Where to Crab

Now that you have learned the ways to catch crabs, bought all the necessary equipment and learned a few things about crabs (just to impress people with your knowledge), you think that you are ready to go crabbing. You then drag all of your equipment out the door and a delicious image of a cooked crab appear in your brain. Then you suddenly realized something is missing. You have no idea where to go!
An important element in the activity of crab catching is knowing where to catch crabs. This knowledge will directly affect the number and quality of crabs you can catch. Crabs are pretty common in the Lower Mainland but they are not everywhere.



Locations for Crabbing
-Ambleside Park, West Vancouver
-Belcarra Regional Park
-Sidney, Vancouver Island



Locations for Crabbing

Places where you won't find crabs
A toilet A manhole
A toilet
A manhole

You will not catch any crabs if you go into the sewer (you'll get rats and cockroaches) or the toilet (assuming that you actually fit into the thing). There are places that always have crabs, but you would have to pay for them. Commercially caught crabs that are sold in stores are usually of a higher quality than the crabs you catch, but they are expensive. It is more fun, and maybe cheaper to catch your own crabs.
The places you should go to catch live crabs are the places they live. If you read my Types of Crabs page, you know that Dungeness crabs and red rock crabs live in bays and estuaries (where the tide meets the river). You know that you have come to the right place if you see a red-bordered sign with black text and pictures of crabs. The sign doesn't guarantee that you will catch anything, but it indicates that the place you are at is a good place to catch crabs.

crabbing notice
This is the sign you will see at a crabbing spot.

Another type of signs you should watch for is a sign that says "Closure". If you see a "closure" sign, you are out of luck because you can't catch crabs there. To prevent from going to a location to find out you can't do anything there, visit the DFO's notices list before you go on a crabbing trip. Another webpage to visit is the DFO's Shellfish Opportunities page, which contains lots of useful info including notices regarding crabs and other shellfish.

I have went on crabbing trips a number of times. I mostly went to White Rock and a place in Belcarra Regional Park (north of Port Moody). I recommend going to the place in Belcarra because I have caught more crabs there. That place is one of the few places I know of that has red rock crabs. If you go to White Rock, you are more likely to catch only Dungeness crabs. The environment at Belcarra is also nicer. There is a picnic area nearby for you to relax while you are there so you don't have to wait on the dock. Some of my relatives also had success at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver, though I've never been there myself. So here's some more detail regarding the crabbing locations I've or my relatives have been to.


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Ambleside Park, West Vancouver

Ambleside Park pier

The waterfront Ambleside Park is located in the city of West Vancouver, and is easily accessible via Marine Drive. From the park you can get nice views of Stanley Park, the Lions Gate Bridge, and various activities going on over the water. Ambleside Park also features grassy playing fields, a nice beach, and most importantly a pier for crabbers. From what I've heard, Ambleside Park is a fairly quiet spot that doesn't get nearly as crowded as Belcarra. The catches are pretty decent too, with more Dungeness crabs than red rock crabs (at least according to my crabbing log).
The embedded map below shows the location of the pier.


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Belcarra Regional Park

Belcarra Regional Park's floating dock

Belcarra Regional Park is located north of Port Moody and by the water at the mouth of Indian Arm. There is public transit to the crabbing area via the C26 community shuttle from Port Moody's city centre. Most of the crabbing from shore takes place on the floating dock in the picture, which has crab measuring brackets built-in. The area surrounding the dock features a nice picnic area, a small beach, food and washroom facilities, and even a kayak rental place, so there are a lot of things to do other than crabbing. You can also just sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
You can catch both Dungeness and red rock crabs at Belcarra, although red rocks seem to be more numerous. With some skill and a bit of luck, it's possible to catch quite a few crabs from Belcarra in one trip. You can scoot over to my crabbing log for some numbers. Belcarra tends to be a little crowded on weekends and holidays (with good weather), but not many show up on usual weekdays. If you want go to Belcarra in the weekend, make sure to arrive early to save yourself a nice crabbing and picnic spot.
The floating dock is shown in the map below.


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Sydney, Vancouver Island

Sidney's seaside pier

Going outside of the Lower Mainland, Sydney is a little seaside town located on the east side of the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island, approximately 20km north of Victoria. To get to Sidney from the Lower Mainland, you take the ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, and from the terminal take the bus 70, 71, or 73 for about 10 minutes. The seaside and the pier for crabbing is just a 5-10 minutes walk from the bus stop. The town itself is quite pretty, and the view by the waters is very nice too. The pier for fishing and crabbing is huge, and it's also not crowded, so you'll probably have plenty of space to work with.
Based on experience, Sydney is one of the best places to catch large red rocks crabs. My family have caught many that were over 14cm across the carapace (legal size is 11.5cm) and even some reaching 16cm! There are Dungeness crabs too but legal sized ones are harder to find. Other than crabbing, the fishing in Sidney is quite decent too, and you may be able to catch some good-sized soles from the pier.
The map pointing to the pier is shown below


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