What is Port Renfrew big fishing Problem?

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Port Renfrew is a small Canadian town with a major fishing problem. The problem is the sport fishing is great and only a few people know that.

We arrive in Port Renfrew in late afternoon. Port Captain Quigley greets us at the entrance to Osprey Cabins. Quigley and his family provide these comfortable cabins in a beautiful rural setting - and there's an outdoor hot tub to boot! Their place is one of the most popular accommodations in Port Renfrew ,and their rates are very reasonable.

Captain Quigley is one of the most skilled and knowledgeable guides we've ever met. We've been out with the affable "Capt’n Quig" before, at his other fishing operation in Sooke, B.C. (45 minutes west of Victoria), so we know we're in good hands!

The alarm shatters our solid sleep at 5 a.m. We're on the water by 6:00. The sun is just coming up behind us as we speed estward, heading towards the mouth of the Port San Juan Inlet. Quigley's boat is fast and powerful. We hang on to our seats as we bounce over the big waves!

We stop just off Camper's Beach , where the West Coast Trail from Port Renfrew meets the "Pacific Ocean" for the first time. The shoreline cliffs were spectacular and carved into numerous huge dark caves.

Captain Quigley points over the port side towards the open Pacific. "Next stop Hawaii, and that-away Japan!" The water is as calm as it ever gets out here, but the rolling swells are huge. The sun is shining brightly now, but cool dark fog is already rising from the water, cloaking the cliffs. It looks like the trees are suspended in the air far above us.

Captain Quigley tells us we're sure to catch some big ones today. Swiftsure Bank, where Juan de Fuca Strait drops off into the deep blue Pacific, is where halibut and salmon are most plentiful. It's hard to believe we're fishing on the edge of the open Pacific Ocean.

The first one I catch is a screamer! They call it that because it grabs the bait and takes off. The line literally 'screams' as the fish runs. Quigley knows what to do. He puts the boat in gear and chases the fish. My eyes almost pop when I look down at the reel and there are only about 3 wraps of line left! In seconds, the fish had run almost 300 yards of line. My first big fishing problem.

I reel as fast as I can until the line's tight again and the fight's backon Non-stop excitement, boats all around us are getting strike after strike. On Quigley's radio, we can hear the guides sharing information about their catches - "Double strike, 40 feet down!" They all share their success so everyone else can succeed too. Even when there's a lull, and the fish aren't biting, Captain Quigley is entertaining us. He teaches us his latest fish-luring chant and the accompanying dance: "Chinook, Chinook - Bite on my hook, my hook!" There is never a dull moment on board.

And when the fish are biting, Quigley is a very patient teacher: "Let him run! That's it… He's got the whole boat to play with. Let him tire himself out…" Later, Quigley tells us a story about the biggest fish ever landed on his boat. He had taken an elderly couple on an expedition, and it was turning out to be a disappointingly uneventful day - not one bite, until they decided to turn back! Then, all of a sudden, they got a nibble. It was a huge struggle, but with Quigley's help, they reeled it in - a 52-pounder! Now that's a really big salmon, a big fishing problem.

It went on to win several categories in the fishing derby. We catch our limit long before the charter's over, each fish is in the twenty-pound range. We had about 100lbs of fish on board, enough to feed us all winter! (We were fishing for spring salmon as the Coho and Sockeye fisheries were temporarily closed.)

When I made dinner that night, back in Victoria, one fillet filled the grill on my barbeque! Five people dug in and there was 2/3 left over! We're talking serious salmon here, folks!

Small town, big fishing problem - right? Now you know.

Ron Kirstein is the owner of a Canadian Travel & Tourism Web site (since 1995). Ron has traveled the length and breadth of Vancouver Island British Columbia Canada in search of adventures. For exciting additional information and color pictures of Ron's Island Fishing.

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