Kamchatka, Russia. You aren't allowed to fish for them there, any longer. Sept 2001. The Sopachnaya River. I'd been fishing for just 20 minutes with my partner for the week, a guy old enough to be my father. Fortunately, a year earlier I had tangled, for the first time, ever, with many large chum on a Fraser R tributary so I knew how to handle and turn a heavy fish, in heavy water. I learned the HARD way, though, having only caught a 5 lb fish up to that point, ever, on a fly. Dick tied into a 16 lb hen that fought like a hellion. Ten minutes later I hooked one the same size. The fight was disappointing using the chum as a standard of comparison. No jumping and relatively easy to bring to bay. It was an ironically fitting specimen, I thought for my first steelhead in Russia - the fish was badly scarred by two long gashes on one side from teeth of a predator or being jammed against the side of a net from which it somehow, miraculously, had managed to escape. Even the fish there reflect the drama of their country's tormented history, I thought, gazing at it's gently heaving flanks. My px of it was/is decapitated because I had jammed the fingertip of my waterproof gloves through the shutter a few days before in my excitement at landing a huge trout on another astonishing river, the Zhupanova, and thought, wrongly, I'd manged to fix the damned thing. It was the ONLY frame to even partially develop. Fortunately the guide held it down low enough to get the bottom 1/3 of the frame and bottom 2/3 of the fish! I naively thought that the rest of the week would be as incredible as I had heard some tales of. Other, more sober souls, had warned me of planeloads of frustrated fishermen returning home. The weather was horrendous - bitterly cold, and the fish wouldn't move to the fly. The group coming out the week ahead had been nearly completely blanked. Lines, line guides and reels froze up almost immediately for a few hours each morning. Dick went the rest of the week and didn't touch a fish, and returned home, unhappy. I was more fortunate. It was cold, hard, difficult fishing, and perhaps fitting being made to endure such adversity, given the specie's legendary reputation for elusiveness, but, my God, the fish there were/are simply immense if you are fortunate enough to make contact with your fly. I've been ruined for life, I suppose, by that first experience. If the Russians ever permit steelheading in Kamchatka's rivers again, you should certainly give it a go. I've been consistently and repeatedly skunked, here, on the Olympic P. rivers, ever since. I did catch a 14 incher on the Pitt R in lower B.C. lolol That was my B.C./N American "first". Those huge creatures remain completely docile once turned on their side in very shallow water. Strange. I wonder if large N American steelhead are so readily managed, once brought to shore.