Salmon & Steelhead Fishing photo

I get quite a few photos of nice fish sent my way. But I have never seen one quite like this. It may just be the greatest ever, in my opinion.

Nothing against giant tarpon, or 20-pound bass, or any other impressive haul, but wild steelhead are truly special, considering what they must survive to return to a natal river spawn just once, let alone multiple times. Steelhead are miracle fish to begin with, but one this size is a unicorn.

This one, caught by Braden Hopkins—swinging a streamer, with a two-handed fly rod—with guide Gray Struznik on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, measured an astounding 46-1/2 inches long. It would have, in all likelihood, contested the world record. Fortunately, Hopkins and Struznik were class acts and released the fish alive and well after taking a couple of quick photos. The back story of these guys and their improbable fish is as compelling as the fish itself, which you can read about here. The kismet factor in fly fishing is alive and well, thank you very much.

I hope this gets you fired up for some great fishing in 2016.