Let’s Go Crabbing – A Guide to Metro Vancouver Crab Fishing

Let’s Go Crabbing – A Guide to Metro Vancouver Crab Fishing

Crabbing in Vancouver is an excellent way to spend the day with your family. Crabs are one of the more delicious creatures in the ocean. A fresh bowl of steamed crabs is the highlight of any dinner. 

We are fortunate enough to have an abundance of crab in our local waters. Dungeness Crabs are the most popular of the crabs as they are the largest and provide the most delicate and abundant meat.

Red Rock Crabs can also be harvested but are smaller and only have a decent amount of meat in the claws.

Crabbing Regulations

The regulations for fishing for crab can be found at  A Tidal Water Fishing License is required.

The license can be purchased as an annual (the license season runs April 1-March31st) five day, three day or a single day term.  The multi-day licenses are for consecutive days and the start day must be designated upon purchase. 

The daily limit for crab in our region is four for all species combined.  The limit for traps is two per license and the size limit for Dungeness crabs is 165mm (6 ½”) and red rock is 115mm (4 ½”). A proper caliber to measure crabs is always recommended as using a tape measurer can give you an inaccurate measurement. Measure crabs from the outer most portion of the carapace.  Female crabs cannot be retained. 

The Carapace must remain on the crab until arriving back at your ordinary residence.

Equipment for Crab Fishing From a Boat in the Vancouver Area

Crab Traps

Crab traps come in many shapes and sizes, all of which can be productive.  The most popular style we sell are the rectangular type traps which are available in coated wire or stainless steel. These traps are usually the most inexpensive way to get into crab fishing ranging in price from $40-$80.  These traps perform very well and have produced many a crab dinner.

Round traps are also a popular choice. These traps are a bit more expensive but have some benefits such are being a bit heavier than the rectangular traps so they’re less likely to get pushed by currents. They will also get to the bottom faster.  The round traps range in price from $120-170.

Trap Harness

Trap Harness

A harness can be purchased to attach to your trap. This has 4 clips with rope attached to a single ring which you attach to your crab trap.

Trap Rope

Rope length is typically 100’. We highly recommend using leaded rope as this ensures that all excess line sinks once the trap hits the bottom. It is an extreme safety hazard to other boaters to have rope floating on or just under the surface.  If you’re using poly rope which floats, a line weight should be attached to sink the excess line. These weights can be clipped directly to the rope to sink it.

Crab Trap Floats

All traps must have a float attached to them with your name and phone number written on it at least 7.5cm high.  It’s recommended to use a good sized float so that tides and currents don’t sink it and so that it’s visible to other boaters.

Bait Cage / Bait Bag

A bait cage or a bait bag should always be used as crabs will have your bait eaten in no time.  If your bait disappears, luring in more crabs doesn’t happen. Also, once the bait's gone, the crabs make trying to escape the focus of their life.

Crab Caliper

Crab Caliper

A crab caliper, as mentioned earlier, is needed to measure your catch.

Crab Bait

For bait, a wide variety of things can be used. If you fish, carcasses from your catch make good bait. Chicken or turkey parts also work well if you have to purchase bait. Bait that isn’t freezer burnt is always a better producer.

Crab Bait Scents

Scents can be added to bait to enhance its productivity.


A cooler or bucket is needed to keep retained crabs in.

When crab fishing from the boat, it’s always a good idea to fish with as many traps as legally allowed as this allows you to spread out traps and really cover an area. There can be hot little zones so more traps only increases your chances of a limit.  Sets don’t need to be super lengthy so 30-45 minutes can be enough to draw some crabs into the trap.

Equipment for Crabbing from Shore in Metro Vancouver

Just because you don’t have a boat doesn’t mean you’re out of the crabbing game. There are a few locations to target crabs from docks.

Seaking casting crab trap

Shore and Casting Crab Traps

Casting crab traps or half-moon crab traps are the most productive from the shore or docks as they perform well and can be thrown a long distance. They come complete with rope and a bait cage. These traps require checking fairly regularly as the only way crabs are trapped by this trap is when it is retrieved.

Where to Crab

When crabbing from a boat there are many areas to consider. Here are some suggested locations. Indian Arm, English Bay and the Fraser River Mouth are all good sandy bottom areas that are utilized by crab.  When crabbing from a dock popular locations are Barnett Marine Park, Belcarra, Cates Park, Ambleside Pier and White Rock Pier.

For more information please stop by the shop, call us at 604-931-5044 or email us at

Good luck and happy crabbing.


  • by Z

    I didn’t think you could crab at Cates Park or Deep Cove from short or boat anymore? It is a $150 fine. Maybe I am wrong but some people say there are signs posted.

  • by Zachariah Johon-Paul

    this is the first time we ever wanted to go crabbing we need some tips.

  • by Cassie

    How do you get the lisense?

  • by Bryan

    Thanks for all the info. Is there any bait for crabbing that is illegal??

  • by Nikkitta Whitehorse

    My family and I are interested in crabbing for the first time is there anyone out there who can take us out? And where can we get the supplies for crabbing?

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