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Josh Mills holds the biggest steelhead he's ever caught.

The fly stopped mid-swing and everything got heavy.

Heavy for the fish. Instantly I knew this was a giant – a class of steelhead many spend their lifetimes looking for. It was having its way with me and to paraphrase Gierach, I felt like I was standing in a river holding a tiny stick.

Heavy for this the state of our region’s steelhead populations.  The numbers suck and I would be remiss to say that I am extremely worried for the future.  Would I have a time to interact with a fish like this again?

Heavy in my breathing. When you haven’t had a grab in two months, you can feel a bit … nervous when you’re in the thick of it.

Did I mention the fish was … heavy? For a solid five minutes, it chugged along in the the middle of the run and my 14-foot 9-weight was to the cork. Bent. I could barely move it.

Heavy like a weighted jacket, the situation hung on me. The tail came out of the 37-degree water and my father’s audible gasp told the story.  This was the biggest fish I’ve ever had the chance to connect with. The runs shortened and the end game was at hand. The buck finally turned over signaling defeat and OMR dipped his hand into the water in ready position for the tail grab.

“Oh my god, would you look at that…..”

At that point, I couldn’t hear anything else.  My Najinsky was at hand.

The weight of everything was right there, staring back at me.  I thanked everything I could think of and released that heaviness back into the river.

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