Guide Wise – CCO New York

I have decided to add a new segment to my blog called “Guide Wise”. I will be reaching out to fly fishing guides across the country to find out more about their home waters. I hope this will help my readers plan their next trip and bring some light to more companies. While this is focused on the guide I want to include some information for the DIY fisherman out there. The guides contacted have had no problems giving some information to help out those new to the area. For my first post on Guide Wise I have contacted a guide from New York, being from the south and now living in the PNW, New York is a foreign land to me so I am glad to have gotten a little more information that I can pass on to you.


Nestled in the heart of Steelhead Alley is where the guides of Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters call home. I got a chance to talk with the owner Vince Tobia about this east coast fishery and what to expect.


Eighteen years ago Vince gave up practicing law for a new career, chasing steelhead and browns through the tributaries of Lake Ontario. Vince and the team of guides at CCO, are all from Western New York and know the waters they guide like the back of their hands. This intimate knowledge helps them to move clients away from crowds and into magical waters they have all to themselves. One exciting feature CCO offers that some other guiding services (outside of lodges) offers is accommodations. Two streamside cabins located in the heart of the Zoar Valley where guests can fish from check in to check out.


Justin:  How hard was the decision to leave practicing law and enter the outdoor industry?

Vince:  Not hard at all. As a lawyer, I dealt with people at a difficult time in their lives. People generally call a lawyer when there is a problem or major issue going on.   As a fly fishing guide, I get to be with people who are excited to be on the water, and their mood improves even more as the day goes on and they are out enjoying the fishing, scenery and beauty on the streams.   My office is a lot nicer too!


J: What makes the area you guide special?

V: We have a tremendous lake run fishery for mainly steelhead, but also big lake run browns, and some salmon too.


J: What should someone who hasn’t fished for east coast steelhead expect from a trip with you or your guides?

V: We enjoy showing guests our beautiful streams and rivers, and guests should expect to hike and fish in beautiful surroundings, and also be taught fly fishing techniques for the species targeted.


J: When is the best time to fish with you and how early out should guests book?

V: October thru mid-December is prime time in the fall.   March thru mid may is best in the spring.   We also have a tremendous lake run smallmouth bass fishery in these same streams lasting from mid-April thru mid-June.


J: What set up to you recommend for someone coming in to fish your waters?

V: 7-8 weight rods with floating lines.  Switch rods work well and are popular on many of our streams also.

J: If looking at the Catt flow data, what should I be looking for/what’s the best fishing conditions?

V: The Catt fishes best below 400 cfs, with a turbidity level of 20 or below.


J: What is your favorite fly?

V: Wooly buggers in various sizes and colors, with a little flash in them.


J: Do you and your guides tie your own flies?

V: Yes, many of them do tie their own flies.   I get most of mine from local tiers.


J: What’s the best fly shop in your area?

V: The only shop is Orvis in the Eastern Hills Mall.   Great guys working there!


J: After a long day on the water, where is the best place to grab a drink?

V: That depends on where you are fishing. If you are staying at our streamside cabins on Cattaraugus creek, then the Zoar Valley Tavern is within walking distance!  Very inexpensive and laid back.


J: It’s your day off, what are you doing?

V: I’m either fishing, or at one of my kids’ baseball, softball or hockey games.


J: Where is your favorite place to fish?

V: That is like asking what your favorite food is.   Life would be bland if I could only eat one kind of food.  It’s the same with fishing.   I love the saltwater flats for bonefish, tarpon and permit, and GTs on the flats. But I also love the mountains for trout.  Carp on the flats.  Smallmouth bass on top in the streams. So many places to visit, and not enough time!


J: Every anglers has one, what is your superstition or good luck charm?

V: I really don’t have one. I don’t like fishing in really dirty water.   Some people don’t like it when the water is too clear.  I’ll take crystal clear water over stained water any day.   It can be very exciting to see the fish and watch them react to your fly.


If you are looking to book a trip to the Zoar Valley in Western New York reach out to the team at CCO through their website or email Vince directly at


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