If you live in the Vancouver area (or near any Ocean) you’ve likely got more fishing options available than you may have known about. The Ambleside pier in West Vancouver offers many multi-species fishing opportunities paired with some great crabbing as well!
I’ll be honest, this is one of the last local fisheries I’ve explored. I’ve hit the rivers, local lakes and offshore fishing, but have barely scratched the surface of pier fishing. The closest thing I’ve done is surf / beach casting for Salmon when they’re running in season.
This summer I’ve made my first few trips down to the Ambleside pier to bottom fish and crab. I’ve gone 3 times and each time have had a blast fishing for bottom fish and brought up a number of different fish species such as Flounder, Greenling and Sculpin. I’ve also hauled up several Starfish along with Red and Dungeness Crab. I’ve also seen anglers pull up Surf and Pile Perch and a Giant Red Sea Cucumber. Apparently Dogfish are known to be caught off the pier during lower light hours (something I might explore more in the future). Here are some photos of the species I caught off the pier.
A Great Fishery for Kids
This multi-specie fishery is a fantastic place to introduce kids to fishing. I’ve brought my oldest son on 2 of the 3 trips down to the pier and he always has a blast. The nice thing about fishing pier’s is you can drop your bait directly off so there really is no need for the kids to cast. That said, I typically cast away from the pier but this is another option for smaller rods/children.
Side Note: On the Ambleside pier there is a large wooden steps/tower section in the middle that is particularly friendly for kids to spectate from and play on.
What Tackle is needed to Fish off the Bottom
I do use a bottom rig which is pretty basic, if you want specific information and diagrams on this rig see our bottom fishing rigs tip page. Here is what I recommend for fishing bait off the bottom:
- Light to medium action spinning rod (6-8 feet long)
- Spinning reel that is rated for 8-15 lb monofilament line (reel should be rated for saltwater)
- Fishing mainline (braid 30 lb and monofilament leader section 10 lb -15 lb)
- Bait or Octopus hooks (sizes between 2 – 1/0)
- Weights (1/2 oz – 1 oz)
- Bait! Shrimp, Prawn, Squid, Octopus, Worms, etc.
Crabbing with Casting Traps
While your fishing (or not) you should certainly throw a casting crab trap! With a BC saltwater license you are allowed to throw 2 traps (be sure to check your regulations wherever you’re fishing/crabbing). I’m there primarily for the fish but any keeper crabs are a huge bonus! And I might add crabbing is a fantastic benefit to the overall experience as it keeps you busy if the fishing is slow.
What is a Casting Crab Trap?
Casting crap traps come in a variety of sizes and styles, they can be casted by hand or even with a heavy action fishing rod. These traps are open and only close up (trap) upon retrieval, so you’ll only be catching the crabs that are on the trap at this point. This is different than the larger closed crab traps that you can leave for many hours.
Tips on Catching Crabs with Casting Traps
- Keep your traps in the water for only 15-20 mins. The reason for this short soaking period is you’re only catching crabs that are on the trap when you retrieve. Typically, larger crabs are the more dominate and will have first crack at the bait keeping the smaller crabs aside. Of course this short soaking time doesn’t apply to closed traps where crabs can’t escape.
- Create a strong scent trail by cutting slits in your bait chunks. For example, on a turkey neck cut six 2” slits throughout the meat. Also, for heavily pressured crabbing areas soak your baits in Crab brines overnight or for a few hours before (follow the brine instructions).
- Locally, the seals here love Chicken and Salmon and are not afraid to steal and destroy your casting trap. That said, do NOT use Chicken or Salmon for crab bait but use turkey or duck neck. The seals don’t seem to like these which is pretty wild how they know the difference.
What Tide is Best to Fish and Crab Off Piers?
Most times when I’m fishing near shore I typically prefer the low tide timing so I can walk out as far as possible and cast as far as possible. However, when fishing off a pier I’m not casting that far and am simply fishing off the bottom so I’d recommend high tide. Specifically, I’d recommend 2 hours before high tide and slack tide. It makes more sense as the tide will bring in the bait and bottom fish closer to shore so your opportunity to connect with a fish or crab is higher.
West Vancouver’s Ambleside’s park pier is located at the end of 14th street.