Casting about for calamari

Fishing in the heart of New Zealand’s biggest city seems like it would be unproductive, but during the winter evenings, the waterfront comes alive with what I would compare to the Taupo picket fence of fly fishermen.

This is squid (egi) fishing, and I was keen to give it a crack, having never caught a squid myself. The target species was broad squid, which only live for a year, but grow and breed very quickly, making them a highly sustainable target species for the table.

I headed down to Auckland’s waterfront with the Sky Tower and city beaming towards me. My first night was bitterly cold, even this far north, thanks to the fact that I fell over on the rocks and took a dip up to my neck. The bad luck continued with a complete braid blow out on my reel and after a freezing hour of nothing, I packed it in, licked my wounds and vowed to try again the next night.

With renewed confidence, and plenty of research done into my technique, I headed back down onto the rocks to try again. Jeremy, the squid guru from Black Magic, had kindly offered to come down and fish with me that evening. We walked along the rocks and found our own little patch away from the other squiders. The water that night was calm and clean, perfect for squid. Water clarity plays a big role in what jig you should pick; bright colours work best in dirty water while natural colours are beneficial in clean water. I chose a 2.5 orange Lumo jig, hoping to draw the squid in with the luminous light.

Cast after cast went unnoticed, but I continued to work the jig erratically, making sure I got as much sink time in between as possible. Squid often only take the lure on the drop so much of the retrieve is spent sinking the jig down. Jeremy was first to hook up, expertly lifting a fat squid onto the rocks and avoiding a huge spray of ink as it touched down. I stuck at it, casting again and again, until finally I saw a squid following my jig. I sank it to the bottom and the squid grabbed it but spooked in the process, quickly letting go.

Not easily defeated this time, I cast the jig back out and after another 20 minutes, I felt a tap on the way down. I lifted the rod tip to check for weight when bang, I was onto my first squid. I reeled it to the rocks, nice and slowly, checking that I had it hooked well. Thankfully, it had taken solidly near the beak. After a nervous moment near the rocks, managing to avoid the ink, I lifted the fat squid out and grabbed the mantle. It was mine! And about time too. I had put in around seven hours of casting to land this specimen.

I packed up a few hours later, stoked to have completed a long time goal. Calamari for dinner!

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