One lost fish. Which one single lost fish experience haunts you the most?

One lost fish. Which one single experience of losing a fish haunts you the most? Even decades later for you "repeat spawners"?

Does everyone have one fish story of a lost monster that still is fresh in memory?

Mine has to be a big Coastal Cutthroat Trout lost two trips in a row on the same small hole decades go on a upper Coastal River trout trib.
First hook up was innocent enough with a large black wollybugger-my fly to match any hatch: )
Instant weight and a feeling of trouble!
I never saw the fish-it created a huge boil next to the cedar stump it called "home".
AND, I know for sure there is a very small run of summer run steelhead there but I feel it was a huge Cutthroat well over 20 inches in summer. Hooked him on two consecutive trips.

I envision he was a big yellow-bellied "native" trout that was gnarly looking!

The feeling of the fish throw it's head side to side like a 3 foot long arm still haunts me!
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Hooked a king while gear fishing on the Hoh when I was a freshman in high school. We were fishing for steelhead and silvers...wasn't really prepared to tangle with a king. Fought that fish for two hours and forty five minutes before he broke me off.

It would just sit at the bottom to rest up and I would put as much pressure on as I dared but it wouldn't budge. We knew we couldn't follow down stream so whenever it would get down to the tail end of the run my dad would throw rocks at it to chase it back up. This worked a half dozen times. The next time it went down instead of up and broke me off.

I sat on the bank for twenty minutes and almost cried. I stood up, made one cast, and hooked and landed a twelve pound silver. Nice fish but small consolation.

Ill never know how big that fish was but we all guessed at least 55-60 lbs. Biggest fish I have ever seen. To this day I can see its first jump clear as day in my mind.


Not to be confused with Freestone
I loose so many fish, it makes answering the thread difficult bawling:

Pushed to choose, I'd say 2003 on the Bitterroot. I hooked a brown at dusk on a streamer that was an absolute freight train. It was an Ali-Frazier 15 rounder with the fish in and out of the net two times and up onto the shore and back into the water once. Also into a root wad that sure felt like the end but that I would not give up on. I waded up to my underarms and took on water to get him free...round 12 began. When it headed back for the root wad I put too much pressure on him and broke the tippet. Our best estimate was 26 inches and maybe 7-8 lbs... but I'll never know for sure.

Rob Allen

Active Member
None... I find it a great blessing just to have a nice hook up i feel no loss or regret for losing a fish.. unless of course it's a hatchery fish that i didn't have the opportunity to kill.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I can think of a half dozen off hand that were due to my own impatience or bungling. I would like to remember the lessons learned, but forget the angst endured in the aftermath...angst which still churns to the top alongside those memories whenever they are dredged up! I am too embarrassed to speak of those. :beer1:

I remember a buck steelhead, hooked on roe, that dove deep into a rootwad under a cut bank, and when my steady pressure pulled it back out, it ran straight at me and then launched to eye level not a rod's length in front of me, waving its intact adipose fin in my face. Seared upon my memory was the visage of a wild buck of at least 10 or 12 lbs.
Upon landing, it bolted downstream through the run below, not even slowing down before tearing down through a fast riffle section into the next hole, me running after it over the cobbles in my hip boots, holding my rod high and cranking on the reel as fast as I could, all the while looking to where the fish was heading, which was toward a downed tree. Two other steelheald bolted from beneath that tree and ran up by me as I was crossing the riffle section. I made it to the other side without falling in, and ran down to a logjam opposite the head of the hole.
Again I miraculously pulled the fish out of its hiding, but it hung on the far side of the river, holding above the tree and in full view, side-planing against me, not budging. The fish was below me and had the advantage. The logjam just downstream on my side prevented me from working my way any further down below the fish. It just held there, flashing chrome at me. For an eternal moment, we were stalemated in this staredown.
A brace of mergansers flew up the middle of the river, breaking the spell. Impulsively, I decided to twang my line, and this caused the steelhead to bolt into action. It leapt once more, throwing my hook.bawling:
I waded back across and walked upstream to the same hole I where I'd hooked that victorious dreamcrusher of a fish, and caught a nice bright hatchery hen.
Mine has to be a lost trout two trips in a row on the same small hole decades go on a upper Satsop River trout trib.
I never saw the fish-it created a huge boil next to the cedar stump it called "home".
AND, I know for sure there is a very small run of summer run steelhead there but I feel it was a huge Cutthroat well over 20 inches in summer. Hooked him on two consecutive trips.

The feeling of the fish throw it's head side to side like a 3 foot long arm still haunts me!
I've lost many large fish on the upper east fork satsop, plenty of summer steelhead and large cuthroat. my family has land up there. Their is also a small run of chinook we start finding early july.
My worst loss was a big Steelhead I lost on the Methow during Trout Season a couple years ago. I was swinging a small Olive streamer along the far bank. Suddenly, I see a flash near fly and a something that feels like the equivalent of a waterborne Freight Train smacks my fly and tears downstream. This fish is ripping line off my reel like nothing I'd ever seen. And after regaining my fly line and a good portion backing twice, the Steelface comes in shallow. I see it's massive silver tail protrudes from the water. At this point, I make the mistake of thinking I've wrangled this beast, and almost on cue it turns it silvery head and sprints across the current to some rocks on the other bank. The instant the fish reaches the far bank, my line goes limp. Needless to say, much profanity was said, or screamed, on this lonely, cold Methow River bank. The worst part is 'ole Steelface didn't even have the decency to break me off.....
All the big biggest browns seem to elude my net. I had two this fall I know were over the double digit mark come off trying to net them myself. The biggest I estimated about12lbs was half in the net twice before escaping. And it was one of those slow escapes that are the most painful. Watching it slowly fade out of sight as you poke with the net one last time in vain.
As a small child, my mother would send my brother and me to a Summer Camp in Maine. One evening one of the counselors and I took a gear rod down to the lake. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was fishing for but had a black Jitterbug tied onto the rod. I think there was 6lb test on the reel.I remember that the water was so crystal clear I could see all the way to the bottom. From the shore line which was made up of large natural stone, the lake dropped down to atleast 20 feet at shore and dropped off considerably as you looked out. About 20 or 30 yards out were to rocks side by side with a space of what looked like maybe two feet. I had been fishing for about an hour and it was starting to get dark so the counselor said it was time to go. As any good fisherman would say "Just one more cast" and I aimed and hit the spot between the two rocks perfectly. As soon as the Jitterbug hit the water, an explosion of water happened. I was so excited and fought that fish for what seemed like an eternity for a young boy. I finally got the fish within visual range and it was a LMB weighing I would say 10lbs or better. That was the last I saw of him and my Jitterbug. He snapped my line and was gone. I will never forget it.


We hiked into a lake just outside of Arlington Wa to fish for some Cutts. I can't recall the lake but I remember it was full of timber. We fished elk hair caddis for a couple of hours before dark from our float tubes. It was kind of creepy as dusk hit. I had caught a couple of smallish cutts heavily peppered fish and was content to leave. I had paddled back over by the path out and was floating on one side of a huge log just making little 15' cast on the other side of the log when the largest trout I have ever hooked rolled over my caddis. Of course I broke him off but I swear it was 6-7 lbs. Float tubing isn't my game but I will never forget seeing that huge fish when I really wasn't expecting anything over 12'" at best.


Active Member
I still often think about a monstrous brown I hooked many many decades ago at Jump-Off-Joe. Casting towards the reeds at the east side of the lake, I thought I'd snagged a sunken tree limb....until it started running away from the boat. Had a pretty light tippet on, so I took a lot of time working that stubborn old boy towards the boat. It suddenly dawned on us that we'd forgotten a my fishing buddy decided he was gonna grab him while he was finning in the water. I remember wondering what it would cost to mount him. Pride goeth before a fall, of course, and that hog suddenly thrashed and slipped out of his arms.
Alot of great responses!!

I think it is ok to tell a second fish or more if the pain is enough, and I feel the pain out there on this topic!
Sorry if I brought up a dark subject..Atleast the fish escaped and hopefully spawned or thrilled another fine fisherman later.

I was only thinking trout when I asked the question but if I go salmon too, I battled a King Salmon on the Satsop a very long time ago in my youth. We had been catching silvers on the trips and now it was late November and the Dogs were showing. I hooked a fish in a deep run that stayed low so thought it was a Chum. About 45 minutes later we had figured out it had to be a King and I finally brought the fish up from the depths where the fish started rolling over slightly and was tiring. It was chrome fresh and had to be 40+ lbs (I had never landed a King before). As it rolled like a giant whale, the hook just popped out and it slowly waved it's huge tail to the depths.
I quit fishing......... (for a few days):)

Another one I witnessed...was in a Jon boat on the Chehails at our farm when my brother hooked the biggest salmon I had ever seen..dead or alive. It made a very long run fast and then launched. I exaggerate none (uhm..) when I say that fish was nearly 60 pounds or maybe more? I have seen a ton of salmon before and since and it has no equals.


Proud to Be Alaskan
-30+ inch rainbow, susitna trib, in a pod of chums, was bigger than any of the chums, jumped once I'll remember that stripe forever
-26 inch rainbow, same trib, ran well into the backing, backing knot broke

and my buddy hooked a 35+ inch bow on the kenai in April the water was so clear I saw it take, it was played out flipped on its side and we go to land him... gone

I don't really remember what any of the girls I ever dated since those fish look like, but I see those fish clear as day