Squid are an excellent bait for fish like Jewfish ,Kingfish & Snapper. They are also great eating when fresh. Used live or freshly caught they are excellent bait & I would rate them as number 1 for catching big jewfish. Pittwater & the surrounding areas are pretty productive for catching squid so are some areas in Cowan Creek as well. A few hours spent catching squid will be time well spent if you are after that first big jewfish. On this page I will point out a few spots I have had success with & some of my methods. Squid can be very difficult to find at times but are worth the effort. I reckon the key to being a good Jew fisherman & regularly taking large fish is becoming a good squid fisherman first.
Squid normally like to hunt around weed & kelp as it provides a bit of cover for them to use when they are hunting & to protect them from predators also. You will find squid in most areas that have a weedy bottom. Some of my favorite places in Pittwater are the flats behind Palm Beach along the western shore between Coasters Retreat & Longnose Point in close to the rocks. Around the western side of Barrenjoey from Pittwater round to the bombora. Areas to look at in Cowan Creek are in Cowan Bay itself & across in Jerusalem Bay on the western side of the bay, Yeoman's Bay , Waratah Bay & Stingray Bay. All these areas produce squid for me at different times & should provide a good starting point. Squid will turn up just about anywhere at times so working a squid jig while you are fishing for other species is always worth the effort. At night most wharves that have lights shining on the water are excellent squid areas as the light attracts small fish which the squid hunt.
The tackle you need for squid is simple. I prefer a soft tipped threadline outfit of 2 meters in length filled with 4 kilo line. The threadline outfit casts the jigs well & I find a soft action rod tends to tear the spikes out of less squid than one with a stiff tip. There are many brands of jig on the market today with Yo Zuris probably about the best. They come in many colours & sizes but in this area I have had most success with the smaller models & pink seems to out fish most other colours consistently. Just a point though is do not be scared to try other colours if pink is not working some days they want green & other days blue if you are not getting squid change colours & size. I also apply scent to my jigs & use Halco Catch scent I find particularly when the squid are touchy a bit of odor on the jig works well. I often fish squid at night & take a few medium size light sticks as I find a light in front of the jig attracts squid also. I also take one of the old type squid spikes to use with a whole fish such as a pilchard or yellowtail. I will post some pictures of squid jigs below
Squid can be taken just about any time of the day if conditions are suitable but I prefer late afternoon & night. One big point with Squid is they seem to be put completely off the bite by wind. They do not like any chop on the water at all. Early mornings can produce well particularly in the spots I mentioned in Cowan Creek. I prefer a rising tide when hunting squid they seem to strike better
Jigs are simple to use for squid & I prefer to fish mine fairly deep down as close to the weed beds as possible. I find the best way to get the depth is simply drop a jig over the side & do a count until it hits the bottom. Deduct a couple seconds & you have a starting point this method will make sure you are down close. I put a smear of scent on my jig then cast & let my jig drop close to the weed & retrieve it slowly giving it a couple soft flicks of the rod tip to provide a bit of action. Cover as much water as possible around the boat & work it systematically. If you do not get strikes down deep reduce the amount of time you let the jig sink for. the more water you cover the more squid you will catch. The strike often just feels like you have caught on some weed then you will feel the squid pulling away in little short bursts. I just wind slowly & try to keep as even a pressure as I can on the line. Any slack & the jig spikes being barb less will drop out. I use a net to land my squid & be warned sooner or later a squid will score a direct hit on you with ink its an occupational hazard. It is important to keep an eye on your jig for squid following it without striking. If this happens try adding a bit more scent to the jig. If that fails a change to a different colour or smaller jig will often score a hit. When I am squid fishing at night I put a light stick on my line about 6 to 8 cm in front of the jig as well. I find it works well. In my boat I have an overhead fluorescent light light which often attracts squid around the boat. There are floating lamps available to do the same & they seem to work very well. Catching squid is not rocket science but it can be frustrating at times as some days they just will not co operate at all. Other little tricks I use when the squid are playing hard to get is to suspend a small live bait down deep & when a squid grabs it he is drawn close to the boat & netted quickly. If they are a bit spooky & let go of the bait I toss a jig to them & normally they will strike it. Using a whole yellowtail or pilchard on a spike works also if they are suspended just above the weed & a sharp strike will impale the squid when he grabs the bait. I put my bait on with the head nearest the spikes but some prefer the other way around. The main thing I find with squid is try different depths & vary the retrieve speed until you score.
Another method I have been experimenting with a bit offshore & have had some success with is drifting over some of the offshore reefs like Bolton's & Reggie's with jigs down. I use a heavy hand line with a snapper lead at the bottom & approximately 1.5 meters above this I rig a 3 way swivel & on a trace of about 1 meter I attach a large model Yo Zuri jig. I simply drift around the reefs with this down & have caught some rather large squid at times. In 2000 I nailed an arrow squid of 1 kilo. He ate very well indeed.
When you have caught your squid if you have decided to use them live they are best used immediately or kept in a recirculation live bait tank, they don't last long in a bucket with an aerator. They make great fresh baits either cut or whole. If you intend to freeze them for bait at a later date it is important to chill them down quickly & freeze as soon as possible. If you do not freeze them quickly when you thaw them out they go a pinkish colour & experience has shown once squid get this pink tinge to them they are all but useless as bait.
I enjoy fishing for squid it can be a real challenge at times but well worth the effort to learn. Whether you feed them to yourself or feed them to a big Jewfish or Kingfish you will be happy with the results