The lure of squid jigging

Be careful as squid can spray black ink when taken out of the water.

SQUID jigging is a popular pastime for beginners or experienced anglers on both sides of peninsular Malaysia’s coasts.

Although it is seasonal on the east coast when the squid come out in abundance in the early part of the year to mate, the cephalopods can be caught all year round, depending on the tide and current.

Unlike fishing, squid jigging is much easier and can even be done by those without any fishing experience.

Landing the squid on the rod and line is not a difficult task but some knowledge and simple techniques are required.

As the northeast monsoon season is about to start soon, anglers can look forward to jigging squid on the west coast.

Interesting places include Langkawi and other smaller islands off Yan in Kedah.

The season for squid jigging is from November to April. The best time for squid jigging in these areas is in January or February as tiger squid can be found in abundance.

One of the best places to hunt for these squid, known as Sotong Ngabang among the locals, is in the vicinity of Pulau Dayang Bunting and Pulau Singa Besar near Langkawi while those heading out from Yan can head to Pulau Bidan and Pulau Songsong.

Based on my experience, the squid found near the many unjams — a man-made fish-aggregating device made from coconut leaves tied to bamboo poles where smaller fish play and hide in the fronds — in the middle of the sea off Yan are much bigger than those found near the islands around Langkawi.

Squid jigging does not require expensive or special equipment to carry out the activity. Any type of rod or reel can work for squid fishing.

But the best would be a light medium-action rod attached to a small reel, preferably a spinner, with a light poundage line.

Luminous coloured lures have been known to be effective for this type of fishing.

The common lures used among anglers to catch these squid are the weighted traditional Japanese Egi, which is shaped like a fish or prawn.

These lures are tied to a leader or directly to the mainline with the uni-knot. A heavier weighted jig may be required if the current is swift and strong.

One can also use multiple lures on the line but it is highly recommended to have only two attached to a paternoster rig.

If two lures are used, the bottom arm should be longer than the other one to prevent the lures from getting tangled. The heavier lure should be placed at the bottom of the rig if the current is strong.

One has to lower the rig to the seabed and slowly retrieve the lures in a steady intermittent jerking motion, to imitate the movement of a small fish to attract the squid to the surface.

The squid’s tentacles would be caught on the lure’s umbrella hooks when the cephalopod attacks it.

Fighting the squid, especially the big one on a light tackle, can be very exciting.

But this has to be done gently. Any force or vigorous tug when retrieving the catch can cause the tentacles to snap, allowing the squid to escape.

And if the squid has been successfully retrieved to the surface, don’t be overly excited.

One has to be careful as the squid would spray its black ink when it is taken out of the water. The ink is difficult to remove if it splashes on clothes.

The trick here is to hover the catch slight below the surface, allowing it to discharge its ink several times before yanking it out.

Happy fishing folks!

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