The last of the sun's orange disc had descended below the western horizon about two minutes earlier but there was    still plenty of light on the calm surface of the pond. 

For the third time in as many casts, my black poppers had been snapped off  the end of my tippet by something big lurking in the depths and I was determined to get a few more casts in  with my fly  rod before darkness enveloped our fishing spot. 

The fading light made it hard to see the fine fishing line as I threaded it through the eye of a woolly bugger fly but I managed to get a good knot and returned to the shoreline. 

A few yards to my left my son Alex was casting a spinner in hopes of catching   another big trout like the 18 incher he'd landed that afternoon. 

My first cast was a good one and the black fly was slowly sinking about 15 yards out. 

Suddenly, and a huge fish rocketed out of the water like a submarine's ballistic missile, my fly in its mouth. 

The line went taught and I knew the hookset was good. 

What followed was one of the biggest freshwater fish fights I've ever had.

I only started fly fishing about four years ago. 

Some coworkers and I went on a trip to the Platte River near Walden, Colo., where we had some professional guides introduce us to the sport. 

The first fish I caught on a fly rod in a river was what people at work still call “the football,”  a seven and one-half pounds   rainbow trout that was about 20 inches long and had a 16 inch  girth. 

I managed to land that one after a       four-minute fight. 

A few more big trout later I was     hooked for life on a new hobby. 

Rumors started floating around the      workplace last Wednesday that a stocking truck had appeared at the local  city      pond.

The paper ran a story saying that some pretty big trout and “steel heads” had been released. 

Rumors, such as they are, usually are something different from reality, but      when Alex caught a big  rainbow trout        on Friday afternoon I decided to take         my fly  rod down to the pond that      evening. 

The fish were active and hungry. 

I started with a grasshopper fly pattern that produced a couple of nice trout,     including one that matched Alex's             18-incher. 

Most of the 12 to 14 inch trout I lip-hooked were released for someone else's benefit. 

But the most memorable fish of the day was yet to be seen.

The woolly bugger was firmly in the big fish's right rear lip. 

I wasn't sure just how big the lunker was, but my fly line was tearing off the reel at speed I'd never encountered before. 

The fish was two-thirds of the way across the pond, about 40 yards away and pulling unlike anything I'd ever felt.

With less than 10 yards of line before my backing, the fish changed from running straight away to quartering        toward me and I had to take up slack  like crazy.    

It crossed right to left 10 yards in front of me, a two-inch dorsal fin and thick back leaving a wake across the    surface. 

Bystanders gathered to watch. 

Some took pictures.

The battle took about seven minutes in  all. 

When I got the creature within three foot of shore, Alex thrust the landing net under it and lifted, to no avail. 

Seeing the fish in the net, I used my left arm to help Alex bring the beast onto the shore. 

There before us was a 24 inch trout-like fish with a 15 inch girth. 

Steelhead or just a really   big silver rainbow trout, I couldn't tell, but it was the biggest, hardest-fighting fish I'd ever caught on a fly rod. 

I had no accurate scale at the pond but estimate the live weight was more than  six  pounds because the cleaned, headless weight was nearly 5 pounds.

Alex and I posed for a few pictures and headed home. My boy was as excited as I was.

Now we both have a fish story we'll tell over and over again in the years to come about the fish that did not get away.

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