Several come to mind, and I lost every one of them. They 'bested me and my gear.' Those are a burn into the brain. One was a King Salmon on the lower Kalama River in SW Washington. Fish hit the hook damned near at my feet and shot straight across the river and beached himself 4'ish feet up on the far bank rocks. Rolled, rolled and pulled out the hook and flopped back into the river.
A "HOLY SHIP!!!DID YOU JUST SEE THAT!!!!!!???????" moment.
Next best fish was on the Russian River a tad below Healdsburg, CA (Lived there at the time) Casting one of Sages very first 2handers (another story) and you feel 'eyes on the back of your head.' Father and Son on the beach behind me (this is 1986'ish) and a shout out from Dad: 'May I ask what kind of rod (it was a Sage 1367-4, or what ever the numbers supposed to be).
Reeled in and walked into the beach and telling Dad/Son (about 15?) about 'Spey Rods,' yada-yada. Kid's eyes are the size of salad plates as he already fished one handers. 'Would you like to learn how to cast one of these?'
(Seriously, this is a true story.)
Young fellow just waded out into the river with me in his Blue Jeans and Tennies. 15 minutes later (give or take) he was just busting casts; a total "Natural." When I teach, there's no fly .. pointie thing on the end of the leader.
An 'Ok, I think you've got this pretty well down, have a fishing license?' (Stupid question). Put on a Green Butted Skunk if memory serves and back in he goes. He had to be colder than hell as this was February. Even in Nor. Cal., that water is COLD.
Doubt he made a dozen casts and FISH ON. Screaming, Hooting, and Hollering, splashing around and FISH ON!! Fish on. (He landed same)
As this all is going on, Father looks over at me and asks: "How much is it going to cost me to get him one of those rods and stuff?" Got his phone number; contact at Sage; DT line info for Canada. That's an exact quote, somethings you just don't forget.
Did he? No idea.
Personal here? I've given several rods 'away,' never sold one. That "Man and Material" were just .. just top of the game Naturals. I can sit back and think about ....
A Delicious Memory for an 'Old Man?' That's how I got started with "Mr. Coles" in British Columbia.
Gentlemen/Ladies: "Pass it forward."
It's called: Casting for Recovery, Wounded Warriors, fill in the name. Man up, get up, shower up, suit up, and show up.