A pretty incredible story out of Port Renfrew last night. Not exactly a fishing story, but definitely a story related to fishing in Port Renfrew.
A Saltspring fisherman was on his boat at Port Renfrew Marina, putting a fish in his cooler, on the outside finger wharf, closest to other side of the river. The black bear saw him from across the river, swam across, and was on the dock and into his boat in a flash. The fisherman tried to give the fish to the bear, but the bear went for him instead.
Bruce Miller (Miller Time Charters) was on his boat next door, heard the commotion, with the fisherman’s buddy yelling on the dock, and couldn’t believe what he saw. He grabbed his gaff, ran over, and started stabbing the bear with it. He figures he stabbed the bear 10 times, and it didn’t let go.
Another guy on the dock was hitting it with a hammer, with no effect. Finally a third fisherman grabbed his filet knife and slit the bear’s throat — and the bear didn’t let go until it was dead.
[Updated Sept 11: Bud Watt, co-owner of Port Renfrew Marina, was one of the first guys on scene. Eventually half a dozen men were trying to pry the bear off, but it wouldn't let go. Ed Stirling eventually killed it, with a 30 cm Swedish fileting knife.]
The fisherman was bleeding but conscious after — while being tended to by the paramedic, he asked for a cigarette to calm his nerves and asked someone to take a photo of the bear on his boat. He got medi-vaced to Victoria for surgery, and the word is he will be fine. Our best wishes go out to him for a speedy recovery.
Bears have been a nuisance at the Marina and elsewhere in Port Renfrew this year, getting into garbage. Conservation Officers are looking into what provoked this bear to attack — black bears are normally wary of humans, and attacks of this nature are extremely rare.
Bruce Miller and the other two guys who jumped into that boat are heroes, risking their lives to save someone else’s.
This highlights the “wild west” feel of Port Renfrew’s fishing community. These fishermen and women can be extremely competitive when it comes to finding the good fishing spots and bringing home the biggest and best fish…but when push comes to shove, whether it’s a marine emergency or something else, they all look out for each other, and have each other’s backs! Bud Watt, from the Globe and Mail article: “Everyone was thinking, ‘We got to stop this thing or this guy’s going to die.’ No way anyone could sit around and watch.”
That’s fishing on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island!