You have to admire the humble squid (AKA southern calamari) for what they offer anglers of all ages and skill levels. With their relatively newfound claim to fame as a super tasty protein, with salt and pepper squid on nearly any pub menu around the country, and the fact they're a cheap and reliable bait source, there's a lot of reasons to be chasing them and getting that ink flying!
With such a popular target there's always going to be a lot of conjecture and talk surrounding the best squid jigs to use for southern calamari. There's many, many theories, some probably over thinking this short-lived, extremely ravenous creature. But like any fish that swims, squid do have a fickle side that can make you question your selections some days and require a few smart moves on behalf of the angler.
Both dark and bright jig colour variations are worth bringing for each session. Gaudy colours and glow patterns are popular in low light for getting seen, and for general flicking. The Shimano Sephia Egixile in Keimura/UV White or Glow White Prawn are two examples of high visibility jig options. Squid have oversized eyes and getting your jig spotted is much of the battle won a majority of the time.
When the calamari are coy, often in clear water with bright overhead conditions, or during ordinary tides, using darker more natural colours or matching the hatch is sometimes needed. The Sephia Egixile range has some perfect 'match the hatch' patterns, including King George Whiting, Natural Herring, Natural Slimy and Natural Pilly - all known food sources of squid in southern regions.
When it comes to jig size be sure to pack at least a couple of choices. Sneaky little 2.5 sized jigs are great when the squid are fussy or focused on eating smaller baitfish, while the more standard 3.5 is always a reliable workhorse and has plenty of visual appeal and presence in the water.
The aim of the game when fishing squid jigs is to work them as close to the bottom as you can, throwing in the odd sharp flick to replicate a fleeing/wounded baitfish. Squid often hold lower in the water column, close to the seafloor, especially during the day. If you're not snagging the odd bit of weed or keeping in touch with the bottom then you're not generally fishing deep enough.
Alternatively you can set a jig under a float at a depth that keeps it just off the bottom which is also a solid method, with wind and wave action bobbing the jig around seductively, and it's a relaxing, passive way to hunt squid.
A huge part of the attraction of southern calamari is the easy access to productive areas, and they can successfully be targeted from jetties, breakwaters and rock ledges, all of which can make for low-fuss sessions. The better structures tend to offer easy casting access to water of at least a couple of metres or more in depth, with a likely bottom type in close proximity.
Squid are also drawn to the lights of jetties, boat ramps and other structures after dark, and it's common to spot black ink stains concentrated around the jetty lights, left over from a successful session. This is always a pretty safe place to start your squid search. Larger structures like jetties and rockwalls attract a lot of baitfish as well, and casting around schools of bait it's common to find a few squid shadowing them.
Many of the easy to fish rock hot spots for squid tend to be common knowledge, and it's typical for these to be inside points and headlands, usually not facing directly into the teeth of trade winds and swell. You don't have to fish obvious looking ledges however, and there's a lot of pleasure in getting away from the masses and striking your own patch of inkers. So many rock squidding areas are written off as they look too shallow, or the immediate bottom is too harsh to work a quality jig over it. The reality is however squid will feed in next to no water, and there's plenty of tricks to allow you to fish even the most aggressive looking bottom type and come home with a feed of squid rings.
Southern calamari are the ultimate calm water bay target, often caught from small craft including kayaks. 'Broken ground' or 'combination bottom' is loosely an area of sand and either ribbon or cork weed, or rock, blended together to create a patchy bottom type that can be prime squid habitat. Furthermore if you can locate this bottom out of the main tidal flow you'll stand a better chance of locating squid, which aren't strong swimmers. Or try fishing these areas during tide changes or slower tides if need be which can see the squid moving about more freely and not huddled against the bottom.
Drifting is a top tactic to cover ground to find schools of squid. Basically work a range of depths on the drift, while constantly casting jigs around the boat, or even throw out a fish bait or two under a float and drag this along on a slow drift while you also cast jigs. Once you find a patch of inkers you can stop your drift and cash in on these crazy critters that we all love!