For more than 30 years, the legendary Tyee Club of British Columbia has seen a dearth of salmon over 60 pounds, until earlier this month when former club president Mike Gage, 73, hooked a 61.5-pound Chinook. According to the Campbell River Mirror, Gage was on a small rowboat with his son Richard Gage during the catch.

“We’d been rowing for about a half an hour,” Mike Gage said. “There was a real heavy strike and a 40-minute battle and then we headed back to the clubhouse.”

For years Gage had been trying to beat his own personal best, a 51-pound Chinook that he had caught in 1975. On the waters of Tyee Pool, Gage is counted among esteemed company. The British Columbia club has lured in the likes of Bob Hope, John Wayne, and other anglers seeking a quiet retreat or an old fashioned battle with Chinook. No motors are allowed in Tyee Pool and anglers use lures armed with only a single barb-less hook. The austere regulations make catching giant Chinook like Gage’s all that more rewarding.

“It was a nice, steady fight,” Gage said. “It was a well-behaved fish, it took nice runs and tired himself out.”

The Tyee Club was formed in 1924 by a group of avid anglers to standardize the sport of salmon fishing in the province. Situated in the city of Campell River, which calls itself the “salmon capital of the world,” the Tyee Club is known for boasting large fish. Its members are always on the hunt for “Tyee” salmon, “Tyee” being a native word meaning “the chief.” Any Chinook over 30 pounds is considered “Tyee” and earns the angler who caught it a membership in the Tyee Club.

“They’re bigger and fatter this year,” Gage said. “This year the fish are predominantly Tyee. It looks like it’s starting out to be a good season.”

The last time the club recorded a Chinook over 60 pounds was also by a club president, Tammy McConkey, and resulted in her winning the 1983 Daiwa World Salmon Fishing Championship. As for Gage, he received recognition from the club for his catch as well as Campbell River Mayor Walter Jakeway. The CBC reports that the angler intends to have the fish mounted.

CBC’s coverage of the story can be seen below:

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