Squid is a favoured bait by many anglers, it is vital to find and catch your own as fresh always is better than frozen.
Squid are inquisitive creatures with a remarkably strong craving to feed. They may infrequently be shy but can be tempted most times to snatch a natural or artificial bait if it is presented in a suitable manner. Their most usual habitat is in the locality of the weed beds and somewhat shallow water, where they use their exceptional ability for camouflage to good effect making short range surges of jet thrust speed to catch small fish and prawns, their favoured banquet.
Locate your squid
Squid quantities seem to surge as the inshore waters warm with the approach of summer. Most species are essentially shallow water residents, but the torpedo or arrow varieties is occasionally located out as wide as the edge of the continental shelf, while certain types of gigantic squid some of which reach 5 meters or more in length and weigh hundreds of kilos are found far out to sea in super deep depths.
In shallow areas, strands of ribbon and tape weed seem to hold squid populace quite freely; predominantly if there is rock or low reef nearby.
Squid have repugnance to dirty water, being almost solely a sight predator, so if chasing them exclusively it is sensible to handpick an area where there is marginal turbulence and a firm sandy bottom. Protected coves, bays and inlets which are basically protected from ocean swell are perfect sites to initiate searching for these creatures.
As stated, squid are essentially very easy to catch. Their craving for a meal will typically override any fear or hesitation, so the method doesn’t generally need to be too delicate.
Whilst it is conceivable to catch squid by merely casting and retrieving and cheap plastic jig there are numerous techniques which can lift the catch rate.
A favoured technique is to set two or three teaser lines around the boat or pier. These comprise of a whole small bait-fish tied to a suitable length of fishing line. These are cast away from the fishing platform and are either suspended beneath a float drifted at mid water or permitted to descend to the bottom. No hooks or jigs are attached to these bait-fish, they are intended merely to lure the squid into range. When a teaser is engaged by a squid, the line tightens and it should be drawn slowly back near the angler. Most times the squid will keep its hold on the bait right up to the boat or jetty. When it has been brought inside close range the teaser is pulled quickly away and an artificial jig is plunged into the water to substitute it. This is a very old school method of catching squid, taught to me by one of my uncles. It is best to have all jigs or teasers suspended just above a weed bed. Quite often many squid will compete for the one jig or bait.
A more customary practice but one which still accounts for plenty of squid includes the use of a wire shafted jag baited with a whole small fish. These can either be suspended at a depth suitable to the selected fishing area, or rigged below a float.
Bared jags seem to lend themselves best to this system, as the baits are often out of sight and the angler has to rely on a squid hooking itself while pulling against the buoyancy of the float.
The hottest piece of tackle on the market is clearly the imitation prawn jig. These consist a plastic body covered in synthetic cloth and weighted by a lead keel to attain slightly negative buoyancy. No other jig, jag or rig has come close to the results that you will get using an imitation prawn squid jig. There are many inexpensive versions on the market and they will work just as effective as the more expensive ones. However, they tend to get worked over by squid fairly quickly and will not last as long as the more expensive versions.
The popular technique when squiding with the artificial prawn is to cast it well away from the boat rocks or pier then allow the jig to sink as close to the bottom as close as possible to the weed bed. It then should be worked back to the angler with a slow erratic retrieve. It is critical to not let the jig foul up in the weed, for two reasons.
- The squid will not take a jig when it has a trailing piece of weed attached to the barbs of the jig.
- You do not want to snag your jig on the weed, especially if you are fishing a kelp area.
One trick I use when fishing an area that I am not familiar with what lies beneath, is to cast around one of my cheap jigs, to ensure there is no threat of snagging up and losing my jig. Once I am confident with my surrounding area, I then rig up my more expensive jigs and cast around.
Squid as Bait
Fresh Squid is a killer bait on many species, such as, Snapper, Bream, Flathead, King George Whiting, jewfish and Yellow Tailed King Fish, when prepared and rigged thoughtfully. Squid can be used as live bait but this is not widely done. Most anglers use squid as dead bait. It can be rigged as rings or the smaller squid are great rigged whole. Personally I dedicate time to catch squid throughout late winter and early spring in Victoria, prior to our Snapper season in mid to late spring. I fill up my freezer with squid and love to use the squid heads for big Snapper or Gummy Shark as a by catch.
Preparation and Cooking Squid
Squid can be served in a number of ways but there are a few steps to be followed regarding preparation. I like to humanely kill my catch as soon as I get them out of the water, and put them into ice slurry. This obviously keeps them fresh, but also helps to ensure when you cook them they don’t end up like chewing rubber.
Squid must be cleaned thoroughly before either freezing or cooking, which means that all intestines and skin should be removed as soon as possible after capture.
To remove the guts from a quid, simply grip the head firmly and pull it way from the body. The intestines, ink sack and transparent backbone should all come out together although this may take a little practice to perfect. Next you want to peel all the skin from the mantle as this is par that deteriorates quickest and can taint the flesh if not disposed of quickly. The flaps are quite edible so they should be skinned as well.
One last tip of cooking squid and avoiding chewy rubber is to tenderise it, so prior to cooking it, try bashing it with steak mallet.
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