Vancouver Winter Salmon Fishing and Seafood Delights

Vancouver Winter Salmon Fishing and Seafood Delights

Crabs, Prawns, and Winter Chinook 101

By the time Fall fades into Winter, most people have packed away their fishing gear and equipment until the Spring season, but there are many local saltwater fishing opportunities regardless if you have a boat or not. Throughout the months of December to April, many species are available, but as we get further into our blog post, we will elaborate on the IDEAL times for these species.

Winter Salmon Fishing

Crabs are going to be your easiest target, especially if you are without a boat, due to the abundance of them in our waters, and the fact that you can trap them in shallower water. On the other hand, your Prawns and Winter Chinook Salmon are nearly impossible to get from shore and you are much better off with a boat.

Now you may be asking, why are we covering THREE different species in one blog post? 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 get started.


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 much better in the Winter and early Spring months before they get fished out from commercial and recreational fisheries. In less than a couple of hours, you can have yourself a successful haul of Dungeness Crabs.


Depending on where you are in the Lower Mainland, the nearest dock or boat launch is just a short distance away and a 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 a role, but depending on the area you are fishing, it most definitely can. Fishing from a boat, your best times will be an incoming and high slack tide. 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 25-85 feet are good choices, slanting shelves with even drop offs are good as well as sandy bottoms are preferred.

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:

Crab Baits

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.

Crab Scents and Attractants

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 of and send it down.

Scents Available:

 Shrimp and Prawn attractant

Crabbing 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!!

    Crabbing and Prawning


    Most would agree with us that BC Spot Prawns are by far one of 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 250-350 feet deep.

    Prawning in the winter

    Prawn Pullers

    Prawning requires a lot of rope and very deep depths. When you try to hand line in 300 feet of lead 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.

    Trap Pullers

    There are only a couple of 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 - Pacific Pro

    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

    Click here for more info on the Ace Line Hauler Brutus Pacific Pro.

    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 trap, and 4 prawn traps with ease and it is 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, receptacle and mount included.

    Go here to buy a Scotty 2500 Line Puller.

    Prawn and Crab Baits

    • 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. When the pellets take in water, they expand. This will save bait and money***

    Scents Available:

    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 Saltwater, 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.

      Winter Chinook Salmon

      We generally see a smaller sized Chinook during this fishery as there are “Feeder Chinook” that are following and eating bait. There is 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.


      Your 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 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 you 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’s aggressive nature take over from there. If you can, we suggest spending a good amount of time on the water a trying 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


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

      View our selection of Hot Spot Flashers, OKI Big Shooter Flashers.


      Trolling Spoons


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

      View our selection of Coyote Spoons.

      Luhr Jensen Coyote Spoons

      Gold Star Kingfisher

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

      View our selection of Gold Star Kingfisher Spoons.

      Goldstar Salmon Spoons


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

      View our selection of Gold Star Hoochies.

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

      Gold Star Hootchies

      Teaser Heads

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

      View our selection of Rhys Davis Teaser Heads.

      Rhys Davis Teaser Heads

      Be sure to check your local fishing regulations before heading out on the water. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by email, by phone at 604-931-5044 or stop by 

      Sea-Run Fly & Tackle at #110 1140 Austin Avenue in Coquitlam BC.

      Good luck on the water.

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