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Squid great to catch, delicious to eat

by Michael Bok

Squid fishing can be fun and rewarding as squid are not only great to eat, but are also a top bait.

I think that squid are one of the best seafoods to have in the freezer as they don't appear to suffer as much as other seafoods from freezing and are an easy stand by food to have on hand for a great meal.

There are two types of squid that I have caught, these being the southern calamari (which has wings that go the length of its body) and the arrow squid (which has short wings giving the appearance of an arrowhead). Both are good, but if I had a preference it would be for the southern calamari.

Squid can be caught not only at sea, but from piers and jetties as well. The methods used for catching them, in most cases, can be adapted from one sort of fishing to the other. Traditionally squid fishing was done at night with the aid of a bright light, but there is no reason what daytime fishing cannot be just as successful.

One of the first things to say about squid fishing is, DON'T wear good clothes. If you get squirted by the ink, you will not be popular as the ink is murder to get out of clothes - I can tell which of my shirts I have taken squid fishing - they have black streaks on them. The same applies if you are fishing out of a boat, the ink makes a mess of fibreglass if not cleaned off straight away. I have seen people (and had it happen to me) squirted in the face and watched the ink drip from their faces, it's quite a funny sight. Take a landing net with you and use this to let the squid get rid of its ink in the water, this will save your clothes and boat. One other word of warning, squid have a beak that is quite capable of inflicting a nasty bite, watch where you put your finger.

Aside from night fishing for squid, you can jig, spin or drift troll for them. Jigging was the traditional method used to catch squid. This is one with either a baited jig which can consist of either pilchards or some pieces of fish filler attached to an empty jig then dropped over the side to almost the bottom and worked up in short bursts and then letting the jig drop back part of the way. The old style lure jig can also be worked this way.

The new style of squid jigs are a lot more versatile and can be worked in a variety of ways. They can be jigged as described above, but can also be used just like a lure, cast it out, let it sink and then retrieve back with a slow jerky motion. Every so often on the retrieve stop for a couple of seconds and let the jig drop back down, then continue with your retrieve.

The way I catch most of my squid is by driftintg in a boat, whilst fishing for other species. One of the first things I do is flick out a squid jig and let the drift of the boat and the swell action work the lure. When the squid hits the lure, you will notice that your rod will have a nice bend in it. You must keep the pressure on your line, as any slack line will enable the squid to escape. Not only does this method catch a lot of squid but not many appear to get away once hooked. Once you catch a few quickly this way, it is worth trying to spin for them as described previously.

There are numerous brands of jigs on the market now, but the main ones I use are the To-tori jigs which are cloth covered and are not that expensive. They come in a variety of colours and sizes. I have caught squid on most of the colours, so keep some in your tackle box and if one does not work, try another colour.

When you catch a few squid try putting one on a set of hooks and letting it drift out. You never know what you will catch. I have caught most of my squid over weedy patches in the sand or near rocky bottom outcrops.

When you clean your squid, make sure you get the backbone out as well as the guts and all the skin off. This can help to stop the squid from being tough when cooked. The tentacles can either be saved for eating or used for bait or for berley. If you want, keep the ink sac intact and make black pasta, it's great.

Now that you have caught and cleaned your squid, you can get on with the best part - eating them. Don't think that squid are just good for rings that are deep-fried, there are plenty of other ways to cook them. One of my favourites is to cut the hood flat, lightly score the flesh with a crisscross pattern and cut into smaller pieces and then stir fry with garlic, fresh ginger, chilli and a little sesame oil. Don't over cook squid or it will end up being tough.

Another good way is t stuff the hoods and then simmer them. I chop up some of the tentacles, add some rice, onion and herbs (whatever you like) and stuff this into the hood, then seal off the end with toothpicks. Put the hoods in a dish with onion, tomatoes (the canned ones are good for this) and wine. Simmer this gently until the hoods are tender. This is nice not only hot, but cold as well served with salads.

Recently I had the chance to try some squid that Michael Stevens had smoked. I was surprised at how good they were. Squid will also pickle well. With squid being so versatile, I don't know why more people don't catch them, still that leaves more for me to eat.