A sample page of R.D. Berger’s comprehensive look at the Tyee Club of British Columbia’s catch records. Photo contributed

New Tyee fishing record book a four-year labour of love

Campbell River Tyee guide and angler R.D. Berger dives deep into the famous fishery’s statistics

The stats generated by sports are a big part of the appeal to many fans, that’s why many a newspaper has drawn in devoted readers to their stats pages in the sports section.

Baseball has for generations been a stat geek’s sport and analytics have become a mainstay of all pro sports in recent years.

And now, locally, Tyee angler and guide R.D. Berger has written a book that is sure to appeal to the Tyee fishing stats nerd, like himself.

“I have always been interested in numbers and statistics and comparisons and contrasts about who guided this or who caught that or what they were using – how many plugs, spoons – you know, these are all things that a keen fisherman always wants to ask themselves,” says the author of the newly-published The Tyee Club of British Columbia – Annotated Catch Records 1933 Through 2019.

If anyone’s interested in “diving into the numbers” about Tyee fishing in Campbell River and the certainty they provide, then this is the book for them.

“Numbers don’t put you off that far. You know, it’s hard to argue about how many fish were caught and how many weren’t, you know this kind of thing,” Berger says with a laugh.

Berger’s book takes a broad look at the Tyee Club of B.C. and its catch records. The Tyee Club of British Columbia, as explained on its website, “began in 1924 with a group of anglers who returned to Campbell River each year in pursuit of the elusive ‘Tyee’ – a coastal Indian word meaning, ‘the chief,’ a Chinook salmon, 30 pounds or larger.”

The fish are caught under strict guidelines that respect traditional – i.e., more challenging than modern – fishing methods. Tyee must be caught in a small, classic row boat – no motor-power allowed – and must use basic plugs or spoons. Each year, qualifying Tyee are registered and if it’s your first plus-30-pounder, you are admitted into the membership of the prestigious and unique Tyee Club of B.C. The club has drawn anglers from around the world attempting to become members since the 1930s. The fish must be caught in the Tyee Pool which is in the saltwater Discovery Passage just off the Tyee Spit at the mouth of the Campbell River. The 2020 season closed on Sept. 15.

Rather than just focus on who caught the biggest fish any given year, Berger’s book pulls back and looks at the second and third and fourth-biggest, who caught the most, how many were caught that year, and more.

“It’s a much broader look at the entire season,” Berger says.

And it’s extensive. When he conceived of the idea, he was only thinking of looking at a couple of years but then he got drawn into all the years and all the stats and that was him hooked for the four years it took him to write the book and publish it.

Berger’s book came out at the beginning of this year’s Tyee season (July 15) and is already into its third printing. Each printing involves 50 copies.

“It’s finding its way to different people,” Berger says, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m very happy with the response people have given it, they seem to enjoy the information and the comparisons and the contrasts.”

The book is available by contacting Bob Goodwin, the Tyee Club weighmaster (the Tyee Club has a clubhouse on Tyee Spit where the fish are all weighed) or by emailing Berger (tyeeclubgraphs@gmail.com). The price of the book is $60 and a portion of the proceeds from every copy will go to the Tyee Club.

Another feature of the book is a collection of historical photos, many of which haven’t been available to the public before.

Berger comes to his fascination with the Tyee Club honestly, he has been a Tyee angler and guide since 1966 when he was a guide with the famous Painters Lodge rowing out their customers to the Tyee Pool.

So, his love for the stats are accompanied by a body of statistics from his own angling career.

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R.D. Berger has published a comprehensive look at the Tyee Club of British Columbia’s catch records from 1933-2019. Photo contributed