Friday, November 16, 2012

A Day in the Life...

My schedule is one that always rouses up questions from people who can't quite comprehend a life on the road.  "How do you do it?", they ask.
"With a smile," I truthfully reply.

I love being busy, I love new adventure, I love running to a tight flight and I love never knowing what to expect when my feet touch down in a new country.
My heart belongs amidst the vastness of BC and within 3 weeks of being away from her, admittedly the glow in my eyes begins to dull and the edges of my smile are just slightly less curved.
Like a drug to a user, BC is my fix but between sessions I am a girl who needs to run.

Over the years I have noticed a curiosity amongst those who read my work and I figured that an update and brief outline of a "Day in the Life of..." might be appropriate.  Without further adieu, here is a glimpse of my life and where I have been this October.

Upon leaving the Dean, it would have been wrong for me to not pay the Skeena region a visit.  With a continued desire to wake the foam poppers (see post below), I opted to catch fewer fish but more excitement and I held true to my word by leaving my sink tips at home.  Colby and I hit the freeway.

Naturally those who swung behind me were rewarded with any fish I had missed and everyone was happy.

A few weeks later, with bright eyes and a very curved smile (courtesy of the Skeena), I headed to Seattle's Evergreen Fly Fishing Club where I was fortunate enough to meet some fabulous people and share the secret behind my glowing face with them.

The next morning, with a coffee in one hand and a history book in the other (I am currently completing my business degree via correspondence and am most focused during flights), I sat next to the Seattle airport window stretching and enjoying an unexpected rainbow that arced over the terminal.  This was going to be a good trip... I could feel it.  The warmth of my Starbucks touched my lips, the hustle of the airport behind me faded while the whole world just seemed to slow in perfect harmony.

I was on my way to New Brunswick where I was set to team up with Fredericton Outfitters for several schools with Atlantic Salmon enthusiasts.  The shop was beautiful and the Munns (Chris and Caitlyn who own the shop) were instant friends as they met me at the airport.  Caitlyn, 8.5 months pregnant extended her hand past her belly and her 'to the point' conversation made her an instant friend of mine...  They welcomed me into their home and began to explain the week we had planned.

Our first stop was at the infamous Wilson's Salmon camp on the Miramichi where I would teach 8 students the basics of casting and the specifics of the double haul.

The day was great fun and after taking a good hard fall on my ass in front of the class (leave it to Vibram soles), the mood was light and everyone was in high spirits.

The next day brought us to The Ledges where we repeated the days events from yesterday (minus the clumsiness) with new students.

After the class, the Miramichi was low but Chris and I had to give her a try.  We met up with some of his friends at his cabin and after a hot toddy and some fresh duck, the lot of us headed out to try our luck at an Atlantic.


I swung and slowed my fly, applying steelhead tactics to my swing.  Chris swung his fly fast through the current and picked up a jumping beauty behind me.  With a squeal, laugh and curse, I made my way upstream to try again... downstream mend and all.

The bush crashed behind us and I turned petrified to peer into the yellow leaves.  Please be a bear, please be a bear... bears, I know what to do with.  
Chris and I both stood turned to the disruption behind us and I wondered just how limber moose were in the water.  Soon, silence was all that shook the leaves and my heart rate lowered in time with my slight disappointment at the diversion of danger.

The next day was a repeat only without the salmon.  This time, a large truck of filthy men carried in a hunted moose.  New Brunswick has a three day hunting season for moose and there were hunters everywhere throughout the province.

Was that you making all of that commotion behind me?

 The guys taught me how to call and howled as I put both hands in the air, swaying back and forth with a stupid face as I attempted to call in a mate.

Back at the home-front and accompanied by my new homegirl Caitlyn, we dove into a feast of lobster, mussels, potatoes and butter...  New Brunswick style.
Damn, I love the maritime life!

I cooked alongside artist Catherine Munn, still flushed from the beautiful painting she kindly handed me upon our introduction.  With paint still fresh, she glowed as she placed the artwork in my hands.  Jaw dropped, slight blush, moist eyes and absolutely zero words to explain how I was feeling, she knew I was a collector and she added her talent to my collection.

Katy (her niece and a student from one of the classes earlier) had shown me one of her pieces upon arriving at the river and I had purchased it immediately as my eyes drowned in its melancholy.  It had been painted at a jazz festival and the energy poured through the canvas and into me.

The following day, I had a date with some of the kids at a local elementary school.  A banner hung from the entrance wall and my stomach did a flip as I read my name on the large display.  

I began with an introduction and explained what steelhead are.

Soon it was time for us all to tie flies.  The kids (who have quite possibly the best teachers in the world) were all supplied tying equipment and together, as a class, we all tied a marabou leech.  It was hilarity and sheer chaos but the result was some beautiful flies, a sore face from laughing and enough feathers on the floor to dress an entire show of Vegas girls.

Alright!  Let's swim these!

Nice work everyone!

A short week later, it was off to Toronto to meet with caster Rick Whorwood of where he and G. Loomis had arranged a couple of tying classes, a couple of casting classes and an on the water school where each of us would drift 2 anglers down the Grand while helping them to understand efficient steelheading techniques.  

First stop was First Cast Fly Shop in Guelph.  I have worked with Ray and his shop in the past and can honestly tell you that if you live in the Toronto region, you simply must check them out.  Integrity, professionalism and patience... this shop takes their relationships seriously.

I was later emailed by the young gent through the swim tank about his success with the fly that he tied in the class... check this out!  Good for you Mike.

"Hey April, Just wanted to thank you again for teaching me the great intruder patterns, they are working great! We had a blast on Sunday and I had some great takes swinging.  The second pic is actually the fly I tied at the class!
Good Luck with the classes/seminars this fall.

Next, it was off to Rick's place for a ladies casting workshop.  We pulled an "underground" and met up in Rick's garage close to a nearby park.

7 of the 8 ladies drove in from Quebec and a translator helped to remove the language barrier, Ashley (the 8th of the 8) and I both sat in sheer silence at times, lost in the french language and comedy of the group.  
What I didn't need a translator for was the ridiculous amount of laughing, sass and passion for the sport that each of these gals held.  Ranging from 11 years old to their early 20's, these french gals were good, damn good...  I can tell you with confidence that this fishing industry is about to be struck with some serious talent.
I remember 10 years ago when another gal on the river was a "hallelujah" moment... I am so proud to look forward now and see just how far all of this pushing has gotten us.  

The following day, Rick had the boats set up for our on the water school.
I took the raft while he took the drift and together we rowed our crew down the Grand in pursuit of steelhead.

The water was low but we pushed onward.

Using swinging techniques from home, we called in a bass or two.
And of course, we managed a few steelhead (whew.)

The day was fun and productive and almost everyone in the group landed a fresh fish.
Again, it was off to the airport and I prepared to say goodbye to Canada for a few more weeks.

Germany came with a day of lost time and Alex Siems of ADH Fly Fishing in Peine, Germany picked me up from a very foreign airport (this was my first visit here).

ADH holds an annual fair and they had brought me in to teach, speak, tie and drink beer (it was Oktoberfest).

My room had a glorious view and the small farm town reminded me just how much I like 'simple'.
Diana and Alex hosted me in their home and together we tried to get through several of the largest beer mugs I have ever seen.  


The next morning was one of casting.  Working together on the double haul...

Class didn't start until 10:00am so I awoke for the crack of dawn and headed to the river for a shot at a pike with one of the ADH guys.  Cast, strip vigorously, cast, strip, repeat... I waited for my line to tug from my hand.  A bolt of smeared grey stained the water and I watched in disbelief as a huge pike hit my leader from the side.  Missing the wire altogether and nicking the thick mono instead, my fly and the pike were both gone in a flash (literally).  The words exchanged from here shall remain censored but needless to say, I was nothing short of unimpressed.

Regardless, I picked up this little beauty and then proceeded to head back to the shop for my class.

The next day was the day of the event.  I set up to tie for onlookers in the shop and tried to learn some of the German language.

Before I knew it, it was presentation time and I squirmed and struggled trying to beat my enthusiasm into the crowd.  The language barrier and polite tone of the Germans made it interesting but the result was efficient and I was able to spend a fair bit of time working individually with local anglers.

Plus, does it get any better than German sausage?  They even have their own Ketchup that simply puts ours to shame.

The week sadly came to an end and I prepared to leave Alex, Diana and the ADH crew.  Late night casting comps, fine rum, European techniques and a ton of great new people... I hope to be back soon.

Alas, all good things must 'finito' and I was determined to take a personal vacation to Florence Italy for some good wine, food, gelato, art, history, and did I mention food?

The Cathedral... my hotel was perfectly placed.

Off to the opera!  One more dream crossed off the list...

With a full stomach, a satisfied heart, a newfound passion for the Italian language, several hours of conversation with the two ladies sitting next to me (turns out even the most conservative women have an interest in outdoor excitement) and a suitcase packed with as many truffles, limoncello, biscotti and oils that I could fit, I headed home to a wagging tail, a wet cheek kiss from Mom and a bellowing hello from my Dad.  I always love this part.

The visit was short lived... and 20 hours later Colby and I were packed and back on a 14 hour commute through wretched road conditions to visit my beloved steelhead.

Yup, this was not a fun one.

Lol!  Colby's a boss... 

A roadside stop for some chilly teeth brushing and Colby exercise.

Instant relaxation... it feels good to be back.

The stare down as Colby unleashes in a furious, frothing rage from the backseat of the truck.

Hello lover.

Moose and I get along better when I'm safe in the truck... those feet are not something I would like to find myself under.

Exactly.... look at the size of those things!!!  Jeremy Koreski photo.

We scout the Kispiox and Mr. High Maintenance gets his hair did.

We were set to meet with photographer Jeremy Koreski who would be trying to capture some photo moments for Patagonia.  He was going to fly into Smithers where we would spend a day on the Kispiox before making our way to Terrace (photos to come later).

The weather had taken a recent plummet and every 2nd cast demanded that we crunch our ice off our running lines with our teeth.  To be quite truthful, it was miserable outside and a recent flu bug (courtesy of a girlfriend's adorable children) had me mentally glued to my seedy hotel bed.  Sweats and hacking lungs kept my days short but I did what I could to keep up with the other two healthy lads.

Jeremy Koreski photo.

Ben and Thompson look outward to laying steelhead.

Is it the medication or is he laughing at his snotty mom?  Jeremy Koreski photo.

Jeremy Koreski photo.

So, there you have it: "a day in the life".  
Life is too short to be small.  I'm going to live every second of this thing as though I'm going to die tomorrow; even if it does include flus, moose, ice and long flights... that's just all part of what makes it so much fun.  
Close your eyes and jump... I'll see some of you on the "how do you do it?" schedule soon.