They are unicorns, as my friend Trevor would say. Are they real? Will you see them? Well that is up to you and if you believe in the unicorns of the river. They elude even the best angler some days or they can show themselves in bunches some days. Even after your millionth cast with no tug you will still have an enthusiasm in your soul that you are getting closer with every cast. When you finally get that tug you don’t feel relieved, you get freaking rocked!! There is an adrenaline rush that one only gets from this kind of fish at the end of your line. These are Steelhead!
This is a story of new friendships, amazing fish, and following your heart.
Tracy and I are a little different than most. We don’t exactly like feeling comfortable living the so called “American Dream”. Our “dream” looks more like an Action Romance Thriller with no real plot. Our plot is probably written by someone with extreme Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) that loves God and wants to go wherever the moment takes their characters.
We were on one of our most memorable and heartbreaking adventures when we got the good news of going to see April Vokey and her husband Charles in BC. We were in Tanzania Africa building a clean water well and helping the school systems of Mafia Island. Tracy and I just got back to Dar Es Salaam from Mafia Island. We had all of our camera equipment with us and were traveling back to the place that we were staying. On the way back we stopped in at a hotel for a meeting with a guy about some fishing opportunities. While we were in our meeting our car was broken into and all of our camera equipment was taken. Tracy and I were devastated as all of our images to that point were stolen from us as well. Pictures of all the good works that had been done. Pictures of precious people and kids that grew dear to us along the journey.
A couple days later that is when Tracy woke me up freaking out….. Matt!! Matt!! wake up! wake up! What’s up sweetie?!?! April Vokey wrote me!! She wants me to take pictures of her new show coming up on WFN Shorelines in BC.
This news came at such a good time. It was just the little hope Tracy needed to get her mind off of what just happened. I am so grateful for April and her perfect timing for that email. Thanks April!
Long story short to summarize what happened in Africa. With the amazing help of Maryvonne Pool and the local police they were able to get most of Tracy’s camera equipment back. We didn’t get the memory cards :( but luckily we were able to capture new memories of the trip. With the help of Maryvonne Pool we were able to go back to Mafia Island and recapture some of the things we lost.
September couldn’t of arrived any faster! We were so pumped for this trip! Fishing with April has been one of Tracy’s and I’s dreams for the longest times. The way she loves fishing and loves Steelhead is something very special. This sport is so lucky to have such a wonderful human being supporting it and being part of it.
Tracy and I decided to drive to BC. The drive was absolutely amazing!! You drive through Banff National Park which is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The sweet crisp fall air was everywhere. The leaves were gold, yellow, red and were out of this world beautiful. This is a portion of road that everyone should drive someday in their lives.
After three long days of driving we finally arrived to our destination. I felt like a kid at Christmas. Finally I was able to fish for BC Steelhead with some of the most amazing people in the world.
The next day April was meeting us and the film crew at the hotel. That was literally the longest night ever!! But soon enough, morning came! April and Charles arrived and just like we imagined April was sitting in the front seat with a huge smile on her face. She gave us both huge hugs and thanked us for being there. Tracy like her normal crazy self decided to put a horse head on her face (that she purchased two towns away) and dance around before introductions were even over. I, like always, was just laughing at my crazy wife’s antics while hoping April was still going to let Tracy shoot pictures. I had nothing to worry about as April grabbed the horse head right away and decided to dance with it to. I am pretty sure Tracy and April our soul sisters. They were literally so fun and funny together. We miss them a lot and let’s just say that horse head was in many of pictures.
So the plan for the week was, Tracy and April would be busy with the film crew. They would be going all around for interviews, fishing, and photographing the journey along the way.
I was going to be with Charles (April’s amazing husband) and his friend Rob from Australia. Hanging out with two Aussies was beyond fun. We fished everyday (except weekends, watch the show for more details) from dawn until dusk. They called each other mates and by the end of the trip I was saying it to. It’s hard not to! Charles is a very special person and was a blast to fish with. He helped me a lot with my spey cast and was gracious enough to let me swing through the holes first. He is one of those guys that I would love to spend a lot of time with because of his love for fishing and his personality is absolutely great!
Here is a picture of April and Charles with their first steelhead as a married couple!
The Steelhead were eluding us like crazy at first. We fished hard for 5 days straight without a single Steelhead. We saw a group of Italians at one hole that pulled 3 steelhead out right in front of our face. So the running joke for our dry spell was those dang Italians are taking all the fish!
Steelhead aren’t easy to catch, so when you do get one, your emotiions are amplified by 1,000 percent.
On day 6 my luck was about to change. Charles was fishing a hole and told me to hit the hole beneath him. He said go deep because there is a huge drop off down there. I put on my sinking line and put just the nastiest looking pink eyed, pink bodied fly I had. I gave it a kiss for luck and started swinging. Sure enough BAM!!!! there it was!! the tug I had been waiting and anticipating 50 hours for. It took my fly and just barely came up stream while fighting a little. I was confused and thought I might of caught something else. I knew it was big though because I could feel the weight of the fish. As I was doubting myself that’s when I saw those beautiful red marks. My first BC steelhead and it is amazing. After about 10 minutes of fighting it and bringing it close to shore I thought it was ready to come in. That’s when I hear Charles say “Get ready, it’s got a lot more fight”. It’s like that fish was waiting for those words and even before Charles finished his sentence it ran about 50 yards somersaulting, Jesus walking, and head shaking like nothing I have ever felt before. With Charle’s help we finally landed it. We took pictures of it and then let it go to fight another day. I sat on the side of the river for over 10 minutes just thinking of what just happened and thanking God for such an amazing experience. It made it even better that I was able to spend it with such an amazing guy. Thanks Charles!
The most memorable times on a fishing trip is not always catching fish, often times it can be the hangout time in between. In this case it was both. Charles talking about how he is the boss of the internet, the boss of the camp and eventually he was the boss of the world. Cat’s (April’s assistant) contagious laugh and her being the 2nd boss in command when Charles is gone. April and Tracy making everybody laugh around the camp fire. Going to restaurants and Charles ordering 6 entrees for him and April because everything looks so good :). Victor (Film crew for WFN) blowing our minds and everybody’s else’s at karokee. Who knew he had a voice like a song bird. Brock (film crew for WFN) rocking out with his imaginary drum set when a good song would come on the radio. Seeing Colby and Moki on the back of the water masters floating down the river with Cat and April was pretty entertaining.
It was just as amazing hanging out with these people off the river as it was on the river.
Besides the amazing people we met on this trip my favorite thing was seeing Tracy hook into her first BC Steelhead. Tracy says some pretty funny things when she hooks up big fish. My favorite being:
It won’t stop running, What do I do?!?! It still won’t stop!! Really guys, what do I do??? Guys??
A beautiful Spey cast is probably one of the coolest things to see. April’s and Charles’s cast is something I could just watch for hours. It was so smooth and effortless. It looked like art in the air.
April knows her hometown water and is an amazing angler. On our last day she wanted Tracy to get a steelhead really bad. So she took Tracy to a run she knew Tracy had a great chance of catching one. She said start here and work your way down, you’ll get one. After only about 5 casts, Tracy yells out, got one!! It was incredible seeing someone with such a keen eye on where Steelhead hold. After about 15 minutes Tracy had the biggest Steelhead of the trip landed and she was all smiles!
To end this adventure would be a shame, so instead, we will just call it a break that we will come back to at a later time. We will be back soon to fish with our new friends soon.
Thanks so much April, Charles and Cat for your amazing hospitality and your new friendships. We love all of you very much and can’t wait to continue this adventure sooner than later. May your life’s be blessed in such a way you couldn’t of even imagined it.
Here are some amazing photos Tracy took along the way. Tracy really wants to photograph for Patagonia someday. Hopefully this dream will come true someday!