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Crab fishing strong in Sooke harbour this winter

Some local fishermen say there are more crab than usual
Ron Neitsch, owner of 2 Reel Fishing Adventures in Sooke, said crab fishing in the harbour has been especially good this winter. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)

Sooke’s harbour is known for its consistently good crab fishing whether you are simply casting your traps off from shore, or going out into deeper waters, but some are saying the fishing has been even better than normal in recent months.

For Ron Neitsch, owner of 2 Reel Fishing Adventures, the only thing limiting how many dungeness crabs he takes home after every trip out on the water are fishing regulations – not luck or skill.

”We seem to be pulling really good traps every time we are going out,” said Neitsch. “It’s far above what we would usually be getting, especially on such a consistent basis. Usually it sort of comes and goes in waves. This has been a really consistent winter season.”

READ MORE: Sidney and Sooke record 57 crabbing violations in 2020

Like many in the area, Neitsch fishes for cab recreationally, and usually sets his traps as he comes in and out of the harbour as part of his charter business. While most of his customers are not hiring him for crab fishing in particular, he said word has been getting around about how many crab are in the area, and his clients are more than happy to get three or four crab to take home as a bonus.

“I’ve noticed on social media when I post about crabs, I’m getting a lot of responses, and almost all of my guests coming down for salmon fishing are saying they want to drop crab traps too because they have heard about how good it is.”

Neitsch said in his experience the population tends to go in three to five year cycles, ending in a particularly good year. It can also be hard to tell if there actually are more crab, or if they are simply staying in the harbour more, rather than coming and going from open ocean as they usually do.

With the peak crab season still a few months away, he said it will be interesting to see whether the situation will change or continue.

For other anglers in the area however, the crab populations don’t seem to be that extraordinary this year. Commercial fishing captain James Heggelund said crab fishing is always good in the harbour, and while it is certainly good right now, it is nothing noteworthy for him.

“It’s a little better this year, the crab population is strong all along the coast,” said Heggelund. “It would be very similar to the last couple of years though. It’s always a sustainable fishery. You don’t really see big ups or downs.”

But with crab prices as high as they are right now, and with the costs of running a commercial fishing vessel ever increasing, Heggelund said good fishing of any kind is always a welcome experience.

More to come …

READ MORE: Meet Walter: The rare white crab who’s one in a million … or 6 million!


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Justin Samanski-Langille

About the Author: Justin Samanski-Langille

I moved coast-to-coast to discover and share the stories of the West Shore, joining Black Press in 2021 after four years as a reporter in New Brunswick.
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