Squid on deck
Giant Humbolt squid are all over Southern California waters. This rare phenomenon that occurs only a few times a decade has attracted fisherman from all around in hopes of being able to catch one of these huge beauties. For only forty dollars one can hop on the “Western Pride”, a sport fishing boat out of Davey’s Locker Sportfishing in Newport Harbor on a late night fishing experience. These giant squid range from twenty to sixty pounds and are strong enough to give anyone the fight of a lifetime.
Catching squid is not only fun, but also extremely easy. All that is needed to catch them is a big rod, reel and a glow in the dark squid jig that has sharp prongs at the end. When lowered into the water, the squid get very defensive and attempt to attack these jigs, which results in a catch. Once hooked into a squid, it is important to always keep pressure on it so the jig doesn’t come undone and the line doesn’t tangle with other fisherman. When the squid comes up to the surface, a deckhand will come by and gaff it to bring it on deck.
There are some precautions however that one should be aware about when fishing for these giant squid. After they are brought up onto the deck of the boat, as a defensive act they will squirt a large amount of black ink that can be very dangerous if it makes contact with one’s eyes. In addition, they also have razor sharp beaks that are strong enough to slice through a finger, so extreme caution is required.
“These squid have come south from Mexico,” said the “Western Pride” cook, Luke Patrick. “It’s great that they’re here because it provides us work and entertainment for fisherman however at the same time they’re harmful to the environment, but nature eventually balances itself out.”
According to Tim Sullivan, Director of At Sea Programs at the Orange County Ocean Institute, the presence of these giant Humbolt squid is very rare. “We don’t know why they’re here, but my speculation is that these Humbolts are always present in our waters but they’re just now showing up in greater numbers because they are trying to expand their range of finding food,” Sullivan said. “Another possibility as to why they’re moving in such large numbers is because of warm-water ocean currents. It’s very unusual when they come this close to shore because they are deep-water organisms.”
Despite the possibility of being sprayed with ink or being bitten, this fishing experience is one that no one should overlook and has a very sweet reward. “These giant squid are great to eat,” said Adam, a fisherman on the “Western Pride”. “They have a very rubbery texture, however they taste very similar to scallops and one of these things is enough to feed a family of four for a week!” When a fisherman is hooked up into one of these huge squid, captain/deckhand Austin Bell recommends only one thing: “Hang On!”