It's been almost four years since my last post dedicated to the lovely April Vokey. Since that time, she and I have come a long way, in both our friendship and our personal lives. I've known Ape for almost nine years (ahhh! that makes me feel old), and never did it occur to me when I saw her first come through the door of Michael & Young how important she would become in my life. Assertive, with her long blond hair and hot pink high heels, she baffled me on our first introduction.
|Ape fishing the Vedder at last light. Spring of 2005 (I think)|
|Nothing like having someone run from the bar above you to help finally land a beautiful wild steelhead. April Vokey photo|
At that time I knew hardly any women that fly fished, and none that were younger than I was, and definitely none that looked like April. Talented, passionate, and beautiful, Ape is one of the most important people in my life today. We have had our issues, but with time and effort on both our parts, we were able to get past the unnecessary drama and create a friendship that is incredibly special and unbreakable. Ape has been a rock during my worst moments, and I know that if I'm in need I can call her and she will be there for me, no matter what.
|Fighting my first sturgeon...I had no idea what I was in for. I think I'm giggling and grimacing in pain at the same time. April Vokey photo|
|Speaking of running, Ape flew over these car sized boulders to take this shot. April Vokey photo|
I'll never forget the day I received a call at work. My call display showed that it was Ape, and I answered with a bright "Hey, how's it going?" The response was a quiet, shocked "Not great. I almost died last night." My panicky questions were answered with the news that she had been involved in a head on collision that quite easily could have taken her life. We were at a very rough point in our friendship at the time, and yet, drugged and broken, she had called me. Watching her through her recovery and knowing how much she still deals with because of the accident, I have to say I have never seen so much positivity and perseverance, not only to recover her health but to become a better person to herself and her loved ones.
|Within a few weeks of her car accident Ape was crushing fish on the lakes. This one was around 12lbs, and the only fish caught that day.|
|Enjoying the sunshine and a beer after catching an invisible fish "this big!" on the Sauk with K8.|
|Spey casting practice with Bruce Kruk and Greg Wolf on the Columbia.|
Many of my best fishing memories include April, including when I finally landed my first winter steelhead on the Vedder, and my first Thompson steelhead without Aaron. We were the female element with a group of friends on a rained out weekend on the Skagit, the pair of crazy Canucks fans in the bar in Key West, the idiots who drove 22 hours to Idaho to fish for 2 days in the Casting 4 A Cure event. She was there for one of my best days of steelheading ever on the Bulkley, and took me out to hook my first sturgeon.
|Loading up the boats on the Hoh.|
|No one can pose in waders like Ape.|
You might find it strange to hear that we rarely talk on the phone. Neither of us are "phone" people, we do much, much better one on one. Ape's got an incredibly busy schedule, with hosted trips, schools and seminars all over the world, and personal trips and summers guiding on the Dean. We're lucky to see each other a couple times a year.
|Ape and Colby, somewhere in Montana, en route to Idaho.|
|Her first brown, and on the dry, at the Casting 4 A Cure event on the South Fork of the Snake.|
|Bulkley River, 2010|
She and I have very, very different personalities: Ape is fiery, self motivated and outspoken, an extrovert who says what she means and has an insane work ethic. She doesn't take shit from anyone, and will defend her beliefs and her loved ones with fierce passion. I'm sweet and quiet, the introvert, admittedly a little lazy, with a desire to please and an aversion to conflict.
|Apparently our laughs and chatter could be heard across the river. Only Ape can get me to out of my quiet zone while fishing. Annette Lauder photo|
|Oh look, still laughing... Annette Lauder photo|
|Fish on! Fantastic day on the Bulkley.|
I think we balance each other out, as we can talk about absolutely anything, and have for days in a row. We spent 24 hours a day together on our seven day trip to the Florida Keys, and it was one of the best trips of my life. Relationships, business, family, men, sex, fishing, you name it, we've discussed it. It's a privilege to have someone in my life who I can be utterly honest with. Ape compliments me, hugs me when I need comforting and kicks my ass when I need a push. One of the best parts about a great friendship is having someone who believes in you; its an incredible gift to have someone who makes you believe in yourself, and I never feel better about myself than when I'm with April.
|Best trip ever (despite hardly catching anything) in the Florida Keys.|
|My first tarpon, so happy to have Ape there with me. April Vokey photo|
Business owner, guide, professional fly angler, conservationist, tv host, columnist, instructor, fly tier...a list of dynamic descriptions for an amazing woman I choose to simply call my friend.