BOISE -- For about ten years, people have reported seeing a very big fish in the Parkcenter Pond. For those years, it's been a hobby for some to try and catch it.
This spring, a fisherman finally reeled the big fish in and has pictures to prove it. Unfortunately, that fisherman now believes that mysterious fish has been killed.
'I couldn't believe my eyes!'
That fisherman, Larry Lyke, first spotted the fish last summer. Because of a big fin on its back, he thought it looked like a shark.
I couldn't believe my eyes, Lyke said. At first, when I looked at it, I thought now, that's not a shark.
Lyke says he later saw a sturgeon in a tank at Cabella's and realized that was what he'd seen.
For a few months, Lyke says he'd hook the sturgeon but couldn't seem to catch it. Finally, in March he caught the fish, and it turned out to be six feet long. That sturgeon put up such a fight, Lyke named the fish 'Goliath'.
All of a sudden, there was that bite, and I thought, here's Goliath, and it was him! Lyke said. Once I caught the fish, I went to Fish and Game... The first thing he said: 'Did you get any pictures?' And I said, 'Yes, I did.' And he says, 'I've been waiting for this day for ten years!'
Nobody had actually laid hands on this thing. It was just kindof a cool mystery. It was like the Parkcenter Pond monster, Fish and Wildlife Regional Fisheries Manager Jeff Dillon said.
Fish and Game confirms the fish story
Dillon looked at the photos and says it's the real deal. It's a sturgeon that looks to be six feet long.
Both Lyke and Dillon were thrilled because fishermen had a new challenge: Hooking Goliath, then releasing him (as required by Idaho law for sturgeon).
If people handle that fish correctly, that fish could live another 20 or 30 years in that pond and get even bigger, Dillon said.
Fisherman believes fish was killed
On Sunday, Lyke says at the edge of the pond, he found pieces of what looked like a large sturgeon.
I believe Goliath was caught by someone coming into the pond at night and harvesting him, which is illegal in the state of Idaho, Lyke said. It saddens me that somebody would come and harvest him like that.
Lyke says a biologist confirmed the dead fish is a sturgeon, though they don't know if it's Goliath. Fish and Game officials confirmed they've got an official report about the possible illegal sturgeon harvest, but were unable to track down the officers working on this case to find out if there's an official investigation or where they're at with it.
Dillon says people who harvest sturgeon in Idaho can be cited, and a judge would decide a punishment. He says a fine could be up to hundreds of dollars.
Where'd that sturgeon even come from?
Fish and Game stocks the Parkcenter Pond with fish, but they've never put sturgeon in there. They say they stock trout, bass and other fish seasonally.
Fish and Game says there're a few possibilities for how a sturgeonended up inthe Parkcenter Pond. One is it could have come from the Boise River, the result of a sturgeon stocking 20 years ago. Dillon says the fish could have taken routes through ditches to end up in the pond. Another possibility is someone illegally put it in the pond.