Fly Fishing with Aspen Outfitting Company
I picked the boys up from school and we headed over to one of the finest Fly Fishing outfitters in our valley, Aspen Outfitting Company, located in the St. Regis Resort.
Currently owned by Aspen native, Jarrod Hollinger, Aspen Outfitting Company was founded over 40 years ago by Jarrod’s father, Jon Hollinger, who grew up hunting and fishing in eastern Canada. The youngest of an agricultural based family, Jon Hollinger was a farmer and an auctioneer who took his family hunting by necessity to supplement their diet. Growing up in the east, Jon and his wife wanted to head to the west, “the promised land,” compelled by stories they read about fly fishing for trout in the rocky mountains. They made the move to Aspen in the 60’s, and upon developing a friendship with Elizabeth and Walter Paepcake, leased land from them on Erickson Ranch, thus beginning a small lifestyle business of fly fishing, hunting, horse back riding, hiking and cross country skiing.
Last we took the boys fly fishing was five years ago and since the intellectual growth and increased agility that occurs between age nine and 14 in children is monumental, we were excited to go again with such a reputable locally owned outfitter with a history in our valley.
Our education on fly fishing began with our fishing guides, Matt Selig and Tom Menas, as we walked to our fishing spot in Gold Medal Waters along the Roaring Fork River. We learned about bugs, flies and presentation and Matt told us of his little boy who loves to go fishing before school. What a perfect way to start the day for a child.
When I asked Tom about his philosophy behind hunting, catching and then releasing fish (the Roaring Fork River Conservancy has been catch and release since 1964), he answered, “You step away from reality and move back to primitive times, totally losing yourself in an ultimate serenity where nothing else matters but what’s 25 feet in front of you. It’s not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.”
As the golden leaves slowly floated down to the river, we became better versed in the art and finesse of fly fishing and when Matt commented on how he thought it was remarkable that the fish see the flies at all amidst the kaleidoscope of falling leaves, I realized why so many fishermen are also poets. For those of us who live to be outside, fly fishermen symbolize a life that many of us are working towards achieving and it is my hope that the boys will become addicted to fishing instead of to electronics and that fly fishing will not only settle their active remote controlled minds but better prepare them to now get primitive on the rivers with their grandpa.
Obsession by poet, friend of ARL and fly fisherman, Cameron Scott
On the drive home, I jump out of Joe’s jeep
and stumble down the embankment.
Joe shouts: “Where the hell
are you going?”
Where I am always going,
back toward the river.
Back to the pool of rising rainbows
where I hook all my regrets, every
last one on seven x and a midge.
It is the same fever a salmon must feel
after spawn, the body failing,
having drawn itself far past
an ability to recover.
Mountain Gazette, May 2009
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