And Fishermen Are Loving It
By Ondine Graham and Team Goose
Recently New England has seen a surge in the squid population due to the rising water temperatures. Squid are the prey of tuna fish, sea bass, fluke, and stripers. The increase in squid has affected the increase in the black sea bass population in North Atlantic waters as well.
When water temps start creeping above 50 degrees, they start to settle into the inshore bays, estuaries and coves to feed on smaller bait. Later in the season, when the big predators, like blues, tuna, and stripers, start showing up, the squid usually move into the deeper waters for protection. This being said, in the past couple of years, many can still be found in the shallow bays and coves around the Cape throughout the season.
Are the squid migrating to New England or are the total numbers of squid increasing? More research needs to be done to fully answer this question. But for now the fishing for squid, sea bass, and stripers is good. The range of squid has increased from the Carolinas to Northern Maine in large numbers, especially in Northern waters. Squid fishing in the North Shore was at an epic level in 2015. At night anglers with all manner of artificial lighting could be found up and down the coast with the hope of catching a five gallon bucket of squid. Tackle shops have seen an increase in the sales of squid jigs, which consist of a plastic body, with large numbers of prongs which ensnare the squid when they wrap their arms around the jig. The go to squid jig at Goose Hummock is the Yo-Zuri Aurora Squid Jig.
Squid will move close to shore on the flood tide to feed, and stay around to the start of the ebb. During the day, they will hold closer to the bottom in the deeper water. For this reason, the night tide will produce the best results. Light sources will attract bait fish, like silversides, so the squid will gravitate to the same light source. Lighted boat ramps, docks, bridges and piers are great spots to find schools of squid. You can also produce your own light. Lanterns, hand held lights and other forms of flashlights can be used to attract the bait fish. Aim them into the water and wait.
Jigging for squid is quite simple and does not require a huge investment. First, you’ll need a light tackle rod and reel, spooled with 6-8 pound test. Next, you’ll need a good squid jig. These are oblong lures, sometimes fish or shrimp shaped, with one or two sets of upturned hooks forming a ring around the base of the lure. They come in a variety of sizes, colors and weights, some plain and basic, some lifelike, some even glow-in-the-dark. As stated earlier, Yo-Zuri squid jigs are the go-to lure for Team Goose. The color of your jig can make a difference, so bring a variety to be safe. Weight can be important as well. If the squid are holding near the bottom, a heavier jig will produce more results. If the bait fish in the area are lingering in the water column, a lighter, weightless jig may work better.
There are several techniques for jigging. If the Squid are holding near the bottom, such as in the daylight hours, an up and down “yo-yo” motion just off the bottom will attract them up off their hiding place. Lift it a couple of feet off the bottom and then let drift back down. For night fishing, you can cast your jig out, let it sink a bit and then make a slow retrieve, lifting slowly off the bottom and towards you as you reel. Often, you can simply drop the jig right off the pier or bulkhead you are fishing from. Try jigging up and down off the bottom or just letting the lures drift in the water column. As with the sizes and colors of lures, experiment different methods to see what will work.
Squid will attach the lure and get their tentacles tangled in the barbs so there is no need to “set the hook”. Gently reel the lure up out of the water. Their natural defense mechanism is to squirt ink, so beware, they are messy. Letting them hang on the jig for a second can prevent getting inked. Once you are confident they are done, hold them over a bucket and jiggle the lure and squid will fall off. If you are planning on eating them, ice them down and take them home. If you are using for bait, you can bag them in groups of 4 or 5 and pack in a freezer for later use.
In conclusion the rise in squid population gives the angler the option of catching squid or catching the species looking to feed on the squid for the dinner table. Either way, the fishing is good.