The operator of a B.C. charter fishing company is sharing an orca close encounter he says he wouldn’t believe if he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes.
Cal Robinson with Blackfish Charters was out on the waters near Prince Rupert on Monday with a pair of clients from Alberta when they hooked what he estimated to be a massive Tyee Chinook salmon.
He said the group had spotted several orcas swimming in the distance, but thought nothing of it until the fish they were working gave a sudden tug.
“The big spring that the killer whale got, it started peeling line right away and we knew the killer whale had it in its mouth,” he said.
“Soon as that rod leaped off, that killer whale did a 90-degree turn and headed straight for the boat. He was going by us and then that rod just took off and we knew we were in trouble.”
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A brief tug-of-war ensued, at which point Robinson said the line suddenly came free.
“He just started reeling and reeling,” Robinson said.
“And yeah, I seen the head — just the head — surface… I’ve never seen something skin a fish like that before.”
Indeed, all that was left of the Chinook, which Robinson estimated to be larger than 30 pounds, was its head, spine and a few guts.
At that point, Robinson said the orca floated beneath the surface for a few moments and stared at the crew.
“I think it was coming to say ‘Thank you,'” he told Global News.
Robinson, who is First Nations with the Lax Kw’alaams Band, said his crest is the killer whale — but said he never thought he’d come face-to-face with one like that, describing the experience as “amazing.”
After the encounter, he took his footage to some local whale researchers who tentatively identified it as a member of the northern resident killer whale population.
As for his clients, who lost out on likely their biggest catch of the day, Robinson said the duo were philosophic about the encounter.
They didn’t head home empty handed, either. Robinson said the pair caught their limit for the day, plus left Prince Rupert with a whale of a tale.