Chuck Yeager, First Man to Break Sound Barrier, Found Deep Love for Alaskan Fishing

by Jennifer Shea
Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMHOF

Most people know that the late Chuck Yeager became the first pilot to break the sound barrier in 1947. But few know that Yeager was also an accomplished fisherman who went to Alaska and California often to fish for salmon, among other types of fish.

Chuck Yeager Fished Often in Alaska

Yeager made the trip up to the Gildersleeve logging camp on Prince of Wales Island to fish from the 1970s through the 1990s. The logging camp was founded by G.H. “Doc” Gildersleeve and, as a floating logging camp, it moved to different locations. 

According to Must Read Alaska, Keaton Gildersleeve said that on one of Yeager’s final visits to the logging camp, he expressed admiration for the fact that the workers arrived and departed by floatplane.

Yeager also fished near Craig and Yakutat, Alaska, at the mouth of the Tsiu River. He went there with National Aviation Hall of Fame inductee Clay Lacy and aviator Cliff Robertson. They journeyed to Alaska in a Citation V business jet.

Fishing in the High Sierras

Yeager didn’t just fish for salmon, of course. As he tweeted in 2018, he also landed some golden trout in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

“Fishing in the High Sierras,” the pilot tweeted two years ago. “One day I’ll go back & prep & eat some more golden trout.”

And on yet another Alaskan fishing trip, Yeager fished for salmon, rainbow trout and grayling.

Raised in Hamlin, West Virginia, Yeager preferred hunting and fishing to the celebrity lifestyle. He retained the gruff, no-nonsense attitude of an outdoorsman throughout his life.

“I was at the right place, the right time,” Yeager said of his great achievement in a 2011 interview with NPR. “And duty enters into it. It’s not – you know, you don’t do it for the – to get your damn picture on the front page of the newspaper. You do it because it’s duty.”