It must be one of the most cliche statements in fishing "the one that got away". But the statement goes far beyond just words. It's more of a drug. It's something that instantly plants itself when the line and rod goes dead, indicator floating slowly to the surface and we pull up expecting to see a line sans fly. It keeps us coming back for more. Anchoring in the exact same spot with an exact account on the fly, depth, water temp, wind speed, barometer, even down to what we were wearing that day. We almost always revert back to these habits in an attempt to lure it's sibling. Just recently while targeting a large feeding fish shallow. I had a chance at this fish, but it was from shore with a large tree canopy overhead, with only 5' of room between trees. I rolled out a beautiful cast and started my slow retrieve, with only a couple line wraps around my hand it came tight, without hesitation I set the hook and didn't have nearly enough room. He was lost before he felt the sting. Buck fever was quickly setting in and I was flustered to say the least. After what seemed like an eternity I saw him slurp the surface again. That was it, it was destiny and this fish wanted to feel the sting. I rolled another cast in the exact same spot. I started the same slow retrieve. When the line came tight this time i knew I couldn't set the hook with the rod, so I did a classic tarpon set. The rod started pulsing deep into the blank with every huge head shake. As I let go of the large amount of line in my hand due to the line strip set, the fish took off for his journey back to the middle depths of the lake. I lost my leverage and just as fast as I set the hook it popped out. Buck fever hit me so hard by his point I was lying on the ground laughing, "did that really happen?" Some people get mad, curse and throw their gear around. Some just laugh and find the humor in "that's fishing!" But sometimes something special happens, maybe its that horseshoe everyone says is stuck in some orifice of our body, but time slows down. All the books, magazines, videos and nagging of our fishing buddies lessons start to play a role. As the indicator does the tiddler bounce at the end of the day I decide quickly to set the hook and call it a day with this last fish on an otherwise slow day. But it's not what's expected. The rod doesn't dance around, it just bows over. The reel handle is a blur. The lake surface erupts as the inevitable cliche jumps, almost mocking me. But the rod is still bowed over and the reel is still testing it's bearings. As the line disappears below and behind the boat I hear the surface erupt again. but this time I can't see it because its directly behind me, middle boat, with both anchors buried. Without hesitation, my best fishing partner, and my loving wife jumps up and pulls anchor. Quickly I was able to swing around and gain some leverage in the violent tug of war.
This is when questions enter your mind. Did I tie a good knot? Am I putting too much pressure on the line, knot, hook, fish? Anxiety quickly sets in as I wait for the inevitable hook spitting. The fish finally shows it's side and it's about to really happen. That dream fish slips into the net and we look, laughing, but this time it's because the one that got away just became the trophy shot and more reason to use that same dam fly.