Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Caught this nice rainbow at 11:32am, water temperature 64 degrees.

Fish early before water temperatures get too warm.. It's best to quit fishing as water temperatures head towards 67 degrees.  Warm water conditions are stressful and less optimal for fish to recover and may no survive.  Please help preserve the sport we all enjoy so much during these critical times.

Results left of a careless angler with no regards to water temperatures and the trout.

Please be aware and refer to the fishing closures Colorado Parks and Wildlife 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Colorado Wildflowers

Musk Thistle.  In great abundance around Gypsum Ponds.

Colorado has so many beautiful wildflowers along our rivers, creeks, and streams.  I wanted to create an ongoing blog of wildflowers I have come across on my days of fishing.  If you have encountered a wildflower here in Colorado and would like some help with identifying the name, please feel free to send me an email of a picture:  cattoy.flyfishing@gmail.com.  Photo credit can be shared.

I would like to dedicate this growing blog to Jon Baiocchi, a fantastic fly fishing guide in California who gave his heart and soul into the fly fishing industry.  I will miss you my best friend.  You would make me laugh just rattling of the names of flowers as we would walk by.  I don't know if I could hold all those wildflowers in my head, but just to try to be as great as you were.  

Indian Paintbrush

The Indian Paintbrush wildflower encountered while creekin at S. Boulder Creek nearby the Moffat Tunnel, a railroad and water tunnel that cuts through the Continental Divide in north-central Colorado. One of my favorite places close to home of beautiful mountain scenery, hiking, fly fishing, dirt biking, and enjoyment of backcountry skiing in the winter.

Sunloving Aster

These Sunloving Asters were everywhere with the hike into Cheesemans Canyon to fish a part of the S. Platte River.  They are a purple ray flower with large yellow disk centers.  They grow in open areas of the forest, slopes, and ridges.  Flowering time is from June to September.

Tarragon, Artemisia campestris caudata. 

This towering wildflower I came across along the banks of the Eagle River.  This flower belongs to the Aster Family.  A biennial that can grow as tall as 30" with taproot and reddish flexible leafy stem.  Flowering time is July and August.

Rock Groundsel (Hoary Ragwoirt)

This perennial belongs to the Aster family of up to 8" tall, in clumps.  Leaves are basal about 2" long and thick.  They typically grow along gravelly and rocky areas. boulder fields, outcroppings, and ridges. I came across this wildflower while fly fishing the Blue River.  These will flower in June to September with golden orange disks, golden yellow ray flowers with gentle ripple with each petal. 

Scarlet Globemallow.

This wildflower I came upon hiking into the banks of Deckers, or another section of the S. Platte River for a twilight session.  This upright flower may sprawl densely with white-hairy perennial that grows no more than a foot in height.  Found in clumps or clusters, they colonize extensively where ever they are growing. The flower is with orange-pink petals with red bracts.


Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Blue Winged Olive Mayfly

The madness of Spring is enticing.  It melts the snow and creating spring water where the rested garden of winter comes to life.  The sunshine and spring drizzling rains aid in the growth of leaves to garnish the trees and youngling blades of grass to sprout along the river banks.  Spring is in the air and so are the Blue Winged Olive hatches.

Blue Winged Olive. Image by Cat Toy, Togens Pro Staff. 

The Blue Winged Olive Mayfly is one of the most prolific mayfly families across the country.  These attractive mayflies can be found on many rivers, creeks, and stream habitats.  They dwell in crawling, to moderate, and fast currents in the gravel of freestone riffles, in gentle spring creeks, and tailwaters.  They thrive in aquatic plants in the river beds.  The BWO mayfly will often have two to three generations per year occurring in the spring and fall with some early hatches in between seasons. Hatches may vary in different parts of the country, and they may happen nearly anytime of the year.  The completion of their lifecycle is relatively short of around four months from egg, to larva, as an emerger, to a dun, and as a spinner.

The majority of their lives are in the larval stage spending life in the cobbles and aquatic vegetation of rivers, creeks, and streams.  Once the nymph matures, it will drift and swim through the water column before breaking the surface film into a dun.  The newly emerged adults whisk like sailboats along the surface as their wings dry.  The duns will blanket the water banks vegetation and molt into spinners.  The spinners will mate, and the females may return down to structures in the water to deposit eggs within hours or days as a dun.

The BWO nymphs provide food for the trout of its entirety of their lives. Nymphs in general, are poor swimmers tumbling about as they whirl up to break the waters surface making them a susceptible meal for the trout.  They can be imitated by a wide variety of nymph patterns.  While I love to rock the BWO dry flies to rising fish, I also like to prolong my fishing days by tossing some favorite BWO nymphs before and after hatches.  These nymphs are just some of the many that mimic the Blue Winged Olive Mayfly.

Black Zebra.  Image by Cat Toy, Togens Pro Staff.

The Zebra Midge is a nymph that mimics the midge pupa ascending to the surface to emerge. It is most effective to fish with when trout are observed feeding up high in the water column.  You may observe rises which are actually trout taking the pupa just under the surface as the midge drift upwards.  Midge patterns often with a  beadhead will imitate a pupa because the flash of the bead imitates the air bubble.  The darker colors of the zebra like black are particularly effective with a tungsten bead.

Juju Baetis.  Image by Duc Nguyen.

I have grown fond of the Juju Baetis.  It is one of the most effective patterns you can fish to copy the baetis BWO to match.  With the tungsten bead and slender design, the BWO nymph sinks quickly.  With an opal mirage tinsel on the back of the fly and the UV resin finish front to back, this fly makes the worthy trout do the big tail dance.  Have this fly stocked in your fly box!

Pheasant Tail.  Image by Rick Beck, Togens Pro Staff

The Pheasant Tail impersonates a wide variety of mayflies in their nymph stage like a small BWO nymph.  These small crawler nymphs prefer slow to moderate currents and are well-adjusted most often where riffle is modest and where some vegetation are able to take root on the bottom.  They mimic a diverse of crawlers and clinging mayfly nymphs the trout seek in many rivers. The Pheasant tail is certainly one of fly fishing’s most proficient and all-around productive subsurface attractor fly pattern.

RS2.  Image by Chuck Loftis, Togens Pro Staff.

The RS2, or “Rim Semblance 2” is a very effective pattern that is a replica of a midge or mayfly.  It makes for a winning pattern of an emerger, and it can be fished as a nymph or a mayfly. With the right color of the body, some showy wings, and the tantilizing tail of microfibetts, this eye-catching fly will bring plenty of trout to the net!

Black RS2.  Image by Cat Toy, Togens Pro Staff.

It is one of my favorites to cast out to the persnickety trout targeting a helpless nymph without an escape. Black and grey RS2 seem to be most effective in tail waters as well as small creeks.  Consider a tandem nymph rig of a dry fly and a trailing RS2 in a size 20 trolling below.

Barr's Emerger.  Image by Duc Nguyen.

The Barr’s Emerger is one of the very best replications of a BWO or baetis nymph.  You can fish with the bead head variation to get down deep, or fish the benchmark Barr's Emerger with no weight.  This fly can be fished in the higher part of the water column when the hatch is near.

Sparkle Dun.  Image by Des O'Rourke, Togens Pro Staff.

The Sparkle Dun is an amazing knockoff emerger pattern that is best fished as a dry fly.  A trailing brilliant shuck tied at the end of a Comparadun, this fly pattern mimics a mayfly breaking out from its exoskeleton during emergence. This pattern emulates the precise life process of the mayfly as tiny sailboats on the surface trying to dry their wings.  It is best tied with a sparse wing which allows the fly to ride lower in the water adhered to the surface film.

If the trout are feeding during a BWO hatch, it is important to observe whether their feasting below or above the water surface.  If observed just a few duns are slurped, the trout are most likely taking more nymphs than duns.  Fish with a nymph pattern below your dry fly.  This could be a deadly, winning set up!  Be ready as the Blue Winged Olive mayflies are hatching!  See you at the river!

This blog is also featured at United Women on the Fly and Togens Fly Shop

Monday, April 19, 2021

Spring fly fishing has been pretty amazing

 As the weather is still deciding to have Spring here in Colorado, it has been really enjoyable exploring new rivers and learning the hatches.  I would like to share of some of the great catches.  I have been fishing the rivers and creeks as they awake from the long winter, cold sleep. 

Deckers, or the South Platte River, is certainly a favorite for many, and I can appreciate this so much.

The Eagle River, where this warrior gorgeous cutbow wears scars on its spine from surviving being of prey.

The browns at the Eagle will challenge you with every penny you got for how powerful they are.  They put up a remarkable fight unlike some of the other rivers I have fished.

I found me some hungry rainbows in the Eagle in the tainted runoff waters.

Yampa River, an incredible fishery that has my heart for rainbows, browns, cutbows, brookies, mountain whitefish.

Clear Creek, one of my favorite little creeks to catch rainbows, browns, cutthroat, and brookies.

Clear Creek can offer some magnificent places where these live.  The canyon takes my breath away with these fun trout.

No doubt, a very fishy Spring.  I am loving it, and I am looking forward to fishing with friends and family in the days ahead.


Cat in the Hat

Monday, March 1, 2021

Fly Tying Tip, Creating Dubbing Noodle with Dry Hands

With winter well underway, our hands can endure some serious battering from the cold weather.  As a nurse who has been avidly fly fishing through this winter, my hands will snag onto anything soft.  It was a long time bumbling blunder with me trying to make good dubbing noodles with fly tying.  Dubbing noodles often unraveled, or snagged on my dry fingertips.

What is a dubbing noodle?  Simply an amount of dubbing gently rolled or pulled into a small elongated wad of dubbing,

I tried the suggestions from licking my fingertips, to applications of dubbing waxes.  It wasn’t until one evening I sat at my fly tying corner applying O’Keeffe’s Working Hands hand cream before fly tying.  My hands felt revitalized, not oily, and a feel of tackiness I knew would be helpful with my fly tying.

I was astonished to find myself creating some beautiful noodles!  It is the application of O’Keeffe’s Working Hands hand cream on my hands, and a generous amount on my cracked fingertips that was my answer!  I use different hand creams to try to help heal my cracked hands, only to find myself returning back to this particular hand cream before fly tying.

Apply a generous amount on hands and particularly you finger tips and rub in well before tying.  Place dubbing onto thread, pinch tight, and twist dubbing on your thread.  I am simply amazed each time how easy and beautiful dubbing noodles come out.  Happy fly tying to all!

This Fly Tying Tip is featured at United Women on the Fly

Friday, February 12, 2021

Gearing Up for Winter Fly Fishing

The winters in Colorado are picturesque of wilderness mountains blanketed with glistening snow and featureless skyscapes.  The air is a frozen lace on my eyelashes, delicate and cold.  Winter is such crystalline joy, the brilliant rays that show the uniqueness of every snowflake.  Winter fly fishing may not be for everyone, but it is marvelous for the venturesome angler willing to put on some additional layers.  It can be an extremely rewarding experience with few people on the rivers, the enjoyment of beautiful, wintry scenery, and the stunning trout.

The prepared angler needs to dress wisely for the part.  Winter layers begin with a first base layer next to skin made of a wool/synthetic or silk blend that have moisture wicking capabilities.  Avoid cotton clothing of any kind as it is not an option at all.  Cozy sweatshirts, jeans, and cotton socks under waders are counterproductive because they do not remove moisture leaving you bleak and the inability to stay warm. 

Layers on top of your base layer are articles of clothing made of polyester, wool, and other synthetics. Fleece pullovers and fleece wader pants or merino wools are exceptional choices because they are lightweight, toasty, and breathable.  These layers are advantageous in trapping warmth and with the function of also wicking away moisture.

To top your inner layers, an insulated hooded puffy is another quality layer that adds wind and weather resistance.  It is the best way to counter the winds and below freezing temperatures.  It is a windproof outer layer that helps to trap warmth and block the elements.  The hooded puffy also is very easy to stow away if you get too warm.

Layering smart should be comfortable and to not cause constriction and hampering of movement.  Constriction will cause poor circulation which in turn results in feeling cold.  A set of happy feet works with a comfortable two-sock system with a synthetic liner sock of poly/nylon is useful to help wick away moisture away from the skin.  Over the liner, a midweight or heavyweight wool sock for warmth.

Your outer layer is your first layer of defense.  If you really want to stay warm, make your outer layer a wind and waterproof shell.  The ideal jacket will have a hood and vents around the armpits to allow sweat to evaporate from your interior layers.  I prefer an outer shell made of specially engineered materials such as Gore-Tex.  This quality material is built for wet protection from the snow, windproof, and breathability

The same applies for fishing waders and boots, a high quality, durable wader with a multi-layer system made with a permeable shell to help keep you warm and dry.  Be certain winter layers will fit inside your fishing waders with function and comfort.  Wader boots should fit comfortably with winter socks so blood can flow to your feet and toes to stay warm.  Felt soles are not recommended due to snow clumping.  Rubber-soled boots are a must.      

It is a great investment for some descent cold weather fly fishing gloves.  Gloves can be complicate to fish with, but absolutely necessary.  There are many glove options available from fingerless, to half-finger, and full-fingered gloves.  Choose the winning glove to add warmth, dexterity, and the ability to use your finger tips for the delicate fly tying.  Some winter fly fishing gloves have compartments to slip in hand warmers.  Air-activated hand warmers can emit heat for up to 10 hours.  Bring extra sets of hand warmers in case one plops in the water.  Always, always take your gloves of when handling fish.

We all have our beloved lucky fly fishing hat.  Wear it to keep the sun out of your eyes and cap it with a cozy, warm, wool beanie, or go with a beanie with a built in visor.  The presence of snow can nearly double the amount of ultraviolet radiation that hits your skin.  Sunscreen is a must to protect your skin from the sun as well as those overcast days.  On overcast days, your skin is still absorbing up to 80% of the sun’s rays. If the winds pick up, sunscreen will protect you from windburn.  Neck gaiters add warmth as well as another option for sun protection.

Protect your eyes from the harmful sun ultraviolet rays with a good pair of polarized sunglasses.  A pair of quality polarized sunglasses will reduce the amount of water surface glare throughout the course of the day.  It will be less strain and squinting for your eyes, the opportunity to find the fish, and to see the underwater river structures.

Another warm preparation for cold fishing is having a PackTwol, a fantastic quick drying microfiber towel great for the use of drying your hands after handling fish.  It’s a compact tote bag towel that is super absorbent and, you can clip to your vest, hip, or waist pack.  They dry 70% faster then a cotton towel.  It may get pretty fishy from frequent usage, but the towel stays fresh with the polygiene odor control feature.  Get one of these towels!

Rig up your rods from the comforts of your warm home before heading out to the river.  Bring one rod for nymphing and 2nd rod for dry fly fishing. You can encounter hatches from time to time with winter fly fishing.  I will alternate back and forth from nymphing, to dry fly, back to nymphing and experience a greater number of catches.  It helps to target other fish with changing it up for the fish cuisine.

I hike in a distance to the winter fly fishing far from my car.  Therefore, I pack food and water being away all day.  Water stays warm or hot in a stainless steel container made of a double-walled vacuum insulation.  A small portable cooking system like the Jetboil is easy to pack with and having the capability to boil water as quick as 100 seconds for hot chocolate, soups, and dehydrated meals.  Don’t forget to throw a spork in your pack.

Fishing on those frigid days can be frustrating at times when your rod guides and tip keep icing up.  My favorite, inexpensive tricks of the trade is Chapstick.  It won’t prevent ice buildup, but it will help delay the amount of ice build up on your guides.  Do this preparation along with rigging up your rods at home.  Apply a small amount of chapstick on each guide and rub in with your finger tips.  Reapply out on the river when ice begins to build up.

Know your weather conditions ahead before your winter fly fishing trip.  Be aware of temperatures, any changes of conditions, wind, and the possibly of precipitation.  This will greatly aid in your preparation of how to dress, or to not go at all.  Safety is first and foremost your number one concern before anything else.  Always have a family member or friend know where you are going as well as a check in time of your return.

Along the lines of weather, I will always take the time to research the sunset time.  Should you have to hike back to your car, to give yourself plenty of light upon your return.  You may see some fish rising activity mid-afternoon on sunny days.  On some of those gray, calm, peaceful snowy days, the fish may rise for hours.  Afternoons are usually the more productive times of fishing being the warmest time of day.  The fishing can be amazing during this time, but remember to keep an eye on the time.  Your car and safety awaits.

Fishing during the winter is different from the warmer seasons.  Conditions will vary with catching fish this time of year. You will hardly find fish in the faster water until springtime when temperatures warm up.  The fish can be found in sleepier water, deeper fish pots or pools.  Fish will have a slower metabolism during winter months.  They expend little energy as much as possible for a meal.  Set the hook with even the slightest pause.  Quickly return fish into the water when temperatures are well below freezing.  Cold temperature exposure can be harmful to the eyes, gills, and soft tissue of the trout. 

A nifty tool I always carry especially if there is a lot of snow, is a telescopic magnetic pick up tool.  Pick one up at your local auto store.  This gadget fits easily in your fish bag,  If you drop your winning fly in deep snow, pull out this tool and wand the general vicinity.  This tool will find your fly in the deep snow, or in shallow water while wading.

Under such extreme winter fly fishing conditions, I have snowshoed into a river destination hauling a small fish sled with my gear.  When a recent major snowstorm opens to a day of sunshine, considering winter fishing under these conditions requires careful preparation.  Make this adventure in pairs.  A good set of snowshoes that will fit beneath your wader boots, a backcountry avalanche shovel, and a beacon.  Check in with the park ranger, family, or friends of your whereabouts and safety.  Deep snow conditions require caution with soft covered pockets from bushes or trees that may give way.  Your sled and backcountry shovel comes handy to aid in getting out of the snow hip or waist deep.  Don’t be alarmed.  Fishing adventures like this are invigorating and fun with the earned mountain experience and the plentiful catches of trout.

Winter fly fishing can be blissful and rewarding.  Dress warm, be prepared with your gear for the adventure.  Bring snowshoes for the deep snow.  Setting into the spirit of winter really can mean no crowds with the definite angler’s dream of fish galore.  Stay warm and enjoy winter fly fishing!

This blog is featured on United Women on the Fly


Friday, January 8, 2021

Togens Scud 3X Hooks Review

The Togens Scud 3X Heavy Hooks are an excellent nymphing hook for tying patterns including scuds, shrimp, caddis pupa, and many nymphing patterns.  The shank is 1X short shank with a nice forged round curve to the hook.  These heavy hooks are my favorite to tie many of my flies for the seriously, voracious beasts in the river.

All of Togens hooks are made of premium high-carbon steel for the stout and durability for a long lasting quality hook.  The 3X heavy hooks have a constant taper which provides a solid shape and finish.  These beefy hooks have a remarkable speed of penetration, and the extra wire weight accelerates the sinking capacity of the hook for the subsurface flies.

Togens Scud 3X Heavy Hooks come in size 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20.  They can be purchased in 100 and 1,000 count.  Features of the hook include the forged round bend, a down-eye, 1X short shank, and 3X strong.

With Old Man Winter freezing and covering rivers, creeks, lakes, and streams, the tailwater season is in full effect. Tailwaters are rivers flowing below dams generally offering consistent, above-freezing water temperatures for year-round fly fishing, depending upon your area.  My go to winter fly tying flies on Togens Scud 3X Heavy Wire Hooks include the Black Beauty size 18-20, Scud size 14-16, Zebra size 20, RS2 size 20, WD40, and Meyer’s Mini Leeches size 14-16.

Togens Fly Shop is hunkered in BC Canada where the exchange rate is in favor to the buyer in the US.  Enter the code TOGEN10 and mention Cat Toy to receive an additional 10% on your order!  See you on the river!

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Fly Fishing and Reading the River

The river resonates trickles, bubbles, and ripples with the existence of what a river is.  The river is the promise land to the fly angler for catching stunning trout.  It is a real priority to take the time to read the river to make a day on the river a success before the first cast.  Taking the time to read the water is a divine tool to help determine the most likely places where fish are gathering. 

Stand and observe a fair distance from the river to read the river.  Take a deep breath, sip on your coffee, and study the surroundings.  Observe the bugs flittering in the air, what is crawling on you, or hopping and landing on your wader boots.  Don’t be that guy clomping right into the fish pot and running down all the fish.  Cool your jets of excitement and transition into what the river has to offer.  Here are some sections on the river to look for on your next visit.

Listen to the riffle.

Seek the riffles, or shallow section of the river where water cascades over rocks creating a surface disturbance.  Riffles are choppy at the surface riding over rocks in the water.  These shallow riffles are highly oxygenated for the trout, and it can be a fantastic habitat for aquatic insects to fancy the fish to eat.  The deeper riffles with rocks and boulders offer fish rest and a spot to hunker down away from predators.  Where riffles drop off into a deeper section of water gives the fish a lagging current and many great offerings of insects that are sweeping over the edge.

A fishy run.

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

The foamy bubbly trails identify a seam.

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 a distinct disruption from the main current flow.  Trout fancy the seams and foamy bubble trails as they create feeding lanes that collect and deliver food.

Pools are great for beginners to learn how to fly fish.

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.  Fish near to far.

An eddy disrupting the river flow.

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 concentrated food sources 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.

The tailout is the calm water above before the action of the riffle.

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 get your dry fly on for your cast.  If the fish are not rising, be very stealth with your approach and quietly cast your nymphs.

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.

Fish those shallow waters!

Don’t overlook the shallows.  We may think we can spot trout particularly when the sun is at its highest point in the day.  You maybe pleasantly surprised with casting into the shallows, a surprising take.  I have caught lots of fish in the shallows particularly with dry fly on smaller creeks.  Many of these shallow sections hold cups, shelves, and unseen structure that can provided the perfect camouflage cover for the aggressive trout.  

Consider the time of day in your planning with morning and evenings.  These times of the day generally are the best times to fish in the day.  Conditions are typically cooler, shadows are elongated, and the insect hatches are usually of greater prevalence.  

Before making the first cast, take the time to read the river.  Select a section of the river and which structure to target.  Experience is the key to success.  Taking the time to understand the bubbles, plash, and the segments of the river can lead you to a very prosperous day of catching many fish.  See you on the river!

This blog is featured on Togens Fly Shop, Reading the River