Why We Release the Giants
A Tyee is any chinook or spring salmon over 30 lb. They are rare, specific to the Pacific Northwest and are one of the reasons the pacific salmon population continues to thrive on the west coast of Canada.
They range in size from 30 lbs, all the way to 60 lbs and they put up one hell of a fight.
Contrary to popular tales, these fish are not ancient; the oldest would be about nine. But in nine years they may grow to a size that would put your dog to shame – maybe not your Newfoudland, but definitely your spaniel.
They are the giants of their species. They are survivors. And they are the goal of any serious saltwater angler that signs up for a Haida Gwaii salmon fishing adventure.
So why then, when one of these magical 50 lb sea beasts is caught, do we throw them back?
Well before we answer that question, let’s ask a more fundamental question: Why do we fish?
Everyone has his or her own reasons, from the social experience, to the relaxing atmosphere, to the escape from city life. All of these hold value, but there are only two simple reasons why serious anglers retreat to the ocean.
The first is that salmon are one of the tastiest fish on the planet. Salmon sportfishing provides you an opportunity to fill your freezer with one of Mother Nature’s most flavourful proteins.
The second is the thrill of the catch. If you have never experienced this sensation…you haven’t really lived. Fighting with a fish is a battle of wits, strength and endurance. Once that fish is brought to the boat, with the hook firmly set, the duel is over and the one with the rod is declared the champion.
So with this foundation, why do we throwback the kings?
We throw them back because we care about the future of our sport. We throw them back because we care about the environment we play in. We throw them back because they are worth more in the sea than in our stomachs.
The decision to release a Tyee over 50 lbs is an ecological choice that ensures the genes of superior fish, fish that can fight for 45 minutes, with a mass more impressive than Andre the Giant’s, can be passed down when those kings return to spawn.
The choice to release guarantees a genetic variation, so that small fish, large fish and medium fish can create a healthy population.
We release because a photo and a story is better than a trophy and a diminished future.