While staying in an oceanfront cottage in British Columbia, Canada we enjoy watching the wildlife, sea animals and the various activities of the people on the water from kayaking, paddle boarding and crab fishing. The question eventually arose "why not try crab fishing ourselves?" The decision to give it a try was influenced by the fact that we already had an inflatable boat (with motor), fishing and boating licenses, fishing gear and a legal Captain Gerbrandt folding crab trap we have never used ! And the cottage was 50 feet from the shoreline at high tide. Here's a few notes on how it went.
We picked a day between Spring storms; after checking weather and tides and going out when the ocean was calm and "flat". Our first experience was to use an official boat launch site nearby, midweek,and this was smooth and easy!
Supplies required for Dungeness crab fishing
After launching, our first round of laughter was to find room for us in the boat as initially it seemed once all the "required" gear was loaded there wasn't much room for us.
- Life jackets
- Large legal crab trap with escape hole
- Bait used was whole (scored) herring
- Fishing rods and related gear
- Hundreds of feet of rope
- Calipers and other miscellaneous necessary items
- A pair of gloves (absolutely mandatory!)
- A safety box including a "bailing" bucket!
- A pair of oars - you just never know
We dropped the trap close to shore (where recommended by locals) in about 75 feet of water and within ten minutes we had two large crabs in the trap - both females - which we safely returned to the water. What fun ~ two points of interest, crabs can move very fast and secondly, they very easily get tangled in the net. Watch out for those pinchers!
Day Two Crab Fishing - another calm day
The next day our second expedition was at the front of the cottage at high tide and leaving the trap overnight - the length of the trap rope having to be adjusted. On this second trip we caught more than 20 crabs, mostly male, so there was no trouble catching our daily limit, releasing the rest safely back into the sea, this time from shore.
There is a lot to learn but for us it is well worth the time and looking back into this first crab fishing experience will always bring a smile to my face. Crab fishing is definitely a new past time we are going to include in our life when possible. An extra bonus was to be on the ocean ~ an entirely new perspective on life and to simply enjoy the serenity of being on the water. Take care!
Notes & Dungeness Crab Cooking Instructions
- It's very important, and humane, that the crab trap is legal so that if the buoy becomes dislodged any crabs already in the trap will be able to get out
- If the ocean is calm leaving the crab net out overnight is a good idea
- Pacific coast Dungeness crab is a sustainable seafood option (David Suzuki Foundation)
- Crabs, which are crustaceans, are not as affected by pollution as oysters, clams or mussels but it is recommended to clean them before cooking if harvested during a Red Tide
- Crabs should be cooked for a minimum of 10 minutes to kill bacteria and normally about 15 minutes. Once cooked (they float in hot water) cool quickly and refrigerate
- Carrying the boat, motor, battery and gear is a lot of work unless you can launch the boat using a motor vehicle on a ramp ~ a good reason to keep fit and healthy
- The inflatable boat was recommended to be used within 300 yards of shore - follow the rules
- Weather, especially, the ocean can change very quickly ~ be cautious
- Seals and sea gulls accompanied us on our crab fishing sojourns
- One persistently curious seal kept us company and wonder if this was his way to catch small crabs thrown back
- Other wildlife we see often at the seaside : sea otters, a family of bald eagles, five loons, Great Blue herons, Canada geese and young deer
- Don't drink and boat is a good idea - obey the law
- This is not intended in any way to be an instruction manual on how to fish for crab ~ there are many "how to crab" books, blogs and sites online but there is nothing like the real thing
Capture each moment in Life while you can !
Links and References
- March, 2017 Red Tide closures Fisheries & Oceans Canada (BC West Coast)
- Transport Canada Pleasure Craft License
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada, B.C. Salt water licence requirements
- Salmon and salt water fishing in B.C.
- Dungeness Crab information
- "How to Catch Crabs" by "Cap'n Crabwelle", Saltaire Publishing, 1970
- Video: Grey Whale feeding near where we like to fish
Oh I do like to be beside the seaside
Oh I do like to be beside the sea !