How to Catch Squid
A practical guide on how to catch Squid. I have been catching squid from the jetties around Brisbane for the past 30 years and squid remains one of the most popular recreational fish species Australian waters.
Not only are they easy to catch (providing you have the right bait or lures) but they are extremely great tasting, crumbed, battered or lightly stir-fried with Asian greens. We have some very simple and delicious squid recipes to try.
If you want to catch squid, check out our list of hottest squid fishing spots in Australia. Let us know if you have squid spots to add.
Facts About Squid
A squid (known as Calamari in Italian) belongs to the general family of cephalopod and looks like a mini octopus because of its tentacles. Just like the octopus, it discharges a dark fluid into the face of its predator when threatened with potential danger. The average length of an edible squid generally varies from 5cm to 100cm although some colossal squids could be as big as 20m.
The squid, which forms a part of most Mediterranean cuisines, has a firm, white and sweet tasting meat. The main body of the Calamari is used for most dishes because it can be cut into pieces, sliced or stuffed whole even though the tentacles are edible too. The reason behind the high popularity of squid is that excepting its hard beak and gladius (pen), its entire body can be prepared in almost any process possible, including raw sushi spreads.
The other reason for the high preference for squid is its ready availability in fresh, canned, frozen, dried and pickled versions. You will find most seafood restaurants displaying calamari recipes on their menus. Beyond Australia, fried Calamari is also a well-liked seafood dish in North America, Europe and Asia. In fact, fried squid rings are often served as an appetiser and look mouth-watering because of Parmesan cheese, parsley and lemon garnishing.
In Mexico, Calamari is served with peppercorn mayonnaise, tzatziki or habanero. In Asian countries such as China and Korea, fried calamari is diced and battered and served with a topping of marinara sauce, spicy chilli and salt. The squid could also be cooked in mediums such as ketchup, aioli, and olive oil.
Fried calamari is a simple to make a dish as the squid simply needs to be dipped in a batter and fried for approx. two minutes to get a tender and tasty snack that you could eat plain or sprinkled with salt and lemon. Some other highly in demand variations of calamari fry is fried baby squid called Puntillas, Raba’s de Calamar, breaded Calamari and Living Squid.
The fried baby squid recipes are prepared both in Spain and China. The Raba’s de Calamar consists of deep fried squid tentacles. Breaded calamari looks rather like a sandwich where the squid is grilled and stuffed between bread slices along with rice and vegetables. The squid is a rich source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids although it also has considerably high cholesterol content.
How to Find Squid
If you are planning to catch squids, it is important for you to know where you can find squids. The best spot to catch squids are the seagrass beds and the reefs. This environment is extremely suitable for squids. They can find food and shelter in these places and also a place to breed. Squids are mostly found in schools that can range from anything between two to two hundred in number.
Squids usually school on the edge of the reef or the grass bed, as this allows them a better cover to ambush their prey. Thus, you should catch squids in this location, as they can give you great results.
As a general rule, you should fish for squids in a reef or a grass bed that has plenty of weed cover. The depth of water should be around 15 feet. The deep water seems to allow a better distribution of food and provides better shelter to the squids from its predators.
The surrounding water of a Queenscliff in Victoria will always prove productive for your squid expedition. A flat reef with sand patches and large structures are great locations to fish for squids. You can try fishing for squids from a boat, jetty or from a rocky shoreline. Fishing around areas with strong tidal currents will prove useless, as squids do not hang around these locations. Here are some of the hottest squid fishing locations in Australia
The best spot to catch squids will be areas where the water is very clear, with slight offshore winds. If you are squid fishing from a jetty, you should look for ink stains on the jetty. These squid ink stains are great indicators that will allow you to choose the best spot to catch squids.
Some of the best squids can be caught around early morning and late evening. However, if you are fishing around an area that has artificial lighting, like that in a pier or a jetty, you can fish throughout the night.
While looking for a great location for squid fishing, remember that squids are rarely ever found far from their shelter. Even when they are out hunting, they prefer to be around their shelters. Some of the areas that squids are attracted to are small patches of the reef, mussel beds, kelp beds and seagrass meadows. Squids are also attracted to man-made structures like rock breakwaters, mussel leases, boat moorings and jetty pylons. So, these would be great locations for squid fishing.
Best Baits and Lures for Squid
You can catch a squid using a range of different rigs made of a hook and a prawn. If you are using a prawn for bait, then you have to imitate the movement of a retreating prawn with your squid jig. This creates maximum chances that the squid will take the bait because it is greatly attracted to prawns swimming away from a danger. But before this, you must know how exactly a prawn behaves while escaping from a threat. This retrieve should be kept in mind whether you use squid baits or artificial squid jigs.
A prawn follows a backward burst, halt, burst, halt pattern of movement while facing a potential danger. You can create a similar movement if you achieve the right buoyancy and counterweight in your squid jig. Make use of the weight and buoyancy of the lure by jerking it forward with the help of your rod, then pause it and repeat the same sequence over again to imitate the swimming pattern of a retreating prawn.
However, you can always get better success catching squids using a live squid for bait. Unlike a prawn bait, a live squid bait needs to be affixed to a hook but to a fan of straight barbs. This is because a squid can provide you with enough weight in itself to cast it out without any sinker, swivel or floats. However, you could keep a collection of different squid lures with you each of a distinct colour.
In fact, various squid jigs are available for testing the water to detect the presence of any squid. Also, you could use different coloured squid jigs to suit various shades of water you are fishing in. It would be wise if you keep at least three differently coloured jigs with you to try out which one works best because it is possible that a particular movement pattern of the bait fails to lure the squid.
The best lure for squids is fresh or living squids. If you are familiar enough with a squid, you will notice that a freshly caught or live squid has a transparent body as opposed to a long dead or frozen squid that has a whitened flesh. Now, squids prefer to prey upon live squids or transparent parts of a freshly chopped squid. For best results, you should never skin your squid bait because the skin has a certain gloss over it that tempt squids to take a quick bite.
Squid on Jigs
Squid readily take squid Jigs such as those made by made Yazori. These are much simpler to use and cleaner than baited jigs. These are balanced so that a jerky retrieve will imitate a prawn in distress. I always keep a couple of these in the tackle box just in case.
Squid Fishing from a Jetty / Pier
If you are planning to go fishing for squids, you do not necessarily require a boat. Land-based squid fishing is a popular pastime with a better success rate. You simply need to select a proper place on the shore like a rock structure or pier near a weeded zone to get a good catch of squids. The other thing you need to arrange for is a light just over the surface of the water because squids are attracted to light.
Although it is rather easy to catch squids than any other fish, it really helps to know the nature of squids in general so that you could play mental games and visual sports before the squid actually takes the bait. Squids like to launch ambush attacks on their prey. Hence, you would benefit more if you choose shadowy underwater nooks and corners for placing the squid jig.
The body of a squid is designed with two feeler tentacles that are larger in size than its other tentacles. It uses these tentacles to feel and grab its prey and uses the rest of the tentacles to capture and feed upon the prey. Hence, you would do better not to hit or damage the feeler tentacles prematurely or this will sound an end to your fishing game. If a squid is hungry enough, it will be more daring with its food and take the bait very close to the pier.
While fishing squids from a pier, you need to have a closer glimpse into the mind of a squid. Hunger is not always connected with the mood of the squid. If you are fishing towards dusk or dawn, it is possible that the squid will be in an aggressive mood in which it will tend to chase your jig coming out of its natural hiding place.
In the lifecycle of a squid, it tends to turn aggressive towards preys during its spawning period. A squid generally lays its eggs into weed and stay close. You can even see the small pale clumps of a squid’s egg through the surface in late winter when the water is calm and clear. In this position, it takes a chance to feed upon almost any creature lurking close.
The last few things to bear in mind about fishing squids from a pier is that squids prefer to live in clear water and wander out towards the latter part of the rising tide. It is definitely good news for all pier squid fishers that squids have a natural affinity for natural formations like patches of reef, mussel beds, seagrass meadows and kelp beds as well as manmade structures such as rock breakwaters, jetty pylons, mussel leases and boat moorings
Squid Fishing from a Boat
If you have always fantasised about spending your vacation catching squid from a boat, you can certainly fulfil it since it does not take much to go squid fishing. But before you go fishing for squids, you should know a few basic things. The squid looks very much like an octopus and has similar tentacles. Its feeler tentacles are larger than the rest of the tentacles and it uses these to attack and drag its prey.
The only precaution you need to take while catching squids is not to hit a squid too hard because this could prematurely rip off the feeler tentacles. Other than this, catching squids is one of the easiest tasks because squids are very simple creatures that easily take bait placed near the pier of your boat. Squids generally seek food among rocks, weed and shadowy piers towards mornings and evenings.
Hence, it is always at a thickly weeded region of the sea that you are sure to find squids. You need to anchor your boat close to a seagrass bed. Now you have to attach a squid jig to the hand line and give it a jigging movement. You need a simple tackle for catching a squid. A soft-tipped thread line outfit of 2 meters filled with 4-kilo lines would serve your purpose just right. The branded jigs available in the market come in different attractive colours and sizes.
A good way to attract squids is to go for a night time fishing where you carry a few average lights sticks and position them in front of the jigs. The best bait for squids is the fresh remains of a squid-like its head to get the best catch. In fact, a fresh catch of squids itself forms very tempting bait for fishes like Jewfish, Kingfish & Snapper. You could also turn your catch of squids into a mouth-watering platter.
Now, if that sounds really tempting, you must have an idea of the hottest spots for catching squids from a boat. Places such as Pittwater and Cowan Creek are known for favourite squid fishing spots. These places form good natural habitats for squids because of the availability of plenty of weeds, kelps and rocks. Some of the other most frequented haunts for NSW squid fishermen include the flats behind Palm Beach along the western shore between Coasters Retreat & Longnose Point, the western side of Barrenjoey, Yeoman’s Bay, Waratah Bay and Stingray Bay. Here is another squid fishing location around Australia.
Squid Recipes – How to Cook Squid
Squid is considered one of the most favourite food items of the Mediterranean region and other cuisines throughout the world. The squid is more popularly known as ‘Calamari’ in most culinary menus because the Italian word is probably more appetising than its English version. Owing to its popularity, fried squid recipes are served in various nations with various sauces and toppings for suiting different palates.
However, if you want to cook any squid dish at home, you have to follow some preliminary steps. You have to start by cleaning a squid, for which the mantle has to be separated gently from the head. Next, the interior of the mantle has to be thrown away, removing the edible ink from it. Now pull the membrane from the mantle away, cut off the tentacles just under the eyes and discard the hard beak.
After you wash the squid thoroughly, it is ready to be tenderised by making 2 cm slits along its body and bashing the flesh with a mallet. In order to prevent the squid flesh from toughening, you must start cooking it while it is still fresh. The only time taking squid dish is prepared by braising 7.5 to 10 cm long pieces of squid that need to be cooked for at least 1 hour.
Perhaps the most preferred squid recipe is fried squid. It is simple to make and just delicious in taste. Fried squid is prepared by dipping the squid in a batter and making a crispy fry. For making fried squid, you have to pour oil into a deep-frying pan. Then cut the squid into rings, dip them in batter, drain and put them in the boiling oil. You must take out the fries before they turn brown to keep them eatable.
Fried squid could also be prepared by marinating the squid in a milk and beaten egg mixture added with spices and crumbs. Now you have to prepare the frying pan by heating it for some time before pouring the oil in it. Next, add the squid into the oil, fry it turning the pieces once and set down when brown.
Stir Fried Squid
Another way of preparing fried squids is the stir fry process. This is a 30-second process and you could add to these squid pieces your favourite stir-fried vegetables. Grilled squids also form a very tasty recipe. For this, you have to cut the squid into 5 to 7.5 cm pieces that have to be scoured on both sides with a sharp knife. You have to put on the skewers 1 inch above hot coals and cook the squids for 2 minutes.
Squid Fishing Hot Spots
Top Fishing Spots
- Corner Inlet, Port Welshpool
- Port Phillip Bay, Werribee
- Port Phillip Bay, Point Cook
- Port Phillip Bay, Rye – Portsea
- Port Phillip Heads (offshore)
- Port Phillip Bay, Mordialloc – Chelsea (boat)
- Leonards – Portarlington (pt. Richards)
- Port Phillip Bay, St. Leonards – Portarlington
- Port Phillip Bay, Black Rock – Beaumaris
- Port Phillip Bay, Brighton – Sandringham (Brighton)
- Westernport Bay, Hastings – Stony Point (boat)
- Corio Bay, Geelong (Cunningham Pier)
- Altona / Williamstown
- San Remo
- Woolamai (offshore)
- Kilcunda (offshore)
- Mt Martha
- Phillip Island, South West Coast (grossard point)
- Westernport Bay, Hastings – Stony Point
- Waratah Bay
- Tasman Sea (offshore-Cape Conran)
- Barwon Heads/Ocean Grove
- Offshore, Central Bass Strait (Barwon Heads)
- Offshore, East Bass Strait (Woolami)
- Offshore, East Bass Strait
- Port Fairy (offshore)
- Wilsons Promontory (offshore)
- Broken Bay (Pittwater)
- Batemans Bay
- Royal National Park, South Sydney
- Lake Macquarie, Swansea
- Sydney Harbour/Port Jackson (North Harbour)
- Hawkesbury River System
- Sydney Harbour/Port Jackson (Clifton Gardens)
- Wallaroo (jetty)
- Port Victoria (Port Giles)
- Victor Harbour
- Rapid Bay jetty
- Second Valley Jetty
- Wirrina Cove
- Bluff jetty
- Bruny Island (HOT)
- Fracinet peninsula
- Hobart (Port Arthur)