Tate, crabbing in Sooke.

WEST COAST WILD – Getting crabby in Sooke

Carrying a large metal crab trap, a plastic bucket and old barbeque tongs, I make my way down to the Sooke Rotary Pier and boardwalk.

  • Oct. 5, 2016 11:00 a.m.

By Tess van Straaten

Carrying a large metal crab trap, a plastic bucket and old barbeque tongs, I make my way down the steep hill that leads to the Sooke Rotary Pier and boardwalk. Avid crabbers, my two boys are already running ahead of me with their small, fold-up traps and a bucket of bait.

We’ve been told this is one of the best spots on Southern Vancouver Island to go crabbing so we’re hopeful our potential haul will be worth the drive from downtown Victoria. I can already taste the delicious Dungeness crab — boiled to perfection with a pinch of sugar and dipped in melted butter. Yum!

It’s Sunday afternoon and the pier is packed with families and fishermen. We set up on the lower dock and I bait the traps. After trying fish heads, pellets and cat food, we’ve found the best bait is raw chicken backs. Understandably, the kids don’t want to have any part of this aspect of crabbing so I put on plastic gloves and stuff the bait boxes with the chicken.

My youngest son, Tate, is nine-years-old and he’s been crabbing since he was a preschooler. With no fishing experience myself, I hadn’t planned to get the kids hooked on crabbing. But a serendipitous deal on two large crab traps at a garage sale ended up leading to hours of fun — and some spectacular crab feasts.

Our first foray into crabbing was at the Sidney Pier on a blustery winter day. We tossed the traps off the side and watched them crash into the water below. The kids wanted to pull them up almost immediately. But we had to be patient, and were soon rewarded with Dungeness and Red Rock crab of varying sizes.

The kids quickly learned females have what looks like a beehive on their belly while the marking on the underside of the males resembles a lighthouse. It’s an important distinction because it’s illegal to keep female crabs. Undersized crabs also have to be tossed back (the minimum size for Dungeness is 165 mm across the widest part of the shell and at least 115 mm for Red Rock).

But our favourite — and most lucrative — crabbing spot ended up being Salt Spring Island. That’s where we first discovered the small fold-up “snap traps” that are much easier for the kids to use and don’t have to be left in the water for very long. I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face as he pulled up a trap filled with huge, male crabs.

Back in Sooke, all the big crabs we’re catching are female and I’m starting to wonder if we’ll have anything to take home. But just when I start to think we should pack it up, I hear Tate shrieking. The large trap’s full of crabs — including two very big males. I grab the barbeque tongs (those pinchers can be scary!) and move our big boys to the bucket. It turns out we’ll have crab for dinner after all.

More information:http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/species-especes/crab-crabe-eng.html

 

Just Posted

UVic art display showcases craft of bookmaking

Art of the Book 2018 is in the Audain Gallery at UVic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Aug. 11

Celebrate local food with Feast of Fields in North Saanich

21st Feast of Fields on Vancouver Island is at Kildara Farms on Aug. 26 from 1 to 4 p.m.

RIFFLANDIA: Local artists thrive under festival model

Bands like Current Swell, one of the 2018 headliners, made their mark at RAP

Baseball’s HarbourCats wind up WCL season with loss to Pickles

Victoria needed a win to make the league playoffs, now looks ahead to 2019

Cannabis lounge idea to be floated at Victoria council meeting

Coun. Ben Isitt wants to explore smoking area options for marijuana users after legalization

VIDEO: Huge crowd celebrates Sunfest opening night with Canyon, Pritchett in Lake Cowichan

Plenty to enjoy as Sunfest Country Music Festival opened, and lots of folks came out to do so

REVIEW: Ever wanted to be young again? Theatre Skam’s Concord Floral will make you think again

Strong acting in an interesting theatre space, writes Sheila Martindale

Brad Pitt says he has given Jolie Pitt millions since split

Actor Brad Pitt denies Angelina Jolie Pitt’s claim that he has paid no meaningful child support.

WINE LOVERS UNITE: Victoria festival offers numerous tasting options

Parkside Hotel and Spa hosting Victoria International Wine Festival

Farquhar Auditorium updates image for 40th season

The Farquhar at UVic ushers in new season Sept. 22

THEATRE SKAM: Young cast brings Concord Floral to life in vacant downtown retail space

Former office supply store a unique venue for telling mysterious tale of youth with secrets

Schedule released for world junior hockey championship in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria ready to host, as Canada conducts training camp in Kamloops

Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy visits Prospect Lake

Power To Be annual fundraiser event brings in big personalities

Bard Across the Bridge brings ‘The Tempest’ seaside

Stage set for classic Shakespeare tale in Saxe Point Park this week

Most Read