Foul smelling, slimy, relatively durable and highly effective, squid are favored forage for almost every fish that swims in saltwater. While there are numerous ways to rig squid, there are even more species to target with these pulsating predators. Most resident and visiting Florida anglers are familiar with 5 to 8-inch frozen squid sold for a variety of purposes, while others are more proficient in rigging 12 to 16-inch squid with the goal of tempting mighty broadbills.
Beyond Sunshine State waters, anglers canyon fishing in the Northeast routinely deploy squid jigs in hopes of catching a pulsating offering, as live squid are irresistible to cruising tuna and practically guarantee dinner on the table. Even though anglers on the East Coast think they may know a thing or two about squid, the truth of the matter is that they haven’t seen anything yet.
Reaching lengths approaching 7 feet and growing to 100 pounds, Humboldt squid are one of the ocean’s most formidable predators. While these oversized squid are incredibly aggressive, there’s no need to be alarmed because they won’t be showing up in Florida waters anytime soon. They are however being found with increasing consistency in area bait freezers.
Named after the Humboldt Current, which flows northwest along the Pacific Coast of South America, Humboldt squid area a force to be reckoned with. Once found primarily along the Pacific Coast of South and Central America, these jumbo squid are now commonly encountered in the chilly waters of California. They’ve even been found in Alaska, while only 10 years ago they were rarely seen north of San Diego. Now they are so prevalent off the California coast that many charter boats offer twilight squid fishing trips. With unprecedented concentrations, the boats always return with inking squid and smiling clients.
Because of their tenacious attitudes and flesh-tearing tentacles, important fisheries are being threatened and some populations are at historically low levels. While there’s no sign of giant squid in Florida waters, leave it to innovative anglers in the Sunshine State to put someone else’s troubles to good use.
Available at select retailers throughout the state, Humboldt squid mantle fins are the latest and greatest temptations. While these enormous predators are commonly caught in the 20 to 50-pound range, after cleaning the choice cuts for colossal calamari most of the meat is discarded. However, the mantle fins are perfectly suited for supersized chunk and strip baits.
Swordfishing under the heat of the afternoon sun is more popular than ever. It’s no surprise, as there’s no better opportunity to battle a trophy broadbill with monster fish exceeding 500 pounds a possibility. Unil the emergence of stitched bonito strips, squid were the go-to offerings. Now that Humboldt fins have hit the market they are quickly gaining popularity, as they offer quick rig and cost effective attributes.
Instead of painstakingly stitching a belly strip, simply take a Humboldt fin and slice a triangle-shaped strip about 2½ inches wide and 12 inches long. Because of the inherent shape of the fins, the finished strips will have a perfect taper. It’s important to note that the longer tail you leave the more action your strip will have, but it’s critical you center the hook so your bait doesn’t spin. The addition of a plastic skirt will imitate tentacles and make this strip look like a real life squid pulsating in the chilly, dark depths.
Although trolling whole squid for dolphin and billfish is popular, after only a short time in the water they begin to wash out and their tentacles become frail and damaged. Humboldt squid strips can be rigged in seconds and in our opinion, swim even better than whole squid. Because of their rubber-like toughness and ability to stay on the hook, squid strips can also be used as the perfect pitch bait. If you really want to go the extra mile rig up a dredge teaser with 10-inch squid strips for the ultimate seducer. The options are truly endless and limited only by your imagination.
When you have your sights set on grouper and snapper it is hard to beat squid. Whether fishing a chunk or tipping a jig, squid is tough as jerky and will last for numerous drops while it produces an oily, stinky scent. Simply match a strip to a jig, or chunk to a hook, and deploy to the depths. It shouldn’t take long for your squid to attract a nearby predator.
There’s no denying the popularity of squid, as they are a staple in the diet of many game fish. Make a few calls to area tackle shops and see if Humboldt squid mantle fins are available near you. Just make sure you don’t store it in the kitchen freezer or you’ll be sleeping on the couch!