Tap tap as the rod tip raises the line comes tight and a familiar spongy feeling at the end of it begins to shake bending the rod deep into the cork. The butt of the rod digs deep into your forearm as the reel begins to sing. A low downstream angle is applied to your rod and your adrenaline is now at its peak. With your heart pumping and your eyes fixed on your line peeling across the surface your arm begins to burn from your tight grip. Your feet and core that have been cold for hours are now tingling from all the blood pumping. Suddenly there is a quick change in direction and the reel is too slow to pick up the line as your opponent charges at you. You start to strip. The line burns the cracks on your weathered hands but you do not notice. Once again you are connected and feel that you have gained control. The rod tip is high and your opponent has subsided long enough for you to secure your footing. You spin your reel with your spare hand trying to pick up your slack. “Pheeew” you sigh realizing that you haven’t taken a breath in the past 30 seconds. One deep breath and you try to gain composure. “If I can get it into the slack water of the tail out I can land it.” You slowly try to work the fish downstream maintaining a solid connection. Each step is like walking on a glass pane and at any moment you feel it could shatter. You see that the water is deep but you move forward anyway. It is above your waist now but in a few more steps it will be back to your knees. Another breath. A few reel cranks and the fish rolls. A bright flash of silver shines from just under the surface. You freeze forgetting to breathe. A quick bounce of the rod tip and your heart jumps into your throat. “Steady, steady.” The fish makes a slow pull and you are sure it is ready to come in. It has started to bull dog in deeper water tiring itself. “Just be patient.” You are now in the calm water of the tail out. Your mind takes over. It is now or never, if it makes another run it may take me to the heavy water just below “its gotta be ready.” You change the angle of the rod and start gaining heavily on the fish. Again you see the silvery sides roll, this time you get a better look. “Holy…..” the heavy tail slaps the water and your line hisses as it tears through the water. You put heavy pressure on the fish but it doesn’t help. Your rod is bent in half and your drag working hard to slow the fish. “No no damnit don’t go down there” slack. As you reel in totally defeated silence has never felt so heavy. Your mind is now racing and your hands trembling. “I should of waited, I shouldn’t have walked down stream, I rushed….aaahhhhhhh.” That is why I love fly fishing for Steelhead, especially Washington State steelhead.