On the Fly: Tailgate Moments | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Tailgate Moments

Scott Spooner
On The Fly

There are special moments that transcend what many people think fly fishing is about, especially when you fish for a living. When you are a guide, your day tends to revolve around getting tomorrow’s client to call you back, figuring out lunches and shuttles, coaching your sports enough to catch a fish, wondering what the hatch is going to be like, and so on. The best guides help people catch a fish despite themselves, we like to say.

Most days on the water with clients are a joy, a few are drudgery. The majority are very grateful for the scenery, the fish caught, and the time away from the rat race. Other clients bring the rat race on your boat and barely get off the phone all day. A guide must be flexible, it’s the “client’s day” when it’s all said and done, and no two clients have the same expectations or attitudes.

Oftentimes after a tough day out there (or a terrific one), the stolen moments sitting on the tailgate with your fellow guides after the guest drives off are what it’s all about. The beverages are extra cold, noses and cheeks are burned, hands raw from rowing, and you’re ending the day with your friends and the stories of today’s victories and defeats. Listening to guides on tailgates can be a bit confusing, considering all of the codenames they use for flies, hatches and spots. If you know how to run a flutter rig with boogers and blings from the Turkey Hole down through Britt’s Run, you are fluent in guidespeak.

Tailgate moments don’t have to strictly happen on tailgates, and you don’t have to be a guide to enjoy them, either. Just sitting by the river and watching the insects and fish instead of flailing about can be a tailgate moment. Giggling and hiking out of a river spot in the dark after an epic green drake hatch can be one of these moments. The joys of this sport aren’t just about catching fish. I hope you have a tailgate moment soon, with people you love, and that it stays with you a long time.

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