RE:So I'm an idiot....
I'm down on the vineyard for the c&r tournament. My partner & I are set up under the lighthouse at Cape Pogue. Perfect spot, plenty of from other anglers and good fish within casting distance. Take about 6 fish over an hour, largest is 29-30" but most are 24-26" and I can strip them in on the 8wt without putting them on the reel.
I rip out a decent cast (love that wind over the left shoulder), let the fly swing into "the zone" and start creeping it back in. Halfway back I get the characteristic soft pickup, line goes tight and I set the hook. Everything looks great, feels great, fish is cooperating and I start to strip the fish in. Whoops! Where did that run come from! Fish starts to act like a MUCH larger version of what I'd been landing. I literally chase the fish into the water while trying to clear the line from my basket. You guessed it, a gigantic birdsnest elevates towards my first guide. I clamp down with my stripping hand to prevent the mess from hitting the guide. Fish and fisherman are for the moment at a stalemate. My only choice is to turn on the lamp and try to clear the tangle. The 8wt bounces as I alternate between backing out towards the beach and running back in as the fish runs all while I try to pick this mess apart.
This circus goes on for about 5 minutes, I'm really no closer to getting the line free when the fish turns, makes a run to crash on the surface and she's off the hook.
I'm standing there sweating, with a balled up flyline having blown my best fish ever on the flyrod. Not one of my finer moments....