Squid Fishing UK |11 tips for jigging at midnight

If squid fishing is your new hobby you’re going to have to explain to the misses why you’ve come back covered in ink at 3am and look white as a ghost with cold, because these creatures demand you encounter them in the middle of the night in the cooler months, and getting sprayed is almost inevitable.

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squid fishing UK

Squid fishing is set to become much more popular, as the squid population rises in response to the overfishing of their natural predators. But the squid are ferocious predators themselves, hunting in ‘squads’, chasing baitfish and pulling them into their terrible beaks.

#11 Use a light weight modern lure rod

Targeting squid is best done with a light spinning rod or modern bass rod, or else with a lightweight boat rod if you’re fishing offshore. They fight hard. Don’t wear a white T-shirt unless you want a new ink-spray design as you try to lift this fish from the water.

#10 Not all squid jigs are equally effective

The squid come to harbours and feed on the small fish taking refuge right up against the walls. Squid jigs are designed to fall slowly because squid has a habit of striking falling lures that is even more significant than the same behaviour in bass. For this reason, jigging is the best method. It also conveniently covers the full range of the water column, which is good because squid feed throughout the water not at a set depth.

Simply cast out a squid jig, count to ten, then sharply lift up your rod or reel back in, before letting the jig sink back down again. Repeat this the whole way in. The best squid jigs apparently do out perform the cheaper ones. A guy told me he was once fishing in Egypt for calamari and he tried out two different squid jigs. He says they didn’t respond to the cheaper ones. I have caught squid on the cheaper ones and believe that the size of the jig is often more important. That said, it’s hard to lose squid jigs to snags so investing a bit more isn’t a bad shot.

High end squid jig, genuinely better
Low cost squid jig, can also work fine

squid fishing rod and reel
Just add a few squid jigs to your regular bass fishing set up. A rod rated to 30g is ideal.

#9 The best time to catch squid is night time

Fishing is best late at night. When the stars and moon are out this is the most peaceful time to be by the water. Best to go with a mate (why not send them this article to get the ball rolling?) as nobody will find you if you fall in at night.

#8 Find or bring a light source

You preferably want a decent head torch for standing on harbours on autumn and winter nights after dark. The later the better (1am great, but anytime from dusk onwards they could move in). Find areas with lights on the water. You will often see the squid lingering under these lights. They are ritualistic creatures and will pass through an area as part of a systematic hunt, so if you’re in a likely spot you just have to put the time in to wait for them to move through rather than moving spots to find them.

Commercial squid boats point lights into the water to draw these fish in. This part is important.

holding a squid in the night

#7 Squid jigging is very different from a straight retrieve

The two mistakes to watch out for are casting and reeling straight back in in a straight line. That’s not what squid are about. For some reason they love to hit falling lures. Squid jigs fall slowly, and squid can move very fast. They normally take the lure when your line is a little slack. This may be why the fancier squid jigs work better – they may glide and fall in a more natural way. The Japanese designers take these details seriously.

This makes more sense when you think of how a squid feeds. It spots a small pollack or pouting, shoots out two long tentacles, which are the longest two in their arsenal, and quickly grab the fish and pull it into their eight arms which form an almost inescapable rubbery suction grip around the fish. If you have a tight line and reel in when the squid only has a two-arm grip, you are unlikely to land the squid. If the lure was falling, the squid would have time to grab the lure with more legs and pull it in towards its mouth.

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…

#6 Bring a landing net or drop net

Another mistake would be to not use a landing net, as without one you will lose about 50% of squid due to poor hook holds when lifting them up the harbour wall. It’s frustrating seeing that last tentacle let go and watching the squid bolt away.

Drop net, also useful for general pier fishing

squid fishing at night in bending light

#5 Not catching fish? It could be a sign of squid

When the squid arrive in an area, you will stop catching fish. Small pollack and pouting hug the kelp even closer. Wrasse disappear into hidden crevices. The bass vanish because they know a more serious predator has arrived. Squid are far more intelligent than fish and often arrive in huge ‘squads’, which are pretty intimidating to other life forms that can’t outpace the lightning jet-propulsion of these creatures.

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 lose 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 jig
Squid jigs do not have hooks, since squid easily slip hooks and are usually hooked by the tentacles.

#4 Best squid jigs

Squid are best targeted with squid jigs with the use of bright lights to draw them in. Size is probably more important than colour, with smaller squid being easier to catch on smaller lures. The rate at which the lure sinks is also a factor, because in deeper water you will need squid jigs that can plumb the depths fast. Otherwise when you ‘jig’ your lure upwards, it will take too long to fall back down into the area of water you want to be 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.

#3 The UK squid fishing season runs from August to January

The best months for squid fishing in the UK are October and November, however you can catch them at the tail end of summer. The fish get bigger as you get deeper into winter. They come inshore in the winter months to hunt and breed.

a cuttlefish being held by a boy
Cuttlefish are also great fun and taste just as good as Squid!

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.

night fishing for squid

#2 One squid means many squid

The ‘squads’ squid move in hunt collaboratively, relying heavily on 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 too much brain, beak and tentacles for anyone’s liking.

a cuttlefish close up
If you target squid, you’ll catch cuttlefish too. Cuttlefish prefer rough ground.

#1 The best place to catch squid is a well lit harbour wall or boat

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

How to catch squid with squid jigs

  1. Find a harbour or pier near you with artificial lighting at night time and make a visit in the dead of a winter’s 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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