Thursday, July 30, 2009

Arkansas Meet April, April Meet The White.....

Every so often in a woman’s life, there is a calling to do something a little crazy (ok, so maybe it’s a little more regular than every so often)…..
Women acting crazy?  Nah...... (What the hell am I doing in this picture anyway?)  (Brian Niska photo).
See, I believe in living life with no regrets, staying true to yourself (and your heart) and living every single day as though it were your last.  You never quite know when your time will come, and you can be damn sure that you don’t want the last thoughts that run through your head to be thoughts of regret.
Sometimes it takes one of these to make you realize just how important those things are…
Head-on at 200km combined speed on the freeway.  Courtesy of a drunk driver who opted to drive after a late night party.  I was heading to the lake to go fishing, trailer and boat in tow....
3/4 ton Chev takes on my little Toyota.  Poor thing didn't stand a chance....
My accident from last year that opened my eyes.  The result?  Appreciation! Always find a positive through the negatives, no matter how hard it may be at times….
Remember that fishing is not about the race to the river, nor about the mere bite of the trout.  Life is about enjoying these experiences as a whole.  Treat each day as though it is your last and savour every raindrop, cool breeze, laugh and moment.  Savour your friends, your family and yourself. For in a world when each breath you take may be your last, believe me when I tell you that these are the things that you will wish you had taken the time to cherish and the time to love.
Dana Vokey (my little sis) taking it all in.  This girl's the epitome of appreciation.
Anyhow, enough preaching.  Let me get back to my point….
So when my heart called me to spend some time away from BC and venture into the unknown terrain of the South, I opted to get a little crazy and take the leap. So long as the steelhead weren’t running, I was quite content chasing after trout and bass in good ‘ol Arkansas.
Two happy anglers in Arkansas.
We packed our bags (and kennels) and temporarily relocated to the land of Southern drawls and ‘sweet tea’.
Heading down South.
Naturally, as word spread through friends of mine, stories of the White River found their way to me and began to plague my mind.
The White is famous for its gigantic brown trout, and I was itching to see one.  I had never managed to land a brown, and still had yet to see one in person.
Thankfully, word had also managed to spread to the notable guide and writer, Steve Dally of Mountain River Fly
Steve is an Aussie who found himself relocating to the USA almost a decade ago. Perhaps he understood what it feels like to be the “new kid in the neighbourhood” because he sent me a welcome invitation to try and break my brown trout curse.
Steve is one of those witty people who’s able to balance an intelligent sense of humour with just the right amount of dry sarcasm. This is the sort of guy that I could find myself getting along with….. We booked a day to hit the water.
Steve Dally working the motor.  (Rebecca Dally photo)
Steve maintains a fantastic blog called Splashes With Fishes I thought I’d let him tell you how our day was in his words….
In the words of Steve Dally…
The cast splashed down deep into a nook in the bank, right where it needed to land. The mass of wool, marabou and steel composing itself into something fishy enough to attract the interest of the Lord of the Eddy.
Ape casting a fly the size of roadkill, and a sink tip that would make BC steelheaders blush (Steve Dally photo).
The fly sashayed its way out into the current with a BIG shadow below and astern, and closing. It was at about this time I lost my guide cool.
“Strip April, Strip, Faster!  Strip, Strip Strip,” echoed across the water in an Aussie accent….
It would only be later that we got the giggles, as we were both intent on that fish; the one we were after, tracking the fly out further and further, into the current, and right up to the stern.
Here I thought it would have turned away, but now it followed all the way to the rod tip. This brown was not boat shy.
How big? I’m a chronic under estimator when it comes to fish in the water, but it had mid-20s length and big girth; probably 10+ maybe more, it doesn’t really matter.
April’s eyes were huge, and words were coming in a rush. “I didn’t know trout could be so predatory!  Wow they aren’t like rainbows at all.”
And this wasn’t the only monster brown we would meet.
I knew of the April Vokey internet sensation, Simms calendar pin up, fly fishing ubiquitous “hot chick”, television presenter, and the subject of a popular Face Book group “I want to fish with April Vokey”.  All other opinions were based on a few photos, gorgeous though they are. Since I’d heard she was going to be in the area, I started a little research which lit a fire to get her connected to a White River trophy brown.
April and Colby on their way to 'the spot' with Steve.  (Steve Dally photo)
Far from an internet creation, the real April Vokey guides in British Columbia, running rivers and offshore. Here was a person crazy enough not only to go trout fishing just after emerging from the hospital with screws and plates in her foot (courtesy of a major car wreck), but heck doing it out in the back of beyond, and lugging a film camera.
Here was a fish-rat crazy enough to cast monster streamers in the Arkansas humidity all day long for a crack at a trophy brown.
She casts better than I do single handed, and I’m trying to work a trade for her to teach me Spey. In short as they say April’s  “bonafide” and a kindred spirit.  Even better, she and my lovely wife Becca hit it off a treat; to the point where April could harass me about my word selection when that monster brown chased that fly.
“If only we could get him to stop asking me to take my clothes off…”  April joked, referencing my continual demands of “Strip, strip, strip…” The girls were shaking with hysterics, and I’m scrambling to defend myself. Ratbags the pair of them.
Poor Steve getting picked on by the girls....
Sometimes it’s the friends you make on the water that overshadow everything else.
April and Colby share a romantic Titanic moment.
But I badly wanted to get her her first brown trout, and a big one at that. We fished hard in all the zones that had been producing, for a handful of rainbows, a few better smacks and quite a few trees.
No animals were harmed in the making of this blog.  (Steve Dally photo)
Then as the day faded I picked up a stick to try and help focus our efforts, running a big Zoo Cougar, trying to stir up a fish. It was then that I found an aggressive feeder; a big yellow slash shining gold as it missed my fly.  We retied the yellow Zoo Cougar onto April’s rig and ran back upstream for another pass.
Damn, I was thinking, it's gone as we floated over the zone. It was then that I heard April say softly, ”I’m on”…
Her 6wt bent hard. It had to be a brown, head down and doggedly pushing towards the tree line. She held that effort and we worked the fish to the middle of the river. I took a breath at this point, thinking now we had a good shot, when mysteriously everything went slack. Those big browns have mouths of bone and a secure hook set is hard to achieve.
Last fly, last run, last light (Steve Dally photo).
That’s fishing.
Nope I didn’t come away with a pic of “The April Vokey” holding a big brown, but Bec and I had a really cool couple of days fishing, yakking and laughing with April, Colby (her St. Bernard/Coonhound cross), and her friends Adam, Phil and Dalt.
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a tower of midges!?
Do you have any idea how many of those got stuck in my lip gloss?
There’s always a shot at another big fish-  oh yeh she’s coming back and we are due, but kindred spirits are a greater treasure.
Steve Dally ________________________________________________________
Thanks Steve!  We love you and Becca too!
For regular blogs by Steve, check out And for regular reports on the White and the Mountain River Fly Shop, check out