Ugartechea AOC/SG - Custom | Aspen Outfitting Company

AOC/SG - Custom 20ga. & 12ga. Pair (click to enlarge)

One of the first sets of the beautiful AOC/SG -Custom Grade guns that we are putting together for select clients. This pair of 20ga. (left) and 12ga. guns feature coin finished actions with hand-engraving chosen by the client, and stocks custom fitted to his measurements. Other options chosen for these guns include upgrades on wood finish charcoal blacking of all fixtures and fittings, and hand-made custom fitted oak & leather cases.

Custom Case


Aspen Outfitting Company - Gunnison River Salmonfly Hatch

A tributary of the mighty Colorado River, the Gunnison River is the fifth largest river in the state of Colorado. The Gunnison materializes at the confluence of the East and Taylor Rivers, just upstream from the town of Gunnison. The fly fishing on that upper stretch of the river can be fantastic, with unique opportunities such as a substantial (and somewhat mystifying) late-summer run of land-locked Salmon. The really fantastic fly fishing however, is lower down , below Blue Mesa Reservoir in the Gunnison Gorge.

This stretch has long been known to locals as the best fly fishing in the State, and possibly some of the best in North America. That claim is especially relevent during the Salmonfly hatch. The Salmonfly (Pteronarcys californica), is a giant stonelfy that hatches by the billions in the early summer. The river, especially during "THE hatch", is increasingly popular. However, this part of the Gunnison is managed by the BLM, and they have done a good job at regulating its use. Commercial trips are limited to only 2 launches per day, and private launches are limited because the put-in is sooo remote.

Salmonflies during the height of the hatch

Guide/Chef Doug in the foreground, Jared fishing in the Background

Due to the crazy amount of snow this winter, this spring has been a tricky one for fly fishing on Colorado's Western Slope. Lucky for me, (and the real reason for this post) I just got back from a dream-trip that materialized at the last-minute. The stars just happened to align. The Gunnison was running very high during the week that is usually reserved for the Salmonfly, so everything was pushed back. When the water finally came down, the local outfitter that we use for the Gunnison trip just happened to have a cancellation, and they put together a "Local's Trip". Karl Page, the head fly fishing guide here at Aspen Outfitting Company, and I were invited to attend. At one point, there were going to be 8 fishermen, but due to the last-minute scheduling, it turned out only 4 could make it. Below are a few pics of some pretty memorable fish...

Some Big Flies for the Salmonfly Hatch

You won't be using these Flys anywhere but the "Gunny"

The Author with a 'nice' brown caught on a Dry...

Karl Page (Left) and Jimmy Hancock (Right) with a chubby 19" Gunnison Bow

Your intrepid reporter with a Big-Boy Brown. NOTE: This was a two-hander!

Aspen Outfitting Company on Plum TV

Once again, Aspen Outfitting Company will be on Plum TV this summer!
I was fortunate to be invited for several appearances last summer, where I talked about our various outdoor activities, and we got fantastic response from our guests and friends here in Aspen. This year, in order to have a bit more of a predictable presence, we are working on providing a weekly fly fishing update for the great folks at Plum TV .
In fact, I just got back from the Aspen Pedestrian Mall, where I did my first interview of the summer with Brandon Blocker. I will post the video, or at least the link when they get it up. Until then, a brief discription...
Brandon and I discussed the unseasonably high water in the Roaring Fork River, and the impact it has had on the fly fishing up until now. The reality is of course somewhat less dramatic than what most people believe, and we have been having great success with sending our guided trips out on the upper stretches of the Roaring Fork. That said, the fly fishing opportunities have been available on somewhat of a wait-and-see basis. Of course, our private skeet range is not at all affected by high water, so we have been offering a fantastic alternative to fly fishing- Clay Target Shooting.
Below is one of the segments from last year. Take a look, and stay tuned for weekly updates all summer long!


New Ugartechea AOC/SG coin-finish

Just a couple of quick images of the guns from the newest shipment from Ugartechea in Eibar, Spain. These guns are the first of the AOC/SG guns to come with a coin-finished action. As you can see from the pics, we are also offering prince of wales (semi-pistol) grips and semi-beavertail forends. More Pics when time warrants.


12ga. Westley Richards Drop-lock

12ga. Westley Richards Drop-lock

Just received a beautiful 12ga. Drop-lock by Westley Richards on consignment. Haven't established a price yet, but I wanted to post it ASAP. It is an exceptional gun, and we are proud to offer an english shotgun of this quality. Several more detailed pics below, starting with the engraving on the barrels and action, and then the forend and the barrel selector.

It sports what is known as a "doll's head" third-fastener

Partridge on the left side

Ruffed Grouse on the right side

The gun was made in Birmingham, England as #2 of a pair around 1910 for an outlet in New York. It has 2 1/2" Chambers proofed for 1 1/8oz. loads. It has 30" barrels and weighs 6lbs. 8oz.

A blackcock is engraved on the underside and a Setter on the trigger-guard

The forend is especially impressive, as it is inlaid with ebony

The selector for the mechanical single-trigger


Having a Blast with Aspen Outfitting Company

Sara and Carol do the 'Charlie's Angles' pose with Mt. Sopris in the background
A few weeks ago I posted about the trip that head-guide Karl Page and I took to Branson, MO. to get certified by the NSCA as Level I instructors. Since returning, both Karl and I have been spending quite a bit of time on the range. Each of us volunteered a day for the annual Elks Club RFVSA Disabled Vetrans shoot, and we've also been doing lots of instructing for guests of the St. Regis Resort, Aspen. Karl and I focus on the beginning shooters, while instructor Kory Krahl and my father Jon Hollinger work with the intermediate and advanced shooters.
The Author looking on as Sara blasts a clay
When I met mother/daughter team Sara and Carol, I knew that we were going to have a great day. Although it was pretty early on a Saturday morning, they were enthusiastic about getting started with the sport of Shotgun shooting. Our half-day shooting trip takes beginners from the foundations of shooting all the way through breaking targets from several challenging presentations. Carol had done some shooting when she was growing up, and Sara had never shot a shotgun before, so we started with the fundamentals. Our main priority at Aspen Outfitting Company is to promote respect for firearms and practice safety while shooting. So, before any cartridges were fired, I showed the ladies how the various style of shotguns worked, briefly introduced them to the concepts of ballistics, and demonstrated proper stance and gun-mount. Sara had lots of great questions, and it was apparent that they were fast learners.
I started the ladies shooting at the patterning board, a stationary target about 25 yards away. We tried several different guns in order to find the ones that fit properly, and in no time both Sara and Carol were consistant with their stance and mount, and were able to focus on and hit the target every time. It was time to move to the Skeet range.
We started shooting going-away targets that closely resembled shooting at the patterning board. When they were comfortable with that presentation and consistantly breaking targets, we moved to a more challenging station. By the end of the session, Carol and Sara were breaking difficult crossing targets proficiently, and were considering Shotgun shooting as their new favorite sport.

Carol poses with her new favorite gun

Costa Del Mar

I can see you Mr. Trout

Just got our first shipment of Costa Del Mar sunglasses in here at Aspen Outfitting Company. We have a great selection of frames, and we were lucky enough to get a variety of lenses, including their much-lauded 580 series. I already have a pair of WaveKillers with Blue Mirrored amber lenses (here I am modeling them), but they've got so many frame/lense combos to choose from that I might be tempted to invest in another pair.


Fishing the Roaring Fork

Roaring Fork River Brown Trout
As the weather warms up and spring arrives, the fishing continues to be excellent. The shop has been very busy the past couple of weeks, and now that off-season is upon us (lifts close tomorrow) I am getting a chance to do some trips that I've been wanting to do for a while. Sara Vandermeer has worked at the St. Regis for a couple of years. She has gone shooting with my father, and has always hinted that she would be interested to get out and try some fly fishing. Sara is heading back to New Zealand next week, so we decided to get her out on the river and show her what it is all about before she goes home. Sara's friends Steve and Michael were in town visiting, so I took them along with Sara and her room-mate Jacquie. The following pic is of the entire crew looking extremely attractive in their fishing gear.
The Crew
Jacquie, Jarrod and Sara
Jacquie with her Rainbow
Jacquie was the first one to hook up. She played and landed a nice Bow very proficiently. Although there has been some action on the surface recently, everyone in this group was pretty new to fishing, so we were working on roll casts, and fishing with little nymphs. The midge emergers seemed to be getting the most success, so after Jacquie got the above pic taken, and her Bow released, I changed Michael's fly and went up stream to see how Sara and Steve were doing.
Sara and her Brownie
Sara picked a little brown out of the riffles with a midge emerger, and I had to run downstream to help Michael net a fish pretty soon after that. The time had flown by, and we wanted to head a little further downvalley and try another spot, so we made our way back to the car. This was a great group, and we had lots of laughs in transit. Everyone was keen to get back in the river, so we didn't travel for too long.
The Author
The second part of the day was a little slower, as we were past the middle of the day. Although they hooked several fish, nobody was landing any, and I think that minds were turning to a beer at the Woody Creek Tavern. Finally, Michael handed me the rod and said that I should have a go. When guiding clients, it is our policy not to fish. There is always lots to do, and guests have a better experience when the focus is solidly on them. However, this was a group of friends and co-workers, so I abandoned my 'guide' demeanor and started fishing. I missed a couple of strikes, and then got a lucky hookup at the end of a drift. Sara got a couple of pics of me playing the fish (nice pose) and then of the fish itself. It was a nice-sized Brown. Once we had it in the net, everyone marveled at how yellow-gold he was. I think it was an older fish, but he was in pretty good shape, and we got him back in the water quickly.


Cat Cay, Bahamas

On the 15th of March I went to the Bahamas with my dad and little sister. We stayed with Tony Belcher on Cat Cay (traditionally pronounced 'key'). My dad has visited Tony several times, usually participating in blue-water fishing tourneys. For me, the big excitement leading up to the trip was the fact that we were going to get a chance to do some flats-fishing for bonefish. Below is the account of our travel day and first day on Cat, with posts concerning the rest of our adventure forthcoming...

03/15 - Dad and I left Aspen around 11:30AM pulling our trailer and raft. The drive down I-70 was pretty uneventful, and we proceeded directly to Downriver Equipment in friendly Wheatridge, CO. After speaking with Phil and Mike about our current frame, we decided to get an upgrade. We left the raft, and then headed north to Westminster, where we met my sister Jessica. We had a wonderful dinner at O's Steak and Seafood, where we met Robert Hall and tasted some of his great wine. We hit the sack early.

03/16 - Back to O's dining room for breakfast. The Westin Westminster is an awesome hotel, and the breakfast buffet was perfect. A quick drive out to DIA, and that is were the trouble started. The big storm in the northeast made the planes late arriving, and we had to re-schedule (in a very white-knuckle fashion) our flights. Dad and Jess went direct to Ft. Lauderdale, but I had to go to Charlotte, NC and then fly standby to meet them. We ordered pizza at 1:00AM and didn't get to bed until 3:00AM. They lost my luggage, including all my warm weather clothes AND my fly-reel (@#$&*!).

03/17 - The phone rang at 6:00AM, and I was completely lost... After we realized where we were, we booked it down to the lobby to catch a cab. The flight with Island Air was at 8:30AM, and we had some shopping to do... After breakfast and a quick stop at K Mart, we caught our flight. The majority of our first day was spent touring the island, catching up with Tony, and sampling some of the local cusine (and drinks!) at the famous Bu's Bar.

Self portrait inside of the plane from Ft. Lauderdale

First view of Gun Cay
First view of Cat Cay

The lovely Jessica Mae clearing customs

View of the beach from the pool


NSCA Level I certification

Got back on Monday from a few days in Branson, Missouri. Karl Page (our head fly fishing guide) and I went down there to expand our knowledge about the shooting sports. We drove about 15hrs. each way to attend a NSCA Level I instructors certification course. The course took place over 4 days at the Ozark Shooters complex in Walnut Shade, MO. We both learned a tremendous ammount about shooting instruction, and we both passed the examinations with flying colors. I have some pics and other items to post, and I'll put them up as soon as I get a chance.

ps- this new blogger that I have been forced to use is making it kinda hard to post pics but I'm sure that I'll get it figured out soon
Okay, the pics are up...

Bill Howell giving Karl and some of the other Instructor candidates tips.

Andy checking the position of Karl's eye over the rib after a

comb-height adjustment by Bill (Center).

Bill looking on as Tracy breaks a high incomer.

The classroom.

The whole crew (nice smile Jarrod!)


Winter Fly Fishing in Aspen

Blake McGhee with a beautiful Brown on the Roaring Fork

This winter has been awesome for Fly Fishing in the Roaring Fork Valley. The sunny days have kept the river free of flow-ice, and although the water level is low this time of year, the fish are abundant and active. Our typical trip over the last couple of months has been a 1/2 day trip (4 hours) in the middle of the day. Usually the guides will pick the guests up at our shop in the St. Regis Resort, Aspen at about 10AM and have them back at around 2PM. It has been pretty common to hook upwards of a dozen fish in this short amount of time, and fish that have been landed are large and healthy.
The above picture was taken at about 10AM by our head guide, Karl Page. The fisherman is Blake McGhee from Baton Rouge, LA. Karl modestly describes this one as 16", and goes on to say that it was dwarfed by the 'one that got away' just an hour or so later. Karl says that it was quite possibly the biggest Rainbow Trout that he has ever seen on the Roaring Fork, and that it threw the hook by tail-dancing across the river and then diving under the overhanging ice on the far side. Blake was very enthusiastic about his fishing trip, saying in an email:

"I can't say enough about the day I had . Of course the big one got away but we saw him . Otherwise , lots of nice browns and a about a 16" rain bown . What a day !!! I shall return . Beats the hell out of skiing anyday. Thanks Blake McGehee"


Western Colorado Shooting Preserve

Even after the season has ended, we continue to offer engaging shooting activites in a specatular setting. Because we offer shooting on a private preserve, you can hunt sporty birds well into the spring. A full-day trip includes a clay shooting tune-up, a fabulous lunch served at the hunting lodge, and hunting over pointing dogs with a knowledgeable and attentive guide.

Here I am with Mitzi, three quail and a pheasant, and it is almost February!


Hunting in Canada - Alberta and Eastern Ontario

A successful morning's duck shoot
Some of the most successful and exciting hunts that we produce every year take place north of the border, in Canada. We start by hunting ducks and Hungarian Partridge in Alberta, and later head to Ontario for Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock. Check out some of the awesome pics from Alberta this year!
Three old friends

Dad and Mac

Atlanta DU - Special Edition AOC/SG pair

The Atlanta DU .410cal & 28ga. pair

Today, we blog...
Yes, I am still alive. Alive and well! Although its been a while, and after a gap in posting as long this (several months) I probably don't have any faitful readers left, I will post again nonetheless. How about a little ketchup?
Today's entries are mainly about the trips Aspen Outfitting Company produced in November in Alberta, and Eastern Ontario. However, before heading north, we went south. Early in November, we sent my father, Jon, to the annual fundraising auction for the Atlanta chapter of Ducks Unlimited. We were asked by a long-time client to procure a special pair of our renowned AOC/SG side by side shotguns, and we were honored to. For the second year in a row, Aspen Outfitting Company helped to make the Atlanta fundraiser the biggest in the country.

"...that is a lovely shotgun miss"