Presented from Issue 101
Squid fishing has become hugely popular in Tasmania in recent times and the start of spring and early summer heralds a new migration of the fish and tasty squid rings on the dinner plate. Whilst we have arrow and calamari squid in Tasmania the target species I am talking about here is calamari.
The fish and the family.
Calamari is what most of us are searching for in inshore waters and they can be found right around the coast – almost anywhere weed beds abound.
Calamari doesn’t have a long life and spring sees them congregate and come into shallow water to spawn. Quite often if you take notice you can spot a Calamari nest because their eggs look like a pile of golf balls on the bottom attached to stems of weed. In fact the life cycle is very short under a year and after spawning they die.
Arrow squid are quite different and congregate to feed, and are more likely to be found in deeper waters offshore.
Squid are a great family fish. They are a species that my kids love to fish for and most of the time I am happy to be relegated to instruction and landing only. The majority of squid fishing I do is from a boat and because I don’t like my boat covered in squid ink I am happy for the kids to do the catching. When a fish is hooked and played we ensure it squirts its ink at least a couple of times then it’s brought near the boat. The kids know to not lift there heads from the water, they simply glide them along side where I lean over and grab the squid behind the head. I then remove the jig and use an Ike Jime, then pull out the head, give it a quick wash and put the body in a bucket.
Because I’ve killed it quickly it no longer squirts ink. If you do cop a shot, instantly wash with salt water. This may not get rid of all the ink from clothing but it stops it setting and you’ll find it easier to wash out later. There’s nothing worse than having a bucket full of squid to clean and having to scrounge around for them in a bucket of inky slime. The way I do it keeps it neat and tidy.
Squid of course can be caught on just about any rod and reel, if you’re desperate a hand line would probably be ok but like any other form of fishing specialist tackle driven by the Japanese market has started taking over.
Rods designed for squidding are typically 7’6 to 8’6 have a softish tip but with a fast taper, these rods are designed to give your squid jig maximum action in the water whist maintaining complete control. You might scoff at the idea of a rod just to catch squid but believe me late in the season when they become wary quality tackle is what will make the difference. As an example do you remember when you didn’t think you needed a specialist rod to use soft plastics? Yeah thought that’d get you thinking.
Most manufactures have a range of rods designed for squidding, I personally use the N.S Blackhole range because quite simply they are value for money and won’t break the bank without sacrificing quality in an ultra light and responsive rod. And they have been imported in Australia by E.J.Todd whom are also the importers of YAMASHITA squid jigs which in my mind have probably the most diverse range of specialist squid jigs you will find. The staff of E J Todd have married the rods to the jig range to have a complete range of EGI tackle.
Braid of course needs no introduction to its benefits but Sunline has PE-EGI MS in its stable which has been developed specifically for squid fishing, the advantage this has over normal braids is it has a medium sink rate.(Most braids float) Sunline also has a fluorocarbon leader material called EGI- Leader FC. EGI of course is Japanese for squid.
I’ve spent a lot of time watching people fishing for squid and I’m amazed at how many people have the do nothing attitude when retrieving. Simply slowly winding a squid jig in or letting it drift around under a float isn’t going to fill your bucket. You have to remember a Squid is a very aggressive creature, especially during spawning when it fiercely protects its nest. A hopping action with an intermittent pause much the same as a retrieve you would use with soft plastics is good start.
A young bloke named Bryan Todd got me onto an aggressive retrieve that was working well for him around the land based locations around hard fished Sydney. At first I could believe ripping a rod tip so violently could work so well but man the squid attacks your jig like their possessed. Basically rip rod tip in jerking motions whilst turning reel handle at the same time, Check out Bryan on YOUTUBE demonstrating this technique. Just search Squid fishing in Australia Techniques demonstrated. Also Explaining the Yamashita is another clip worth looking at.
Be sure to have a smooth drag with only just enough pressure as just trying to drag the fish in will only rip the tentacles out. Squid are like any other fish and can be tide oriented quite often if the tide is slack they can be hard to tempt I find if I let the jig sit on the weed for a good pause then rip it off the bottom with a pause it will quite often entice the bite. I guess it looks like a prawn coming out of the weed. They like a bit of tide especially the run out in my opinion.
Prior to summer squid will be found on weed beds and sometimes broken reef as these are the areas they prefer to spawn. When I say weed beds I mean that nice grassy weed we find right around the coast not so much the kelp beds. Channels into estuaries, rocky points and breakwalls are also good spots to hunt them out. Just checking out a local jetty will soon tell you if there are squid about as the ink on the deck is a dead give away. In fact local jetties such as the one I have fished at Port Sorel can be awesome as squid can often been seen directly under the jetty. At night fishing with a light suspended above the water is a great way to catch squid as they are attracted by the light.
As mentioned earlier I show a definite bias towards the Yamashita range but whatever jig you buy ask as many questions as possible of the store staff so you get an idea of how the particular jig swims. The weight and size you use will be dependant on water depth and current being fished. I try to look for a jig that drops on as near a perfect horizontal as possible much the same as a true prawn appears in the water.
You want the jig to react quickly with minimum movement to maximize swimming action. And rest at horizontal on the pause again. Typically 3.5 inch jigs are the most popular in Tasmania but lately 2 and 2.5 inch have worked really well for me in water so shallow I never would have believed squid would be there, and quite possibly the smaller jig might appear more attractive to a tentative squid.
Squid jigs come in a vast array of make ups with different cloth materials and smooth coatings and much like any other form of fishing you end up with a small collection of them in different sizes and colors. Which one will work best on any given day will be a life long asked question that none of us will no the answer to.
Same goes for color. Color is important to me and on an outing I will typically have both dull and bright colors. We’ve all read about what color to use when and where and that squid see in a different light spectrum etc but I still make sure I have bright and natural colors available because on any given day they will respond better to one than others and I certainly cant pick which color is better when as my theories have been blown out of the water time and again. I have had bright blue sky days in crystal clear water where an angler might believe a natural color to be the go to only have the squid follow time and again and then attack something bright orange. And then have the reverse happen on a dark day in dirty water with low visibility so be willing to change if your not getting a response with what your using.
I’m sure were all guilty of buying the 4 for $10 specials from out local tackle store, and yes they make catch you some squid but believe me a jig that swims like a prawn and hovers over the weed beds perfectly horizontal and doesn’t sink like a brick will catch a hell of a lot more squid. Sure they might cost you $20 but in my mind your better off with 2 quality jigs than a tackle box full of cheap ones. In the Yamashita range one of my favorites is the LIVE series.
The Yamashita LIVE series has been developed using a new type of cloth featuring a patented ‘Thermo storage’. This special cloth will transfer any light into heat and continue to so for as long as the cloth is in contact with light. With the ability to hold similar levels of heat to natural baitfish. Although fish are cold blooded there is a 0.2 to 1 degree difference in their body temp to water temp. This jig also has a slim nose design which is also patented. Its slender design gives it less water resistance when hopped which gives it more action. Definitely a jig different in design from anything else you’ll see.
They are also relatively easy to clean. Start by pushing your thumb under the outer skin at the front of the hood, when you force your finger under it will separate the wings and outer skin from the tube all in one hit. I then push my finger up between the clear backbone and the body I then grab the back bone and pull slowly whilst using my index finger to push down on the top of the cone, the hood should turn inside out. When this occurs you can then give it a good clean and rinse. I prefer to do all this in salt water at the beach or ramp before I leave for home as I believe doing it in fresh water toughens them up.
Squid are plentiful and a heap of fun to catch, you can get them from as many land based locations as you can in a boat, their great to eat and the kids will love fishing for them, as the find them intriguing creature. Fishing for them can be a simple as you want it to be or as masterful as any other advanced fishing. You can become an EGI junkie and fish for nothing else it doesn’t matter as squid are one of those great bread and butter species anybody from any walk of life can target.