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April Squidding

April 22, 2012
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We had an errand to run that took us about an hour’s drive from home, and we knew of a small bridge there that spanned a salt river running from a cove to a salt pond. We’d heard of squid being caught there in the past, and though it seemed a bit early, the stripers and bait fish have been very early, too, so we figured squid might follow suit. We used 50-lb test monofilament line to make up 12-inch leaders with unweighted jigs (the top jig) and 24-inch leaders with weighted jigs (the bottom jig) and tied sets of both onto swivels then tied them onto our braided line. Rigged rods readied, we packed the ride with snacks for the kids and headed off.

Coincidentally, a squid-obsessed friend was heading up to the spot ahead of us. We thought we might be jigging together, but when we got to the bridge no one was there. Not only was it a bad sign that our friend had bailed, it was equally disheartening to find no one else fishing. News of squid travels fast, and when they’re being caught, jiggers come out of the woodwork to crowd the choice spots.

We had to give it a try, so I began getting my son ready to go, and Tony grabbed a rod and got started. My cell phone rang and our friend reported that the action had died down over the last 18-hours and he had just jigged for 2-hours without getting a bite. As I murmured my condolences I looked over to the bridge and watched Tony hoist a spinning, spraying squid over the railing.

“Hey, he got one!”

“Are you serious? I was just there…I just left! He got one? Really?”

Then another squid came over the rail, and another after that. Our friend laughed in disbelief and I quickly ended the call and grabbed my rod. A couple dozen squid later, Tony wondered, “What do you think we would have done if he had called 10-minutes earlier? We might have just skipped it.” We just looked at each other and smiled. Not likely.

(A few hours earlier I had started to set up this station in the yard for butchering ducks in the rain. It came in handy as a squid gutting area.)

Cephalopod Henna

A young helper

Pulling out the quill

fishing out the guts

cut, soaking in milk, almost ready for deep frying in the wok

There’s a recipe at the bottom of this post if you want to know how we clean the squid. That information is in the last paragraph before the recipe; just scroll down past all the yammering on about crabs and bait. Check out the recipe if you want to know how we fry them up. Our first catch is always ceremoniously deep fried, and after that we will start to make marinara and Asian stir-fry and even grill them. It is also essential to please the fishing Gods by giving away a substantial portion of any “first catch.” Unless it’s a first striper, and that of course must be kissed and returned to the water. For a quick, easy and delicious squid marinara recipe, check out this post – just scroll down past all the yammering on about goat milk and horseradish.

A few hours after hoisting the squid from the water, they were cleaned, sliced and sitting in a bowl of milk on my counter. I noticed color-changing cells on the un-skinned tentacle sections were still flashing. I took a little video and have included it below.

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