Introduction to Squid Fishing

The Katie Lee is Currently anchored of Punta Blanca, Isla San Marcos. It is about 15 miles SE of Santa Rosalia, on the Baja side of the Sea. - July 4, 2001

My first experience with squid was back at the beginning of May. We were headed for Agua Verde. It is about halfway from La Paz to Lareto. Just a few miles before we got there, we saw something squirting water up in the air. They were a reddish color and hundreds of them. We couldn't tell what they were. We circled a couple of times through them, but they kept going down as we went by. Trinda got the cast net out. I went and stood on the bow ready to throw, if they didn't dive, while Trinda turned the boat through them again. I practiced throwing once before we got close. Then we got close. I finally got a good throw when it counted! It went out almost round! I had some of what ever they were. I pulled it up slow, and got it on deck. Then it started! They were squirting! They were squid! Their black ink was all over the deck and me! I had 7 of them. They were about 12 to 14 inches long and about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. We put them in a bucket and they KEPT squirting. They can shoot a 1/4-inch stream of water about 6 feet, sometimes mixed with ink. We turned on the salt water wash down pump for the anchor, and cleaned up the deck and me, then put it in the bucket to keep them alive so we could show the other guys in the anchorage.

A dead squid on the beach similar to the first ones I caught.

Only one was still alive an hour later when we got into Agua Verde, but the others were still cold. I kept 3 and put the others in a bucket. I had delusions of trading them for lobster from the locals. On the way to shore we passed a couple of other boats and offered them some. I managed to get instructions for cleaning and cooking them in exchange. I had 3 left when I reached the shore where the fishermen were. The said yes, they liked 'Calamar', but NO, they didn't want to trade. They knew where they were, out around the corner, and had all they wanted. I could buy some fish if I wanted, but they didn't want to trade, and had no lobster anyway!

I gave the rest away on the way back to the boat. I kept 3, and fixed one for the potluck we were headed for that night. Of the 6 of us, Trinda and one other lady refused to taste it, one only had one bite and 2 of us ate most of it. I fixed another one for me the next night for supper. Trinda had soup!

They were great, the best calamari I have ever had! I sautéed them in a little garlic and butter with salt and black pepper.

That was the first time. We are now anchored in Punta Blanca, on Isla San Marcos and the story continues…

We met up with several BCA boats and several Americans. We had a Dinghy raftup snack party for the 4th of July evening about 7:00PM. There were 8 boats here. Some American fishermen heard us planning it and stopped by and gave one of the boats a dorado for use during the party. They cooked it up nice. We took guaquemole and chips. We didn't sing the Star Spangled Banner, but did have a good time.

We got back to the boat just after dark, and since we are anchored in such deep water, 50 feet, I decided to try out my new squid fishing jig. I put it under a light to get the phosphoresce part to glow. I was offered some 300-pound test fishing line with the jig, but I turned it down. We have too much stuff already. Since the Mexicans fish for squid in 150 feet, I thought that maybe only little ones would be here by the shore so I hooked it to my fishing pole, with 80 pound test, and dropped it overboard. It went to the bottom and I pulled it up slow. Nothing, so I dropped it faster. Of course the reel got a backspin just as it hit the bottom.

It took a minute or two to get the tangle out, and then I started jigging it up slow. I was about half way up when bang!, the pole really bent and the line started running back out. I cranked and cranked and finally got it up near the top. It was a really large squid. It was over 4 feet long and at least 8 inches around! It was too heavy to lift with the fishing line and I couldn't get it out of the water. Trinda had already gone to bed, so I yelled, "Hey, I need your help up here a minute!" She did not know I was fishing, so she couldn't imagine what I need help with. She came up in her nightie.
Being too preoccupied to take a picture of my squid, however a friend found this active image on the internet. He has a small squirt compared to what Trinda got!

The way a squid jig works is it has a green glowing bar about 4 inches long and 3/4-inch diameter. Below it are sets of small spikes angling up. The squid attacks the glowing part and wraps his tentacles around it. When you pull on the line, he slips down and his tentacles get caught in the spikes. between the tentacles. He can move fast through the water by sucking up a lot of water and blowing it out his mouth real hard. This gives him jet propulsion.

OK, so I got this squid caught by the business end and he's just under the water. Trinda comes up and tries to help me lift him out. He doesn't want out! He squirts his water as hard as he can, trying to get away, but we're lifting him up. We get this 1 1/2 inch stream of water right in the face! Of course, squids also are able to squirt a little ink along with the water, to confuse their enemies. Well, We were confused!

I decided that we need the net to make any progress. So while I went to the back of the boat to get the net, Trinda held the pole in the pole holder so it wouldn't go overboard. She managed to get him to squirt her a couple more times. He squirted soo far that the water went up over the side of the boat, through the cockpit and to the far side. Everything is now wet and sticky with what little ink he still has left to mix in. I get back with the net, but with the fishing pole in the holder, he's too far away to reach with the net. Trinda tries to pull him around closer with the pole, and I reach out to grab the line to help pull him in. This is an effective way to aim a squid as a weapon, but backwards! He lets loose some more, getting us both in the face again! I finally get the net under him just as he swells up for a re-charge of water. I get him almost over the rail and we get one more blast!
I failed to take a picture of my squid, however a friend (Dick Frank of Corraizon right) went looking for the big ones on purpose an took this picture of his. Mine was about the same size.

I get him aboard finally and the fishing line is still really tight, so Trinda releases the reel. Buzzzzet! Now there is a REAL rats nest in the reel! As he lies on the deck, without water to re-charge, he lets the rest of his ink out to ooze out on the deck!

Trinda went off to find the shower to get some of the stinky, gooey water and ink off. I put the 50-foot hose on the anchor wash down spigot and turned on the salt water wash down pump. I first had to wash the cushions and seats, the cockpit floor and me with the salt water. Then I washed down the deck where he is.

The last squid I had was about 10 inches long, so how to dispatch this monster? He looked just like the little ones, so I got out the large fillet knife and sliced of his head just like the small ones. I split open the body and the meat was a full inch thick! He must have weighted a good 50 pounds. Our freezer is much smaller than that, so I just cut off a square the size of a one-gallon zip-loc bag and threw the rest over! Fifteen more minutes of washing down and that's the story of the squid. I went below and wasted the water to take another shower my self.

Last night, after dark I got the flashlight out and looked at the squid jig and the water. That's ALL I did! Look! I put it back. That was enough till I'm sure there are going to be smaller ones down there!

Larry and Trinda Littlefield onboard the Katie Lee, a 1981 Passport 45 Ketch spending the summer in the Sea of Cortez.