Monday, February 18, 2013

20 Questions: April Vokey

April Vokey brown trout
April Vokey with a sea-run brown trout.
If you think April Vokey is just another pretty face, you can stop reading now. Oh, she's a looker--no doubt. But she's also among the most important movers and shakers in the fly fishing world today. The cute face and the fact that it blesses countless images and appears alongside so many big fish is just a bonus.

April's real assets lie behind the mascara (and yes, girls, you can wear mascara to the river). She's a rare fly fisher whose cathartic moment came early in life--she damn near died in a head-on crash with tractor-trailer rig a few years back (and still has the mangled foot to prove it) and came out of it ready to grab the tiger by the tail.

Today, she's a tireless ambassador for the fly fishing craft, and she's an outspoken critic of the seemingly never-ending wellspring of bad ideas when it comes to abusing our rivers, our fish ... and our fishing. In doing a touch of research for this piece (I mean, the whole idea behind this series was the notion that I'd have to do precious little to see these posts come to life, right?), I listened to a couple of podcasts featuring April, and I read a few articles by authors who appear--and rightly so--in awe of this young woman with an ever-so-subtle bad-girl streak who talks so passionately about what she believes in.

Filter the words through a Canadian accent, realize that April grew up the daughter of a couple of B.C. hippies and imagine a spey rod in her hands, and suddenly, you've got one of the most powerful sources of inspiration in the fly fishing sphere of influence. When she realizes just how much of that influence she can wield ... well, watch out.

As a good friend and a big-time player in the fly fishing world said to me a couple of years ago at a fly fishing expo where April was speaking, "That chick's the real deal." I sat quietly in the back of the audience and just listened. The real deal? No doubt about it.

April Vokey fly fishing
Thanks, Jeremy Koreski for the photo. Great shot.
An in-your-face conservation advocate for her beloved--and troubled--Thompson River in British Columbia, April has likely done more to educate Northwest steelheaders than ... well, Northwest steelhead. She speaks with knowledgeable passion about the follies of gravel mining and salmon farming and netting. That passion comes from a base of understanding that was crafted while standing hip-deep in the icy flows of B.C.'s famous steelhead rivers, casting a spey rod into the current and waiting ever patiently for that one fish... that wild, free, ocean-going rainbow trout of legend... to grab some gawdy fly and leap into a slate-gray sky.

April Vokey's become a true fly fishing guru, traveling the world and taking part in all the craft has to offer someone with a spirit bent on adventure and feet that don't like to stand in one place too long. I'm grateful she's on our team, and I think fly fishing--and the waters we love--has a future so long as she's willing to keep a hand on the wheel.

So, yes, enjoy the pretty face. But don't be fooled. She's the subtle, calculating genius of the fly fishing world, working to protect our rivers, our fish and our fishing from those who would trash them for short-term gain

Enough of my flattery... I'll leave the rest to April. On with the questions:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 
Appreciation of the life I live now only without the frustration of human negativity, societal norms or an inbox full of vain, “urgent” emails.

What is your greatest fear? 
That I will forget everything that I just mentioned in the question above and fall into the trap of always searching for more, rather than just enjoying what I am blessed with now.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? 
Dian Fossey
Dian Fossey
This is a tough one as I can identify with select characteristics of many different historical figures... perhaps my earliest role model was Dian Fossey. I always wanted to be like her; she followed her heart and beliefs into the jungle where she fought for her passion until her final night of rest.

Which living person do you most admire? 
My mother... for blazing a trail through a rough childhood to conquer mountains that I never could see the tops of. Mom has showed me that with determination, anything is possible.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 
My tendency to try and understand why some people are such assholes. At times, this can consume me and fill my head with anger when I should be using my energy for productivity instead...

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 
Lol! The one that makes those very same assholes who they are. In all seriousness though, I would say that the age-old trait of ignorance is my number one abhorrence; that and people who are not true to their word.

April Vokey
Just a touch of a potty mouth ;-)
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 
“It is what it is...” and “mother f#*ker,” to my disgust... (but it’s only when I’m fishing).

What is your greatest regret?
Pre-accident: not spending enough time with my family and spending too much time on myself. Post-accident: none.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? 
My dog Colby.... he is the only consistent friend in my life and is one of the few who have not let me down.

Which talent would you most like to have? 
To be able to speak every language in the world fluently.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
Figuring out at an early age that life is too short to be small.

What is your most treasured possession? 
I have very few possessions (I sold everything I owned four years ago, including my vehicle and house)... I’d have to say that my parents old photo albums and video tapes are my most treasured possessions.

Where would you like to live? 
Everywhere! I can’t stay in one space for longer than two weeks without going a little stir crazy...

Who are your favorite writers? 
Zig Ziglar
Zig Ziglar
Zig Ziglar, Mark Twain, Roderick Haig-Brown, the Dalai Lama.

Who are your heroes? 
My parents, Dian Fossey, Yvon Chouinard and my sister for being the kindest human being on the face of the planet.

How would you like to die? 
I don’t care as long as it’s after my parents... I couldn’t put them through that. I will roll in my grave if it’s via the hands of a man, car or airplane.

What’s on your iPod? 
All of the Marley’s, Erykah Badu, Brandi Carlile and Kathleen Battle.

What would your profession be if you couldn’t do what you do now? 
I would be a jazz singer in a small club traveling and pouring my soul out to open ears.

If there is a Heaven, and you go to Heaven, what would God say to you upon your arrival? 
"I’m surprised we didn’t get you here sooner."

What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying? 
In a head-on collision five years ago on the highway with a 3/4 ton Chev and combined speed of 220 km per hour... it was a close one and has been a long healing process.

BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure? 
Lol! Now, this I can’t tell you. Let’s just say there are very few who will ever get the opportunity to experience the answer to this question...


  1. Truly a wonderful woman who has always impressed me with her drive and passion for the sport. Thanks for the commentary Chris, and thanks April for taking the time to answer.

    1. Thanks Austin... she is unique and I truly believe she will help carry the craft into the future... along with young folks like yourself, too, of course... Thanks for stopping by... much appreciated.

  2. nicely done. a little more, another layer and we see more of the Ape we know and love. Thanks Chris!
    Tight Lines,
    ps- April- don't worry about the assholes, they can't change, nor do they wish to.

  3. April and I go way back to a time she left a comment on my blog. As my Google numbers are waning, I should probably dig that one out and get some more mileage out of it ;) Great interview with a true angling passionista. Your web stats are about to go through the roof.

    1. Leave it to you to see the method to my madness... see you in May, you sneaky SOB...

  4. Beautifully written. Now if only there was an interview with a female that didnt make an off hand comment about mascara. Funny, all the GUYS I fish with wear more beauty products than the women. Just once Id like the intro to a man's interview to reference the overpowering combination of beer sweat and kmart cologne or the seven layers of face cream, salve, and carmex. haha

    1. Mary... thanks for your comments. Didn't mean to offend with the mascara comment--in fact, I was hoping to point out exactly the opposite ... that the silliness of that notion shouldn't take away from the great work April has done on behalf of fishing and conservation. And trust me... on the third day of a fishing trip, I'm pretty ripe--you'll be thankful for that Kmart cologne ;-). My sincere apologies for giving credence to the truly cosmetic aspect of what April brings to the table. I'm in awe of her... not because she wears mascara to the river, and not because she's a woman in world dominated by men, but because she's one of the few in this world who put their money where their mouths are... she walks the walk.

  5. Great interview, Chris & April. You both do so much for our sport and conservation of our waters. My sincere thanks and gratitude.

  6. First of all, April i a good fisher guide. However, she is not the only woman flyfishing guide out there. There are other great women fly fishing guides out there who walk the walk in promoting various flyfishing causes, such Wanda Gunn and Wanda Taylor, Mary Dozer to name a few. I find tokenism in that the only interviews are with April.
    I have to agree with Mary about the mascara comment. I found it very condescending coming from a man that April wears mascara I can wear mascara on the stream.

  7. Hi Chris,
    April has become a good friend of mine, and I think she is one of the main reasons why I got into fly-fishing as seriously as I have become, and why I feel confident in trying to do it for a living with my writing. She is passionate, smart and beautiful, but most importantly, she is kind. If I ever make anything of myself in this crazy fly-fishing world, I will owe a lot of that success to her.

    Great post! I like the 20 Questions theme. Catchy way to get to know some of the big anglers out there. Cheers~

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