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The Most Memorable Fish I Never Caught

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Ronan's report


Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

A few days ago Haggisboy started a great thread on the Board called "The most memorable fish you never caught". Great one! Lots of loopers sharing their stories about the big one that got away.

Seems to me like this past summer and fall was a time of wonderful fishing and memorable misses. I've written at least two FPs that featured lost fish that I'll never forget. One a red hot steelhead, the other a powerful Chinook salmon.

There was even a story about a big sheepshead that didn't get away that hinted at the story of a would-be-personal-best redfish that did thanks to my own error.

When you are fortunate enough to get to fish a lot and spend the time it takes to target bigger fish, at some point, no matter how good you are, you'll lose a big one. Or several. I don't know if I have a "most memorable" lost fish, but I figure that anything I've written about must be pretty significant. At least two fish immediately ran across my mind when I saw the thread.

The first was that redfish I hinted about in the sheepshead FP. After a few tough days with a good friend fishing hard out of Titusville, FL I finally put it all together and made the cast that any up and coming saltwater flyrodder hopes to make. Thirty feet, moving slowly right to left. I finally managed to drop my big lead eyed chartreuse monster right down in the fish's face and "feed it to 'em" as they say. I expected a redfish in the upper teens to head for the moon like a bonefish as soon as it felt the hook, but it didn't. Bulldogging in close was not what I expected. I tried foolishly to get the thing on the reel and in the process introduced just enough slack for the barbless fly to come away. I can still hear my friend Patrick say, "Don't lose that one Klara. It's big one!" right before I felt the line go slack.

The second was a steelhead this past summer - the first fish I'd ever hooked out of a "new" bucket that we discovered one day. A slick inside seam and tailout above some really heavy broken water formed by the river running over huge, jagged boulders. The fish took perfectly and headed out into the heavy mid-river currents. No jumps, all speed and power. Before I knew it there was plenty of backing outside the rod tip. Not uncommon for a steelhead, except this one did it on a straight upstream run dragging 120 feet of Spey line in a huge belly through some major league flow. I pumped it back down stream and regained about half my line before it decided to just go with it, turn downstream, and clear the edge of the tailout and blaze down the heavy rapids at full speed. This run ended deep in the backing as well, with the fish and most of my leader lodged in the boulders at midriver about three quarters of the way down the rapids. I lost the fish. I never even saw it. I lost most of my leader when I finally freed the snag. I felt lucky to not break off at the backing knot.

Until next time, don't hook any big fish if you never want to have a story like these to tell.

Take Care and Fish On,
Matt


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