Jamie Crawford from Seamaster Port Lincoln, shares his tips on targeting southern calamari

I really enjoy targeting calamari through the shallow margins of our local bays. It’s an easy and rewarding style of fishing, and I still get excited when I see a dozen squid appear behind my squid jig. I know these sentiments are shared with many others, with southern calamari growing in popularity amongst recreational fisho’s in recent years. It’s an active form of fishing, and something which can be enjoyed by beginners and children, right through to keen anglers.

From salt and pepper squid to whole and strip baits for other species – almost everyone and everything loves to eat squid it would appear. But for the novice, the range of terminal tackle, lures and rods can appear daunting. Targeting squid doesn’t have to be overcomplicated, and that’s one of the appeals of targeting this species – the simplicity. All you need is a handful of squid jigs, a rod and reel (or even just a handline) and you can be in business.

Catching calamari from a jetty

Land based locations such as jetties, piers and rock ledges all offer a good starting platform to target calamari. Here in South Australia, we have plenty of jetties located within Gulf waters and inside our local bays – all of which offer a popular base to start hunting squid. From these land based platforms, casting and working a squid jig as close to the sea floor as possible is still the best method for putting some squid into your bucket, but suspending a squid jig or a teaser bait under a float still accounts for a few.

A couple of important tips for fishing land based locations is to target these areas around low light conditions (dawn and dusk) and to use small squid jigs. Most of these areas are shallow – ie under 2 metres – and without the movement of a boat the squid jig can gain depth relatively easily. For this reason we opt for size 2.2 and 2.5 for land based locations.

Boat based calamari fishing

From the boat it’s a different story, where we’ll fish larger jigs mainly around the 3.0 to 3.5 size, and we even use larger 4.0 jigs from the boat. It’s important to get the jig down deep to be worked as close to the weed as possible, and when the boat is drifting or if there’s a bit of tidal movement, this is where a larger jig can assist. And don’t be afraid of the physically larger size – squid are aggressive by nature.

When fishing from the boat we target water depths of between 2 to 5 metres, with sea grass meadows amongst broken bottom ideal for squid. We always fish on the drift, covering as much ground as possible until some squid are located. Squid are a schooling species, so where you catch one, you’ll often find others.

What tackle can you use?

Some of our favourite jigs include the FujiMaru Raptors, the Croatian DTD, Yo Zuri Aurie Q, Yamashita and the Shimano Sephia Egixile. A quality squid jig will have a sturdy tow point and stainless prongs, will offer a slow horizontal drop (not a quick nose drop) and have good darting action on the lift. The quality of finish is important too, with quality cloth covering the better jigs. Interestingly squid jigs are measured in inches from the centre of the eye to the rear of the body (before the prongs), hence the sizing of 2.2, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 being the popular range of sizes.

There are a lot of colours to choose from, but we stick to using bright colours such as white, vibrant green, orange and blue in the middle of the day, and opt for dull colours such as olive green, brown and black during low light conditions.

A good squidding outfit consists of a rod with a bit of length – usually a minimum of 6’6” but I prefer using a rod around 7’, and even up to 8’ when fishing land based. This rod should be quite stiff in the tip to help impart action on the squid jig.

Jig techniques

When working a jig, cast ahead of the boat to allow the jig to sink unencumbered, and allow the jig to sink almost to the bottom before imparting a fairly erratic lift of the rod tip. The more action the better, but always allow the jig to drop again before starting the next lift. If you don’t hook the occasional leaf of seaweed, you’re not getting deep enough.

And the last word of advice, always point the head of a squid away from the boat and away from fellow fishers!