Our Story

Who are the Cameron’s?

Caleb Cameron; the Founder of Cameron Ocean Adventures, was born and raised on the west coast of Vancouver Island in the small communities of Tofino and Ucluelet, British Columbia. He grew up in a commercial fishing family and has spent nearly his entire life on the water.




fishing charters ucluelet

Caleb Cameron – Founder Of Cameron Ocean Adventures

A story about my childhood and how I was raised on the water

They’ve been together —Dad, Mom, five kids and the family dog for most of the summer, plying the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of Vancouver Island in their 44-foot troller, the Prairie Rose III, looking for fish. Living quarters have been tight—a 7-by-10-foot cabin on the main deck, which really tests the theory that the family that fishes together stays together. Meet Don Cameron, a commercial fisherman who takes his family along during the salmon run from early June to mid-September. His first mate is his wife, Patty, and they have a cabin crew of five children: Amy, 11; David, 10, Caleb, 8; Ryan, 6; and Danny, just 6 months old. Danny enjoyed his maiden voyage this summer, but he spent part of the season with Mom in their home port of Ucluelet, a village on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Why do they do it? That’s a good question, and one Don Cameron loves to answer: Because we’re a family. People have noticed; the Camerons have earned celebrity status in coastal communities from Puget Sound to the Gulf of Alaska, where their bobbing troller is known as “the boat with the kids.” Don says the decision to “family fish” is the best he’s ever made. For his part, Don says, “It’s wonderful working side by side with Patty and the kids. It strengthens our family, and we grow closer together.”

There is some heavy lifting involved when you’re pulling in fish all summer long. This season, the Camerons expect to haul in -5,00 to 30,000 pounds of pink, coho and sockeye salmon, along with some tuna. This accomplishment—while living in their tiny quarters— borders on amazing. Their 70-square-foot cabin comprises their living room, kitchen, dining room and den. At night, the kids sleep below deck in tiny bunks nestled against the bow, while Mom, Dad and the dog sleep in the small cabin above. What about room to play? And doesn’t it get boring for the kids? Well, the kids have plenty of reading materials and Amy, David and Caleb play tag while climbing the rigging, while Ryan fixes up a special “hoochie” (or bait) to catch a shark.

Once or twice a week, the family boat swings close to Vancouver Island’s western shore, looking for an unspoiled inlet or an attractive bay. When one is found, Don lowers a rowboat into the water and the family enjoys a half-day outing. The kids’ favorite hobby is beach-combing, by which they build their collections of shells and glass balls. “At the end of the season, there’s no more room on the boat for another ounce of anything, anywhere,” says Patty. The Camerons visit civilization periodically during the summer, pulling into various ports to buy provisions and gas. And sometimes it’s nice to use a flush toilet for a change.

A Day in the Life during fishing season, a typical day begins at 4:30 a.m. Don and Patty put the fishing lines out, eat breakfast and listen for the bells, which are attached to the fishing lines, to begin ringing. Working in tandem, Don and Patty usually catch and clean the first couple of catches by the time the kids wake up. The fish are then thrown into an onboard freezer. After breakfast in their small cabin, the entire family gets involved in the business of fishing. Even little Ryan takes a turn at pulling in a big one. His favorite part is cleaning fish-and getting into the guts. “The kids do just about everything we do, except operate the boat at night,” Finding room to play on the boat is no problem for David, Caleb and Ryan, says Don. “Working together like this builds relationships. By the end of the summer, I notice the family is more involved with each other in every way.” Don’s seemingly limitless patience is an act of faith. One of the beauties of being on a boat for 10 weeks is that you don’t have too many distractions, but when you do, you all get distracted together—by awesome sights of playful dolphins, 2,000-pound sea lions, and sharks swimming close to the boat. “Last year we saw a lot of humpback whales,” says Don. “At times, we got so close to them that they would rub the boat. Then there was the time the boat was completely covered by water from two whales jumping and landing just 15 feet away from us. It was absolutely awesome watching those creatures-larger than our boat—frolic around us.” There are other memories as well: the kids sitting quietly on Don’s and Patty’s laps while the light of a full moon danced on the waves during beautiful, warm, tranquil nights; and watching the brilliant Norther Lights overhead. 

Of course, living on a boat is not always so peace-ful. When things go wrong, they really go wrong-and there’s nothing worse than the boat breaking down in the middle of the ocean or being caught in a storm. There’s been many a times the boat has been rolled right over onto its side and you can look down into the ocean through the cabin window. “We would all hold our breath waiting for the boat to right itself, and thankfully it did”

Life off the boat: Don and Patty live in Ucluelet, a town of 1800 far removed from the bright lights of Vancouver and Victoria. Driving to “Japan’s Closest Canadian Neighbour” is an adventure—a twisting tilting twirl through craggy rain forests and dark, clean river pools. On the coast, surfers catch the waves pounding Long Beach (just a few miles north of Ucluelet and about the only place in Canada where one can surf). When they’re not fishing, David, Caleb and Ryan love to get into their eight-foot, five-horsepower Zodiac skiff. They bought the boat with money they earned from fishing with Dad. They set crab traps in the reefs around Ucluelet, explore the islands in Barkley Sound and enjoy looking for whales and other wildlife in the area. In Ucluelet, tourism is taking off. Don is toying with the idea of launching a whale-watching business because the economics of fishing is pretty iffy when you’ve got a family of seven to feed. But the Camerons aren’t in the habit of whining. Instead, they focus on family relationships, and they love to tell stories around their cozy kitchen table.

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Phone:    250-726-4181
Email:     [email protected]

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