First, somebody caught a world-record steelhead and killed it, which caused a little uproar on the Intertubes.

Then Moldy Chum posted 61 photographs of a big steelie being manhandled, taped, and generally beat to hell before release (it ended up on the cover of Fly Fishermen magazine). With its chances of survival about as remote as your chances of inheriting $23 million from a Nigerian Prince, we’re forced ask the obvious question:

What the hell?

Perhaps the world’s steelhead fishermen should to take a lesson from our own glow-in-the-dark Singlebarbed:

A couple dozen large Pikeminnow and the occasional smallmouth were browsing in deep water – and without any vegetation available to hold insects, and with the catastrophic upheaval of the runoff, I guessed these might be hungry and desperate fish.

I had a fistful of the “Ellis Island” reject flies I needed to expend and plopped an Olive unknown into the water above them. With a 4mm bead and 25 turns of fuse wire there was a corresponding mushroom cloud and crater in the river bottom – and most of the fish scattered.

I gave it a quick tug to free the fly and all hell broke loose, some silver flash comes out of the water and does its best Salmonid imitation, screams off downstream and returns to sulk.

I’m long past caring what it is – and from its profile it appears to be a trophy Pikeminnow – but thick and fat like a bass, not skinny and cylindrical like usual.

It’s laying in the slack water at the bank, and I realize it’s the new IGFA world record for Sacramento Pikeminnow. The old version was merely 6.25 pounds – and “Mr. Chunk Monster”, the genetically blessed fatty was likely to tip them scales closer to seven.

Did our heavy-metals-rich friend rush to the nearest certified scales to claim his spot in the record books – and the adulation sure to follow?

Hell no. (That’s why we like him. Well, that and the fact he’s usually good to bum flies off.)

Our take? They’re fish, for godssakes – not magical beings capable of validating our sorry, quietly desperate existences.

See you on the river, Tom Chandler.

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