Squid are one of those species that few people realise can be targeted effectively in the UK, and that few realise are stone cold predators. When squid or cuttlefish come into an area, the fish leave. It’s like a seal or dolphin has arrived.
Squid are one of the most underrated creatures in the sea. Would a rubbery, jet propelled soft-bodied creature like this ever smash into a bass lure or chew up one of your baits? Heck yes, they will do that and much much more.
Squid are so violent and aggressive than when they arrive at a fishing mark, it’s likely everything else will stop feeding and hide.
Small pollack and pouting hug the kelp even closer. Wrasse disappear into hidden crevices. The bass vanish because a more serious predator has arrived. They have stratospheric IQ’s compared to fish, eight legs and travel in large ‘squad’s’. Squid move around in large squads and come inshore in the winter months to hunt and breed. The ice cold water in winter doesn’t bother these brutes one bit.
When they spot a small pollack or pouting, they shoot out two long tentacles, which are the longest two in their arsenal, and quickly grab the fish and pull it in to their eight arms which form an almost inescapable rubbery suction grip around the fish. In the centre of the squid between the legs and tentacles, is a beak-like mouth which looks and feels exactly like that of a parrot. Squid feeds by biting lots of small chunks out of their prey once they’ve grabbed them. Poor little pollack start their day as happy fish cruising the kelp and end up looking like catfood stuffed inside a white condom. These mouths can cut through the cork on the handle of a fishing rod (I’ve seen it) and a bigger one could do much worse…
The suction power of one tentacle is such that even a few of the suckers on the end of one limb can support the whole body weight of a squid out of the water. It can dangle from your finger with one leg, essentially, which means that you can’t easily get them off you even if you want to. In the water you would have no chance of escaping a giant squid if it wanted you, probably not even a smaller squid.
They move incredibly quickly, using rapid jet propulsion, contracting the muscles inside the tube of their body to force the water out in a whoosh that drives them forwards.
The ‘squads’ squid move in hunt collaboratively, relying heavily of their excellent vision. This is one of the signs that these cephalopods are more intelligent than fish species (although cuttlefish can hunt collaboratively with fish, too). There’s no wonder all the fish leave when a squad of squid show up… They’ve got way to much brain, beak and tentacles for anyone’s liking.
Squid Fishing Season
Squid move inshore in the winter months but make appearances all year. When they are caught by accident it’s usually because they’ve become tangled up in mackerel feathers. One single hook is unlikely to land one of these cephalopods, because standard hooks don’t grip them well enough.
Squid are best targeted by boat or from harbour walls at night time. It’s a great help if the area is lit up, as squid are attracted to the light and the huge squads of squid are often visible from the harbour wall, so you can cast right onto them. Cuttlefish like rough ground and will come well into the shallows to feed. They hover over kelp beds eerily, like UFO’s and strike lightning fast.
Catching Squid with Jigs from Shore & Boat
Squid are best targeted with squid jigs at night with the use of bright lights to draw them in. With the right lures, they are quite easy to catch when they’re there, so catching them is primarily a location and timing challenge. You need to figure out where to go and when to go. Look out for areas lit with artificial lighting that shines into the water. You will see the squid move through these well lit areas like a shoal of ghosts on a winters night. Another strategy is simply to always have a few squid jigs with you, just in case they show up. If you hook a squid and loose it on regular lures, you can whack out your squid jig on whatever rod you have with you and be in for a great chance at catching one.
Squid jigs do not have hooks, since squid easily slip hooks and are usually hooked by the tentacles. Their mouths are small, hard and not the first thing that makes contact with your lure. Instead, squid jigs have metal needle like projections which are capable of gripping the squid. Like many predatory species, squid will often hit lure on the drop (OTD), favouring the sight of lures that appear to be naturally falling. This is why jigging is the most effective method for them.
How to catch squid with squid jigs
- Find a harbour or pier near you with artificial lighting at night time and make a visit in the dead of a winters night.
Squid come inshore to feed on shrimp around harbour walls at night time in winter, and are attracted to lighting, perhaps because they rely heavily on vision for hunting.
- Use whatever rod and reel you have, a bass rod or light spinning outfit is best.
You need to use a rod that can cast squid jigs effectively, preferably without added weight. Your rod should cast under 2oz.
- Tie a squid jig to the end of your line.
Squid jigs have a squirt of spikes which are designed to grip the flesh of a squid and are the only effective lures for squid fishing.
- Cast out and let your lure sink. Use a sink and draw retrieve to maximise the amount of time your squid jig spends falling down the water column.
Squid hit lures OTD: on the drop as they fall down the water column. It’s like a reflect reaction, they see something falling, they act more impulsively to hit it.
- Wear old clothes because you’re about to get covered in ink.
A landing net is very helpful for squid fishing and will increase the number you land successfully.