Friday, June 2, 2023

The Stonefly

Stoneflies are captivating insects that belong to the order Plecoptera, given the Latin name which means “folded wing.”  They are one of the oldest insect species of more than 3,500 different variations found around the world except Antarctica.  Stoneflies thrive in freshwater habitats, particularly in fast-flowing rivers, streams, and lakes.  Their unique life cycle enables them to flourish in healthy aquatic environments, undergoing an incomplete metamorphosis of three distinct life stages: egg, nymph, and adult.

Stonefly.  Image by Tyler Edkahl, Togens Pro Staff

Stoneflies have a unique appearance that makes them so different from other insects.  They typically have a soft, elongated body ending with two long tails, and with two pairs of membranous wings laid over their backs. Their wings are transparent or smoky in coloration.  They have three pairs of legs with two claws are essential for gripping onto rocks.  They have large, compound eyes with exceptional visual perception, along with lengthy, thread-like antennae that aid in sensing their surroundings.

Stonefly.  Image by Jon Baiocchi.

The lifecycle of the stonefly from egg to nymph and straight to adult is about one year to three years depending on the species.  The egg stage is the life cycle of a stonefly begins when the female lays eggs on the surface of the water.  Stonefly females have a unique way of laying their eggs involving dipping her egg-filled abdomen into the water and dropping them into the water while hovering just above the surface.  They can produce as many as a thousand eggs.  These eggs are then transported downstream by the current. The eggs are coated with a sticky residue which allows them to adhere themselves to rocks, gravel, or other submerged river materials.  Most stonefly eggs can hatch within few days or weeks.

Female stonefly about to lay her eggs on the surface of the water.

After the eggs hatch, the stonefly enters the nymph stage.  The nymph stage is the longest phase of life cycle lasting from a few months to several years, depending on the species and environmental conditions.  As nymphs, they breathe through their gill system or through their exoskeleton.  Stoneflies thrive in fast flowing highly oxygenated waters and clean habitats.    During this stage, they primarily reside in crevices between stones and pebbles.  Most stonefly nymphs are herbivores and primarily feed on algae, aquatic plants, and other small organisms.  Larger golden stoneflies  exhibit a carnivorous diet, preying on smaller stonefly nymphs, mayfly nymphs, and caddis nymphs.

Pat's Rubber Leg.

The nymph stage is also when the stonefly undergoes several molts, shedding its exoskeleton and growing a new one.  Stoneflies can molt up to 20 times during the nymph stage in growing and development into adults.  As they near maturity, stonefly nymphs migrate to swifter water currents near the shore and begin the metamorphosis process.  They congregate on the shoreline, climbing out onto nearby rocks and shore vegetation to start their pupa stage.

The pupa stage is when the stonefly is full grown adult.  Typically, stoneflies emerge during darkness or dusk.  They will adhere to rocks and trees where their husk separates open and the adult stonefly emerges from their pupa casing. After a few minutes, the wings of the new adult stonefly dry and harden, preparing them for their first flight.

Skwala Stonefly.  Image by Jon Biaocchi.

As adult stonefly, their primary purpose in this stage is to mate and reproduce.  The newly adults seek refuge in nearby trees, willows, and grass.  They live for maybe a few weeks to a few months where they will mate, lay eggs, and eventually die.

Stonefly.  Image by Scott Bowerman

The adult stoneflies discover another mate through a series of acoustical drumming.  Stoneflies drum by tapping, rubbing, or scraping their abdomens against substrates like rocks and twigs.  The male’s drumming is reciprocated by a female.  The drumming sounds are exclusive to the same species specifically.  Through continued drumming, the male and female locate one another and proceed to mate.

Stoneflies are remarkable insects.  They require optimal water conditions to survive.  From the egg stage to the adult, each stage of the of the stonefly’s life cycle with an incomplete metamorphosis.  The adult stoneflies period can be some of the most exhilarating fishing for the year.  See you on the river!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Freestones, Tailwaters, and Spring Creeks


The Eagle River is a beautiful freestone river in Colorado.

Becoming familiar with the differences of a freestone, a tailwater, and a spring creek can be extremely helpful in preparing for a day of fishing.  The nature of these types of rivers holds a healthy population of fish with differences in how they are fished.  The distinctiveness of each can be noteworthy in the success of fishing these rivers and creeks.

The wild Freestone fisheries are rivers originating from mother nature’s snowmelt and rainfall.  Many freestone trout rivers begin up in the altitudinous mountains where trickles of snowmelt interfuse to create a small creek. The undersized creek will flow down and adjoin with other tributaries to form a grand river.

The more snow the mountains may receive in the winter, the more water is reserved for the runoff and trickle of melt throughout the season.  These rivers are consistently changing to the ebb and flows with the grace of mother nature.  Warm spring days when snow is melting quickly, freestones will swell quickly and become stained or off-color.  During high runoff, they may become unfishable due to raging water flows.

Freestone rivers are depended upon snowmelt and precipitation.

Freestones react to frigid temperatures and typically freeze over in the winter, and they become inaccessible.  If the snowfall is poor, lower flows can be expected and warmer water.  During the hot summer, carrying a thermometer is a good approach in checking water temperature throughout the day.  Temperatures can give the angler knowledge of hatches and temperature readings when too warm at 65 degrees and greater, to stop fishing.  Hot summer days may require fishing early morning and end by early afternoon and to not fish in the heat of the day.  Warm water conditions are stressful for fish with recovery and a higher mortality rate. 

S. Boulder Creek is sourced near Rogers Pass on the Continental Divide.

The trout in freestone rivers and creeks are survivors through below freezing winters, the fluctuation of flows influenced by melt and precipitation, and varied water temperatures.  The trout are eager feeders for nourishment that live in the freestone rivers and creeks.  They are not as finicky as those in tailwaters.  Nymphing, dry fly, and streamers are effective with abundance of Caddis, Stoneflies, and Pale Morning Dun patterns.

The Stagecoach Tailwater nestled in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Tailwater fisheries exist solely due to the influence of a dam at the head of the river.  These great tailwaters exist with consistent water temperatures that are often drawn from the bottom of the in-river reservoir.  Water temperatures and flows are regulated and discharge from the dam.  These optimal conditions have a larger concentration of vegetation, organisms, hatches, and sizeable flourishing trout.

The Blue River is one of my most favorite scenic tailwaters.

Tailwaters are not at the mercy of mother nature of weather and snowmelt as a freestone.  Water temperatures are fairly consistent in the summer and all the other seasons.  It usually won’t freeze over during winter which allows for year-round fishing.  Many of these tailwaters are gold medal waters.

The S. Platte River is a favorite tailwater for winter fishing in Colorado.

Fishing tailwaters typically receive a lot of fishing pressure with the expectation of substantial crowds.  There is a consistent high number of small insects for food in tailwaters. These trout are knowledgeable and selective with all the different flies they see. Targeting these trout will require honing in on smaller midges and fishing with fluorocarbon.  Other variety of bug life are aquatic worms, small crustaceans such as mysis shrimp, scuds, and sow bugs that are not typically present in freestone rivers.

Spring creeks exist from the groundwater seepage.

Spring creeks exist entirely from the groundwater seepage of natural nutrient rich spring water.  They are free flowing bodies of water that are fed by an underground aquifer.  Water from spring creeks can additionally be nourished by snowmelt or rain, but typically live entirely on their own.  These small fisheries can sustain prolific hatches of mayflies and caddis for brown and rainbow trout.

Spring creeks will seep and create creeks or run into other creeks and rivers.

Fishing these creeks can be quite difficult with dense vegetation, shallow flows, and crystal clear water.  Fish in spring creeks are spooky and very selective of flies.  With a stealthy approach, a 3 wt. 8’ 6” fly rod, light tippet, and tiny flies, fishing these little creeks can be a hoot!

Having knowledge of the different types of water from a freestone, a tailwater, or a spring creek with good preparation and tactics will lead for a successful day of fishing.  Each have their unique challenges and rewards.  See you on the rivers and creeks!

This blog is also at Togens Fly Shop  My favorite hooks, beads, threads, and fly tying materials!

A mountain spring creek.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Fly Fishing Events for 2023, an ongoing Calendar

This year is going to be amazing with guiding at the Blue Quill Angler and a number of fly tying expos, events, fly tying demos, and presentations.  Looking forward to making all of this to happen tying with some of Colorado's great fly tyers and events:

A Happy New Year to everyone!  What does this new year look like?  What are some of your personal goals you wish to achieve?

January 3rd, 2023, Tuesday for the Colorado Womens Flyfishers, I will be there January's Guest Speaker on the topic of Winter Fly Fishing.  It is tailwater season and how can we gear up and fish with winter conditions of snow, ice, and wind.  How to fish during these cold months.  Tips, tricks, and great info of how to stay warm and fish during winter.  After all, the trout still have to eat!  Colorado Women Flyfishers is a great organization for women offering the passion of fly fishing skills, knowledge, education, and events of hosing/sponsoring fishing trips all over Colorado and neighborly states.  To learn about more information and membership with, Colorado Women Flyfishers

"A sociable club for women who fly fish!"

A fun presentation with these ladies!  I look forward to doing more presentations!  Thank you for having me Colorado Women Flyfishers!

January 14th and 15th, 2023. Saturday and Sunday, the International Sportsmen's Expo:
Denver Convention Center 700 14th Street Denver. CO 80202

Join me and my fly tying friends at the International Sportsmen's Expo at the Denver Convention Center on Saturday, January 14th from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm Rick Takahashi, Scott Stisser, Steve Maldonado, Ben Baxter, Joseph Haddix, Eric Pettine, Dennis Martin and Al Ritt.  Phil Iwane will tie in the Tiers Theater, his Iwan-e-Dun Parachute Extended Body Parachute Mayfly and his No Mercy Midge as well as his Nymphing Rig and how to fish it.

January 15th, 2023, Sunday, join me, Rick Takahashi, Michael Ringus, Barbara Luneau. Mark Rayman, Jane Retherford and Mary Manka.

Both dates, I will be tying my Caddis Larva, Fireball mini leech, and my White Zebra.

Please join us, we always have an amazing time, and you will learn some great fly fishing tips and patterns.

Great event and always nice to tie with all these great tiers!  A pleasure to meet everyone who attended the expo!

Always lots of enjoyment tying and telling fish stories!

January 17th, Tuesday, West Denver Trout Unlimited Fly Tying Night: 
Discovery Tap 4990 Kipling St, Ste 7, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033

A fun fly tying evening with friends and meeting new people who are interested to drop in.  Tiers at all levels joining together to tie for a fun evening. 

February 4th, St. Vrain Anglers Trout Unlimited Fly Tying Expo:
American Legion Post 32, 315 Bowen Street, Longmont, CO
12:30 pm - 4:30 pm

A fundraiser featuring many amazing local fly tyer talents.

St. Vrain Anglers Trout Unlimited and Laughing Grizzly Fly Shop co-host an annual Fly Tying Expo that features expert tyers from Northern Colorado and throughout the state. This Expo offers the opportunity for one-on-one interaction with the tyers where attendees can chat and learn their patterns, tips, and pointers. With more than 30 tyers demonstrating an astounding variety of flies, attending the Expo is a crash course in upping your tying skills.

The Fly Tying Expo is a fundraiser to support the Chapter’s work and outreach. Flies tied at the event are donated by the tyers for bucket draws. The event also features a silent auction including trips and fishing related items. Fundraising proceeds go to:

1.  Youth programming that introduces kids to fly fishing and healthy watersheds
2.  St. Vrain Creek habitat improvement and restoration
3.  Educating our community on the value of healthy streams and trout habitat.

Featured tyers:  Jonathan Antunez, Scott Drake, Frank Drummond, Chuck Esch, Jason Haddix, Phil Iwane, Joe Johnson, Stephen Johnson, Dan Kloster, Chris Krueger, Barbara Luneau, John Majerus, Steve Maldonado, Mary Manka, Chase Martin, Dennis Martin, Tony McColl, Mark McMillian, Eric Pettine, Rich Pilatzke, Mary Rayman, Jane Retherford, Michael Ringus, Al Ritt, Mary Lou Rogala, Dick Shinton, Marty Staab, Rich Takahashi, Cat Toy, James Ushiyama, Frank Whispell, Tom Ziegler, and more...

What a great event!  Pleasure meeting you if you were there!  See you at the Fly Fishing Show!

February 18th and 19th, Saturday and Sunday, The Denver Fly Fishing Show 2023:
Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center
6700 North Gaylord Rockies Boulevard, Aurora, CO 80019

So much fly fishing goodness to see and do!  You can find me at Finest Fly Tying Benches of Colorado fly tying both Saturday and Sunday.  I will also be fly tying on the Fly Tiers wall on Sunday from 2pm to closing. Find me at Blue Quill Anglers booth and Mystic Fly Rods.  Please stop by and say hello!

Wow!  What an amazing Fly Fishing Show it was this year!  Always a pleasure to meet and see everything under one roof!  Even for the days of the show, it just isn't enough time to visit with everyone.  Looking forward to next year!

February 22nd, Wednesday, West Denver Trout Unlimited Fly Tying Night: 
Discovery Tap 4990 Kipling St, Ste 7, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
A fun fly tying evening with friends and meeting new people who are interested to drop in.  Tiers at all levels come join us for a fun tying evening.  Great ideas are shared, fish stories, and fish dreams are made.

March 4th, Saturday, Angler's Covey Hootenanny:
295 S. 21st Street, Colorado Springs 80904

Hootenanny Sale and Event!  9:00am to 2:00pm, Angler's Covey kicking off the season! Get there early, (doors open at 9:00AM), for the best doorbusters and deals, and stay for the speakers, tying demos, free lunch, brand reps, open casting, giveaways every hour – including a rod – and more! 

Free Swag Bags for the first 100 people in line!

Speaker / Presenters include, Landon Mayer, Cat Toy, Steve Maldonado, Ed's Fly Shop, Covey Guide Panel.

Tying Demonstrations include Landon Mayer, Cat Toy, Phil Iwane, Steve Maldonado, Ben Baxter

I will present, Reading the Water, and fly tying demo with some of my most favorite, productive flies!

I hope to see you there! ;O)

And, a great action packed event of amazing tiers, cools swag, fly casting, raffles, and such a pleasure to meet more fly fishing friends and opportunities in the near future of fishing the Arkansas tailwater with you!

March 11th, Saturday, Rocky Mountain Flycasters' Fly Fishing Expo:
Northside Aztlan Community Center
112 E. Willow Street, Fort Collins
11:00 am - 4:00 pm

Join us to get the fishing season started in style! Door Prizes, Raffle, Vendors, Fly Shops, Fly Tiers, Silent Auction, rods for you to cast and compare. Try to catch the very rare Lawn Trout! Casting and fly tying for kids as well!

“Trout Fishing Trade Show” – local fly shops and other fishing businesses

Speakers: St Peter’s Fly Shop will be there to talk about the upcoming season and Chris Krueger will present Tips on Streamer Fishing.

Join us to discover new fly patterns, connect with regional fly shops and tiers, learn about volunteer opportunities with local conservation organizations, make new friends and see some old ones. 

RMFTU’s vision is to see robust populations of native and wild trout thriving in Northern Colorado’s Big Thompson River, Cache la Poudre River and North Platte watersheds. 

The lineup of tiers:  Doug Martin, Steve Rogers, Jonathan Antunez, Marty Staab, David Morse, Cat Toy, Phil Iwane, Jane Retherford, Michael Ringus, Barbara Luneau, Mark McMillan, Dennis Martin, Fred Portillo, Rick Takahashi, Stephen Johnson, Chris Krueger, Josh Henricksen, James Ushiyama, Rob Stout, and Steve Maldonaldo.

All proceeds directly support local cold-water conservation efforts to help raise money to help the northern Colorado trout and trout streams that we all love. 

March 14th, Tuesday, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing:  
Blake Street Tavern
2301 Blake Street, Ste 200
Denver, CO 80205
6:30 pm

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Denver, I will be doing a presentation for Project Healing Waters on:  Reading the Water, an essential part of fly fishing.  Please join us for this presentation, good food if interested, fly fishing camaraderie, and fish stories.

What a great time this was with an awesome crowd!  Thanks for joining and looking forward to next time!

March 20th, Monday, West Denver Trout Unlimited Fly Tying Night: 
Discovery Tap 4990 Kipling St, Ste 7, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033

A fun fly tying evening with friends and meeting new people who are interested to drop in.  Tiers at all levels joining together to tie for a fun evening. Always a lot of fun tying and sharing fish stories!

Amanda caught her first brown trout on a fly!

April 14th, 2023, as I commence guiding season with Blue Quill Angler!  First trip of the season with Mother Nature's spring snowstorm of wind, rain, and snow, Amanda and I set out for a full day trip.  I was pretty pumped and excited for the day!  I love teaching fly fishing, how to stalk the trout, read the water, and create some special memories of a great day on the river.
Book a trip with me at Blue Quill Angler!

April 18th, Tuesday,
West Denver Trout Unlimited Fly Tying Night: 
Discovery Tap 4990 Kipling St, Ste 7, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033

I will be joining in the tying fun in my scrubs.  My nursing schedule has changed, and I wouldn't want to miss the evening of fun!  A fun fly tying evening with friends and meeting new people who are interested to drop in.  Tiers at all levels joining together to tie for a fun evening. 

A grand rainbow from the Blue River, a river Blue Quill guides at.

Please join us this Saturday, May 13th at the Blue Quill Anglers in Evergreen, Colorado, for the 35th year Anniversary Extravaganza.

There will be food and drinks, raffles, games, sales, meet the guides (Cat will be there! I’ll bet Pat Dorsey will be there too!) and representatives from many of top brands will be coming out to show off their latest and greatest.

WHEN: Saturday, May 13, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

WHERE: The Blue Quill Angler, 1532 Bergen Parkway, Evergreen, CO 80439

WHO: All are welcome!

A nice brownie at Deckers.

May 16th, Tuesday, West Denver Trout Unlimited Fly Tying Night:
Discovery Tap 4990 Kipling St. Ste 7, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033

Another fly tying evening after work, joining everyone in my scrubs.  A fun fly tying evening with friends and meeting new people who are interested to tie or simply hang out and talk about fish stories.  All level tiers, come join in on the fun!

Stagecoach Tailwater is one of my favorite places to fish!

June 2 and 3rd, Stagecoach Tailwater, Colorado Women Flyfishers
A club fly fishing event through Colorado Women Flyfishers of ladies getting together to fish in the Steamboat Springs area.  I will be fishing with ladies at the Stagecoach State Park Tailwater both Friday and Saturday.  One of my favorite tailwaters to fish, lots of fun, beautiful big trout.  If you are fishing in the area, come join in on the fishing fun!

July 8th, Saturday, Troutfest Colorado 2023 - Colorado Trout Unlimited
1536 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80202
5:00 pm - 9:00 pm

On Saturday, July 8th, 2023, Colorado Trout Unlimited held its annual Troutfest Colorado at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. With approximately 3,000 people enjoyed the ballpark throughout the day to roam the mezzanine level of the stadium and visit over 50 exhibitors, watch films on the giant scoreboard, receive casting instruction, view professional fly tyers, and interact with numerous youth activities.






Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Winter Fly Fishing at the S. Platte River at Deckers, for Colorado Women Flyfishers

Tailwater fisheries are those that exist solely due to the influence of a dam at the head of the river, or section of the river, that regulates consistent flow and temperature.

Tailwater fisheries offer year-round fishing opportunities and are especially important to fly fishers who wish to pursue fishing through the winter.  Freestone rivers this time are frozen and unfishable.  The stretch of water below the dam is ice-free.  Further away from the dam will have icy conditions.

The South Platte River at Deckers offers year-round fishing close to the Denver area.  Winter flows stay around 80 cfs with several miles of fishing from Cheesman Canyon and through Deckers.  It is primarily dead drift nymphing with tiny flies.  

The Cheesman Canyon stretch of the South Platte River is one of the most popular and beautiful tail water fisheries in the state.  This stretch sits directly below Cheesman Reservoir, which provides for great water clarity and quality fishing year-round. From the Cheesman Canyon parking area, it is about 1.5-mile hike to the river, or a total of 5.3 miles in and out up to the dam.

Fishing report:  

Fishing during the winter is quite different for 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 the sleepier water, deep fish pots or pools.  Fish have a slower metabolism during winter months.  They expend less 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.  Fish with smaller tippet 5x or 6x.

Weather was mild with sunshine in the low 50's.  Returning to colder days with some rain and snow. 

Flows at 120 cfs

Fishing these days have been challenging and fishing tiny Mercury Midge #20-24, Black Beauty #20-24, RS2 #20-24, Juju Baetis #20-22, Bling Midge #20-22, Scud tan and orange, San Juan worm, Pheasant tail #22-2, Zebras Cream #20-24.

Some dry fly Griffiths Gnat #22-24, Mole Fly #22, BWO #22-24

Cat's Caddis Larva fished amazingly well for January.  Be happy to tie some for those interested.  Email me at

Fishing the Stagecoach Tailwater can be extremely rewarding.

Gearing Up:

Know your weather conditions ahead before your winter fly fishing trip.  Be aware of any changes of conditions, wind, and the possibility 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.  Fish with a buddy, or always have a family member or friend know where you are going as well as a check in time of your return.  

Take into consideration if it is windy with wind Chill factor.

Winter base layers, or your first layer next to skin should be clothing articles made of polyester, wool, or silk blends.  These synthetics have moisture wicking capabilities, or the ability to keep warm and dry conceals excessive perspiration.

Layers on top of your first layer should be clothing made of polyester, wool, or other synthetics.  Examples are fleece pullovers or merino wool.  I layer with polyester layers and fleece top part of my body, and wear Baleaf Women's fleece-lined hiking/ski pant that is windproof and water-resistant.  I wear a polyester base layer underneath pants.  They fit well under my waders.

To top your inner layers, an insulated hooded puffy that adds wind and weather resistance protection.  It is the best way to counter the winds and below freezing temperatures.

Stay away from cotton!

Your outer layer is your first layer of defense.  If you really want to stay warm, make your outer layer wind and waterproof.  I prefer my outer shell made of the specially engineered material, Gore-Tex.  

Winter waders of high quality, durable multi-layer system made with a permeable shell to help keep warm and dry.  I purchase waders with full-size to be able to layer upper body and for room of jacket and shell inside wader.

Remember, layering is good, but not to the point of causing constriction.  Constriction will cause poor circulation which in turn results in feeling cold.

Wader boots should fit comfortably with one pair of winter socks of merino wool and feet and toes stay warm.  Stay away from cotton!  Rubber-soled boots are a must.  Felt soles are not recommended due to snow clumping.

Gloves are complicated with fly fishing but is absolutely necessary.  There are many glove options available from fingerless, to half finger, and full-fingered gloves.  Choose the right winning glove that works best for you for warmth and dexterity with the ability to use your fingertips for fly tying and rigging.  Always take your gloves off when handling fish.

Half fingered wool gloves and hand warmers worn at wrist.

Air-activated hand warmers can emit heat for up to 10 hours. There are also rechargeable reusable hand warmers you can purchase.  They can last a good portion of the day in your pocket.

Have your favorite fly fishing hat with a visor to keep the sun out of your eyes.  You can cap it with a warm, wool beanie.  I have found wearing a hood is the best way to keep warm.

Sunscreen is a must to protect your skin from the sun as well as those overcast days.  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 and frostnip protection.

Protect your eyes from the harmful sun UV rays with a good pair of polarized sunglasses.  A pair of quality polarized sunglasses will reduce the amount of water surface glare throughout 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.

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

Fishing on those frigid days can be frustrating with your guides and tip icing.  My favorite, inexpensive trick is Chapstick.  It won't prevent ice buildup, but it will help delay the amount of ice buildup.  Apply a small amount of Chapstick on each guide and rub in with your fingertips.  It will require reapplying as ice begins to build up again.

Carry a small microfiber towel for the use of drying your hands after handling fish.  Packtwl makes a wonderful, small microfiber face towel that comes in a compact tote with a loop.  You can clip this towel to your waist or hip pack, or vest.  Dry your hands quickly after handling fish and grab onto hand warmers or put on gloves with disposable hand warmers.

A portable stove comes in handy to boil water for hot chocolate, soup mixes, or hot camping meals is quite awesome to have.  


Frostnip relatively minor local cold injury that results from local vasoconstriction of blood vessels in response to cold.  It does not involve freezing of the tissues.  Ears, cheeks, tip of your nose, fingers, and toes are prone to local cold injury such as frostnip.  Once the skin is warmed, no blisters appear, tissue is normal color but may be slightly shiny.

Frostbite:  damage to tissue from freezing due to the formation of ice crystals between and with cells, rupturing the cells and leading to cell death.  The earliest symptom of frostbite is pain at the involved site more often of our hands exposed or handing of fish.  The pain is followed by numbness without pain because the tissue freezes and sensation and pain stop.  

Superficial (frostnip):  Affects the first or top layer of skin.  No permanent damage to the tissue results.

Partial thickness (frostbite):  Affects the upper layers of the skin.  Minor damage to the tissues results.  Following warming, redness my persist over several days followed by the appearance of clear or blood filled blisters.  Deep frostbite skin may appear with large fluid filled blisters.

Full thickness (frostbite):  Affects all the layers of skin plus muscle and may affect bone.  Severe damage to the tissues including death results.  The affected areas appear black, shriveled, and dry, or otherwise known as dry gangrene.

To reduce risk factors:

  ~ Know your environment and be prepared.

  ~ Bring adequate appropriate clothing for the environment and use a strategy of layering insulation, with inner synthetic "wicking" insulating layers and an outer shell layer.

  ~ Be attentive to yourself and your fishing buddies.

  ~ Maintain adequate nutrition and hydration.

  ~ Stay dry.  Pace yourself to avoid sweating and overexertion.  Remove or add layers of clothing as   appropriate.

  ~ Avoid tight and restrictive clothing, waders, and boots.

  ~ Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and drugs because they predispose you to cold injury.

  ~ Do not ignore or tolerate numbness in your hands or feet.

Hypothermia:  an abnormally low body temperature below 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) Think about this in regard to especially falling in the river.  Hypothermia occurs as core temperature drops further.  The body systems slow causing clumsiness, stumbling, mental confusion, and eventually unresponsiveness.  I always have a set of clothes in the car if falling in the river happens.

Winter fly fishing can be blissful and rewarding.  Dress smart be prepared with your gear for the adventure.  Stay warm and enjoy winter fly fishing!

End with questions.  You may also email me with your questions at:

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Guiding season with Blue Quill Angler for 2022


Brandon Mcilroy with a magnificent brown trout.

As the year is winding down for 2022, what a great guiding season it has been with Blue Quill Angler!  Great enjoyment meeting some of the nicest anglers in the Denver, Colorado area and throughout the states.  Blue Quill Angler guides with some spectacular rivers including the S. Platte River with Deckers, Cheesman Canyon, the Arkansas River, Colorado River, Dream Stream, Blue River, Clear Creek, Bear Creek, and some of the best private waters:  Shawnee Meadows, Rawhide, Abell River Ranch, and Troublesome Canyon, and many other waters.

Peyton Mcilroy was so thrilled to catch this rainbow.

The Womens Introduction to Fly Fishing Class has made me realize how much there are women who really want to learn and get out on the rivers to fly fish!  Teaching this class was such a privilege to get ladies excited about fly fishing and the necessities it takes to learn to become a great angler.  I am so overjoyed with ladies who had success with taking this class!  That is a sign for these ladies new in the sport, they too can be successful!

Cat's Fireball Leech.

When I think about guiding, I realized I have tied for nearly all of my guide trips.  I truly believe being a great fly fishing guide for me, is being consistent with fly tying and tying to match the hatch.  Don't get me wrong, I am not able to tie for all trips, but it has kept me keen with the entomology throughout the season.  Some of my own flies have hit the gong on days on the river.  A day of enjoyment, the gorgeous rivers, and catching beautiful trout does not get any better.

Phil Iwane's No Mercy Midge.

Featured river guest on this blog are only some of the many great guide trips I have had this season.  It was difficult to narrow down the those who are highlighted.  Each trip was so much fun fishing with some of the nicest people.  I really am excited for next season.

Stephen Jordan learned how to Euro nymph for the first time with great success.

A great summer it was and with meeting Stephen Jordan from San Diego.  We had an extremely productive Euro nymphing full day trip.  Euro nymphing requires patience in learning as well as being on your game the entire time you fish.  It isn't easy as people may think to learn, but it is pretty exhilarating once one gets the hang of it.

Jennifer Bracht did well with her river day with the Women's Introduction to Fly Fishing.

I had the pleasure to teach the Women's Introduction to Fly Fishing this summer.  Every week, I met some of the most fun women who wanted to learn fly fishing.  Jennifer really wanted to learn and become independent as an angler on the river. The Women's Introduction to Fly Fishing is an evening of class up at Blue Quill Angler, followed by a half day session on the river at Deckers.  I really enjoyed seeing her and many of the other ladies who took this class, have success on river day. 

Ashley Falcon and Hannah Robinson did incredibly well first time on the river fly fishing.

For beginners, it seems the most difficult part with fly fishing is how to set the hook and keep the fish on.  Set downstream and bring that rod tip up.  Pointing rod tip down towards the water is the next thing wrong.  While I may set the drag on each river guests fly rod, it isn't easy to learn about allowing a fish to run and the drag do some of the work.  It is certainly a skill acquired as one progresses in the sport.  Keeping proper line tension and drag tension are key.  Rod tip should be nice and high.  Side pressure to help control the fish in the direction you want it to go when bringing in.  Lastly, stay on it with practicing casting, the drift, and mending with an indicator set up.

Kristina Anderson got to check off fly fishing on her bucket list!

Ryan Anderson and his wife Kristina came to Colorado for a wedding and took a day for some fly fishing.  Kristina has a bucket list of things she wants to experience.  One of them was fly fishing.  She was so enthused for the opportunity to jump into a pair of waders and have a fly rod in her hand with her husband, she almost cried.  Clear Creek has some of the prettiest little brownies, rainbows, cutthroat, and brook trout.  It is one of my favorite creeks to fish and catch a grand slam is something so very special.  A pretty cool moment to be a part of!

You may see Geneva and I fishing together on the river.

Geneva Scarano is a new guide who join on with Blue Quill Angler.  I had the pleasure to meet her and her family and a day fishing Tarryall Creek.  Geneva is also a registered nurse.  She is an incredibly fishy talented, divine lady.  Looking forward to guiding with her in the future.  You may find us fishing Deckers together.

Eddie Yost with a beautiful brown trout.

Eddie Yost asked me about 4 1/2 years ago if I would like to go fly fishing.  I had never fly fished before but did not hesitate to accept the invitation.  The beloved fly fishing journey for me commenced at the Fryingpan River.  Such great joy and a new challenge of weekends catching rainbow and brown trout.  Eddie and I parted ways shortly into this fly fishing journey.  I was so passionate about fly fishing, I didn't want this expedition to end.  Fast forward to the present, Eddie booked a trip with me this last July with us making a full circle of us fishing together.  Eddie loves the incredible dry fly fishing on the Fryingpan River.

Ted and Maureen Steckel had an amazing day on the river.

Maureen attended Joan Wulff's casting cast in New York.  I thought, gosh, this trip has to be special as she did catch her first trout on the fly here in Colorado.  Her husband Ted slayed it catching brown trout after brown trout!  What a pleasure to guide this fun couple so enthusiastic for fly fishing!

Tom Himes and his son Kurt had a double at Rawhide Ranch.

A memorable trip I guided was Tom Himes and his son Kurt at Rawhide Ranch.  The weather forecast had us worried of potential heavy rain and thunder.  We proceeded as planned with quite the epic day for these boys.  Tom landed his personal best rainbow within the first few casts.  The ominous clouds crept closer to us, but the fishing was lights out with both father and son having me jumping back and forth with so many fish in the net!  We sure had a great time.  Just 10 minutes before the trip came to an end, the rain came in with a vengeance.  Perfect day on the river with a drive home for all with grins on our faces right into next week.

Kurt Himes with an amazing personal best rainbow.

Jason with a tiger trout at one of Blue Quill's private water, Pepsi Pond

Blue Quill Angler has some incredible private waters including Abel Ranch, Shawnee Meadows, Rawhide to mention a few.  Fishing was amazing in these private waters with big, beautiful rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout.  While wintertime winds down the guiding, Pat Dorsey from the Blue Quill Angler is guiding Winter Fly Fishing Classes at some of Colorado's pristine winter private waters, Rawhide Ranch and Shawnee Meadows along the North Fork of the South Platte River.  Fly fishing can be enjoyed year-round.

Stay warm with winter fly fishing, fish small, and lighten up on your tippet.  Cheers and tight lines everyone!  Looking forward to the next guiding season!

This brownie took a size 20 Mercury Black Beauty.