Red Rock Crab Fishing on Vancouver Island

A near relative of the Dungeness crab is the red rock crab, sometimes known as red crab or rock crab. You can catch these crabs as a sport fisherman, and they taste just like Dungeness crabs.

Red Rock Crab Traps on Vancouver Island

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

Red Rock Crab Habitat

The term "red rock crab" comes from the colour of the crab's body and its favoured habitat. Semi-protected bays and estuaries are popular habitats for them. They can also be found in rocky locations along outcroppings and rocky headlands (a point of high land jutting out into the sea). Because they lack the gill straining apparatus needed to live in muddy or sandy bottoms, red rock crabs prefer to live in areas with rocky or gravel bottoms and kelp beds. They can be found from the pre-tidal zone to a depth of 79 meters. Red rock crabs are Pacific Ocean natives. They can be found from Alaska to California. They reside in bays, estuaries, and rocky parts of the ocean from the low intertidal to at least 90 meters deep, although they have been found in traps as deep as 230 meters. To evade predators such as river otters, sea otters, huge fish, and other crabs, red rock crabs often hide among rocks or bury themselves in the sand.

Red Rock Crab Description

Red rock crabs have a dark, brick red colour with a white underbelly in adulthood. They have a smooth, broad carapace with two big claws with black ends. Red rock crabs have larger shells than Dungeness crabs, with shell widths up to 160 centimeters across. 115 mm across the broadest section of the shell is the legal harvest width in British Columbia. Females have a smaller carapace than males, with carapace widths rarely exceeding 100 millimeters. Juveniles are cryptically camouflaged and may be white or red with white stripes, making them look very different from adults. The back of a red rock crab is generally less than six inches broad, and the claws are huge. It is differentiated from the Dungeness by its crimson tint and black-tipped claws. Red rock crab flesh is excellent, albeit it is not as substantial as Dungeness crab meat. As its name indicates, the red rock crab favours rocky places.

Red Rock Crab Season for Fishing on Vancouver Island

Crabbing season is when the red rock crabs 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 best time for red rock crabbing on Vancouver Island 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 crabs will be small. not to mention that red rock crabs are considered too tiny for commercial fishing, you'll have a hard time finding them in supermarkets or restaurants. 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. 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

Ring Nets

Baskets built from two iron hoops and cotton or nylon mesh are known as ring nets. When both rings are lowered to the bottom, they lie flat, allowing crabs easy access to the bait hooked to the bottom meshes. The crabs are temporarily caught in a basket formed by the ring net being quickly brought to the surface. These nets are cared to on a regular basis, roughly every 15 to 30 minutes. From boats, docks, piers, and jetties, ring nets can be employed.

Crab Pots

Crab pots are crab traps that are often used to collect Red Rock crab in British Columbia. They can be purchased or manufactured from scratch. They're made by wrapping netting or wire mesh over an iron frame with one or two funnel-shaped apertures, known as tunnels, allowing crabs to enter. A 'trigger' mechanism prevents rapid escape from the pot. Crab pots are often baited with chicken, fish carcasses, salmon heads, or other flesh before being placed in water 20-150 feet deep (below the lowest tide line) and found by the line buoy. Red and white marking buoys must be attached by sport crabbers. The operator's initial name, last name, and address must be legibly and permanently marked on them. Buoy lines must be adequately weighted to avoid floating on the water's surface.

Where to Catch Red Rock Crab on Vancouver Island

Red Rock Crabs can be found in rocky locations with rocky headlands or outcrops that give some wave shelter, as well as in rock, gravel, or kelp beds. These crabs are fascinating to see as they go about their regular lives as crabs. Crabbing is a year-round activity on Vancouver island, meaning whenever you come to the island, you can catch some fresh red rock crabs. In general, some of the best red rock 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 red rock crab. Our recommendations for shore crabbing are Swy-a-lagoon pier in Nanaimo, Victoria Sidney Pier, and Sooke.

Necessary Gear for Catching Red Rock Crabs on Vancouver Island

Catching red rock 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 red rock 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 red rock 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 red rock 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 red rock crab harvesting on Vancouver Island.

Red Rock Crabbing Regulations on Vancouver Island


Know Before You Go Crabbing

Know Before a Red Rock Crab Fishing on Vancouver Island

Always check your local closures and limitations for the most up-to-date information. Fishing is prohibited or limited in several places in British Columbia. Harvesting shellfish from closed or polluted locations is prohibited.
To gather shellfish in saltwater, 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. Recreational harvesting of certain species at particular locations, mainly near industrial facilities, is subject to regulations. Some types of contamination in crabs are contained largely in the hepatopancreas. While this part of the crab is not normally eaten, it may be consumed by some people.

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 Red Rock 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 red rock 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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Redrock Crab
Dungeness Crab

Common Question about Red Rock Crabbing on Vancouver Island

Harvesting shellfish from closed or polluted places is prohibited. To gather shellfish in saltwater, 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.
For Dungeness or Red Rock crab, the recreational day 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.
Red rock crab flesh is equally tasty as Dungeness crab meat, however the red rock crab's body meat is more difficult to remove due to its smaller size. This is most likely why red rock is less prevalent, despite the fact that it is abundant in the waters off the United States' Northwestern coast.
They enjoy bays, gravel, rocky substrates, estuaries, sand, and mud, and live at a depth of 298 feet in California's waters. Rock crabs, on the other hand, will move further into the sea for foraging and scavenging if they are not on the coast. This crustacean is mostly found in watery environments.
The following are the guidelines to follow when crabbing on Vancouver Island: only males are allowed to be caught, and the red rock crab size limit is 115 mm (4.5 inches) in width.
The red rock crab may be found in shallow coastal regions and bays, as well as rocky or reef-like environment, across the state. They can be found everywhere from the intertidal zone to 300 feet or more below the surface.
What other ways can you tell these crustaceans apart than their evident size difference? The flavour of Dungeness crabs is characterized as sweet and mild, whereas the flavour of red rock is regarded as sweet and delicate. Your taste senses will undoubtedly reward you in both circumstances.

Share Your Red Rock Crabbing Experience on Vancouver Island!