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Sydney Articles: Sydney Harbour Squidding, By Craig McGill - 16 11 11

Sydney Harbour Squidding, By Craig McGill - 16 11 11

 When I first started squidding on Sydney harbour 25 years ago  I shared the kelp beds with just one other boat -- a couple of old Italian fellas who used to drift the stretch along  middle head from their old, blue , riveted de Havilland.  They were after calamari for the pan with little chance of it ending up on a hook as bait. I cut a deal with them. I would show them how to convert a small quantity of their entree into kingfish if they would teach me how to catch squid with a jig. For harbour kings used to anglers second rate offerings of live yellowtail, strips of fresh squid proved to be an offering they couldn’t refuse.  We caught 7 kings that afternoon much to the delight and surprise of my new mates and they, in turn, happily passed on their squidding techniques. 


My own conversion to squid had come about from experience gained from a decade on the stones.   Squid would often plague the LBG fraternity with their trade mark crescent shaped death bite to the brain or throat of our hard earned live bait.  For a while this was just outright annoying until we realized that we could eliminate the problem and secure a first grade entree   with the simple addition of a deadly squid spike.  The dead yakka was impaled on the spike and sent back out to the greedy cephalopod.  Their real value was revealed on one long boring day when I decided, just for a laugh, to send the squid back out on an 8/0 under a bobby cork.  This was the day that I came to the realization that the long waits between bites was a result of our poor bait choice rather than the norm for LBG.  We had a 30lb king on the rocks within 15 minutes of the squid going back out and from that day on our success rate went through the roof.  When I started boat fishing on the harbour I needed to learn how to use a jig to catch squid.




It was pre the prawn imitation style jigs that dominate today’s market and the old boys were using the old style ‘bead’ jig. They stressed to me that  the key to success was to “give the jig a couple of sharp tugs(they were using handlines) and to then let it settle long enough to let it sink back  to near the bottom” . “The squid hide in the kelp”.  I had to laugh, 25 years later, when a Australian jig importer offered to lend me a DVD that showed the ‘new’ Japanese pro squid anglers techniques where they “give the jig a couple of sharp tugs and to then let it settle long enough to let it sink back to near the bottom” Our old wog mates had been on top of it for over 100 years.


These days everyone on the harbour squids.  Most are after bait for kings and jewfish, some are after them for food and I guess we are not far off the day when we have the specialist who fishes exclusively for squid.  Interestingly enough I don’t think that the squid population in the harbour has suffered noticeably despite the thousand time increase in pressure. I’m not catching any less squid than I did 25 years ago, although it is getting hard to get a spot to yourself over the kelp beds on the weekend. They are extremely sustainable critters.


To back up my claim that we could soon be heading towards the day of the exclusive squid angler, this year saw the debut of the first ever squid only fishing tournament. The Yamashita squid series kicked off in April this year with the first event on Queenscliff harbour in Victoria. The six round event spans various locations across Victoria and NSW culminating in the grand final back on Queenscliff harbour. The Sydney harbour round was won both 1st and second place  by Fishabout tours guides Nick Martin and Stu Reid. Nick got first prize of $1000. and both Nick and Stu got a pile of sponsors junk (some really good stuff actually).  To show his appreciation the Fishabout boss rewarded both boys by letting them keep their jobs and clean the ink off the boats in their own time.


The kingfish and jewfish run will be in full swing by now and if you are going to have a good season you will need to master the fine art of squidding.  Squid are by far the best bait but they must be fresh. In the bays and harbours you will find both the southern calamari and common squid. The southern makes the best bait.


Calamari squid are the bigger of the two and are found around structure. They are particularly fond of kelp beds but can often be located around jetties, bridge pylons and boat moorings.  The best way to catch calamari squid is with a Yamashita jig.  A good jig will have needle sharp jags and  securely fastened jags and leads and most important of all, sink horizontally and slowly. The Yamashita’s have all these attributes. The bottom line on squid jigs is, like most things, you get what you pay for.


 Calamari squid can be lured by working the jig very slowly, with the occasional sharp whip of the rod and regular stops, about two meters above the kelp.  

Stuart Reid's 50lb Pending World Record PNG Black Bass

Pending World Record Black Bass

Papuan Black Bass are renowned the world over as the toughest pound for pound freshwater fish in the world, and the place to find the biggest Black Bass is PNG's Gulf province. The current all tackle world record Black Bass of 46lbs, and the fish pictured (caught on 19/6/14, by Stuart Reid, Fishabout) which is the pending world record at 50lbs, were both caught from these rivers.

Once you feel the strike you know that no freshwater fish can come close to the power. Watching 100kg guys get knocked over on the strike, reels give way, rods break in half and 130LB pound braid snap from the pound for pound strongest fighting fresh water fish is a sight to behold. If would like to experience the thrill of targeting PNG Black Bass and Barramundi in remote areas with very low fishing pressure contact us now. *2017-18 spots selling now* ... read more

Kadavu Island - Great Astrolabe Reef

Fiji Macky

The pristine Fiji Islands are home to the South Pacific's finest sport and game fish, including massive GT's, monster dogtooth tuna, yellowfin tuna, dolphin fish, wahoo, spanish mackerel, black marlin, blue marlin and plenty of reef fish. Many of these species are endemic to the Great Astrolabe Reef (one of the largest barrier reefs in the world), which is the reef that encompasses Kadavu Island, Fiji.Fishabout now offer 6 and 8 day fishing packages to explore this marine wonder of the world, which include 3 and 5 days fishing respectively. For more information call us on (02)8922 2651 or click here

Endyalgout Remote Fishing Camp

Sunset at Endyalgout

Fishabout is pleased to now offer remote fishing trips to Endyalgout Island, one of the best fishing locations in Australia. (Nestled on the south east of the Coburg Penninsula).

Situated on a shell grit beach under shady trees, are several permanent tropical friendly safari style tents, raised on wooden platforms.

Looking out past the resident Crocodile you can see miles and miles of enticing mangroves, barely touched creeks, rivers, rock bars and channels, all calling your name.

From monster Baramundi up to 130cm, to big Black Jewfish, Threadfin Salmon, various Trevallies, and some of the biggest Golden Snaper to be found anywhere, Endyalgout Island is truly a dream to fish.

Pricing ranges from $4350 (4 days, 3 anglers per boat) to $6910 (7 days, 2 anglers per boat)

For more information please call us on (02) 8922 2651 or click here