BOISE, Idaho — Ryan Peterson had heard the stories about sturgeon in Boise's Parkcenter Pond - monster fish gliding beneath the murky water in downtown Boise. 

"I didn't believe them," he said. "It's always been a myth, with everyone I've spoken to."

The Boise fisherman was hoping to catch some catfish when he headed down to Parkcenter Pond Sunday. He reeled in several, he said, before something bigger - much bigger - took the bait.

"I was trying to reel it in and it jumped, it breached up in the air, and it snapped my line," Peterson recalled. "I saw it. I knew what it was."

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Those big-fish stories were true. Determined to land the sturgeon, Peterson made a trip to the store for stronger fishing line that night. 

Monday found him back at the pond, waiting for a glimpse of the creature. 

"I sat out on that dock for about an hour and 30 minutes before I felt a pull," he said.

sturgeon parkcenter1
Courtesy of Ryan Peterson

The sturgeon on his line was at least six feet long and roughly 60 pounds, Peterson estimates. For an hour, he fought to draw it closer to the shore.

"It took me all around the lake," he said. "It spooled me out, I brought it in, it spooled me out, I brought it in."

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The battle attracted the attention of another visitor to the park, who snapped photos of Peterson as he wrangled the sturgeon in. 

Peterson, who has been fishing since he was a toddler and makes weekly trips to the Parkcenter Pond, said it was by far the largest fish he has ever caught. 

"I was blown away for the first hour I caught it - I had never caught a sturgeon or a fish that big, so I was in awe and had so much respect for that fish and how big it was in the fight. It was insane," he said. "That's it, that's the one I'll be telling my kids [about] when I get older, "

Idaho fishing regulations dictate that all sturgeon must be released unharmed, and can not even be lifted out of the water. Peterson kept the fish near the edge of the water just long enough for a photo, then let it slip back into the depths of the pond. 

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Since then, Peterson said, he has heard from other fishermen who have also reeled in sturgeon at the Parkcenter Pond. Even as the excitement lingers, he said, he's already planning his next big catch.

"I think the next goal is to catch a sturgeon in the Snake River," he said. "A bigger one, maybe ten foot, would be awesome."