Wow! Some great responses thus far everyone. Thanks for sharing. It's interesting to read what makes something memorable to each one of us. Not always the fish, size of the fish or species. Often related to the overall experience.
I have another memorable fish, but I think it is my most memorable and I never brought him to hand. Years ago my wife and I lived in West Yellowstone, MT where I was acquainted with a fair amount of well-known fly fishers. Early every summer a group of local businessmen and guides would get together and float local rivers and make a day of it. It was usually early or mid-June. We first floated the Madison River and I was assigned to Bob Jacklin's boat - what a treat! He and have since become fast friends and whenever he sees me he still calls me the "banker" as that was what I was doing at the time. While I struggled to cast and fish out of a drift boat (my first time ever), we had an unproductive yet fun day on the Maddy.
After lunch we drove over to the Box Canyon of the Henry's Fork where we launched boats again and proceeded to try and find some fish still looking up at the tail-end of the Salmonfly hatch. About mid-float we pulled over and the three of us in the boat got out and went to different areas of the river. Before I stepped into the water I was treated to a wonderful casting display by Bob as he threw streamers - what a pro!
I was given a box of Sofa Pillow Salmonfly imitations by one of the guys on the trip and I tied on of these onto my tippet. After wading to the middle of the stream I began working the water and picked up two smallish bows. I turned and put a cast tight to the shore about right where I had entered the water not fifteen minutes earlier. A huge head came up and I pulled the big fly right out of its mouth I was so surprised. I cast again above where that big head had been and he came up again and engulfed my fly - FISH ON!!
Now, I had never fished rivers this big with currents this heavy. I stood my ground and fought this fish for about ten minutes, all the while with that big fish straight downstream of me. It finally dawned on me that I needed to follow this fish downstream as I would never be able to bring him to hand against the big water current I was in. I made about five steps before my line went slack...I figured I had just lost the biggest fish of my life - and it probably was.
I learned a lot of lessons from that day with the 'boys' on our businessmen's outing. I also became friends with one of the premier fly-fishers of our time and will always be grateful for that.
I still see that big beast as it rolled to the surface to give me my one and only look. I've been back to the Fork and caught many good fish, but never one to equal my first HF bow - the one that got away.
I'm sure there are more memorable fish and experiences out there, so let's get busy and post them up!
Thanks all who have shared these memories and photos - keep 'em coming.
---------- Post added at 10:17 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:17 AM ----------
Thanks, Dan! All of us are the sum total of our experiences, and its fun to share and be shared with...