I hope everyone’s Independence Day weekend was a good one and our great outdoors played a part in your festivities.
We had a lot of clammers and crabbers in Charleston for the weekend and while the crabbing slowed down, due in part to the extreme negative tides, that only meant a lot more clamming opportunities for everyone. Bottom fishing remains stellar overall in the ocean with the occasional off day; some are chalking this up to barometric pressure changes.
We had a hot crab “bite” off of Whiskey Run this week and I’m almost tired of eating crab it was so hot. Please note I said “almost." It’ll take a lot more crab than I’ve ever caught to actually get tired of it! We’ve also had reports lately of some surf perch getting caught again, not in great numbers but there’s some out there to be had.
Tuna and salmon reports don’t fare quite as well. The tuna water has moved out some and several people have ventured out with most coming back with only a sunburn to show for their efforts. Salmon fishing isn’t much better with the odd customer reporting a keeper Coho or Chinook but not much more than that. I’ve heard of a bite up by Winchester Bay that may be worth checking into. Call the folks at Salmon Harbor Tackle for more info on that; they’re good people and should be able to point you in the right direction.
Today’s topic is one of our nastiest yet tastiest sea creatures, the squid.
The species most encountered off of our shores is the Loligo opalescens or the “California market squid.” California market squid are members of the mollusk family known as cephalopods, which means foot-on-head. Neither of these names really sounds much fun, so I’m going to refer to them simply as “squid.”
Most of the time when sport fishermen encounter squid off of our coast it's out in warmer tuna water and often at night. But there are exceptions to this. Last year there was such a mass of squid about 25 miles out that a group of tuna fishermen quit fishing tuna and ran back to our shop to buy every dip and cast net they could get their hands on. The bounty they returned with was amazing: Coolers, totes, fish-holds, nooks and crannies were all jammed full of shiny white squid about 6 inches in length. Many of these were cored out and stuffed with cream cheese and peppers but most of them ended up frozen for bait.
If you’re out on the ocean and you encounter these jet-propelled critters, the most fun way of catching them is with a squid jig (sounds like an Irish folk dance, as in, “Jimmy is really good at the squid jig”), a barbless, needlepoint sharp series of upturned hooks that the squid latch onto and become impaled on as it is jigged up and down.
The squid we encounter at sea are usually the ones that have just finished spawning. They will congregate in large numbers above the areas in which they have spawned and will die shortly thereafter. Spawning takes place year-round when the squid reach 1 year old and each squid lays about 20 egg cases with each case containing about 200 eggs. The cases are semitransparent and gelatinous, resembling frog’s eggs for those of you who spent your childhood playing in ponds. This mass of eggs is solely dependent on water temperatures to determine how long it takes for them to hatch and can be from several days to several months.
Most of the squid we encounter are in the 6- to 8-inch range but occasionally can reach a maximum of 12 inches. They do all this in just a year by feeding on krill, crustaceans, small fish and other squid.
The squid propel themselves by taking in a huge amount of water and jetting it out through a funnel-like apparatus. When alarmed, the squid can propel up to 25 body lengths in only a second, which is roughly as fast as I can run through an all-you-can-eat buffet.
I hope when our warm tuna water returns that the squid are with it and you get a chance to catch a few. It's good fun, good eating and they also make great bait. I hope to see you out there.