We all lose that big one we never forget. Bill Dance talks about his in Why We Fish.
Here's an excerpt from "The Big Picture":
With the fish so well hooked, Dance understandably thought he was about to land the biggest smallmouth bass of his young life, possibly even a world’s record. Based on mounts he’d seen at a taxidermist’s, he was certain this bass weighed more than ten pounds, but the next time the bass ran under the boat, the line went slack, and Dance retrieved his fishless popper.
He was devastated. “I wanted to catch him so bad,” he remembers. “I went back there for weeks and months. I went back early and late. I went back at night. I fished up and down that bluff, knowing smallmouth bass have home-range tendencies. I went for a year, I know.”
And he spoke often of the one that got away.
Finally, wife Diane said, “I know what that fish means to you. It will be imprinted on your mind for the rest of your life. I know how you feel and I’m so sorry, but will you please stop talking about that fish?”
Decades later, though, he still talks. “People ask me about the biggest smallmouth I’ve ever caught, and I’ll say three 8s,” Dance says, “but then I’ll add, ‘Let me tell you about another one.’”
Pro or amateur, young or old, all of us who fish have hooked fish that got away. Fortunately for our mental health, we don’t remember all of them, but one or two stay with us always. Heads shaking, they leap majestically in our dreams and memories. They burn drag. They burrow into brush. They throw baits back at us, and splash us back into reality with a slap of their broad tails.