After 27 years guiding the whole west coast, it finally happened. While guiding at the Pacific Gateway Wilderness Lodge on July 29, 2018, my guest and I were fishing the “Rat’s Nose off Bamfield” around 11:30 a.m. It was a calm day, a little foggy with about 130 yds of visibility. He only needed one coho and then we were headed in, when— “Wham!” The Islander started screaming out, just ripping line. I put the boat in gear, and the chase was on.
I figured it was a salmon shark, because I have fought and caught them up north, and it was moving fast like one. My guest lasted about a half-hour before he was played out, but the fish was far from done. I took the rod. Now I had the shark and the boat.
It took us all over the bank at about 20 mph. It decided to dive for a short bit, and when the line started to screen towards the surface, out of the water came what looked like a ballistic missile. It just kept coming up and up, and it was huge. This was no salmon shark. It was about 11′ to 14′ long, about 1,000 lbs, bluish with a white belly, and about 55′ from the boat. Hard to believe, but yes, it was a white. Had it landed on the 28-foot boat, we would have sunk.
After I played it for another 2 hours, I had it swimming alongside the boat. We could see its shadow and the flasher trailing behind its head. I planted the butt of my rod, graded the stock, and leaned back with all my weight, but it would not budge. It just kept swimming dragging us around the ocean. Unfortunately, my guest was the worst photographer and got lots of video of my floor and ocean and killed the battery. After 3 1⁄2 hours, no camera, and an inexperienced guest, I decided to just snap it off. I sure wish I’d another guide with me; I would have tailed it to at least get a picture before releasing it.