We were able to catch up with Cody Hoekelberg as he was stockpiling warm weather gear and MOW tips in preparation for his trip up to BC with steelheading phenom April Vokey for a week on the Fraser River. We talked about the allure of steelhead, the lyrics of “Oh Canada”, and Cody’s strategy to keep warm north of the 49th parallel.
Trout's: What about the Fraser River made you pull the trigger on this trip? You guys could pick a location from around the globe, why British Columbia?
CH: I have always wanted to check out the BC region and what better way to see it than to be chasing Steelhead in the snow? This will be my first time on really big water and the first time throwing spey rods for chrome.
Trout's: You also had a lot of guides to go with, how did you pick April Vokey?
CH: I have heard nothing but awesome things about April! She has developed a great name for herself in the industry as a great guide and instructor. She knows her home waters better than most and I am confident in her abilities to show us some great water.
Trout's: Standing out in a cold river swinging flies for a week for a species that is sometimes called the fish of 1000 casts won't necessarily sound like an appealing way to spend a vacation for some of our readers. What is the appeal of steelhead?
CH: I’m just excited to check out some beautiful scenery, and to take on the challenge of trying to catch a wild fish. Wait for my post trip report to see how I really feel about standing in a cold river for a week and chasing a fish of 1000 casts.
Trout's: Are there any other sea run species that you think you might run into during that time of the year?
CH: I will let April and her expertise of the area lead us to where ever she thinks we have a shot at tagging a fish whether its a steelhead or some other ocean run fish.
Trout's: Talk a little bit about the preparation and planning you guys are doing. You are gearing up with new rods, reels, rigging, flies - the whole nine yards. What is your game plan from a gear perspective?
CH: It takes a little bit of time to get all your gear ready for a week long fishing adventure in the North Country. I will be fishing a couple of different Rods while I'm up there, my main stick will be an Echo Classic Spey 12'6" 7 weight with a Sage 6080 reel .I will also be fishing a 10'10' 6 weight Echo Switch rod and a Lamson Guru 3.5 for if we happen to hike into some smaller tributaries. I’m bringing a couple of different heads with me ranging from 380 to 550 grains. A Rio Medium MOW Tip Kit and a Rio Light MOW Tip Kit. I will also bring some T-10 through T-14 sinking tips and a nail knot tool so I can construct my own sinking tips, if my mow kits don’t cut it. When it comes to steelhead flies I am just trying to stock pile as many of different sizes and colors of Intruders, String Leeches, Fish Taco's, and every Kenny Morrish Idylwilde spey fly I can get my hands on, you just don’t know what magic bug can do it for you on a trip like this. I will have 12, 15 and 20lb pound Maxima ultra-green Spools that I will use to construct custom length leaders for each different run or pool I might encounter.
When it comes to my coldweather gear I feel like I cant get enough layering, jackets, and waterproof clothing. I will be layering and even have a spare change of fleeces in case I take a swim. I will be wearing Simms Downunder Merino Top and Bottoms. Over the Merino Wool I will have my Simms Guide Fleece Bibs on. I will also bring my Simms Coldweather Pants but I’m hoping it is not that cold! I will also bring a multitude of jackets that I have acquired but my core gear is my Guide Windstopper Hoody, Guide Jacket and a Skwala Pro Jacket. Lots of Simms Exstream wading socks and a couple pairs of Windstopper fold over mitts. I am planning for the worst weather imaginable.
Trout's: How long will it take you to memorize the words of "Oh Canada"? You know you have to sing this before they let you into BC right?
CH: I think it goes "Oh, Canada the home of the free, from Sea to shining Sea?" I dont know, something like that...
We hope our neighbors to the north are ready for what we’re sending them.
Stay tuned here for real-time trip reports and post trip follow up.