Squid Fishing 101: ‘Squid Jigging’ in Maine is a Fun Summer Outing
A fun summer angling opportunity: Squid Jigging. Have you tried it?
Perhaps you've seen folks gathered on a coastal Maine pier at night, under the overhead wharf light. What are they up to? They were likely fishing for squid. What's commonly known as "squid jigging" is a fun, and at times, a fast-paced type of fishing. The catch is also a tasty one, calamari.
Maine Has A Plentiful Squid Population:
The Gulf of Maine is home to two primary species of squid, longfin and shortfin. Some range from 8 inches in length, up to two feet. These squids tend to work their way up the Maine coast during the summer months. Squid swim in large schools, the largest primarily stay in open water. Smaller schools often times work their way into harbors, where they can be caught off a wharf or pier.
Where To Squid Jig:
The focus of our article is to introduce folks to squid fishing, so we're keeping it simple. You can really get after the calamari via boat, if you have one, and know where they tend to school in open water. An easy way to try squid jigging for yourself is by the shore. Find a public pier that preferably has lighting at night. Squid are attracted to light at night, so a wharf with a big floodlight shining into the water is an excellent place to drop a line. Be sure you're not trespassing. Talk with the harbormaster for permission. They may even point you in the direction of a great jigging spot. Some areas are off-limits to squid fishing because of concerns about the inky mess they produce.
Squid jigging doesn't require much gear and tackle. First, you need what's called a "squid jig" or "squid rig." Jigs come in endless colors, shapes, and sizes. Squid jigs feature sets of barbless spikes that are designed to snag a squid's tentacles. When a squid goes for the jig, it wraps its tentacles around it. With a perfectly timed, fluid upward motion, the squid's tentacles will become ensnared in the sets of spikes as you lift it from the water. To release the squid from the jig, simply flip the jig upside down, and the squid will fall off. Some anglers will tie a squid jig on a basic rod and reel line. Others tie them to a jigging rod line or a hand-line with no rod or reel. Another piece of gear -- a fishing license. According to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, if you have a valid freshwater fishing license, you can recreationally saltwater fish. Note: Lifetime fishing licenses are not exempt, so you'll need to register.
When To Jig For Squid:
Schools of squid can pop up anywhere on the water, at any time. But if you're jigging from a dock, a good time to drop a line is on an incoming tide. High tide at night is a prime time, as squid tend to school around dock lights. The photo above isn't great, but shows squid schooling under a wharf light, around high tide.
I love squid jigging. It's fun, fast-paced at times, and a yummy catch. Over the years I've learned a few things I'd like to pass along to the newcomers.
- I've bought many squid jigs over the years. Some are fancy, others are pretty simple. My most successful jigs are simple hot pink colored jigs and a bright green colored jig. Try different jigs and see what works best for you.
- Have options for presenting the jig. I primarily use a small jigging rod with a squid jig tied to the line. It's easier to maneuver around crowded docks and allows for small casts into the water. I also have a hand-line at the ready, as some piers are hand-line jigging only.
- Wear clothes you don't mind getting inky. When you yank a squid from the water, they spray their ink everywhere. That black ink won't come out in the wash.
- Watch out for a squid's mouth. Like a bird's, a squid's mouth is similar to a beak. Even small squid will bite down HARD. It hurts some wicked!
- Bring a couple of buckets with you. They don't have to be big. I fill one bucket with an inch or two of seawater, the other with a good amount of ice. When I reel up a squid I'll toss it into the water bucket, so it can spray any remaining ink. Then I toss it on ice. Squid can spoil very fast when warm.
Maine YouTuber, Chris Taylor, has a great video of how to clean and prepare a fresh catch of squid. Check out his video above.
Keep public spaces open to fishing. Clean up after yourself and others when you leave.