This is Part 2 of our Squid Fishing Adventure, see Part 1 here.
It turns out my colleague is correct: You absolutely can catch squid. With a fishing pole. Off a pier. At night. In summer. In Maine. And it is WICKED exciting!
Round two of squid fishing found my Squid Squad at the Falmouth Public Pier late on a moon-lit summer evening. A buddy of mine had mentioned on social media that he was selling freshly caught Maine squid at his restaurant in Portland, so I reached out to ask where his seafood guy was pulling them in. No shame in seeking out a hot fishing tip.
As with most fishing expeditions, nothing happened for a while. Cast, jig, repeat for a solid half hour. Patience is a virtue when fishing. But then…
The thrill of the catch! Well, the slow-motion, maybe/maybe not realization that something is happening. The feeling of having a squid on your line is best described as getting hooked on some weeds; the line just goes heavy, not so much something tugging or fighting back. It’s important to remember that the hooks on squid jigs aren’t barbed like a traditional hook; once you *think* you have a squid on, don’t muck about trying to make the fight look more impressive, reel it in straight up. Like a proper descendant of the mighty beasts of Poseidon, our first catch breached the surface jetting an impressive spray of salt water and tentacles in an attempt to escape its fate. I’ll be completely honest with you, once we had our squid out of the ocean and over the bucket, I had no clue how to extract it from the jig. So I did the only sensible think I could think of; I asked the other fishermen on the pier what the heck to do next. The gentleman standing next to me was on his first squid fishing adventure, and though he joined in our excitement, he was as clueless as the rest of us. Luckily, there were some seasoned squidders out that night, and a guy on the piling above me jumped down to assist. “Lower it straight down into your bucket and lift it off. Mind the beak, they bite.” Sound advice.
Have you ever seen a live squid in real life? Me either until that night. I don’t consider myself to be the squeamish sort, but I’ll admit that I hesitated to touch the alien-looking, iridescent cephalopod. They’re beautiful, bizarre and oddly adorable to observe. Observation was short-lived, however, because the moment I poured fresh sea water into the bucket, our catch released its ink and hid itself from view. Speaking of bizarre things to observe, get this: Interestingly, our spotlight didn’t attract the silversides and sand eels we had seen down on the Freeport pier ( see my first squid fishing post ); instead we saw common pipefish and a fat little sea bug that I can’t seem find the right combination of adjectives to plug into Google to identify.
We caught two squid that night; hardly enough for a calamari appetizer, let alone a meal. In true democratic fashion, the Squad took a vote and decided to return our squids to the sea to live another day. I’m hopeful that one of the two may now harbor a grudge against mankind, using that anger to grow big and strong well beyond a normal sized squid, becoming a true sea monster, terrorizing fishing vessels Moby Dick-style for years to come. At least that’s the fictional narrative that was running through my head as I released them back into the Atlantic. If you don’t like that version of the fantasy, here’s another: Maybe one will be so grateful to have had its life spared, it will go on to grow big and strong, well beyond a normal squid size, and into a true gentle giant that guides fishing vessels out of danger. Better?
About the Author:
Chandra Thoits is a born and raised Mainer who loves the smell of low tide, but hates the smell of ketchup. She wants to know three things about everyone she meets: What/where do you like to eat, do you need help with anything, can she pat your dog?