When April Vokey agreed to do a Q&A with us, she may not have expected some of these questions, but her answers are even more unexpected.
Questions of a respectful kind are usually welcome, and always free. Since I had already done an article about April Vokey's amazing experience chasing down the venerable permit on the Alphonse Atoll in Seychelles, it stood to reason to go through the proper channels and ask her if she would like to do a question and answer piece for the site.
Not only did she respond positively, but she sent me some great photos to use as well!
So then where to begin? I figured there would be enough questions simply about her permit adventure to cover an entire page, but anglers everywhere want to know more about the woman from British Columbia than just one fishing trip.
Such as how she proudly wrote and hosted her own exclusive series, ShoreLines with April Vokey, or how she has since branched out with her own podcast, Anchored with April Vokey, an uncensored series dedicated to archiving the stories and personalities from some of fly fishing's most influential people.
Even venerable and professional industry folks like April are still anglers and conservationists at heart, who walk the streams and rivers on two legs just like the rest of us. Seeing her everyday side is a testament to how grounded Vokey is and how much she has to share.
True to her form April was short and sweet with some of her responses, and more demanding of herself with others. No one knows all of angling's answers, especially when questioned by another fisherman who usually only wants to know what you were using, and where you were fishing.
Sit back for a few minutes and cast your line into these questions and the responses she gave, to see if you can catch a little of what April Vokey is really all about.
Here's what she had to say:
Craig Raleigh: What is your earliest fishing memory?
April Vokey: Trolling with my dad in Newfoundland when I was three years old
Heart officially melted. Who was that one fisherman that you looked up to?
My first real fishing buddy was named Dave Puffer. I met him when I was a teenager fishing alone on the river for salmon. He took me under his wing and helped me to better understand seasons and fishing gear.
Are there any funny fishing stories your family tells that come to mind?
My family doesn't really fish, but my dad likes to tell about the time I came home from the river with the revelation that I was going to be a professional angler. He says I walked through the door in a daze, mumbling about how there just had to be a way to make a living doing something I loved so much.
What is your fishing pet peeve?
The dramas between gear anglers and fly anglers. It's unnecessary. Plus, some of the best fly anglers started by being great gear anglers.
Do you have a biggest fishing regret?
On my first fly-hooked marlin I thought it would be wise to tighten my drag as the fish sounded. I had no idea that what I actually should have done was loosen my drag and use the water tension as an aid. Needless to say, I busted it off. It was a beauty too. Ugh.
What is your favorite fishing adventure?
BC's remote north (my home).
What is your favorite part of fishing?
Stalking and hunting fish.
Do you believe that fishing pressure has an effect on success?
If by success you mean catch-rate, then yes.
Is fishing better as a professional sport or pastime?
How about fishing as an option in schools, like in gym class?
I think it should be part of the curriculum, but more on a biological level. I believe that rivers and their ecosystems can stimulate the academic, humble the pretentious, and lead the troubled. I genuinely believe high-school students would especially find it enlightening and beneficial to their futures, plus it might give them a better appreciation for the outdoors.
Do you want to be a role model for female anglers, particularly youngsters?
I don't really know how to answer this. I suppose so, but not in a "you should want to be like me" sense. What I'd like is for female anglers to follow their own paths, but learn from my mistakes and figure out which hazards to steer clear of. I swear too much to be a great role model for children.
You would've gotten along great with my grandfather, nobody could out-swear him (That's him on the left with my father, Perry Sound, Ontario 1966). And yes, he loved his fly rod.
What is social media's biggest benefit and biggest drawback for modern anglers?
I'd say the biggest benefit is that we can quickly get the word out on issues that need action taken. I'd say the biggest drawback is that we can quickly get the word out on fisheries where fish are actively taking.
Is there a difference between those in the angling industry and those with angling experience?
Yes, those with angling experience are smarter for not getting into the angling industry. In all seriousness though, the most talented anglers I know are probably the most unknown ones.
Amen. Climate change: yes or no?
Yes. Global warming, unsure. I don't know enough to give a confident response.
A difficult question; very divisive. I have a background in Environmental Science so... Ok, speed round. What is your go to rod?
Whichever is closest.
What is your go to reel?
Whatever is on the closest rod.
When was the last time you used live bait?
Five days ago.
What makes a good fisherman?
Define good fisherman.
Is a good fisherman more about personal success or proliferating the pastime?
I think they go hand in hand. Again, what is each person's definition of success? For me, success was developing an appreciation for the sport, the environment, and myself. Only after I understood those things (to the best of my ability) did I feel ready to pass on what I had learned. "Proliferating the pastime" was the final step in my success.
Do you consider yourself a famous fisherman?
Define famous! Fame doesn't belong in fishing.
Agreed, but I will say that it was some famous fishermen from my past who were the first to tout catch-and-release. How do you celebrate a big catch?
With a swig of whiskey.
What is your go to snack?
How do you bide your time during a slow bite?
I focus on improving my fly cast.
Do you have a bucket list fish?
Actually landing a marlin.
What is the last fish you ate that you caught?
A brook trout.
Don't get me started about my first brookie. White wine or red?
Rickards Red or Smithwicks?
Never heard of Smithwicks.
Another Irish Red Ale like Rickards. I was introduced to it by one awesome Canadian. Rock and roll or Country?
Rock and roll.
Good answer! What's the square root of 12321?
Don't know, too lazy to bust out the calculator.
Is your heaviest fish bigger or smaller than that?
Almost tempted me to bust out the calculator... but still too lazy.
Okay, 111. What say you?
Works for me.
Okay, do you weigh your fish in pounds and ounces or kilos and grams?
Do you think you have more or less fishing gear than the average Bass Pro?
I weighed this fish in pounds and ounces on a digital scale, what's your best guess?
What size are 'ol boy's shoes?
(Had to go look) 10. My son wore them on the High School basketball team. My go-to fishing shoes! I'm a cynic at heart, but my little scale said 5-11. Let's end on a serious note: What are you proudest of?
Probably my podcast, Anchored with April Vokey. It's been a genuine pleasure gathering people's stories and sharing them with the world. I love celebrating outdoorsmen and women, many who don't have a social media platform, yet have so many wonderful experiences to share. I have seen some truly remarkable relationships and opportunities occur as a result of the show and, for that, I am extremely proud.
Also, I need to add that there was a time social media and forums convinced me that the internet was just a breeding ground for jealousy and rude comments. Not to mention the sad excuse that is fishing television today and the cesspool of "fish porn" heavy YouTube clips. I started to question if anyone even cared about storylines and history anymore, and I wondered where all the likeminded outdoors-people were... I found them in my audience, so it's actually them that I'm really proud of.
Is fishing the best time to be alone?
I think so. For me it is.
If you could hold on to one memory from your fishing life forever, what would that be?
Salmon fishing in Norway and meeting my husband next to the Gaula River while wadering up. It was the last thing in the world I ever expected to happen to me, but I literally fell in love with him the second I saw him. I have lots of great fishing memories, but that is the one that I reminisce about the most.
How has your life been different than what you'd imagined?
I never actually thought I'd have the strength to make it past my first few years in the fishing industry. It was when social media was new, and using it for business-promotion in fishing was frowned upon (even though people had been self-promoting for years via magazines, etc.). There was some pretty nasty bullying but, if anything, it just made me more determined to stick around.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who stayed true to herself, and as someone who truly tried her hardest to be the best she could be.
What does your future hold?
I have no idea. I am now a proud mother of a very adventurous little four-month-old (she adores being outside), and the calendar is rapidly filling with upcoming trips. It's been so much fun thinking of all the places I'm hoping to share with her. I suspect the future sees a whole lot of me keeping this little lady out of trouble. If she's anything like her mother, you can be sure I'll have my hands full.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Fly Gal has spoken.
I can't thank April Vokey enough for the time it took to answer all of my questions. It's not an easy thing to come to the realization that one has attained a certain notoriety just doing the only thing that she ever wanted to do, not to mention all of the attention that comes with it.
Now, with so many vying for her time, to stop, sit back, and breathe some life into this interview is beyond my expectation of asking.
My fisherman's prayer for this outstanding ambassador of the angling world is simply this: calm waters, a bit of cloud cover, and the sight of her daughter hooking up for the very first time.
Cheers April, and thank you.