Fishing stories, Photos, Stuff we've learnt

The basics: Squid Fishing on the Cheap

Squid reflections at Sydney Aquarium

 Squid – they are super tasty, easy to catch and widespread so it does seem strange they aren’t targeted more regularly. Their lack of fighting ability probably has something to do with it. I mean just imagine if squid had the speed of a tuna, strength of a kingy or the nastiness of a giant trevally? There’s a good chance we wouldn’t fish for anything else!

The art of catching squid is something that newcomers to our sport pick up quickly and its great, slimy fun. The anticipation of taking a blast of squid ink to the face makes it all the more interesting.

I’ve just returned from a quick trip to South Australia where I was expecting a rare week where I wouldn’t be fishing, however the angling addict lurking in me had other ideas. Similar to an alcoholic visiting a pub – if a fisherman visits the ocean, then there’s a good chance he’s going to need to fish. It didn’t help that we walked to Glenelg Wharf and it wasn’t long before we spotted tell-tale ink stains marking the weathered planks as a potential squid catching locale. It was at this point that my defences against the addiction crumbled.

On the wharf I observed the easiest and cheapest approach to coax these delicious suckers (ok bad pun) into the frypan that I have come across. I’m going to share it with you here:

             Random facts:

    • Squid, along with octopus, belong to the cephalopod family, a family who’s members share the accolade of being the smartest invertebrates on the planet.
    • They have three hearts – two of which are devoted solely to supplying blood to the valves that provide propulsion.
    • Despite their large eyes, squid are colour blind – but they do have well developed senses of smell and taste.

The gear:

So with the imagination well and truly inspired, I was off to a certain department store that sells cheap tackle so I could try out this new technique.

The $10 squiding kit – note the ink stain in the background.

My shopping list was simple:

Bobby cork: $2:50

Squid jig: $4

Spool of 20lb mono: $2:50

So for under $10 I had everything I needed to entice a squid into the frypan.

The technique:

How’s this for basic? Grab a handline, tie on a squid jig below a bobby cork, throw it a few meters out from the wharf/rocks/boat and let the relaxation begin! The theory is that the wave action on the bobby cork imparts enough of a twitch in the jig to get things happening. Personally I was pretty sceptical that this approach would be enough to entice a brainy squid to eat a prawn shaped piece of plastic – but you can’t argue with local knowledge.

The only technical part about this sort of fishing is in setting the depth of your jig. I generally aimed to suspend the lure 2-3m off the weed and float stoppers are a good way to adjust the depth accordingly.


Squid hunt in and around weed beds and other structure which provides them with somewhere to hide from predators. It stands to reason therefore that you should look for patches of seagrass or kelp and focus your efforts here. The water doesn’t need to be deep and I’ve caught squid at depths from 1m to 10m.

I generally look for seagrass when chasing squid. Unlike kelp, seagrass isn’t found in areas where there is any serious wave action. Instead it prefers sheltered bays and protected waters – places like Jervis Bay and Twofold Bay (Eden) in NSW.

Stenhouse Bay: calm water, seagrass and a long wharf – perfect for squiding on the cheap

Bobby corks come into their own when wharf fishing because they overcome the challenges presented by being high over the water. You can also use them successfully from a boat, rocky headland or anywhere that a long cast isn’t required. Unless you’re a gun with the handline, swapping to a set up with a rod will allow you to cast further, but will blow your $10 budget.

Stenhouse Bay Wharf below proved to be a great place for squiding. The picture clearly shows where the sand changes to a dark bed of seagrass.

The results:

We first had a crack at this technique at Marion Bay on the Yorke Peninsula. The wind was blowing hard and only a few super keen locals were braving the elements. We chose our spot on the wharf by selecting an area where ink stains indicated the presence of our quarry. With the wind trying to blow our chairs over the edge, we sat back with snacks and a book – yep squiding can be hard work! After a while the bobby cork disappeared below the surface and Hannah was hooked up to her first squid. After avoiding being hit with the inevitable inky mess the squid was on the deck we were able to admire its strange beauty.

Squid appear to hunt in pods and I looked up from the catch just in time to see my float leaving a wake as it was towed strait under the jetty by a monster cephalopod. It looked like a black umbrella had eaten my jig! I was frantically trying to find the end of my line (a challenge when you aren’t using a rod) and by the time I was able to apply pressure the jig had been dropped – maybe this is proof that squid do have a great sense of taste and smell?

Hannah’s first squidy!

Well if this blog gets you out chasing squid, whatever your prefered approach, then keep a look out for my black umbrella! Finally, the best bit is often the eating part so you should read a blog Hamish wrote about cleaning and preparing your cephalapod bounty for the table – yum


Sept 2011

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