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Haida Gwaii: Angling for ancient tyee (Published: Askmen)

chasing-your-dream-job-1085194-TwoByOne-1I landed by private chopper on the helipad at the West Coast Fishing Club’s Clubhouse less than an hour ago, and I’m already suited up in a bright red survival suit aboard a 25-foot Boston Whaler Predator, where three rods bend expectantly into the navy blue water. Each one is fitted with a purpose-built single-action Islander reel, nicknamed a “knucklebuster” for reasons I will soon come to understand.

I’ve never fished for anything larger than rainbow trout. But these waters off the coast of Langara Island, on the northern tip Haida Gwaii, a remote archipelago off the northern coast of British Columbia, are home to the legendary tyee: giant Chinook salmon weighing over 30 pounds. This is the best salmon fishing in the world, accessible only by boat or float plane. Obsessive anglers from all corners of the earth pay top dollar to do what I’m about to do.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever venture further off the map than Haida Gwaii. It’s a landscape formed from jagged black volcanic rocks, old-growth cedar forests and beaches never walked upon by human feet. The land’s first inhabitants, the Haida people, were nicknamed the “Vikings of the West” for their fierceness and bravery on the open water. They still live well off the land and the ocean up here, just a few nautical miles from Alaska, and have been pulling sustenance from these waters for over 13,000 years. Read article