1st Steelhead on a fly rod

I have fished for steelhead in Washington for the last 15 years or so but have not pursued them with a fly rod. This year I committed to using the fly and leaving my drift gear at home. Last week I hooked my 1st Steelhead side drifting. It was an amazing morning, there were no boats or banks around as we drifted thru a likely spot. My indicator fluttered and then slowly disappeared as if I snagged the bottom. I pulled the line and thought I felt something small like a white fish or baby trout. Then I felt something a bit different, I tried to set by pulling the line and snapping the rod and the line slipped out of my hand. I felt despair but as quickly as I could, I grabbed the loose line and started to rapidly strip it in.

There was still something at the end and I gave it a good hook set this time. It felt heavy but there was not a lot of power behind it, I started the play this fish that I figured was about 6 lbs and then all hell broke loose. It raced upriver taking most of my fly line, just as I thought I would go into my backing, it turned down river. We thought it settled down and my buddy dropped the anchor to avoid the rapids around the corner. The fish took a couple more runs and my buddy was able to start taking a little video. What an amazing feeling, it was like I was fighting my 1st steelhead all over again and it was a NATE!

I started to try and bring the fish to the boat and POP - the fish came unbuttoned :(

When I reeled in my line I found that the Owner Mosquito hook had been straightened. I never got to see the entire fish but his tail was 5-6 inches in width. As he swam away I found myself wondering if I would ever pick up my spinning gear again. It was an AMAZING feeling.

C&R at 50'...now that's a sportsman! Congrats, though most might not count that since it wasn't landed, that was a solid hook up and battle, one you'll remember and will count in your mind for a long time to come. Lesson learned...skip the trout hooks.

Way to go! James.