- Sepioteuthis australis
- Nototodarus gouldi
A unique Squid, the Southern Calamari ranges from Queensland in the north, along the eastern seaboard down around Australia all the way to Western Australia. It is distinguishable from its relative, the Arrow Squid in that its flaps run the entire length of its body and the green around its eyes.
Below: A small Sydney squid photographed in its natural environment by Deano. Note the way the squid's colour blends in with the background to reduce its visibility to predators.
Your best bet is to go for a light spinning outfit. A 1500 - 2500 sized reel matched to a 2 - 4kg rod loaded with 4lb braid and a 6 - 10lb flurocarbon leader is about perfet for Squid fishing. Try to find a rod in the 6'6" - 7' catagory as it will make casting the smaller 2 - 2.5 sized Jigs alot easyer.
Whilst using lighter line will improve your catch rate, some people will choose to go to a 4 - 6kg mainline as if they have snaged there Jig they are able to straighten the barbs and get there squid Jig back.
Squid fishing is alot like Soft Plastic's fishing. You cast your Squid Jig out and let it sink to the bottom, once it is on the bottom lift it slowly off, only 1 metre or so, then wind in the slack and let it sink back down. When fishing over kelp or weed beds fish the Jig as mentioned above but keep the Jig half a foot above the weed so it doesn't get snagged and so the Squid have a much better chance of seeing it.
Southerly's guide to Squidding in Sydney Edit
Original discussion here: http://www.akff.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=20432&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a
I find it hard to squid and do anything else, in fact I often target squid only on a trip or if the fish are quiet swap to squid as the target. The two most common squid in Sydney are Arrows and Southern Calamari, there are others but 99% will be these. They are very different in habit and the approach needed to catch them. Cuttlefish are also common and can be considered a by catch of targeting southerns. Southerns can also be split into small <35cm and big >35cm as they are caught in different areas with different gear.
Small southerns and small cuttles: Starting with small southerns and small cuttlefish, finesse is the word here, if you get the chance to sight fish them under lights (which is an excellent way to learn how to catch them) you will notice how they often touch to the jig very lightly then drop it immediately, this is common behaviour so great concentration is needed to detect the subtle hits. I also fish the jig very very slowly, often dropping it to the bottom which is where most southerns hit the jig especially if they are shy. Obviously in very rock terrain this is not possible so I just hold it stationary or use slow even jigs of the rod, I do no sharp movements of the rod at all, ever! Small cuttlefish can be caught as for southerns with the addition that they are often found within 1 mtr of the shoreline so when targeting cuttles I will cast onto the rocks and hop the jig back into the water.
Small southerns are common along most of the Sydney shoreline east of the harbour and spit bridges, they will of course travel anywhere and I caught huge southerns at Gladeville and upstream of Roseville Bridge in a massive fresh with chocolate brown water and zero vis. But usually southerns like clean water, rising tide and no wind, these conditions if you can get them will be the best chance as the squid will come into the shallows to feed and thus be easier to find, in other conditions they will be deep. A typical southern spot is the island at Balmoral, there is hard reef and kelp that drops onto sand in 2-4mtrs of water with lots of bait. The southers will be somewhere between the dry rock and the sand edge. Southerns also congregate around marinas, and under lights at night where is is possible to sight fish them. Direct light is best but indirect light is ok, anywhere that bait congregates at night is a good start. They can also be caught in areas of strong current but still close to rocks and kelp.
I use small jigs, don’t skimp as the good jigs will out fish the rest when the going is tough. I use pink yo-zuri 1.8g as the go to for southerns. I am not sold on the use of scents, I use them but the results on southerns are mixed, it sometimes repulses them. Cuttles love scent.
Anywhere you catch a southern is worth going back to in the future as they tend to hold in very specific locations. They are often in 1s or 2s so I shift spots often, picking up one or two at each location. Sometimes they are in greater numbers. If I had to summarise small southerns it is: fish close to shore, slowly slowly and night, daybreak or dusk.
Big Southerns and Big Cuttlefish: I am far from an expert on these, I know other AKFFer target them. Big southerns and cuttles prefer open water and big wave washed headlands. The Monkey and inside Blue Fish at North Head and the bommie at South Head are typical areas. I have often caught them livebaiting off the rocks and also 8kms out to sea livebaiting for jew. The deep reefs are too spread out as far as I am concerned to realy target squid unless one comes up to the boat. So I focus on close to the rocks, while diving I have seen them often very close to big rock ledges close to shore. Bigger heavier jigs are the go with a more active jigging action. Avoiding the bottom has always been my biggest challenge. I still use my 6lb braid outfit. A squid skewer can be effective to pin a whole fish on if a big squid comes to be boat but wont switch to a jig.
Arrows: These are quite different to southerns and while they can be caught together, they are more commonly separate. Arrows like deep water 5-20mtrs+ with lots of current. Again the preference is for clean water. The Spit Bridge at night is one of the Harbour hot spots, there are others. Arrows will form large schools of thousands of squid. Many years ago the pro squid boats occasionally spent a night in MH jigging under their lights while they were re-supplying in Sydney.
Most boats at the spit drift through the pylons while jigging paternoster rigs, sometimes with 2 or more jigs on each line. I have also found this effective however I use lighter line 6lb and small rather than the heavy sinkers that are recommended in the videos. I also drift a unweighted jig on the surface, it is not as consistent as the jigs near the bottom but does get a few. Jigs are once again small yo-zuris etc. Because Arrows like current they hit hard and it is possible to leave the rod in the rod holder and wait for the hit.
One trick that the boats have not picked up on is that on first ight the Arrows move from the shallower water around the Spit Bridge to the deeper water on each side. Sitting in the deep water with jigs can get quite a few squid very quickly and is handy if you are too late for the night session. In windy conditions tie up to one of the moorings on the eastern side of the spit, it is just as effective. In this circumstance I put a small been sinker about 30cm ahead of my unweighted jig and cast it out, let it sink to the bottom then slowly jig it back to the yak, it is very effective. Also Arrows love the egimax scent. I commonly get one on the first drop after applying more egimax.
Squid can be handled fairly safely, they have a beak between the tentacles but are not aggressive and cannot 'get' you if you are holding them by the mantle. Cuttles on the other hand are aggressive and can turn on them selves so that they can grab your hand and bite even if you are holding them by the very tip of the cuttle. Their beak takes a very neat and deep chunk out of fingers etc so watch out, even the little ones are nasty. Octopus are even more unmanageable and I don't let them in the yak, especially in the dark as it is hard to identify them and the blue rings occy hang in the same areas as squid. Oh, and be prepared to get ink over everything, especially if you get a cuttle.
The next section contains details of land based trip for southerns and a trip to the spit for arrows that gives a detailed description of my approach. I am always trying new things so next trip may be different.
My trip last Sunday morning to Manly squidding is a good example of my approach to Southerns.
I arrived at 5am with a sunrise at 6.30 and a small high tide at 7.30am and no wind which makes sight fishing easier. I would have preferred a big high tide at 6am as the area I fish is quite shallow and needs the water coverage. I hopped out of the car and walked around to the first light over the water and scanned the pool of light carefully for fish and squid, it was a bit shallow, two big whiting and a toad were there but the yakkas found it too shallow and the squid follow the yakkas. I cast out into the black, let the jig sink for about 60 seconds then took up the slack and gently twitched the rod tip just enough to feel the jig to determine if it had hit the bottom or if a squid had hit, I then paused again before gently twitching it again, it takes about 4-5+ minutes to retrieve each cast. I watched the water intently looking for the jig to come into the light. As it did I paused and watched to see if any squid had followed it in. If none, I give a sharper jerk then watch again. I then twitched it in right to my feet, I then paused as it sat 30cm off rock face, this is often where squid just materialise onto the jig. No life so after a couple of casts I moved to the next light.
I did this 3 times then moved to a rock that juts out into the harbour, on my fist retrieve a small squid followed the jig in, I paused and watched, just as the jig disappeared out of sight it moved sideways and I set the hooks. In came squid number one. A few more casts for zip and it was time to move. This time between two wharves that form a 5mtr gap about 20 mtrs out, casting past this gap in the dark is always an interesting challenge and impossible in the wind as I can't see the line or jig during the cast. On the second retrieve I sped up to clear some rough stuff then paused in close, in came a squid and #2 came in.
A few more casts for zip showed they were in 1's today, so I moved to what is probably private property. A cast out to a warve was for nill, then a cast parallel to some pylons over the water produced a hit half way in, squid #3. I moved to another boat shed that often produces, however a small cod and a inquisitive leather jacket were the only action.
So I hopped in the car and popped over the hill to the gas works at Little Manly as it got light. Starting at the NE end of the wall I put a long cast out over the sand, paused about 2 min as this is deeper water and started the slow retrieve. As the jig came to the wall a squid followed up about 2 mtrs behind and 1 mtr deeper, it was very shy and would hit the jig then let go immediately, it did this about 5 times. I let the jig fall to the bottom and left it there. When the squid went for the next grab I struck and up came #4. A few more casts in the same spot for zip so I move 10mtrs south. Another long cast and squid #5 takes it on the drop and is hauled in with careful constant pressure and into the bucket. Another move, and another long cast and another squid #6 takes it on the first drop. Then the sun comes up, it is all over and I head home with out the other fishermen at Little Manly knowing I had caught anything at all. This is a pretty typical LB squid trip for Southerns.
And now for an Arrow trip at the Spit. In late May I launched at Clontaff chasing kings in Middle Harbour, first I had to catch the squid.
It was getting light, the southerns and cuttles had been un-cooperative, a single small cuttle sat alone in the live bait bucked. I up stumps and paddled towards the Spit Bridge where half a dozen boats were still squidding. I watched them carefully as I approached to see if anyone was pulling squid. A quick chat to the more friendly boats revealed that it had been a tough night with only a few Arrows in the tank and that they had slowed. The tide was going out, so I popped my paternoster with small bean sinker and green egimax sprayed yo-zuri to the bottom, then lifted it 50cm from the bottom and placed in the rod holder. I fixed a smaller bean sinker to my casting unweighted squid jig set up (pink yo-zuri) and cast it out and placed it in the rod holder. I grabbed the line of the first rod in the holder and gave a small half hearted jig by handline-ing the line every now and then and I watched those rod tips intently.
As I drifted away from the bridge and the bottom started to drop away from the 10mtrs under the spit into the 22mtr hole to the east. The boats drifting with me started their engines at the drop off and headed back under the bridge for another drift. I kept drifting and just let more line out on the paternoster a to keep it close to the bottom. As soon as I had reset it, the rod tip bent over as the first Arrow hit the jig, a short wind and Arrow #1 is in the boat. Enthused I start working the casting rod, I cast out long, let out slack line off the spool so the jig drops straight down to the bottom then slowly work the jig back along the bottom until it is vertical, as usual just as the jig is coming under the yak a solid hit and squid #2 comes up. As I am now drifting off Fisher Point I wind up, paddle back to the Bridge and do it all again. I caught nine squid in 20 minutes that morning, pity the kings were not as co-operative. I did give a few arrows away to friends staying out longer than me and they had success.