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Dungeness Crab Catching on Vancouver Island

The Dungeness crab is the most sought-after crab species among commercial fishermen on Vancouver Island. They have oval bodies that range in colour from yellow-brown to purple, four pairs of walking legs, and light-coloured points on their claws.


Types of Dungeness Crab Traps Used for Crabbing on Vancouver Island

Folding Crab Trap Nets
Crab Pot Cages
Pull Traps
Pyramid Traps
Two Ring Crab Nets
Slip Ring Traps

Dungeness Crabbing Season on Vancouver Island

Dungeness crab season for harvesting is known to be when the they are most plentiful and meatiest, so you may do it any time of year; however, this is when you should capture them to optimize your catch. However, the prime Dungeness crab season is October to January, when they are frequently at their biggest and numbers are at their peak following spawning. The commercial crabbing season begins on July 1st; therefore, crab fishing during this period is not recommended because most Dungeness crabs will be small.
What time of day Is best for crabbing on Vancouver Island? The optimum time to go crab harvesting is when there is slack water (also known as slack tide), which is the interval between high and low tide. Dungeness crabs won't be driven around by strong currents or waves during this period, so they'll be out foraging on the beach.

How to Catch Dungeness Crab on Vancouver Island

Dungeness Crab Trap

Dungeness crab traps are made of a circular steel frame covered by nylon or wire netting. The crab traps catch live crabs by luring them in through an entrance to the trap's center, where the bait is kept. The bigger crabs can't get out of the trap once they're inside. Since crabbing is highly related to the size of the Dungeness crabs, all commercial traps contain an escape hatch for tiny crabs to get out.
When it comes to crab harvesting, you'll need a lot of gear which we will discuss later on. If you don't have access to a trap/bait cage as a recreational crab angler, a hoop net is a common solution, but having a trap will considerably  boost your chances of success (chicken is a good bait you can use in your bait cage, as the seals may go after salmon). Remember that according to BC crabbing regulations, Dungeness crab size limit in BC must be at least 165 mm (6.5 inches) in width.

Where Is the Best Place to Catch Dungeness Crabs on Vancouver Island?

If you're already asking, "where are the best Dungeness crab fishing spots near me," well, the good news is that Vanisle Fishers are here to answer that question. Now you know that crabbing is a year-round activity on Vancouver island, meaning whenever you come to the island, you can catch some fresh Dungeness crabs. In general, some of the best Dungeness crabbing locations on Vancouver Island are Fanny Bay Pier, Port McNeil and Clam Cove Beach Trail, James Island Pier Near Sidney, and Port Renfrew Docks, which also is known for its awesome whale watching. You may also wonder "where can I catch crabs from the shore?" You may first make shore that the area is an open zone to catch Dungeness Crab. Our recommendations for shore crabbing are Swy-a-lagoon pier in Nanaimo, Victoria Sidney Pier, and Sooke.
If you are staying at the Capital, in Victoria, BC, you may go crabbing at the James Island Piers, as well as the public docks in Sooke, and if you're looking for Dungeness crab, James Bay can be a good option.

Necessary Gear for Catching Dungeness Crabs on Vancouver Island

Catching Dungeness crabs on Vancouver Island is definitely something you would have to prepare in advance. Crabbing will let you catch these crustaceans freshly from the water. The good news is that gear for ocean crabbing, sea crabbing, or even river crabbing is different. The basics for joyful Dungeness crab fishing on Vancouver Island are:
Crab Trap: You may throw the net or the cage into the water.
Spool: A wire that connects your crab trap to a boat or dock (Some just use a stick or piece of wood, or you can wrap the line around your folding crab trap instead)
Bait Bag: This bait bag is a favourite among crabbing professionals. On the other hand, others swear by dollarama's bird suit cages. The bait bag that comes with the traps is OK, but it tears open with time, and you can't fit as much bait in it.
Zap Straps, Scissors, and Pliers: If needed, bring them for mending your catch.
Crab Bucket: To keep your catch safe! The best option is to use a bucket from a hardware shop. Just enough water to cover the Dungeness crab in the bucket. This enables them to lift their faces to obtain more air.
Crab Measuring Tool: To know how big your catch is.
Wagon or Cart: to transport your catch and equipment (it becomes heavy if you catch your limit!)
Gloves: When it comes to crabbing, you'll need gloves that adequately protect your hands, fingers, and wrists. The Dungeness crab's pinchers may easily break your hands' skin. This is not only unpleasant, but it also has the potential to get infected if not treated promptly.
Note that the last two gears mentioned above are entirely optional for your Dungeness crab harvesting on Vancouver Island.

Crabbing Regulations on Vancouver Island

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Know Before You Go Crabbing

Vancouver Island Fish Species

Know Vancouver Island fish species to choose the best place for angling, and all you need to know before fishing on this spectacular island!

Licences to Catch Dungeness Crabs on Vancouver Island

In British Columbia, all fishermen must obtain a licence to fish in tidal (salt) waterways. Because many fishing spots lack an Independent Access Provider that offers fishing licences, it is preferable to acquire your licence online before heading out for a Dungeness crab harvest.
Annual licences are available and are valid from April 1 to March 31. To know more about fishing and crabbing licences on Vancouver Island, read our complete guide in this regard.

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General Fishing Regulations

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Customized Fishing/Crabbing Trip on Vancouver Island


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Dungeness Crab

Common Question About Catching Dungeness Crabs on Vancouver Island

The best places for crabbing on Vancouver Island are Fanny Bay Pier, Port McNeil and Clam Cove Beach Trail, James Island Pier Near Sidney, and Port Renfrew Docks. If you're looking for Dungeness crab, James Bay in Victoria, BC can be a good option.
Vancouver Island is known for its fresh Dungeness crab, harvested straight from the Pacific Ocean. Crab season typically spans from early November to late June, with the winter months being the busiest.
To gather shellfish in salt water, including tidal water border zones in rivers, you must obtain a tidal waters sport fishing licence. Determine what you're going to catch. Possessing female Dungeness or Red Rock crabs is prohibited. Shellfish polluted with dioxins and furans are subject to advisories.
For recreational Dungeness crab harvesting, the daily limit is four for the South Coast and six for the North Coast. The possession limit is equal to the daily limit multiplied by two. A crab's breadth is measured from outside the points in a straight line through the broadest region of the shell.
Meat from Dungeness crabs found along the coast is safe to eat, according to the CDPH and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The viscera — internal organs often known as "butter" or "guts" — of crabs, on the other hand, are not recommended for consumption.

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