Despite having been very active on the water this eging season, we still feel like we have all the gear, but no idea on days when they decide to play hide-and-seek… So, where are they?
Areas with lots of artificial light, such as jetties, wharves and breakwaters along coastal roads, are very common spots for squid fishing. Baitfish tend to congregate in these areas, which in turn attract the ever-hungry squid.
Certain parts of the country appear to hold more squid at certain times of the year. This could be attributed to factors such as the availability of food, water temperature, the activities of predators, etc. There are growing squid fishing communities on social media and many online forums, which help the keen egi angler stay in touch with the latest updates on where and when the squid are active. With enough anglers out there, we’re bound to win a game of hide-and-seek one in a while.
In Auckland in particular, there are a number of very accessible land-based spots which often hold good numbers of squid. As with any accesible fishing spot, these coastal possies face constant pressure from anglers, and as a result, may not always produce – not to mention that it can become very crowded at times.
However, don’t forget that squid are not only limited to these easily accessible areas. Armed with a bit of extra knowledge, there is plenty of untouched coastline that has the potential to be a squid goldmine. With a bit of knowledge, the less pressured areas of coastline offer the potential to scout out your own “Spot X”.
Below we explain how we prospect for new spots.
The first thing we do when looking for new grounds is to first research online using Google Maps in satellite view. This is perhaps one of the best tools out there for scoping potential squid fishing areas.
The main things we look for are weed lines in rocky and sandy areas, particularly in bays, as these are generally areas with calmer water, which is what squid like.
Next comes the process of physically exploring the area. It’s best to get out on a sunny day after a few days of westerly wind as this helps to clear the water. We prefer working the area around two hours on either side of low tide, to better examine any exposed structure.
When prospecting, travelling light is key so you can cover as much area as possible. For that reason, we use a small hip-pack called an ‘egi rack’ that holds all of our essential gear, such as jigs in an assortment of colours and sizes, clips, squid iki-spike, leader and scissors.
It’s also handy to have a few plastic bags on hand, in case you catch some squid. Polarised sunglasses are very helpful as they reduce glare from the water, allowing you to see underwater structure better.
Don’t forget some snacks and water.
The goal is to familiarise yourself with the area, looking for drop-offs, weedy patches, rocky structure, or a combination of them all. Once you’ve identified these key areas, look for clear water around and above these structures. Depending on the height of the weeds, as little as one metre of water could hold squid.
Also, note any areas with exposed weeds and rocks that will be submerged with the incoming tide, as these could become productive at night when the squid are on the move.
The next stage involves casting jigs into these areas. Look for calmer patches of water, out from the main current line. During the day, squid generally congregate at the base of the water column, so it is imperative that your jig reaches the bottom. Then, slowly work the jig back towards you. Sometimes just casting and reeling the jig in slowly over the weed bed can entice squid to come out of their hiding spots.
Generally, we cast to three different points. If there are no hits, change to another colour and size, rinse and repeat. Do this a few times before shifting to the next platform. It’s very important to work each area thoroughly by using a variety of jigs before concluding that there are no squid.
As you are casting into an unfamiliar area, it is sensible to use ‘suicide jigs’– cheap jigs you don’t mind losing. These are great in the sense that you can comb the area thoroughly by letting the jig sink to the bottom without fear of snagging.
The depth and structure of the area can be determined by counting how long it takes before you feel your jig hit the bottom or snag. Mentally note where the main snagging points are and avoid letting the jigs sit at the bottom at these locations, especially more expensive jigs!
Squid tend to shelter during the day, and actively hunt at night, so when the sun is out they’ll be found taking refuge in the weed beds where they blend in. If you come across squid when prospecting during the day, chances are it’s a regularly active spot. If you do happen upon a squid while prospecting, be sure to send another jig out to the same place, as it could be a spot where multiple squid are taking refuge.
If the jig comes up empty, the squid activity in this particular area could be more influenced by the tide and is perhaps better on the incoming or the outgoing. Another possible explanation could be that it is a not necessarily a squid holding spot, but instead it is a night time spot when they are more active. In general, the outgoing tides and night time tend to be more productive.
Areas can appear substantially different at night, so we recommend marking the location on a map if you plan to revisit it. Some spots will perform better in different conditions, so if it looks squiddy, it probably is! You just need to find out when it’s the most productive.
When you’re out at night, a high-quality headlight is a must – the brighter, the better.
More often than not, if you have a good gut feeling about a spot, then it’s worth giving it another go. There are so many productive locations, often right under our noses, that are overlooked because they simply weren’t fished under the right conditions.
Don’t be afraid to try something the out of ordinary. If an area is supposedly a high tide spot, try it at low tide and vice versa. You might be surprised at the results.
Similar principles apply for boating applications, except you will be casting inshore towards the weed lines, rather than casting out from the shore. When boating, you also have the option drifting the jig over weed beds and the added advantage of targeting deeper water where squid are more likely to lie during the day.
At the end of the day, finding your Spot X is 90% perseverance and 10% luck. The blood, sweat and tears will eventually net you a reliable spot that produces consistently for many squids to come.
The next issue will explore different techniques for maximising fishing in different areas types and conditions.
This article is reproduced with permission of