Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Crabbing at North Beach

Visit North Beach on the north end of Graham Island. You can catch crabs on the beach without any special equipment in early summer. This is a popular day trip for visitors and a great way to get a taste of local seafood.


  • The crabs most commonly found are Dungeness crab which are usually considered the best species for  eating due to their large size and abundance. They can reach 23 cm across, weight up to 2 kg, an live up to 10 years.
  • Red rock crabs are another good eating species also found on the islands. 
  • The waters of the Hecate Strait and Dixon Entrance are ideal breeding grounds for crabs and are fished commercially by boats based in Masset (as well as vessels from other parts of the coast). 
  • On a low tide crabs can be caught just under the surface of the water on the shallow, sandy shoreline of North Beach and throughout the islands. The easiest method to collect them is with a strong dip net. 
  • A recreational salt-water fishing licence is required to collect crabs and can be obtained online: Dept of Fisheries Local Visitor Centres and stores selling fishing equipment can help.
  • It is illegal to keep undersized crabs. Dungeness crab must measure at least 165 mm across the widest point of the shell; also called the carapace. Red rock crab must measure at least 115 mm. 
  • It is illegal to keep female crabs. You can identify females by the wider shell on their abdomen (the flap of shell that points toward the crab's eyes when you hold it upside down). If in doubt, ask for advice or consult the fishing regulations.
  • If a crab is undersized or female, return it gently to the water. Never use sharp implements such as spears or rakes to collect crabs.
  • Crabs must molt (shed their hard outer shell) in order to grow larger. Most crabbers find that the meat is not as high quality in solft-shelled (recently molted) crabs, so if you find a crab with a soft shell, you may want to return it to the water.
  • You may see signs on the islands warning of red tide (PSP), a toxin that affects shellfish. Fortunately, this is not a concern with crabs.

Suggested itinerary
Go crabbing. Be sure to get a fishing licence first, and get advice on how to catch and hold crabs safely. Even if you don't have access to a kitchen you can easily boil your crabs over a campfire. 

More information
For information on fishing regulations check the Department of Fisheries and Oceans web site: Dept of Fisheries  or the Tidal Waters Sports Fishing Guide.

The local Department of Fisheries and Oceans office (in Queen Charlotte) can be contacted at (250) 559-4413

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Island Festivals

Each of the communities of Haida Gwaii hosts one or more exciting festivals each summer.

Loggers Sports Day (usually in August) is a celebration of the logging heritage of Sandspit. Events test chainsaw skills, axe-throwing accuracy, and even the competitors' talents at log-burling (staying on top of a rolling log in a pond). Also includes a basketball tournament. Contact Moresby Island Management Committee office for more information (250) 637-2466.

Queen Charlotte
Hospital Days is a long running event (now over 100 years old) that was created to raise funds for the local hospital. The day starts off with a parade and continues with a wide variety of events and competitions, a baseball tournament, a paper airplane competition in which you can win an Air Canada flight, and then later on a dance. Held in June. Hospital Day

Skidegate Days (mid-July) is a celebration of Haida culture and a chance to paddle a traditional canoe in the exciting canoe races. It also includes a baseball tournament, kid's activities, and traditional Haida games.
Another Skidegate event is the anniversary of the opening of the Haida Heritage Centre, marked by an impressive clan parade in August.

The Edge of the World Music Festival, held on the first weekend in August, is a well-attended festival which brings performers from all over the world as well as locals together for  a weekend of great music. Edge Festival
The Tlell Fall Fair in early August is a showcase of local agriculture and also has great live music. Both are held at the Tlell fairgrounds. Tlell Fall Fair

Port Clements
This community hosts Canada Day (July 1st) with a parade, baseball tournament, and other events. The highlight is the popular mud-bog races in which competitors from all over the islands bring their toughest trucks and cars to race through a winding, mud-filled track. Port Clements

Harbour Days in May celebrates the marine heritage of Masset with a parade, lots of kids events, a barbecue, chainsaw carving, and a baseball tournament. Masset BC

Suggested itinerary
Attend one of the festivals. Better yet, volunteer to help out with organization or ground-work for one of the festivals to get an inside perspective. Interview organizers to learn about the history of the festival, and have fun!