Spit Bridge squid at night

The Spit Bridge in Middle Harbour is one of the most reliable squidding spots in Sydney. I don’t have any reluctance in talking about it in detail because it’s hardly a secret. In fact, on any summer weekend evening it can look like Pitt Street with the number boats there.

It does however warrant its own article because the method to catch squid there is quite specific.

Tides race through the narrow opening at the Spit making shore based fishing for squid pretty tough, so I’ll concentrate on the technique I use from my boat.

Clean water is still an important factor in success at the Spit, although it seems the arrow squid that predominate here are much more tolerant of a bit of turbidity than the Southern Calamari squid I chase further out in the Harbour.

To begin with, you really need to fish the Spit at night. The bridge is brightly lit throwing a lot of light onto the water below and creating a deep shadow directly underneath the roadway. The light attracts large numbers of baitfish that in turn attract predators, including plenty of squid.

As cars and trucks roar by only metres above your head (sometimes I think ear plugs would be useful), it’s not unusual to have yakkas and little chopper tailor busting up all around you.

The most productive area is usually where the bridge shadow meets the light but anywhere within 20m either side of the bridge is a hot spot. As with all squid, they’re pretty mobile and will be found in different areas on different nights or different stages of the tide.

That leads to an important suggestion. Rather than anchoring (I believe it’s actually forbidden anyway) or tying off to the bridge (which is also forbidden), I’d recommend staying mobile so you can find the concentrations of squid.

Fishing from a stationery boat means waiting for squid to come to you, which can limit your chances if they’re hanging around on the other side of the bridge.

When I get to the bridge the first thing I do is see which way the tide is running, then I’ll methodically do drifts through each gap between the pylons. I’ll start about 5-10m up current of the bridge then drift right through until I’m 10-20m past the bridge. Then move to the next gap and keep moving until I locate squid.

I usually find the squid will tend to be concentrated in one or two areas on any given night. Sometimes they might be in the dark under the roadway; sometimes hanging away from the bridge; often as mentioned previously, on either side of the edge where light and the shadow of the bridge meet.
Likewise, sometimes they seem to prefer certain bridge gaps. The most consistently productive for me are the gaps immediately either side of the main channel but again they could be anywhere on any given night.

Finally, I also find that on some nights the squid seem more plentiful close to the pylons, in the pressure wave in front of the pylons, or in the eddies behind them; while on other night they hang in the middle of the channels.

I’m certain that it’s the movement of baitfish that governs where the squid are most plentiful. Remember that conditions under the Spit Bridge are constantly changing as the tidal movement changes so keep mobile.

When you find a pattern that works on a particular night, stick with it for only as long as it keeps working, then as conditions change start moving around again until you find the squid once more.

The tackle you need for squidding the spit is either a light spin rod loaded with 10-15lb line or a 15-20lb handline.

While the tackle is simple, the set up is a little different for night squidding at the Spit Bridge though…

Of course, first you need good quality jigs. Small jigs between size 1.8 and 2.5 seem to work best here but I’d recommend getting hold of jigs that glow.

I use Yamashita jigs in any of their glow colours. The whole body of these jigs glows after you shine bright light on them. I’ve found these jigs tend to out-fish others by about 2 to 1 at the Spit. Many other good quality brands also glow or have glow components though.

The glow definitely makes a difference and to that end you need another ingredient… chemical glow sticks.

Rigging up for squidding the Spit Bridge involves a paternoster rig with one or two jigs tied off droppers around 10-20 cm long. A small glow stick is attached to the rig above the top dropper. A sinker heavy enough to keep you in touch with the bottom as you drift completes the rig.

A couple of tips on rigging…

1. Make sure that the droppers are tied so that the jigs won’t reach each other, the sinker, glow stick or any other connection you may nave (like swivels at the top of the paternoster rig. If you forget this you’ll be dealing with a lot of tangles.

2. Attach your sinker with a length of line lighter than your main line so it will be the first thing to break. If you snag up, losing a sinker is much better than losing $40 worth of jigs if you break off the whole rig.

3. If you’re using a 2-dropper rig (not recommended until you’ve had a bit of practice with a single rig), I’d suggest using 2 different jigs in case the squid show a preference for a particular colour or size on a given night. I’ll usually start with a Yamashita pink glow in size 2.0 and a Yo-Zuri yakka colour in size 2.0.

If one colour is getting more hits, I’ll swap the second colour for one the same or perhaps the same colour in a larger of smaller size.

4. There are some glow sticks that come with a plastic clip that allows you to attach it to your line after it has been rigged. These are much more convenient than the type that requires you to thread bits of plastic tube onto your line.

To use this paternoster rig at the Spit Bridge, set up drifts as previously described. Drop the rig so that the sinker is bouncing on the bottom with the jigs suspended above it, and just drift along in the current imparting very little additional action to the jigs.

Every 15-20 seconds I’ll give the line a little jig or a slow lift before letting the rig settle again. Most squid seem to hit the jigs when they’re just trailing along in the current, although often it happens just after I’ve jigged the rod.

I think often, following squid may be prompted to attack by the sudden movement. It may just be that occasional movement helps draw their attention. I’ve definitely noticed though, that working the jigs too much or too vigorously will actually reduce the number of squid caught though so keep it sporadic and subtle.

Lastly, it pays to be persistent at the Spit Bridge. Sometimes you can fish for an hour without a touch only to then get half a dozen squid in as many drifts.  The changeable conditions caused by the tidal movement mean that success can change from one moment to the next.

Stick at it and move around until you find them. If the water quality is good, the squid always seem to be there somewhere.