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The tantalizing squid
The tantalizing squid
Table of Contents
The tantalizing squid 1
Which squid is this? 3
Spawning 5
A bit of history 6
Public piers
Lists 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 15, 20, 21
Map 16-17
The sport of squidding 7
Exactly when? 10
Outfitting yourself 11
Timing 14
Sites 15
Line set-up 18
Jigging 19
Words of caution 21
Anatomy 22
Preparing your catch (cleaning tips) 23
Enjoying your catch
Recipes 28
The legalities Inside back cover


Editor: Grace T. Eubanks
Technical Advisor: Mark Carr

Contributors: Lynn Goodwin,
Dwight Herren & Richard Costello

Graphics & photography:
Grace T. Eubanks


The tantalizing SQUID

Just when you think you've figured them out - they'll probably change the whole game on you.

Schools of squid showing up where never before spotted... seasons with unheralded blooms in population...at one hour, attracted to your style of lure, then shunning it without notice...playing elusive, darting in and out of the light with the quickness of a toll-taker's hand...ever the quick-change artist - now a bright underwater streak, now cloaked in the

hood canal squidhood canal squid

This Hood canal squid performed its quick-change artistry as it was lifted out of the saltwater.

dark colors befitting its camouflage plan. These unpredictables - and more - are what

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you will run into when you take up the fascinating near-shore pursuit of Washington's saltwater squid. What's not surprising is that more and more anglers are adding squid to their sport fishing menu.

Not some sunny day

If, however, you think you might just go out some sunny day and use your carefully built-up fishing techniques to hook yourself a catch of squid...you're in for some surprises.

And, if you don't realize that the market squid found in Washington state's salty fishing waters also is called calamari - and that we're talking about a shellfish that translates into gourmet dining...you're in for even more discoveries.

Part of the fascination of squid fishing, then, is the enigma of how to land them. (As we later will explain, this is no standard bait-and-hook exercise. These sharp-eyed critters end up being caught because of their own am-bush antics.)

The other part of squid's growing popularity is the enjoyment of the harvest. Calamari lends itself to dozens of tantalizing dishes that appear on-table at fine restaurants - and can be equally and easily gourmet in a wide variety of dishes at your own table.

In this book

To match the squid at their game, it helps to understand more about their lifestyle and artful ways. This Washington Department of Fisheries (WDF) publication offers you background information on these lightning-fast animals and a collection of fishing tech-niques. Then, to assist you in savoring your

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success, we offer cleaning tips, cooking hints and recipes.

The rest is up to you. As our squid-jigging expert says, you have some new skills to learn. You're looking at a new kind of angling contest - but, one that you'll probably want to try.

Which squid is this?

To begin with, we need to make it clear that

washington squid

Washington's squid generally are less than a foot long

we are not talking about the giant squid of thriller publications fame - but a relatively small species. The squid you find (if you are alert enough) along Washington's coastal, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound shorelines are called Pacific squid, opalescent, or, most commonly, market squid (Loligo opalescens), with a mantle less than a foot long. Average size varies, however, and scientists still are looking for the reasons.

It has been noted that our market squid vary considerably in size among areas. Some of our long-time squid fishers say that adults in the waters around Neah Bay are smaller than those found in the inland waters. They also

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say they've noticed a size-increase pattern that follows inward - with the largest squid being found in South Puget Sound.

To give you a general vision, however, we would tell you to expect adult market squid in our inside waters to average about eight inches (mantle plus tentacles.)

Biologically, squid belong to the class of mollusks known as cephalopods. In this same class are octopuses - but there are some definite differences in personality between the acrobatic squid and the bottom dwelling octopus.

Squid are decapods, having 10 tentacles (or very scientifically speaking, squid have eight arms and two catch tentacles) compared to the eight arms of octopuses. They also are free-swimming creatures and exhibit schooling behavior similar to many schooling bluewater fish.

Not known - for sure

There still are some things not known about our neighborhood species of squid - for sure. There is no thoroughly documented informa-tion on how long market squid live - or, at what age they reproduce. However, evi-dence does indicate that these squid are short-lived, probably having life spans of no more than two years.

The timing of their reproduction still remains an open question. While doing sampling work on other species, Department of Fisheries biologists have found squid eggs in Puget Sound at almost all times of the year.

As for the size variations at different sites, biologists question whether this is tied to environmental factors - or genetics.

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Squid spawn in waters that have gently sloping bottoms - most commonly, at depths of 15-60 feet. Sometimes the underwater spawning scene can be quite spectacular.

During mid-summer underwater research dives in 1983, WDF biologists came across hundreds of thousands of squid egg capsules in a spawning area near the Port Angeles city docks.

That underwater scene looked as though someone had carpeted a party room with millions of clusters of small, milky-white balloons. The egg capsules, which were spotted over several hundred square feet of the harbor bottom, formed mats as thick as two feet.

The more common spawning scene, though, is not quite that dramatic. Covering a smaller area, anywhere from a few to several hundred of the squids' gelatinous egg cases will be found attached to common points, such as underwater rocks, anchors, even crab pots. Each of the two- to three-inch cylindrical cases contains 100 or so eggs.

By the way, our expert points out that the egg cases are not eaten by predators - so they should not be looked upon as good potential for fish or crab bait.

Fast- growing

How soon the young market squid will emerge from the egg capsules depends on water temperature. In California waters they have been known to hatch in 12-23 days, while mid-March deposits in some of British

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Public Piers

Columbia's chillier waters have taken 90 days to hatch.1 In Puget Sound, it takes about 70 days for the eggs to hatch, our WDF experts report. How quickly the juveniles grow depends both on food availability and water temperature - but, in general, squid are considered a fast-growing species.

There is an abundance of public fishing piers along Washington's shorelines. On following pages, you will find lists of piers that give you access to Puget Sound, Hood Canal and Strait of Juan de Fuca waters. There also is a map in the center of the book. showing some of the popular squid-jigging piers.

There are no guarantees, of course, that the mystifying squid will be found at any particular pier location- at any particular time.

A bit of history

The methods of squid jigging seem to have changed very little since early times. Centuries ago, the Japanese jigged for squid using intricately carved lures that looked like shrimp or fish. These brightly painted lures were made from deer antlers.2

Early records on West Coast squid fishing tell of commercial harvesting, not individual sport activities. Commercial pursuit of squid in western United States marine waters was launched by Chinese immigrants in Monterey, California, around 1863. It wasn't until after the turn of the century that other fishers recognized the commercial potential and began joining in on the harvest.

Originally, the squid were sun dried for export - but, in 1920, processors began canning the catch for shipment overseas. Since 1926, freezing has been the major means of preserving the harvest.3

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Although there have been some years with grand explosions in the squid populations (such as in the winter of 1958-59 when 60,000 pounds were caught by beach seine in the Tacoma area and the 1983 commercial season that yielded an 89,000-pound squid catch) - Washington's waters generally have not housed large and predictable enough populations to attract a commercial fishery.

Public Piers
Port Angeles City Pier (1.2) 
Blaine Dock (4)
Gooseberry Pt. Ferry Dock (1)
	Boulevard Park Pier (4)
Port of Bellingham:
	6th St. Dock
Anacortes Municipal Pier (1) 
Friday Harbor Marina
	Docks (1.4)
LaConner Marina Docks (1)

For the KEY to what these piers offer, please see map on pages 16-17.

The sport of squidding

The recreational pursuit of squid, however, started sprouting in the late 1970s.

Since fishing piers make excellent squid fishing sites, the additional public piers that the Department of Fisheries has installed since 1978 - such as the Edmonds, Seattle and Tacoma piers - have sparked the popularity of the sport. "Before these piers were built, there probably was a population of squid fishers who were keeping it to themselves for a long time.. .then the word got out," figures a WDF observer.

WDF managers feel that squid interest also was kindled by the explosion of squid popula-tions during the El Niño warm-water event. Many enthusiastic squid jiggers were recruited during that 1983-84 fishery.

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The squid calendar

During progressive time slots between late May and the following February, adult squid can be found in almost all waters of the Straits and Puget Sound, from Neah Bay inward. The map on pages 16-17 shows usual population appearances and when you are likely to find squid in various public pier areas. There's an apparent pattern.

Is this a matter of a newly arrived population each year that migrates through our inland waters - or an annual time pattern of "appearances" made by resident populations? Biologists say the question still remains. Do these population occurrences progress from the western waters of the Straits inside to northern, then finally, to southern Puget Sound because there is a migration of newcomers or because climate and water conditions prompt appearances of resident populations in an on-going pattern?

Many experts believe it's likely to be a combination of both - an ocean-to-South Sound migration of adult squid clans, plus resident populations that yield new generations as site conditions become favorable.

Just where will they be?

The centerfold map gives you a start on squid-fishing locations. We encourage you to keep in mind, however, that each year might well have its surprises - that these crafty creatures could show up in locations never before noticed.

Such was the case in the early 1970s, when a whopping population showed up in the

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neighborhood of WDF's Pt. Whitney Shellfish Laboratory on Hood Canal. Squid jigging was outstanding for a few months (and initiated many new squid aficionados) - but, then the streaking visitors disappeared from the locale. They haven't been seen there since.

dark and rainy night
"It was a dark and rainy night"...but, these squid aficionados were concentrating on the elusive critters in the water, not the atmosphere. This photo was taken at the public pier in Des Moines which is a popular squidding location.

Our expert reports, "There isn't one place in the Straits or Puget Sound that I've visited that hasn't had a visible squid population, at one time or another."

So, the advice is to be inventive. Do take advantage of the public pier fishing - but, also try exploring for your own new squid waters.

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Now to some of the specifics for planning your squid-jigging outing.

Exactly when?

First on the list: Don't worry about sunshine. We gave you a hint about this at the beginning of this dialogue. The point is: you catch squid at night.

These lively shellfish are attracted to light - and to glitter. This is why public piers are good squidding locations. They are well lit.

The way hungry squid operate is to lurk in the dark fringes near a patch of lighted water and then lunge into the bright area after anything they think is food. Their natural favorites are young herring and other small fishes.

If you go to a private shoreline spot, such as an unlit dock on a friend's property, be sure to take along a camping lantern or an industrial-sized flashlight. (Those nineteenth century squid fishers in Monterey had to use torches, as you might guess.)

Public Piers
Fidalgo Island: 
	Bowman's Bay Pier (4) 
Cornet Bay Docks 
Whidbey Naval Base Pier 
Whidbey Is: Clinton Pier (1) 
Oak Harbor Pier 
Coupeville Pier 
Snohomish County:
	Kayak Pt. Co. Park Pier (3.4) 
Langley: Marina
	Breakwater (1.3.4) 
Sequim Bay:
	John Wayne Marina (1.3.4)

For KEY to what these piers offer, see map on page 16-17

Rig up your illuminator in a location where it definitely will shine light into the water. Please be alert, however, to where you take that camping lantern. An ignited....Go to page 11 

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