How to Catch Squid

A superb evening to be out there and fishing off the rocks.
A superb evening to be out there and fishing off the rocks.

It was that time of the month yesterday; low tide in the evening, I was keen for a kai of fish and conditions were kind of good on my side of the Island. Since there was a 2 m swell on the east coast and the north westerly was still blowing hard, the decision was made to fish in Tryphena. Unfortunately, the shop was out of berley, so I grabbed a bag of pilchards and a bag of squid instead.

After an enjoyable 30 min. walk on a rocky beach, I cast half a pilchard into the deep and started cubing bait for ground baiting. The tide was still on its way out and while I was waiting for the kahawai or other bait fish to show up, I noticed a few strange takes.

Something had a go at the bait very close to the surface, pulled steadily but weakly on the bait, however, there was simply no hookup after striking. Something similar might have occurred to you. Come to think of it, I had experienced this before. It can be quite frustrating to feel a taker (a fish) continuously but never get that strike.

I’ve caught a few crayfish on hook and line, but they will certainly not take a bait close to the surface. So what else could it be?

Yes, or as we say in New Zealand ‘yeees’, it must be a squid. Not a usual catch, but delicious to eat, superb dead and live bait. I contemplated about running to my pack and getting the squid jig out, but had just one more go with the two-hooked rig I was using.

Boom, another take and this time I got even the hookup. A nice squid on the end of the line, it was well hooked so I lifted it out of the water by the leader and put it into the bucket.

This is a squid jig. Unfortunately, I didn't land any more squids, neither on the hook and line, nor using this.
This is a squid jig. Unfortunately, I didn’t land any more squid, neither on the hook and line, nor using this.

So yeah, dinner was sorted. I cast the squid jig out for 15 minutes, even put a piece of bait on it, but didn’t get another squid. Another way to catch squid is to use those treble hooks! I continued to ground bait and it did the trick, attracting a hand full of small kahawai and the odd bigger one. My bait rod was set-up and right next to me, so it was certainly not difficult to arrest those kahawai.

Wow, things were going really well. I had the squid, two better-sized kahawai and two very small ones. What next? I cut off a head, cast it out using the ‘big’ rod and put the rod into the rod holder. No takers for 30 minutes, the bait was actually untouched. I exchanged it with another fresh kahawai head.

Another 30 minutes and still nothing. The only snapper I was catching was with the bait rod and they were all throwbacks. At 1930 I started packing in. Those kahawai heads would have resulted in a decent snapper had I waited for the change of light. But it was Sunday, I had plenty to eat and decided to head home and prepare my kai.

I’ll catch that big snapper some other time…

My dinner.
My dinner.


I certainly enjoyed the squid and will hopefully catch heaps more, now that I know what this mysterious fish is that likes to pull weakly on bait.


2 thoughts on “How to Catch Squid”

  1. Yep they sure are delicious. Calm weather and low tide towards dusk have always been favorite times to catch them for us too. They are one reason I have a small landing net taped to the butt end of my gaff. My experience of landing them is this:

    You fell the strange slow and even pull and realise it is a squid. It is best to bring them in nice and slowly as they are usually not hooked and often pull the bait off and disappear. If they do let go either leave the bait still and let them return or if they they move away gently flick it towards them. They are not the smartest creatures and return time and again to a bait. Once within netting range I normally take the line by hand a draw them in very gently, holding them in the current, at the same time getting ready to net them smoothly and swiftly from behind. Always come from behind with the net, as this is the only way they can swim and they are not usually looking this way either. Once netted lift quickly from the water but keep the net outstretched away from you as they will spit ink in rage at anything that comes near them. Best to place in a rock pool or bucket and let them ink this up too then change the water again. They will normally be dead by the time you pack up. The head, should you not wish to eat it, will be monstered by a snapper.

    Lovely, lovely things. Sadly I seem to see less and less of them each year. Paul xxxxx

    1. Hey Paul, thanks for yet another great, informative comment. Every now and then I wake up in the middle of the night/morning and go outside to have a piss. Lately, I’ve seen a vessel with heaps of light right in the outskirts of the Tryphena Harbour. I wonder if they are after squid. That is another thing they apparently love, lots of white light when it is dark. That’s at least how they catch them commercially in Thailand.

      So yeah, one of these days, I’ll have a waterproof LED light on a pole and try my luck catching squid at night from a wharf…
      Cheers, B

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