I absolutely love my squid fishing. I used to look at squidding as something you did to either gather some bait or pass the time until a more sporting species became available. This mindset started to change about three or four years ago and now I find myself hitting the water on a regular basis, with one rod and a handful of squid jigs.
I really enjoy the active and visual form of fishing that squidding offers. It’s so cool working your jig over likely looking ground, and then seeing several shadows following your jig. Sometimes the calamari are aggressive and will climb all over your jig without reservation, other times they can be quite cautious and will warily approach your jig before retreating. It’s very rewarding coaxing a tentative squid into committing to your jig.
One of the attractions of squidding is the simplicity in targeting them. You don’t need to dedicate a lot of preparation time for a session, and in most situations you needn’t travel far to access productive squid grounds. In fact, you don’t even have to own a boat to access productive squid grounds. There are plenty of land based squidding options around the temperate half of our country including sheltered rock ledges, boat ramp pontoons, piers and jetties. Here in SA, some of the most popular and productive squidding platforms are the jetties dotted within our Gulf waters and neighbouring coastal bays.
Winter time is the peak calamari period here in South Australia; it’s at this time of year that schools of squid move into shallow sheltered bays in preparation for spawning. These bays are used as spawning grounds and subsequent nursery areas for juvenile squid, offering a relatively safe haven to lay eggs and also a food rich area for newly hatched larvae.
We start to see schools of squid move into our local bay systems in around May, with the numbers peaking in June to August before dispersing back into deeper water post spawn throughout September and October. These bay squid are generally schooling small to mid sized individuals, but it’s their numbers are ease of access that have made them so popular with local fisho’s. We are certainly seeing more and more people turning their attention to calamari at this time of year.
During the winter months the squid are dispersed throughout these shallower bays; regularly holding in water in just 2 to 4m of depth. This makes them accessible off land based locations, as mentioned before.
I generally look for broken bottom with plenty of weed growth in the abovementioned depth range. Vast meadows of tape weed are not as productive – they do produce a few squid but not the best numbers. Good weed growth – including red and brown seaweeds – will offer plenty of cover for squid, and then it’s a matter of working the area thoroughly to uncover some squid.
When working an area for squid, it’s important to get your squid jig down deep and work it as close to the weed as possible without getting fouled up on the bottom. It’s inevitable to hook the bottom at least once or twice in a session; if you don’t then you’re probably not getting deep enough.
This can be easier said than done, especially when working jigs from a drifting boat. I prefer using heavier jigs when fishing from a boat, as I find them easier to control and predict as the boat is drifting. My favourite jigs are the Sephia Egixile jigs in size 3.5 when boat fishing. The Keimura White is a gun squid jig, but we’ve also caught plenty of squid on the Rainbow and also the Gold patterns this season.
I usually cast in front of the boat, and pick up the slack line until I know (or guess) that the jig is near the bottom. Squid are visual feeders (hence their oversized eye), so they are looking for movement in the water rather than scent. I impart a pretty energetic hopping retrieve when I know the jig is in the zone. After two or three sharp hops, I let the jig settle back down before repeating. It’s inevitably when the jig is drifting down after a hop when it gets attacked. Imparting action in the retrieve is very important for squid – unless you have a mother load school underneath the boat, only then the action will make little difference.
I work the jig all the way back to the boat, provided it is within the desired depth range, otherwise I will retrieve and re-cast in front of the direction of drift again. I often keep the motor running but in neutral when on the drift for squid, so the boat can be tapped into reverse periodically to slow the drift speed.
When fishing land based from a jetty or similar structure I normally use the smaller 3.0 Egixile jig, as this offers a bit more hang-time in the water. And not being on a drifting boat makes it easier to regulate the depth you’re working your jig through.
The best conditions for squidding are to have clean water, and relatively calm conditions. If the wind is blowing, try to fish a protected pocket of water where the wind is ideally blowing offshore, this will maintain water clarity. Squidding during the middle of the day can be productive, but the best periods are certainly first thing in the morning, and again late in the afternoon. Night time fishing can be very good too.
The toughest decision though… is deciding whether to keep the squid for bait, or to prepare them for the table!