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Alaskan salmon fisherman Jim Kimmerlee encounters his old buddy, Tyler Dawson, who has been away hunting seal to earn enough money to buy his own steam schooner. When Russian fisherman Red Skain ties up to Jim's fish traps, Jim cuts his line so that he will be unable to steal from him. Tyler defends Jim from Red, and Red leaves the scene. Later, Tyler returns to town and to his girl friend Nicky Duval, who owns the local hotel. Newspaper reporter Windy Turlon reports that local fishermen, including Jim, Lefty, Skaggs and Partridge, are joining forces to retaliate against the pirates who have been stealing from their traps. Soon thereafter, Dian Turlon returns after an eight-year absence and reunites with her childhood friends, Jim and Tyler. City life has made Dian haughty and reserved. Her father senses trouble between Jim and Tyler, due to the piracy controversy, as Jim is on the side of the law, and Tyler is not. At the Indian salmon dance that night, Dian warms up, and re-ignites her love for Jim. Tyler invites Jim to join him in a partnership, but Jim refuses as he already owns a cannery that takes up his time. One day, Jim's friend Dimitri's ship is destroyed by an iceberg, and Jim saves Dimitri's life. Later Jim notices that Tyler's fish do not have net marks and realizes his friend has been stealing from traps. He warns him that anyone stealing from traps will be killed, but Tyler scoffs at his warning. One day, Jim, Lefty, Skaggs and Partridge sight Red stealing from their traps, but they arrive too late to catch him. He has left behind Dimitri and Ivan, however, who were working for Red and are killed for the theft. Jim and his friends return the bodies to Red's cabin, where Jim discovers to his dismay that Tyler has joined with Red. Dian makes a cake for Jim's birthday, but Tyler does not celebrate with them, as he is planning a final raid on the traps with Red. The celebration is interrupted by the arrival of the fishermen who have discovered Lefty murdered where he was guarding their traps. Hoping to protect his friend, Jim asks Dian to advise Nicky not to let Tyler leave the hotel that night. Tyler is adamant about going out, however, presuming that he can evade Jim and his friends. Desperate to protect Tyler, Nicky sabotages his boat, but he simply takes another boat instead. Tyler catches up with Red, who leaves him with Boris and Serge, members of his gang, to finish cleaning out the traps. After they are caught in the act by Jim, Tyler begins firing on Jim's boat. Jim is compelled to return the fire, and he shoots Tyler. Boris and Serge are killed. The deaths of his friends embitters Red, who becomes determined to force Jim out of the area. When Jim goes to Red's cabin, he finds it deserted, except for Tyler, who has been left unconscious and unattended. Jim takes Tyler to town, where he is operated on by a doctor. Jim is heartbroken and plagued by guilt for shooting his friend. When Tyler reawakens and learns how he was shot, he tells Jim he never wants to see him again, but confesses to Nicky that he is not mad at Jim and that he plans to leave him all he owns. Although he is not fully healed, Tyler goes on a last outing with Red, who believes they are out to revenge themselves on Jim. Jim encounters their boat, but finds that Tyler has deceived Red and locked him in his cabin. Near death, Tyler blows the boat's whistle, causing an avalanche, and steers the boat into the cliffs, crashing it underneath the avalanche, which kills them. Turlon's newspaper reports that Tyler's death "ennobled his life," and that he made fishing safe for all.