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Kayak Fishing For Squid

by CJ Siebler

Every so often San Diego anglers get an opportunity for a hot bite caused by the market squid migration.  These bites can be absolutely phenomenal for yellowtail and white sea bass among numerous other species.  If you have the knowledge and can fish a live squid correctly you will be successful when these bites occur.

Most often the market Squid will move in while the water is cold and the fish are deep.  While yoyo jigs and other methods can produce fish, nothing can beat a live squid that is presented correctly.  But how do you find and catch these squid for bait?

While searching for a place to start catching squid, watch your meter for diffused clouds of bait.  Depending on the amount of moonlight, the squid will usually be toward the bottom.   Squid are most often caught at night with the aide of high powered lights to illuminate the water’s surface.  This light will often draw the squid and they can then be either jigged or crowded/scooped up.  While nighttime is usually the best for making squid, when conditions are right they can be caught during the day as well.

Once you have located your school of squid it is now time to catch them.  If you plan on using them live, be sure to have your bait tank filled before starting.  When out of the water squid can perish quite quickly.  In a pinch a Sabiki rig can be used to catch squid, however a quality squid-jig such as the ones produced by Izorline or Candy Catchers are recommended.  This will make getting squirts off of your line without damaging them much easier.    Simply drop your jig to the bottom then start cranking at a moderate to fast pace.  Squid will grab the jigs and get caught.  They will stay on as long as you do not stop reeling.  Any rod that you would normally catch mackerel and other bait with will be fine to catch squirts.

Now that you have your live squid it is time to decide how to fish them.  Squirts can be fished many different ways, each with its own time and place.  The most common way to fish live squid locally is on the bottom.  A Dropper Loop rig works best for doing this.  This rig will keep your bait slightly above the bottom and is less likely to tangle while being dropped down.

When fishing squrts on the Dropper Loop you will want to use quality gear as fish caught on live squid tend to run on the large side.  A good 30-60lb line such as Izorline’s First String or XXX Copolymer will do the job well.  These lines have worked incredibly well for me in the past and are my lines of choice.  Next you will need a strong and sharp Live Bait hook.  Your favorite brand hook in a 4/0-7/0 size will get the job done.  For weight you will want a torpedo that is heavy enough to keep your bait on the bottom in whatever depth you are fishing.  6-10 oz should get you there in most situations.

When rigging your dropper loop for fishing squid you will want to use a high strength loop knot such as the Rose Knot or Butterfly Loop.  Very often the fish caught during a good squid bite are on the large side.  Using a high-strength knot will insure that the fish does not break off easily.  When you tie your rig make your loop 6-12” long with your sinker lead anywhere from 18-40”.  Just about any knot will do for attaching your weight.  A simple San Diego Jam is very common.  Another option is to tie on a snap-swivel or simply a loop knot so that you can easily switch out the size of your weight as conditions change.  When securing the hook, do not simply loop it on, this is a very common mistake that can cost you fish.  Instead you will want to tie your hook onto the end of the loop using a Palomar knot.

Now that you have made your squid and have a proper rig you must hook these baits in a manner that will present them correctly while keeping them alive.  The most common and best way to hook live squid is simply to take your hook and pierce the tip on the mantel, much like nose hooking a mackerel or sardine.  Hooking the baits this way will ensure that there is little twist while dropping the bait to the bottom and will also keep your squid lively.

The dropper looped squid is usually fished on the bottom with the reel out of gear and clicker engaged.  When a fish takes your bait let it run for a count of 5-10 seconds before putting the reel in gear.  Allow all slack to come out of the line and gently set the hook.  Usually fish will suck the squid down rather quickly and aggressively.  Meaning that you do not need to let the fish run with your bait as long as you would with a mackerel.

With the information you have now acquired, hopefully you too will be successful next time that there is a hot bite on the squid.  These techniques and rigs have been very productive for me on both the kayak and sport-fishers and I hope that you will find this helpfull.