TRYING to finish off a coffee that was a bit too hot to drink in anything more than a latte drinker’s sips, I shovelled in the last bit of toast while thinking I should have woken up two hours earlier and done this properly. After rising late because the forecast was for onshore wind, I checked the weather observations a few times as I was lazing around and it dawned on me that things were almost perfect for a sneaky squid session along a number of my favourite banks as the tide fell away from a large peak.
It was that moment when your morning goes from boring to being in a hurry in the blink of an eye as you decide it’s on. This time is filled with much excitement for me because years ago I used to wait all night for Dad to take me offshore. The last bit of the coffee was tipped into the sink and the piece of toast was tossed to the dog as I headed out to the shed to put some gear together as hastily as possible.
The squid gear never really goes much past arm’s length on the shelves during winter because these small windows of opportunity need to be jumped on. My trusty Snyder Glas 3144 that I have owned for decades and the 500a Alvey that lives on it came off the rack after grabbing the small squid jig box that fits into a bucket beside two soft drink bottles full of frozen water. A pair of scissors, an ike spike and about 12 jigs covers most of what I need when hoofing it around the foreshore chasing tigers, and the ice bricks will keep a few squid cold long enough to get home. Sunday drivers, hurry up!
I’m going fishing and you are costing me valuable casts. After all, it is not my fault I decided to go late and am now in a hurry. I found a carpark right on the money and unloaded the gear as I searched the area for anyone else but it seemed the forecast had kept everyone at home. I was happy with having the place to myself.
On the rocks, everything slowed down as I realised I was there and experience told me the faster I fished, the less squid I would catch, so I calmed down and began to work the water. Looking almost straight into the now very bright sun, the five knots of southeasterly wind on the water was just enough to slow the 3g jig in the air so it wouldn’t quite reach the area where rock met sand at the eastern side of the structure.
Changing to a 4g jig gave me enough distance to reach the back of the target area and allowed me to slowly work along the bank, keeping the old 10’ glass rod high to compensate for the weight of the 4g jig over the shallow reef. The only modern aspect to the rod and reel combination that has changed since the days of bream and blackfishing on the Clarence River is the switch to 10lb fluorocarbon straight through from the reel to the jig.
This is easier for me to use than braid and leaders while being on foot and limited in what I carry. Running fluoro main line means I am never short on leader, and not having to worry about ever-shortening leaders when doing lure changes is nice. I can also launch into casts without any concern about a braid to leader connection getting caught up while going through the guides under load. The first squid of the day hit the jig like a fish and it was soon apparent it was a good one because line was coming off the little Alvey.
I let the squid take some line while I looked around to find somewhere to beach this tiger squid. A cloud of black ink showed me where the squid was, as even with good glasses I struggled with the glare of the morning sun to find the squid in the water. I began to drag the tiger towards the bank and the ice it would soon be resting in after the initial fuss.
With most squid, if you let them take a run, the rest of the fight is just a formality. Ike spiked and washed out in the shallows, that was one down and the cheap blue 4g jig that I hadn’t been confident in using was getting another run as I sent it on an airborne sortie to the east. The tide was now well on the way out and after another squid hit the bucket I found myself at the end of the ground I was fishing.
Having started where I parked the car, I fished back to it because I didn’t need to be home any time soon and was really enjoying having the place to myself. I’m not sure what changed on the way back but something turned the squid into hungry, angry animals and at times I had one squid hooked and multiple followers trying to take the jig off the hooked squid in just 60cm of water.
Having another mate with me would have meant they were caught too, but because this was a snap fishing decision I had not told anyone apart from my wife where I was. Working my way back, I kept casting long into the breeze and working the jig all the way to the rod tip. Some squid took the jig where it landed and others followed it right to my feet where I had to stall the jig and let it sit on the bottom, waiting for the squid to take it.
This doesn’t always work and I have seen squid bolt when the jig is stalled, but this day was different. As the water dropped, so did the wind, and I changed back to 3g jigs so I could work the area more slowly than with the heavier jig. About half of the 11-squid bag I collected were caught by sight casting at free-swimming squid or stopping the jig when a follower was seen on the retrieve. The rest were blind takes out past my field of view.
I had slowed right down now after the initial rush to get to the water and the world seemed to move along at a pace I was comfortable with once more. By now, time had run away from me and the time I’d said I would be home was nearing fast, even though I had only fished halfway back to the car.
Looking at the 11 medium-to-large tiger squid I had squeezed in the bucket and around the ice bottles and then thinking about the clean-up at home to sort them out made me think it was time to leave and call this rushed squid run for a done thing. Driving home much calmer and with a smile on my face, the reason I fish was glaringly obvious: because I love it. I am sure you know the feeling of taking that unplanned window of opportunity and turning it into a memorable few hours on or near the water instead of thinking about doing something with a coffee in hand.
If you have any questions, you can contact me through the BNB Facebook page.