Squid fishing has had a radical re-birth in recent years, with improvements in tackle and techniques revolutionizing the way we target the humble squid. And although the old’ school techniques and equipment still work, the new age gear available today has seen marked improvements in results.
I love my squid fishing and always have. Not only good fun, but they also offer succulent seafood and some of the best bait available for a host of species. There aren’t many reef fish than can resist a fresh strip of squid or larger predators that can resist a live squid; in short, everything loves eating squid!
We have just entered our peak squid season down here in SA, with good numbers of southern calamari entering our shallow bays around the Eyre Peninsula. Even though we can target calamari year-round, we have a definite ‘peak’ season which begins in around May and extends through until approx August – and this is when we see the best numbers and most consistent action.
Squid live around areas of broken reef and weed growth – basically, environments that offer cover. Down here in SA our best squid grounds are found in water from around 2m deep down to around 5m. It is possible to catch squid in deeper water, but for consistency and numbers, these shallower margins tend to hold more squid and make for easier fishing.
I like to look for areas of low-lying reef with obvious seaweed growth. The patch is generally more productive if not too large; if the area of weed growth and scattered reef is too significant it will house too many other reef fish which tends to disperse the squid. Often a patch of broken reef amongst seaweed the size of a standard garage is enough to hold reasonable numbers of squid. Quite often the squid will be holding just to the side of the heavier seaweed and scattered reef, so it pays to fish along the visible edge of this structure.
Good places to look are in front of headlands and protruding points in bays where the water slowly tapers away. This is only valid for protected areas such as bay and Gulf waters where the swell is minimal – if any. Other likely areas include seagrass meadows inside bays – although these squid are generally more dispersed.
Because squid are a schooling creature, it’s important to keep on the move and cover likely ground until a patch is found. I opt to drift fish for the majority of my squid fishing, and by fanning casts around the boat, it allows you to cover a lot of area in minimal time. Obviously it’s hard to maintain a slow drift if the wind is blowing, but this is where the use of a drogue or using your motor to slow the drift is useful.
It’s important to deliver the squid jig down deep – as close to the weed as possible. If you are drifting too fast, using too heavy mainline or using the incorrect-weighted jig, you’re taking yourself out of the equation. It is imperative to keep the jig down deep, even if this means dealing with the occasional snag on the bottom. Good quality squid jigs such as Shimano Egixile will sink and rest ‘nose-first’ on the bottom to reduce fouling.
When slowly drifting over a likely patch, I cast out the side of the boat, and allow the jig plenty of time to sink through the column. I mainly use 3.5 sized jigs, and by knowing the sink speed of a 3.5 jig is approx 1 metre in 3.0 seconds allows you to gauge the sink time.
Once my jig has reached the necessary depth, I give 3 or 4 sharp bounces to raise the jig through the column, before allowing to sink again and repeating. Squid respond well to an erratically worked jig, so don’t be afraid to throw in a fair bit of action. Quite often the squid will attack the jig as it sinks.
My personal squidding results have improved sharply since switching to Shimano Sephia Egixile squid jigs a couple of years ago. The Sephia Egixile squid jigs are a superbly crafted and perfectly finished jig available in a wide range of colours to suit all situations.
And what ‘makes’ a good squid jig you may ask? Properties such as a narrow nose for side action, a deep belly for lift action, quality components, and of course overall finish and colour schemes – all of which Egixile jigs are renowned for. As for colours, I believe it’s important to have a range of colours as squid can alter their feeding habits very quickly. I like using darker colours in low light situations, with the brighter fluoro's and white during the day.
Although specialised Egi outfits are available on the market, my outfit of choice is a 2-4kg Blue Romance rod coupled with a Shimano Stradic FL 2500HG and spooled with 10lb Power Pro Super Slick V2 braid. When choosing a rod intended for squidding, try to choose a slower tapering rod with a parabolic curve, as this will allow you to work the jig effectively and also handle the unique propulsion of a squid without tearing a tentacle.
My catch rate has soared since switching to Egixile jigs, and when coupled to the correct Shimano outfit, the results can be amazing.