Winter Vancouver Salmon Fishing and Seafood Delights

Winter Vancouver Salmon Fishing and Seafood Delights

Crabs, Prawns, and Winter Chinook 101

By the time that Fall fades into Winter, most people have packed away their fishing gear and equipment until the Spring season, yet there are many opportunities available locally in our saltwater regardless if you have a boat or not. Throughout the months of December to April, all of these species are available, but as we get further into our newsletter, we will elaborate IDEAL times for these species. Crabs are going to be your easiest target, especially if you are without a boat due to the large abundance of them available in our waters, and for the fact that you can trap them in shallower water. On the other hand, your Prawns and Winter Chinook Salmon are near impossible from shore, and are much better off with the boat. Now you may be asking, why are we collaborating THREE different species into one newsletter? Well the nice thing about this time of year is that all three of these things can be done in the same day while out on the water! Let’s elaborate.



Crabbing… One of the more popular past times for people in the Summer, it is a fun family activity to do on a day off, and doesn’t necessarily require a lot of work or effort. Not only is it good in the Summer, but crabbing is actually much better in the Winter and early Spring months before lots get fished out from commercial and recreational fisheries. In less than just a couple of hours, you can have yourself a successful haul of Dungeness Crabs for dinner that night.

Depending on where you are in the Lower Mainland, the nearest dock or boat launch is just a short distance, and a good majority of the good crab fishing docks are easily accessible. Like any saltwater fishery, tides always play a very critical role in catch rates. If you are going to fish from a dock, we suggest fishing on an incoming and high slack tide. Being closer to shore, this will push crabs up into shallower grounds and closer to your trap. When crabbing from a boat, tides will not play as big of role, but depending on the area you are fishing it most definitely can. The same goes for fishing from a boat, your best times will be an incoming and high slack. One very good thing to remember about tides is that tides carry scent. Tides will bring bait and scents to your trap. A handy tool to carry with you on your boat is a depth sounder. Finding proper bottom structure and depth is key. Deeper holes between 25-45 feet are good choices, or slanting shelves with even drop offs are good as well. Now that you have a good basis on where to drop your traps, how about bait choices? There are many simple baits one can use, but we cannot stress enough how much of a difference it can make with GOOD bait, and GOOD scent.

Here are some solid recommendations for your next crab outing:


Like we said above, we cannot stress enough how incredibly important it is to have GOOD bait in your trap. Yes, crabs are scavengers and will seemingly eat anything that smells and is dead, but you can be surprised at what they will turn down in order to eat the good stuff.

  • Salmon Parts (Fresh is always preferred, but we know during the winter months this can be difficult. It is always a good idea to save your left over salmon carcasses for crabbing season.) No matter when and where, this will always be one of the best baits available.
  • Crab / Prawn Pellets (Crab Candy) – This is a solid cat food type of bait. It has the texture of cat food, and looks like cat food, but is much better.
  • Raw Chicken can be a good producer if you do not have salmon available, and it’s obviously a very easy bait to obtain as just about every grocery store will have raw chicken.


Adding a good brine or scent will bring more attention to your bait and will create a scent trail towards your goods. Many crab attractants and scents have specially formulated components such as premium fish oils, salmon egg juice, pure anise oil, and amino acids. There are two methods that work well when using scent: You can marinate your baits in the scent the night before you go fishing, or you can squirt it on the day off and send it down.

Scents Available:

  • Pro-Cure Crab & Shrimp Attractant Oil
  • Copper River 100% Natural Fish Oil Attractant
  • Pautzke Crab & Prawn Fuel

Gear/Accessories Needed:

  • Crab Trap(s)
  • Float or Buoy marker for trap indicator (Must have your information written on the marker. This is a DFO regulation)
  • Desired length of rope (we recommend 100ft.)
  • Legal trap cord (this is a rotting cord which must be on your trap. See Saltwater Regulations for more information)
  • Trap weights (necessary for deeper water, faster currents, and lighter traps)
  • Crab Caliper (Helps measure your crabs for legal length)
  • Bucket or Cooler for transporting your fresh catch
  • Don’t forget the bait!!


Most would agree with us that BC Spot Prawns are by far one the tastiest things to come from our waters. These bright fluorescent morsels are packed full of delicious flavour and will make any fisherman go bonkers with just the thought of tasting them. As good as they taste, they require a bit of time and equipment to target. For prawning, a boat is a must, along with a prawn puller, depth sounder, prawn trap, and some other accessories to go along with it.

Bottom structures to look for include gradual reefs or sudden pinnacles in the bottom structure. A good depth to focus on can be within 250-35o feet deep.

Prawn Pullers

Prawning requires a lot of rope and very deep depths, and when you try to hand line in 300 feet of leaded line along with your heavy prawn trap that is being pushed it can be quite the near impossible task. We HIGHLY recommend using a prawn puller as this will save your arms from falling off, and will speed up your fishing process.

There are only a couple pullers available on the market today, and not only are they very reliable, but they have quality components, and are both MADE IN CANADA!

What pullers are available?

Ace Line Hauler -Brutus plus 40

Made on Vancouver Island, these line haulers are quality crafted with precision, and are built to withstand our tough West Coast conditions. Compatible with your Scotty No. 1023 mounts, it makes removing the line hauler very easy.


  • Compatible with your Scotty downrigger mount (Part No. 1023)
  • Plugs into new or old Scotty power plugs
  • 110lbs. Prawn/Crap trap load capacity
  • Pulls up to 4 prawn traps, or 1 crab trap
  • Pulls 140 fpm (feet per minute)
  • Weighs only 20lbs
  • Draws only 14-35 amps of power
  • Accommodates most line sizes
  • Tough and durable powder coated aluminum and stainless steel construction
  • Collapsible frame and folds in seconds for easy storage
  • One year warranty

Retail Price: $599.98

Scotty No. 2500 Line Puller

The Scotty Line puller is the ultimate crab and prawn trap pulling machine. This compact puller makes for easy stowing, and attaches directly to your existing Scotty downrigger mounts. Its high torque 12V motor pulls 1 crab trab, and 4 prawn traps with ease and it backed by an unbeatable 2 year warranty.


  • Compact size makes for easy stowing
  • Low amperage draw
  • High torque 12V motor
  • 120 fpm retrieval speed
  • Accommodates ¼” – 3/8″ line/rope
  • Heavy duty stainless steel and composite construction
  • Easy access On/Off switch
  • Backed by 2 year warranty
  • Scotty Marinco plug, receptable and mount included.

Retail price: $449.98


  • Prawn/Crab Pellets (usually the best) (Crab Candy) – see Crab section above for the full rundown
  • Salmon Parts
  • Fish Parts

***Helpful Hint: When using prawn pellets, only fill your bait container HALF full. This will not only save unnecessary waste of bait and money, but when the pellets take in water, they expand.***

Scents Available:

  • Pro-Cure Crab & Shrimp Attractant Oil
  • Copper River 100% Natural Fish Oil Attractant
  • Pautzke Crab & Prawn Fuel

Gear/Accessories Needed:

  • Prawn Trap(s)
  • Prawn Puller
  • Float or Buoy marker for trap indicator (Must have your information written on the marker. This is a DFO regulation)
  • Desired length of LEADED rope (we recommend 400ft.)
  • Legal trap cord (this is a rotting cord which must be on your trap – see Saltwater Regulations for more information)
  • Trap weights (these are an absolute must when prawning)
  • Bucket or Cooler for transporting your fresh catch
  • Don’t forget the bait!!

Winter Chinook

While not the most popular fishery in our local Saltwaters, it is most certainly an underrated fishery. A few main reasons it is not as big of a fishery as our Spring, Summer, and Fall saltwater opportunities is for the simple fact of fishing being less consistent, with an average of smaller fish, along with cooler weather temperatures. But like any fishery, there are good days and these fish are absolutely delicious when retainable. We generally see a smaller size of Chinook during this fishery as there are “Feeder Chinook” that are following and eating bait. There can tend to be no real rhyme or reason as to where they may be one day to the next, but you can bank on the biggest possible reason being following their source of food.

You will typically want to fish these Winter Feeders with very similar gear as you would with any Chinook in our waters, but with a bit of tweaking. We would recommend the use of smaller presentations, such as a 3.5″ spoon versus a 4″ for example. You smaller sized anchovies are a great bet, along with standard hootchies as well which can produce good numbers of fish. When fishing these lures and baits, it is very critical in most cases to be fishing 10-20 feet off of the bottom. During the Winter months, water clarity is much better than in the Spring and Summer, so much simpler flashers are fully adequate. We will list some information below on where to go, what to use, and when to use it.

Where to fish for Winter Chinook:

This can be without a doubt a hit and miss fishery as your are trying to locate the feeding Chinook Salmon that are following wherever the bait may be. Find yourself in the right spot at the right time, and let the fish’ aggressive nature take over from there. If you can, we suggest spending a good amount of time on the water, and try to narrow down certain areas where you think you will have the best success. These fish may be in the same area for days, or they could be in one area for a single tide, and gone the next. You will definitely have to play your cards right, but go with what you think will be the best! We have a few recommendations on areas to fish, and some will be better than others depending on the time of year.

• Tunstall Bay

• North End of Bowen Island

• Mouth of the Capilano

• Grace Island


Hot Spot


  • Silver Green
  • Mirror Green
  • UV Green
  • Green Glow
  • UV Green Jellyfish
  • UV Purple Onion
  • UV Green Onion



  • Nickel Neon Green
  • Glo Green
  • Army Truck
  • Cop Car
  • Yellowtail
  • Hot Glo/Green/Chartreuse

Goldstar Kingfisher

  • Irish Cream
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Glow Green
  • Glow Green Spatter Back


  • UV Green Spatter Back
  • Double Glow White (Glow Bud)
  • White
  • Oilslick
  • UV Green/Blue

(*adding a silver mylar insert skirt to your hootchies is highly recommended*)

Teaser Heads

  • UV Chartreuse
  • UV Green
  • Glow Green
  • Chrome Army Truck
  • Chrome Green/Blue


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