Coming off my steelhead catch I was curious about our local Puget Sound squid. We thoroughly enjoyed some fresh caught squid that was amazing tender and sweet. The best stuff I’ve had that can’t compare to the tough and featureless variety that is sold through the stores and restaurants. Since I have a Honda 2000i portable generator I thought it would be good to try it out and give it a more serious go. A couple friends, Ching W. and Tom E. would join me coming off their epic squid outing when they picked up 60-70 squid each one December evening. The squid are most active two hours before the incoming high or the outgoing low. How much we can learn from the tides which holds true for not only salmon but for all things that live and breath in the ocean. An avid squidder Mr. Russell Park who goes to church with my parents also provided me with with some excellent information. I post this primarily as a journal for reference so I know what worked and what doesn’t work.
It ends by the end of Sept. The first 3 weeks of Sept is the best time, mostly small / med size.
Oct, extremely slow or no squid around.
During the last week of Oct or 1st week of Nov (bigger size) squid starts showing up. The 2nd half of Nov and 1st half is the Dec is better time for the Winter run. The Winter run usually lasts until the end of January. For some years they run through Feb.
2009: The squid run was completely dead.
2010: Only small ones returned.
2011: Mix of small and medium showed up (not many)
2012: Great Sept (med and some large). Good Nov / Dec (mix of med and large)
A good school showed up sometimes but unpredictable. We had to stay all night or fish every evening to hit a big school.
For the Winter run, squid stays close to the bottom. First hit the bottom and reel in three turns. Jig at the same depth.
We tend to lose jigs by doing it. To avoid losing jigs, after hit the bottom reel in three turns and fix the line on a hook located at the side of spool (reel). Then, after every cast reel once or twice to protect the line where it is hooked to the reel. Otherwise, the line can be damaged around the hook due to excessive pressure.”
My main error was in jigging too high il in the water column and not using the right jigs. Once I figured out the magic depth I started catching squid. This along with good light makes a big difference. I purchased a cheap Harbor Freight twin 250 watt halogen work light but you get what you pay for with a burnt out bulb within 30 minutes of being in the water. At least the other bulb worked well the night but after seeing and talking to the experts I will likely be upgrading my lighting to a metal halide system.
We met an avid squidder, a Korean hyung (older brother) by the name of “K” he makes his own jigs and claims he just started this year squidding. In chatting with him found out that he is an big time blue water angler with lot of time spent chasing yellowfin tuna and big game from San Diego down to Cabo. He likes to use two different size jigs. The heavier is 3/4 oz. pink over white with small green band, used as a searching pattern when the action isn’t hot. The second is a 1/2 oz. pattern of similar coloration that is used when the squid are ‘in’ and you require less drop on the jig. K says that the key to good fishing is to sense the take which happens in the drop of the jig not the upward motion. He say the squid are afraid of the upward motion and are attracted to the fall. Makes sense as I hear from Tom that their life span is only a few months. Their either mating or feeding so the action turns them on enough only to feel the sting of the hooks as they’re raised to the surface.
K uses a 10’6″ Loomis GL2 bait aster with small spinning reel and 6 lb braid. I teats the action of the rod and found that I too prefer fast stiffer action not only for fly fishing but relates to better feel and touch when it comes to squid jigging. I just grabbed my center pin rod and reel since my spinning reel foot wouldn’t fit into the 5 wt Redington CT rod which I was planning on using.
The pin rod was too limber and tip was much too soft to sense the ‘take’. K was able to show us how to cast, watch the line drop and see the take before the line tightens up. Something that was very tough with my set up. When I asked him about the lighting he uses he explained to me the a science of using Metal Halide lamps which require a ballast and high pressure specialty bulbs which attract molecules that bind to the gas vapors and thus reflect light on an intense UV spectrum. This technology is similar to those used on HID car headlamps, which I am aware of having retrofitted my truck with HID and loving the brightness and intensity of the lighting. I guess if you want to take squidding seriously you have to be dedicated to the gear as well. K says that halogens cast a bright on the surface light but the Metal Halide cuts through the water and penetrates deeper as to reflect the glow materials of the jig thus having the ability to catch more squid.
I am still looking for a decent priced yet quality lighting fixture with ballast that will simulate K’s 175 watt lighting. He said he paid $300 for his lamp and the bulbs cost $30 each. Upon my search found that Metal Halide is used primarily for indoor grow ops for marijuana and also in commercial operations: sports fields, car lots, anywhere where an intense light with low amp and wattage draw is required. Makes sense to use a lower draw yet have a high lumen output and whiter/bluer true to sunlight.
Until I find a decent light I’ll have to find a 250 watt T3 bulb for the halogen work lights. I’m curious to try it again with my GLX 8 wt fly rod and Shimano spinning reel that I loaded up with new Spectra 10 lb braid. All the new gear along with a few heavier jigs from Outdoor Emporium should hopefully help as long as the squid are still running.