September 01, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
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Port Renfrew is one of Vancouver Island's best fishing hot spots. The starting point for the famous West Coast Trail hiking route, it also offers saltwater anglers excellent salmon and halibut fishing opportunities.
Our charter, from Victoria's Island Outfitters, was scheduled to depart the Port Renfrew dock at 6 am, so we left Victoria just after 4 am - yikes! A quick stop at a 24hr Tim Hortons gave us a much needed boost: sugar and caffeine, the classic fisherman's breakfast.
From Port Renfrew it was a 20-minute run to the fishing grounds. Within minutes our guide, Dan, had the lines down and was working hard to get us "on the fish". As we trolled the shoreline the fog burnt off, revealing colourful tents and campfire smoke from hikers on the West Coast Trail. We could see boats around us landing fish, and our excitement grew as we figured we were due for one soon...
Bam...fish on!! The rod tip was wrenched down and line started peeling off the reel as I fumbled to get the rod out of the holder. Once in my hands, the fight was on...and it was a good one. Ten minutes later we had the fish aboard - a beautiful 20lb chinook salmon. After the morning "bite" died down we decided to head offshore to try for halibut. Along the way we dropped the lines for pink salmon and picked up 6 in only 10 minutes - sweet!
We anchored on one of Dan's halibut hot spots on Swiftsure Bank - this is definitely offshore water! Even on calm days there is an ever-present ocean swell. This is where the big ones are, though, and we weren't disappointed - after landing two "chickens" (the name given to 15-20 lb halibut) we hooked a beauty. After 15 minutes of hard cranking we could see it just below the surface - and when I heard Dan call for the harpoon, I knew it was a big one. When the 65 lb halibut hit the deck I was officially the happiest guy on the water.
We headed back to Port Renfrew tired, worn out and content. We stopped to check a crab pot on the way in and ended up with 15 Dungeness "keepers", a nice bonus to end the day.
This was my third fishing trip to Vancouver Island; two from Ucluelet and one from Port Renfrew. I can't wait for my next BC fishing adventure!