Land Based Squid Fishing - The How To
Targeting land-based squid is a favourite pastime for many people and quite fun to do as a family, with mates, the dog, or even just solo sessions. Being a year-round species is what makes squidding such a great form of fishing.
The warmer spring and summer months are fruitful for the small to medium size models, with some big ones amongst them occasionally. It’s in the cooler months where the medium to large and even extra large size squid occupy the coastlines. Of course, not all winter squid will be extra large in size, but the size increases from the summer models.
The options are plenty from the land with squid occupying so many locations that are easily accessible; the most common would be piers, jetties or wharves. When walking a foreign jetty for the first time, just look for the telltale signs of black ink on the jetty to see where squid have been previously caught. This should be a good indicator for you to have a go pending the tide heights. If the tide is too low, move up the jetty further to find more black ink marks and try there. I usually take two rods rigged with squid jigs. One will be my main setup that will be casted and retrieved continuously. The secondary jig will be dropped directly infront/underneath me about a metre below the water level. The reason for this is obviously to catch a squid, but if I have a squid hooked on my main setup, quite often while retrieving, I’ll have one or two more that follow, which will hopefully grab the second jig leaving me with two squid on at the same time. Another reason why I have the secondary squid jig ready in the water, is to use it as a gaff. If I have a larger squid on, or a squid hooked by one candle/tentacle, I’ll hold the squid on top of the water whilst using the other jig as a gaff to hook the squid. From there I can lift it onto the jetty with two jigs making sure of the catch. On most occasions, you won’t have to do this, but sometimes it happens, and it's better to make sure of your catch.
Rock walls of boat ramps also provide suitable areas for squidding locations and can definitely provide a bit of fun and something different to the jetties. I like to climb down to the rocks at the water's edge, and when I get close to landing a hooked squid, I'll face the squid in a direction away from me and lead the squid into a catch net that I’ll always bring along with me. It makes sure of a squid that’s only just hooked by one candle tentacle instead of trying to hoist it out of the water.
Rocky locations with some nice depth and structure like tape weed also provide great areas where cephalopods regularly feed. You’ll likely find bigger models from these types of areas as well. With these larger rocks that you fish from, you should be able to land squid by pulling them up and sliding them onto the rock you’re standing on. You’ll need to have a bit of tidal height because fishing these sorts of locations can cause you to get snagged on the bottom relatively easily on a lower tide, even with a small jig.
I feel jig size is also important while fishing land-based. The main jig sizes come in 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0, but I personally never use any larger than the 3.0 sizes, with 99% of the time preferring the 2.5 scale jig. This is because 2.5 has a lot slower sink rate, and fishing from land, you’re usually fishing in a lot of shallower water. This certainly helps when fishing from the rock walls or large rocky structures as you can still let the jig drop before having to rip it to create the action needed to attract squid. The number does not indicate the gram size of the overall jig; a typical 2.5 size jig will be about 10 grams, 3.0 around 15 grams and the 3.5 size jig around 19 grams.
Gear used doesn’t have to be the most expensive models on the market. I personally use 2-4kg rods and a 2500 size reel loaded with 10lb braid and a rod length of 10lb leader. I’ve found the Seahawk Carbon Pro in the 2500 size is a great reel at $63.99, and I’ve caught numerous squid, both big and small with it.
Colour is only semi-important as squid, octopus, and cuttlefish possess only one kind of photoreceptor, implying that they are colour blind and can only see in greyscale. In saying this, the pattern is very important and locally, in the waters of the Eyre Peninsula, king George whiting likes to prey and feed on squid eggs, with squid attacking back when they can to defend their spawn. Using a jig with a KGW pattern is very beneficial around this area, and I’ve caught the majority of my squid with a whiting pattern using many different brands.
I attach a 0.5 size mustad fastach clip and a squid jig to that. The clip is the smallest in the range and doesn’t affect the movement of the jig in the water at all. These fastach clips can be used with all types of fishing and are such an easier way to change jigs/lures over quickly rather than tying a loop or blood knot and losing a bit more leader length every time. You really don’t need to go any heavier or larger than this outfit, and it will do the job for you time and time again. Using braid from 6-15lb will all be suitable but I do prefer a 10lb leader just for that bit of strength.
The technique to rip the jig varies on where you are fishing and the tidal height or wind direction. When on the jetty/pier, I’ll lean over the side of the rail, or if there’s no rail, I’ll stand with the rod facing down towards the water. I’ll double twitch the rod to either side of me when I feel it’s enough to be getting consistent hookups. Rather than ripping it skywards, the height of the jetty should be high enough that when you twitch the jig, it’ll rise up before sinking back down. I’ll also let the jig sink longer on the cast and after a twitch whilst jetty squidding, as opposed to fishing on rocks as the water level is shallower.
Whilst fishing on rock walls or large rocks, after the initial cast, I’ll wait 3 seconds with the 2.5 10 gram jig and then rip it with a double hop towards the sky; I’ll let it sink again for 2 seconds before repeating the process. This is a lot faster than jetty style techniques but will prevent getting snagged on weeds. If squid are hungry enough, they won't find it hard to catch up to the jig.
Conditions are just as important as tides. Fishing for squid would ideally be an offshore or no breeze session as casting into the wind is hard, made even harder trying to cast a 10-gram jig. Also, casting into the wind will make the jig drift in towards you, not letting you twitch the jig in the motion you’ll most likely need when forming a belly in the line. Jetties are ideal with wind direction usually good for one side of it. I find the squid more prevalent with little to no wind which is generally more comfortable fishing as well. A small bit of tidal movement helps, but a lot of squids get caught on dodge tides with no movement at all.
There’s a myth that squid can only be caught in the morning or at night, but they are a 24-hour species and can be caught at any stage of the day. In saying this, the bite window is a lot better in the first hour of light for the day. The squids are on the prowl and want to feed before there’s too much light for their prey to see them. The other hot bite time is dusk, the last hour of the day. Squidding on a full moon at night is doable, but I find they don’t bite as well as, say, a new moon when it’s completely dark.
I prefer the small to medium-sized squid to eat with the tubes being a lot more tender and the trophy-sized squid for baits. In saying that, there are many tried and tested methods on how to tenderize squid. Soaking the squid in either lemon or kiwi juice half an hour before cooking or soaking in milk overnight are a couple of ways to make the meat softer. I’ve even heard of putting a teaspoon of baking soda in with the squid meat and allowing it to rest for 15 minutes before cooking will bring out tenderness. My preferred method, however, is to use the trusty meat mallet. I open the squid tube with a knife, lay it on a chopping board and place a doubled-over piece of glad wrap over the top of the squid, ready to firmly bash out on both sides. There are plenty of ways to get your squid from catch to table, hopefully you can use some of my techniques in this article on your next squidding adventure!
Dan Challinger - The Squid master Himself