwide pandemic, rivers, streams, creeks, and lakes are billowing with crowds.  River etiquette is of great precedence so that everyone on the river can enjoy and have a fun experience on the water.

One of the most beautiful aspects of fly fishing is the serene reverberates of the wilderness, the echoes of the river, and the whispering breeze.  Keep the peace by keeping your voice at an appropriate volume.  Fly fishing for many maybe a place by the river to revitalize, to drift into a fishy meditation, or a place to mentally be bestowed far away from life's daily stress.

Too close!

Follow by the rules and regulations.  Get into the habit of picking up discarded cans, wrappers, other trash, and monofilament.  Carry it out for proper riddance.  Lots of rivers provide convenient monofilament recycling bins right close.  Monofilament line is non-biodegradable and can remain in the environment for many years.  Leave the river even better then how you found it.

Many rivers run through private property and are clearly marked with no trespassing or private property signs.  Be dutiful to not trespass on private property.  It is the angler’s responsibility to know or inquire of which land is public and private.  Be insightful of where the open fishing access points are.

Photo by Dustin Harcourt

There are a plentitude of dog lovers who enjoy the companionship of bringing their dog to the river.  Unless your dog is about to win a blue ribbon prize in obedience, it would be best to keep your dog on a leash.  Or, simply leave the dog at home during these buzzing times on the river.

With the booming of crowds out on the river, kindness and courtesy, space, and polite communication will be the golden ticket.  Be thoughtful to not walk through another angler's run.  Step out of the water and walk around.  Provide fellow anglers on the river plenty of room.  The first person on a section of water should be permitted to fish there.  A simply warm greeting when approaching another angler will alleviate a multitude of anguish and begin a cooperative dialogue that will benefit each party involved.  Query for permission to fish above or below another angler helps to ease glitches and makes for a happier way about reaching to fishing sections.  Provide each other enough distance, or simply move up a few runs away so you are not in their way.

Importantly, it is critical with how we handle trout.  Rubber basket nets are choice compared to the old-fashion string nets in protecting of the outer defensive mucus slime found on trout.  This protection layer guards trout from disease and bacteria.  Removing these layers places the trout into susceptibility in decline of health.  Always wet hands first before handling trout.  Be conscientious not to squeeze the trout.  Squeezing too hard can cause trauma to internal organs and possibly result in death after release.  Never place fingers in the gills, or hold the trout by the lip.  Fingers in gills can insult the trout's breathing structures as well as holding by the lip can injure or break its jaw.  Release the trout facing it upstream and when the fish has responded with a sure recovery.

Be a true river ambassador to others during these bustling times on the river.  Good communication is key as well as considerate interactions with other anglers.  Maintain good housekeeping at the river, and handle trout delicately for many others to enjoy.  Mostly importantly, enjoy and have fun!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Black Beauty, a Tail Water Trout Favorite

The Black Beauty midge originated from Blue Quill Angler fishing guide, Pat Dorsey, distinguished for his creation of the Black Beauty into one of the most noteworthy flies an angler must have for fly fishing in Colorado's tail waters.  The Black Beauty is a subsurface wet fly, a favorite larva pattern that represents a Blackfly, Chironomid that is proven to be a zesty hankering for more trout than I can count.  I am fond of tying this fundamental fly in a several variations as well as in a small size #18 - #22 hook.

My original encounters of the Black Beauty wasn't until a Fall fishing adventure remembrance of a father and son out on a fishing excursion.  These guys simply dropped into the local fly fishing shop and purchased what the shop recommended.  When I kindly inquired of their sharing of success, neither one knew what the name of the fly was, but that it was a " little black fly".

I recently started tying flies last October with an astonishing success from the beginning catching many prizewinning trout.  Words cannot explicate the empowerment of catching sizeable trout on my own tied flies.  The Black Beauty in particular, is a simple larva I have explored with several clever tied variations.

Last December, I took my long time fly fishing guide friend, Jon Baiocchi, to one of my fond tail waters here Colorado, the Stagecoach.  In preparation of the fishing trip, we invested a good couple of days tying flies.  In tying the Black Beauty, I kept in mind the natural insects body shape.  Gas bubbles form around the body and at the head giving it a shimmer to length.  As the black midge swims to the surface of the water to emerge as an adult, there is a gleam that is given off by the gas of which fish are enticed by.  Tying in the fly kitchen from scratch seems to be more appetizing to the trout then purchasing it from the ready made trout deli.  At least in my experience.

Jon and I fished at different sections of the river not far from one another and each caught numerous trout, particularly on the Black Beauty.  I use the TMC 2487, 2488 hooks #18- 24 and #18-22 curved scud.  I use both 8/0 Uni-Thread or 6/0 Uni-Thread, black for the body.  For ribbing, silver wire TSW1252.  A Cat trick I love is using white wire which has had the trout satisfyingly chomping on this fly as well.  For thorax, super fine black dubbing.

The Black Beauty can be an effective fly year round in the tail waters.  Every angler must have the Black Beauty in possession of their fly box.  See you on the river!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Anything for the love and passion for fly fishing

The winters in Colorado are picturesque wilderness of mountains blanketed with glistening snow, with featureless skyscapes.  The air is a frozen lace on my skin, delicate and cold.  The sky is washed with grey, watery light illuminating, and thin patches to brilliance.  The winter is such crystalline joy, those brilliant rays that show the uniqueness of every snowflake.  Frozen rivers and creeks lie beneath the snow, and the existence of gorgeous days of deep blue skies in between storms.

Little did I realize at the time, Steamboat Resort had received 18 inches of snow, according to the ski area’s measurements.  It was the biggest storm of the winter based on 24-hour accumulation measurements.  Old Man Winter nestled in heavily and had made for some very happy powder pursuers, but also caused great anguish for travelers and snow plows just days prior to my chase for the river.  Roads were snowy and icy most of the drive towards Steamboat Springs.

Eager with excitement upon my arrival, it became bleak to me the entrance into the state park was blocked and no vehicles or foot traffic were allowed.  There waited another enthusiastic fisherman, Paul, who came to ice fish.  Paul and I were the first public into the park after a week long closure, and so much snow removal to still happen.  The park ranger warned me in particular, to be very prepared for detrimental conditions and snowshoes a must.

My Fish Sled

The temperature was 10 degrees, blue skies, no winds, occasional clouds.  The rugged snowshoe hike took me close to 2 hours to get down to the tailwater.  The trek entailed me to cross the frozen reservoir of which nearly sent me into a panic stricken state.  The snow was so deep in areas that my snowshoes still sent me thigh deep into unknown snow pockets.  My fish sled was loaded with all my fishing gear necessities, hot water, food, and additional warm gear.

With me being the first person to reach the tailwater in a week, the snow banks were so tall, it required me to stomp a platform with my snowshoes to reach the water.  The cfs was a steady 60, water clarity was crystalline clear, and the air temperature at least 10 degrees cooler in the deep canyon (0 degrees).  Nymphing was intoxicating, mind-blowing with ravenous fish taking ever changing patterns:  Black Beauty #18-22, RS2 black #18-22, Zebra #18-22, Barr's Emerger #18-20.  Dry fly opportunity maybe one miniature BWO hatch.  5x tippet is a worthy set up to intrigue the trout.  The Stagecoach tailwater holds numerous sizable rainbow, cutbow, brookie, and brown trout.


Winter fly fishing so frigid, it was a constant battle with frozen guides.  Application of unscented chapstick is my trick.  Fish with gloves and hand warmers inside, and bring ski gloves for breaks and for the travels.  A microfiber hand towel an absolute must for getting those hands dried and warmed as quickly as possible after handling fish.  Love my fishy buffs from BUFF to protect my face and add warmth.  A great pair of WORN technical backcountry frictionless neoprene wader socks 3.0 mm inside my waders to survive the necessary wading in the water for netting the big catches.  I love my lucky fly fishing hats from the crafty Shopmcfly.

I never thought winter would challenge me with such a teeth chattering rewarding wintry fishy experience.  The river entirely to myself, frozen salami sandwiches for lunch, and multitudinous beautiful catches of rainbow, cutbow, and brookie trout.  Life is what you make it, and why not with experiences and reminiscences to last a lifetime.  See you on the river!

Happy fishy winter trails!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Reading the Water

The river resonates trickles, bubbles, and ripples with the existence of what a river is.  The river offers great sections for the fisherman to catch beautiful fish.  Before making the initial cast, it is crucial to take a moment to read the water.  Taking the time to read the water will help determine the most likely places where fish are congregating.  With rivers, fish typically don't usually live right in the fast water. The fish yearn for sections where they can hold in slower water, but still have access to the food conveyer belt.

Reading the water is essential to find where fish live in a river and where the successful fly fisherman then can use skill to present their fly cleverly to the trout.  I often will hold back my excitement and take the time to read the water at a safe viewable distance.

Look for riffles, or a shallow section of the river where water cascades over rocks creating a surface disturbance.  Riffles are choppy at the surface, or whitewater that rides over shallow rocks into deeper water.  Shallow riffles are especially oxygenated waters and can be a marvelous habitat for aquatic insects fish fancy to eat.  Some of the deeper riffles with rocks and boulders downstream offer trout rest and a copesetic spot away from predators.  Where riffles drop into deeper water give fish a leisure current just below the drop off and a superb of offerings of insects that are swept over the edge.

A seam is any region where two adjacent water currents converge where one is slower then the other.  This could be an obstruction such as a log, a boulder, or an extension of the shore which causes an unmistakable disruption from the main current flow.  Trout relish seams and foamy bubble trails as they create feeding lanes that collect and deliver food.

Runs are an area directly from riffles and where the water current become more uniform and deeper.  In reading the water, runs are an excellent place to look for fish in a river or stream. Fish seek shelter in the deeper water as well as the near vicinity for a quick meal.  Fish often suspend at the edge of the current or drift along the bottom eating bugs that are surrendered downstream below the riffle.

A pool is the deepest segment of a river with a leisure moving current.  I like to call these sections, fish pots.  Fish will often advance to a pot on brilliant, sunny day, or if they sense danger.  Quite often, the big fish typically may spend a good portion of their day in these pools where they are less active.  Approach quietly and a little distance from the river banks before the cast.  Don't be that guy wading in first to the middle of the fish pot.

An eddy is a point of where structures or an depression of the riverbank such as a sizable boulder, a log, or a fallen tree disturbs the river current and direction flow.  Directly downstream of the object, a pocket of swirling water will form opposite the main direction of current flow.  Fish are fond of eddies because they entrap and channel insects drifting by in the current.  Look for foam or bubbles collecting on the surface of the water where the main current meets up with the swirling water and place your casts there.

A tailout is a shallow, even section at the end of a pool before the water descents down into another riffle.  A natural funnel is formed which carries anything drifting downstream directly to the fish.  Fish will often reprieve in a tailout and sip on hatching insects off the surface as they float by.  Look for rising fish and make your cast.

Below the water surface, search for changes in the river such as shelves, gravel beds, bends, and contours of the river bottom.  Fish will often be slumbering and feeding on the deeper side of these areas.  Fish frequently rest in the poky current below the drop-off from a riffle gorging on insects that come over the brim.

Before making the first cast, take the time to read the water.  Select a section of water and which structure to target.  Experience is the key to success, so understand the bubbles, trickles, and structure of the water approaching it can lead to prosperous day of catching more fish.  See you on the river!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Mayfly

Pale Morning Dun Adult (PMD)

On a late cloudy summer day, I was fishing the Yampa River.  The ominous clouds were impenetrable brewing a thunderstorm for the afternoon.  There stood another angler maybe 75 yards upstream from me.  A few rain drops drummed my Gore-Tex jacket.  A sudden cloudburst moved upon us instantaneously with a downpour so dense, I could hardly visibly make out the silhouette of the angler upstream.  Neither one of us abandoned our spots and withstood the mini monsoon.  As hastily as the rains hit, it departed bringing back sunshine and the most magnificent mayfly BWO hatch ever!

Mayflies are some of the most ornate insects in the fly fishing world.  There are many types of mayflies each with color variations and sizes.  Trout often are highly selective to mayflies and feed ravenous upon them.

Blue Winged Olive (BWO)

Mayflies have an incomplete life cycle of egg, nymph, and adult.  The eggs are deposited in the water by the females and hatch into young nymphs.  Mayflies have been classified into several families, which have quite different nymph habits.  Those with burrowing nymphs are the Ephemeridae.  Those with clinging nymphs are known as Heptagenidae.  Those with crawling, swimming nymphs are the Baetidae.

Mayflies spend most of their lives under water.  In the immature stages, they are called nymphs. The nymphs have bodies of ten segments and gills distributed variously depending on the different genera.  The thorax is very muscular and supports the growing wings under the dark wing casings.  Most nymphs have three tails, however, some species have only two.  The nymphs are very bashful and seek shelter to the bottom until it is time for them to emerge.  During this time, they lose their timidity and become considerably active in the water.

Mayflies consume diatoms and desmids in large quantities for food.  Their diet is predominantly vegetarian.  They have somewhat of a elongated, flattened body that goes through a number of instars, or molting stages to increase in size.  Growth is rapid with the nymph outgrowing and shedding his nymph skin as often as twenty times.

Pale Morning Dun Nymph

When the nymph reaches the surface to emerge, he splits his nymph shuck at the thorax, and the surface tension literally peels him out of his old skin.  The freshly hatched mayfly then pops out on the surface.  As his wings dry, he takes to the air.  The drying period is not long, usually lasting maybe a few seconds. During damp and drizzly days, mayflies cannot dry their wings off  as quickly and remain on the water for a longer period of time, much to the delight of a hungry trout.

This stage of the mayfly is known as the dun for most fisherman.  Duns may be recognized by their generally dull coloring and underdeveloped wing venation.  Most species make a direct flight to the shoreline brush to rest before the final molting to the spinner stage, where both males and females now have the ability to mate and lay eggs (ovipositing).  The final molting takes place from twenty minutes to three days depending upon the species. 

The adult mayfly is exquisite.  On the water, the mayfly look like miniature delicate sailboats.  Mayflies are the most diverse insect a fly fisherman needs to identify and understand.  There is definitely a science in learning the entomology.  Learn the stages, what flies to use, and matching the hatches.  The successful fly fisherman then can use the proper mayfly imitation and the skill to present their fly cleverly to the trout.

Illustration by Cat Toy

Thursday, January 9, 2020

It really is winter. Yampa River Fly Fishing Report, Stagecoach ~ 1/9/2020

The drive over the Rabbit Ears Pass was risky with moments of zero visibility.  I was apprehensive the Yampa River below Stagecoach Reservoir would be the same.  It’s really winter, and there remains a high risk with traveling as well as the urgency to be prepared.  I feared the worse that taking this fishing trip would be disheartening.

Driving down the pass in the distance, I could see in the remote, openings of sunshine with intense cloud cover deeply-seated with production of gentle snow flurries.  Roads have been icy and tapered due to the high winds blowing snow across the road.  At the entrance of the state park, the ranger shack remained dark and ominous.  Signs are clearly marked where to park.  It’s just my Jeep and no other vehicles.  The snow had one set of tire tracks on the road made by a park ranger.

There certainly is a lot more snow at the Stagecoach Tailwaters after the New Year.  Winter has nestled in and the Stagecoach Reservoir remains silent.  As I made my way to the closed gate, there are no other boot prints but mine in the snow covered road.  The hike from the close gate to the tailwaters is approximately 2 miles.

The canyon is significantly shadowed dropping the temperature to about 15 degrees.  The banks are softly blanketed with fluffy powder and the river’s edge has intricate ice formations.  Winter fly fishing has light crowds, but I remained the one and only with the complete river to myself.  It really is winter.

Fishing has been good with a steady cfs of 40.  The clouds broadened, sunshine and blue skies confiscated the winter skies.  Nymphing is the proficient technique with ever changing of patterns:  Black Beauty #18-22, RS2 #18-22 black, Zebra #18-20, Bling Midge #20.  Dry fly prospects are diminutive with BWO’s #20-22.  5x tippet is a worthy set up sure to tantalize eager trout.  The Stagecoach tailwaters hold numerous Rainbow, Cutbow, atypical Brown, and the chance at the vibrant Brook trout.  Fishing has gradually transitioning into winter where temperatures are wintry, and the trout are feeding less robustly.  The fish will eat with little energy, so be ready to set the hook with even the least dance of your indicator.

It really is winter.  Gear up warm, carry extra gloves, hand warmers, food, water, and a portable microfiber hand towel to dry your hands is a must.  Bring snowshoes as the snow gets deeper.  Daily park pass is still required of $8 even with the vehicle access gate closed until April 1st, 2020.  Setting into the spirit of winter really can mean no crowds with the definite angler’s dream of fish galore.  See you on the river!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Cat Toy Biography

Cat grew up in Mammoth Lakes, California, next to the wild trout creeks and streams in a quaint ski resort town nestled in the magnificent Southern Sierra Nevada mountain range.  She learned to ski at an early age of 3 from her grandparents.  Her grandfather would take her and her younger brother fishing to the high alpine lakes and mountain streams.  They hiked the spectacular glacier carved mountains blanketed with vibrant wildflowers, tall majestic Jeffery and Bristlecone pines, and deep earthquake faults. 

Her family moved to Reno, Nevada for new prospects to explore and college education opportunities.  As a young adult, she enjoyed several seasons as a ski instructor at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe.  Shortly thereafter, she took an interest and became a certified Emergency Medical Technician.

The gates dropped and the rumble of 20+ guys racing motocross dirt bikes exploded from the starting line, including Cat. Not just a recreational racer, Cat pursuit the points in the annual MX West State Championship motocross racing series in Northern Nevada. Cat knows racing motocross as the most adrenaline pumping perfect storm of both physical and mental concentration that is an absolute requirement for the most severe sport on earth.  Her swift progression in the male dominant sport kept her competitive for 10 years with multiple trophies and numerous corporate racing sponsors. 

As an emergency medical technician, the aspiration to go further in the healthcare field led her into the journey of further studies where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a minor in Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2007.  Racing motocross, she said, kept her sane in surviving nursing school.

Cat’s nursing career started in Colorado with experience in psychiatric nursing, post surgical rehabilitation, and as a nursing educator.  In addition to channeling her medical expertise, she is also a ski patroller at the pinnacle summit of the Rocky Mountains gracing the slopes of Loveland Ski Area. Like racing motocross, ski patrolling is physically demanding, requires an aptitude of awareness, discipline, and superior public relation skills. 

The opportunity to experience fly fishing occurred in recent when she was merely handed a rod and reel to discern on her own. Cat used her past experiences of life skills to perfect the techniques that are necessary to be a successful fly angler, and her progression rate soared. Experienced fishing buddies, professional guides, and friends were stunned at Cat's expeditious passion to own the skills.  As a disciplined fly angler, she changed her approach by analyzing the intricate facets of fly fishing from spontaneous hatches to the most technical presentations required among the ever changing drifts of a trout stream. 

Fly fishing can take Cat to some of the most ruggedly beautiful, breathtaking canyons found in Colorado.  The near future will unfold as there will be more to come with fly fishing for Cat.  There is so much to share, enjoy, and to treasure.