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Squid Fishing FAQ

Common Questions

1. What fishing methods are used to catch squid?
2. How do I choose a squid jig?
3. How do I cast and retrieve squid jigs?
4. Where can I catch squid?
5. What is the best time and tides for squid fishing?
6. What is the best moon phase for squid fishing?
7. Catch and release - will squid survive?
8. What is the most humane way to kill a squid?
9. What is the difference between squid and calamari (or calamary)?
10. What is the difference between squid and cuttlefish?
13. Where can I purchase squid jigs?
11. Can you tell me everything there is to know about squid fishing?
12. What are the catch limits for squid?

What methods are used to catch squid?

Squid are targeted with 2 types of lures:

  • Artificial jigs
  • Baited skewers

The artificial jigs or "squid jigs" often look like prawns. They sometimes look like small fish. See some examples below!

Squid jigs

The baited skewers on the other hand are a little different. The artificial prawn-like body is replaced by a simple metal skewer or rod. A dead fish slides onto the skewer and is secured in place with some string or fishing line.

Baited skewers (see below) are generally fished passively under a float. Squid jigs however are generally cast and retrieved using a fishing rod.

Baited squid jigs are further discussed in the Baited Jigs Sub-forum

Squid jiging is the most exciting method of catching squid! It is also a lot more pleasant because no smelly fishing bait is required.

Squid jigging techniques are further discussed in the General Squid Fishing Chat Forum.

Baited jigs (without the bait!) - Courtesy: Colman's Fishing Supply
How do I choose a squid jig?

I would recommend using a small pink jig. Size 2.0 is my favourite! Pink has been my lucky colour but I mostly fish in the evening. My next favourite colour is orange.

I have been told that blue and green jigs are the best colours to use in winter while the pink and orange jigs are best in summer. Some jigs glow in the dark and they have their devotees. I have not had much luck with these glow-in-the-dark jigs.

The best colour for a squid jig has been discussed in the forums in the following topic - Best squid jig colour.

Some jigs have an extra row of jags in the mid-section of the jig. These 'razorback' jigs seem to work quite well. However, Yo-Zuri (a well-established jig manufacturer) argues that these extra jags only scare away the timid squid and result in a reduced catch rate.

How do I cast and retrieve squid jigs?

I like to use a long fishing rod with 8-10 lb fishing line. If your jig is heavy enough to sink to the ocean floor in less than 10 seconds, tie the jig directly to the line. If the jig takes a very long time to sink (or floats!!!), then attach the jig to a short dropper, about 1 metre above a small ball sinker.

Cast it out and let it sink a bit. If there are small squid about, they will quite eagerly come very close to the surface to chase the jig. It seems that the larger squid are deeper down.

Give the jig a few short jerks to gain the attention of any nearby squid. If you are fishing under bright lights you will be able to see the squid approaching the jig. If a squid comes at the jig at high speed, this means it is CRAZY about your jig and it will probably grab the jig. Get ready! As soon as you see the squid grab the jig you should strike to set the hooks and then steadily wind the squid to your waiting net! Don't let the line go slack....otherwise you may lose your squid! I recommend using a net because the squid are often hooked by just one very skinny leg and as soon as you try to lift them out of the water they fall off the jig. I must confess however, that most of the time I can't be bothered carrying a net myself and I just hope for the best. With very large squid, I sometimes lean over and pick up the squid by grabbing it behind the head. Then I lift the squid out of the water by hand. This seems to work OK but be careful you don't get bitten!!

Hopefully the squid will release its black ink in the water but you should be very careful handling the squid because their ink supply seems to be endless!

If the squid are NOT CRAZYabout your jig, then you will have to work a bit harder to catch them! After casting out the jig, give the jig a few short jerks (as above) and then retrieve the jig very slowly. If a squid approaches the jig slowly, you can try the following:

  • Let the jig sink slowly until the squid grabs it
  • Give the jig a short jerk and then keep retrieving it slowly

If the squid don't look terribly excited, you can sometimes get them excited by using a fast, erratic retrieve. If you can get the squid to approach the jig very quickly, then your chances of a hook-up often improve. Sometimes the jerky movement will only scare the squid and so you should watch the squid carefully to see how it reacts.

Often the squid will follow the jig and take it at the very last moment as you are about to lift the jig from the water. If a group of squid follow your jig, then your chances will be better since the extra competition can encourage the squid to grab the jig. I have found that sometimes a shy squid will be more willing to grab a jig if the jig is retrieved through a bright area and into a shaded area. This might happen when fishing on a jetty at night under artificial lights. The jetty lights illuminate water perhaps 2 metres outward from the pier. However, the water directly next to the pier is in darkness. Drag the jig into this dark area and a shy squid may decide that this is a good time to attack the jig.

The squid often 'test' the jig by timidly touching it. They often do this by first motoring up to the jig so that they face the jig 'side-on'. They then use their long legs to feel the jig but don't actually grab it. I often try (with very little success) to strike when the squid touches the jig. It seems that unless the squid REALLY WANTS your jig, then you will have quite a frustrating time trying to catch these timid squid. For some tips on catching shy squid, you might like to check out the following topic in the forum - Fishing for shy squid.

Where can I catch squid?

You can try a local jetty, from a boat, or from a rocky shoreline. Avoid fishing in areas with strong tidal currents because squid don't seem to hang around in these areas. The ocean floor should have patches of weed or rock to provide shelter for the squid. Ideally the water will be very clear, there will be very little wind (offshore wind rather than onshore wind) and you will have a water depth of 2-6 metres. If fishing a jetty, look for ink stains (from squid) on the jetty. These ink stains indicate that you have found a good squid fishing spot!

I prefer to fish rocky shorelines since I don't have a boat. Otherwise I think boat fishing is best. A boat gives you access to more remote areas of rocky reef which get fished less heavily. I don't really like jetty fishing anymore because the crowds are annoying and I think the squid are more spooky. Spooky squid tend to chase a jig but won't grab on!!! This "spookiness" may be due to the heavy fishing pressure and the hundreds of squid jigs they see everyday! I am really not sure. What I do know, is that squid in more remote areas are more aggressive and easier to catch.

The squidfish forums has a large section dedicated to squid fishing location and fishing reports. Also, you might like to visit the following page which provides a summary of some recommended fishing spots for squid.

What is the best time and tides for squid fishing?

According to Yo-Zuri, the best times to fish for squid are early morning (6am - 9am) and early evening (6pm -9pm). I have caught some of my best and biggest squid in the morning. But I generally am lazy and only fish for squid later in the day. Try to get on the water at sunrise and fish for two or three hours if you are not lazy like me! At my local reefs, the squid really come on around 20 minutes before dark.

If you are fishing in an area with artificial light such as a jetty or pier, then you can fish all night long! The squid are attracted to the bright lights. Fish at the brightest section of the pier.

The best seasons are spring and summer. I find that squid tend to be less active when it is very cold.

It seems that fishing on the high tide is most productive. Though I personally believe that the weather and water quality on a given day is far more important than the state of the tide.

The importance of the tides to squid fishing has been further discussed in the squidfish forums in the following topic - Best Tides, When do squid bite best?

What is the best moon phase for squid fishing?
Does the moon phase matter? According to commercial fisherman targeting Arrow Squid, they have most success around the New Moon. The squid are more easily attracted to the bright lights of the fishing boats when there is no moon to distract them. Cloudy skies tend to block moonlight and this can also help catch rates to improve.

The importance of moon phases to squid fishing has been discussed in the forum in the following topic - moon phases.
Catch and release - will squid survive?
If you quickly release unwanted squid and minimise handling time (less than 30 seconds) then the squid has a good chance of survival.
What is the most humane way to kill a squid?
The best method to humanely dispatch a squid has been discussed in the squidfish forums. One method suggested is to use "cold water anaesthesia" - see discussion in topic Bobbin Head Wharf - NSW, First Squid.

Another option is to use a tool specially designed to kill squid quickly and humanely. These tools are discussed in the following topic - How to Kill Squid Humanely.

What is the difference between squid and calamari (or calamary)?
This was discussed in detail in the forums in the following topic - Difference Between Calamari And Squid?

What is the difference between squid and cuttlefish?
This was discussed in detail in the forums in the following topic - calamari vs. cuttlefish

Where can I purchase squid jigs?
Squid jigs can be purchased online through various stores and auction sites (e.g. eBay). Most tackle stores near the ocean/seaside should stock squid jigs. Prices vary from 1 dollar (US) up to about $20. The price variation partially relates to quality (e.g. corrosion resistance and horizontal balance) but also relates to whether a jig looks "cool" to fisherman. The Squid Fishing Gear - Egi gear and the Offers to Sell forums (here at the squidfish.net website) provide additional information regarding retail stores that sell squid fishing tackle. Here are a few squid fishing products currently on sale on Ebay:

More Products for Sale
Can you tell me everything there is to know about squid or squid fishing?
There is HEAPS of information on this website if you are prepared to take the time to search for it. You can use the google search function or the in-built search function in the forums. You are welcome to ask specific questions on the squidfish forums IF you have a question that has NOT already been answered. Please read the forum guidelines before posting any questions in the forum.

What are the catch limits for squid?

Bag limits and size limits are subject to change. Please get the latest information from the appropriate authority before you go fishing. If you notice any errors on this page, then please let me know!

USA Squid Catch Limits
Washington State - http://wdfw.wa.gov
Rhode Island - http://www.dem.ri.gov
California - http://www.dfg.ca.gov

Australia Squid Catch Limits

Region Bag limit Boat limit Size limit Comments
Victoria 10 - -  
New South Wales 20 - -  
Western Australia 15 30 - Squid, octopus, cuttlefish combined bag limit 15 per fisher.
South Australia 15 45 - Closed area all year round in False Bay near Whyalla.
Tasmania 15 15 - Temporary closure of the calamary squid (Sepioteuthis australis) occur from time to time so please check with DPIW for latest rules.

Octopus have a 100kg possession limit in all waters except the Eaglehawk Neck area where a bag limit of five is allowed.
Queensland - - -  
Northern Territory - - -  
New Zealand (all regions) 50 - -  

Last modified: 12 August 2006