Five Vancouver fishermen were expecting to catch sockeye salmon in the Fraser River on Wednesday. They weren't expecting to save a man's life.

What began as a normal fishing trip run by local adventure tour company, Exposure Travel, turned into much more than a sockeye haul. The group was returning to False Creek after a successful day on the water when they passed a man yelling for help about 100 feet from the Dragon Boat launch at Vanier Park.

They spotted the man in distress, flailing and screaming in the ocean just after 8 p.m. and quickly turned the boat around to help.

As they circled back to get near, the man was struggling to stay afloat. Seconds later he disappeared under the water.

Cory Matheson, owner of Exposure Travel, was driving the boat.

"I saw his eyes roll into the back of his head and he just gave up and went under," he said.

Two other men on the boat, Kramer Matheson and Nate Rayment, quickly jumped into action to save the man. They dove into the water and pulled the drowning man to the surface.

"He was submerged several feet under," said Matheson.

The man was dragged onto the fishing boat cold and exhausted but otherwise uninjured.

Matheson said the man, in his 20s, seemed to be under the influence of alcohol and may have misjudged how far he could swim. They took him to the nearby Dragon Boat launch where witnesses had already called paramedics.

"We lost two cell phones, caught six salmon, and saved someone's life," said Matheson. "That's a good tradeoff."