Based on Rex Beach's novel, a man competes with a salmon syndicate boss for fish and a fiancée, but he likes the woman who helped him in business.
In Alaska Boyd Emerson (Joel McCrea) and Fraser (Raymond Hatton) learn from Cherry Malotte (Evelyn Brent) and George Balt (Louis Wolheim) that hospitality is scarce because of the salmon's syndicate's cruel tactics. Boyd feels defeated, but Cherry says finding yourself is better than finding gold. She makes Boyd Balt's partner and sends them to Seattle to get money from Thomas Hilliard (William B. Davidson). Boyd kisses her good-bye. Hilliard extends $200,000 credit, and Boyd tells Balt and Fraser to buy equipment and hire a fishing crew. Wayne Wayland (Purnell Pratt) wants his daughter Mildred (Jean Arthur) to marry Frederick Marsh (Gavin Gordon), but she loves Boyd, who soon learns he lost the credit. Cherry gets a letter from Balt and goes to Seattle.
Boyd dines with Mildred, and they dance. Cherry dines with Hilliard, who says Wayland had him pull out. They see Boyd with Mildred, and Cherry learns that Wayland doesn't want his daughter to marry Boyd. Cherry gets Hilliard to call Boyd that the loan is approved, but Boyd thanks Mildred with a kiss. Cherry doesn't want Boyd to know that she traded her copper mine for the loan.
In Alaska Boyd tells Cherry the machinery is ready, and the traps are set. Marsh warns Boyd to get out and says a woman helped him, and it wasn't Mildred. Boyd's crew quits, because they were hired by Marsh. Balt is going to fight Svenson (Ivan Linow), but Boyd fights his own battles. Men watch as Boyd and Svenson fight. Cherry arrives, and Svenson admits Boyd won. The silver horde of salmon moves in. Nets pull in fish to the conveyor belts of the canning factory. Marsh threatens to wreck Boyd's traps and orders his boats out. The boats meet, and men fight. The Waylands watch from their yacht. Boyd forces his way onto Wayland's boat. Mildred accuses him of attacking Marsh and is jealous of Cherry, whom she disparages. Boyd calls her a liar, and she breaks off the engagement. Boyd learns from Fraser of Cherry's reputation and that she arranged for the money. Cherry tells Mildred they both love Boyd, and they argue. After working 30 hours canning Boyd calls on Cherry, who tells him to go to Mildred. Cherry and Queenie (Blanche Sweet) go to the Waylands to prove that Marsh is married to Queenie. As Marsh departs, Balt attacks him. Boyd rejects Mildred and finds Cherry, asking her to forgive him and saying he loves her.
Realistic depiction of the salmon industry enhances this story of a struggling businessman torn between his society woman and the more experienced woman who helps him. Frank honesty wins out over sophistication.