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This Hunter Can Fish

by Alison High / San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks Assistant Head Coach Tim Hunter is happy to talk about his recent nine-day fishing trip. But don’t ask him where it was. He won’t tell you.

“We call it ‘Mystery Lake’ because we don’t like to tell too many people about it,” said Hunter. “It’s a little bit out there. The only way you can get there is by plane or boat.”

Hunter was tipped off about Mystery Lake in 1999 by a friend with a piloting business in Northern Canada.
Like any good fisherman, Hunter refuses to tell the location of his favorite fishing spot. Situated somewhere west of Prince Rupert on the coast of British Columbia, Mystery Lake boasts exceptional rainbow trout fishing and extreme seclusion. When asked, Hunter will offer a little bit of insight on how he gets to his secret spot. But exact directions and real names are classified information.

“We fly right up the middle of British Columbia to a little town called Iskut Village,” explained Hunter. “From there we take a float plane into Mystery Lake and we camp and fish. The fishing is phenomenal. They’ve got some of the best rainbow trout fishing in North America.”

Hunter, a native of Calgary, earned his pilot’s license in June 2002 and is able to fly most of the way to Mystery Lake. Hunter mans a Cessna 180 plane and splits the seven-hour flying time with his fishing partner John. For the past twelve years the two have been taking summer fishing trips all over North America, including Juneau, Wrangle, Ketchikan, Skagway and Sitka in Alaska, White Horse, Dawson City and Watson Lake in the Yukon Territories and Mystery Lake in British Columbia.

Hunter was tipped off about Mystery Lake in 1999 by a friend with a piloting business in Northern Canada. At the time, there weren’t many people going there to fish, but every year Hunter returns there seems to be a few more. To put it simply, fewer people equals more fish. So Mystery Lake remains a mystery.

“There are very few people and the scenery is fantastic,” said Hunter. “There’s one road that goes through that country and you don’t see too many cars. Then the road ends and there’s no more road and no more lodging. There’s nobody.”

After success at Mystery Lake that included numerous Rainbow trout, the two fishermen took a twin-engine plane to the Queen Charlotte Islands where they hopped on a fishing charter for two days.

“Out there we caught King Salmon, Halibut, Ling Cod and Snapper and everyday we had crab traps out,” Hunter said. “We had fresh Dungeness crab every night.”

Mystery Lake and the Queen Charlotte Islands make up the third and fourth locations the Sharks Assistant Coach has fished this summer. Hunter started off traveling to Virginia and West Virginia this off-season and has plans for a boat trip to Calgary and fly-fishing trip in Idaho later this summer.

While the off-season is the time for Sharks players and coaches to get away from the game, it’s clear that hockey never really leaves their minds. After speaking candidly about his vacation, fishing and love for flying, Hunter flawlessly transitioned from fish tales to sports strategy.

When asked about what he does in the summer to prepare for next season, the Sharks Assistant Coach known to most as an intimidating facet behind the Sharks bench, answered with the ease of a man who had just returned from a nine-day fishing trip.

“The biggest things are looking at what we had success with last year,” answered Hunter. “Then we look at what other teams had success with and see if we can use what they’re doing to try to implement things into our game.”

So does Hunter’s mind revert back to these things while he’s out fishing?

“Yes, but only for about three seconds,” he joked. “Then my mind goes back to where it should be.”
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