On a late cloudy summer day, I was fishing the Yampa River. The ominous clouds were impenetrable brewing up 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, they 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 it's own color variation and size. Trout often are highly selective to mayflies and feed ravenously upon them.
Mayflies have an complete 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 on 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.
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 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 utilizing this skill present their fly cleverly to the trout.
About Cat Toy:
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 minor in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing 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.