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Originally published September 4, 2010 at 6:13 PM | Page modified September 4, 2010 at 8:31 PM

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Squid jigging has started heating up

From late summer through winter, millions of squid return to spawn in Puget Sound, and before they do that they pack a hearty appetite gorging on small baitfish and crustaceans.

Seattle Times staff reporter

While most people are fast asleep, there's a group of nocturnal anglers who just can't wait for darkness to fall along the docks and piers that rim Puget Sound.

Now why would anyone want to hang out on a pier in the middle of the night?

The obvious answer to those who do it are a small nebulous slimy creature called a squid.

These jet-propelled decapods are a culinary delight, known by many in the restaurant world as calamari, that lure hordes of anglers armed with fishing poles, colorful squid jigs and portable high-powered lamps to light up the water below.

From late summer through winter, millions of squid return to spawn in Puget Sound, and before they do that they pack a hearty appetite gorging on small baitfish and crustaceans.

While the best squid jigging usually occurs from late November to February it isn't uncommon to catch them right now.

"Squid jigging has been really good, and I know some (anglers) who easily got a couple of pounds at the Edmonds Pier, the Alki area (off the Seacrest Boathouse Pier), and even down south at the Des Moines Pier," said Jerry Beppu, owner of Linc's Tackle Shop in Seattle, who may be known as the godfather of squid jigging.

Since the 1980s, Beppu's family shop has been selling thousands of squid jigs annually to customers.

"We've sold quite a few jigs the last couple of weeks, and I've heard the squid are large in size right now," Beppu said. "Hopefully it might turn into something good this winter season."

There are a wide array of squid in the sea, and we're not talking about the ones you see on the National Geographic Channel called the kraken, which are known to have wrecked ships or even the more popular giant Humboldt squid that roam the West Coast.

These are a much smaller version that measure a mere 5 to 12 inches.

Squid move about in Puget Sound in huge schools, and have a very short life cycle of around 18 months.

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They tend to hang around the shorelines off the public piers, and are easily accessible and don't require fancy fishing gear.

Just about any light spinning rod and reel will work. Anglers raise the rod tip up to about 10 o'clock and then lower the jig to make it look like an injured fish.

Most squid schools tend to be just under the water's surface to about 20 feet down, but it's wise to work you lure from top to bottom to find them.

The weighted jigs come in a wide range of colors, and some will also use an unweighted lure with a small one-ounce lead weight.

The best time to catch them is at high tide. They tend to feed just after dark, and often in the middle of the night. When fishing is good they will even bite in the early-morning hours.

The squid don't actually bite the jig, but will wrap themselves onto the jig's pin-like ends. Keep a steady upward pressure, and don't give them any slack otherwise they'll simply let go.

Like any other sea creature if the bite isn't happening in one pier it might be wise to move to another.

The most popular places to catch them are along the Seattle waterfront at Piers 57, 62, 63, 70 and 86 or the Seattle Aquarium Pier.

Other good spots are Point Defiance Park Pier, Les Davis Pier in Tacoma, Fauntleroy Ferry Dock, Redondo Pier, Illahee State Park Pier, and the Waterman and Indianola piers in Kitsap County.

The daily limit is 10 pounds or 5 quarts; each angler must keep their catch in separate containers; no more than four lures may be used at one time; a forage fish dip-net or hand dip net may be used; no minimum size limit for squid; and a state shellfish license is required for ages 15 to 69, and 70 and older will need a senior shellfish license.

Notes

• The Edmonds Coast Guard Auxiliary are hosting a public 12-week novice and experienced boating education courses Sept. 14 and Sept. 16. Details: 425-774-4033 or e-mail boatclasses@hotmail.com.

• The Rainier Mountain Festival is 10 a.m. Sept. 12 in Ashford, just outside the Paradise entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Meet mountaineers Ed Viesturs, Dave Hahn, Jim and Peter Whittaker and other climbers. Activities include alpine games, five-mile trail run/walk, mountain technique demonstrations, raffle, kids games, music and food. Details: www.rainierfestival.com.

• The Puget Sound Anglers of Lake Washington meeting is 7 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Community Center at Mercer View, 8236 S.E. 24th St. on Mercer Island. Rod Griffin of Griff's Fly Fishing Adventures will discuss fly-fishing for Methow River trout and steelhead. Details: 425-823-0704.

• The Edmonds Coho Derby hosted by the Sno-King Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers is 6 a.m. on Sept. 11 at Edmonds Marina. Cost is $30. Details: www.fisharc.com/derbies.

• The Wild Steelhead Coalition Fall BBQ and Film Premier of "Eastern Rises" is 6 p.m. on Sept. 9 at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. The event is free, but donations are accepted. Details: www.wildsteelheadcoalition.org.

• The SeaTac Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association meeting is 7 p.m. Sept. 14 at the IBEW Local 46 Hall, 19802 62nd Ave. South in Kent. Jeff June, Natural Resources Consultants' VP and Chief Scientist will discuss Puget Sound Derelict Gear Removal Program. Details: www.ccapnw.org.

• The Washington Outdoor Women Workshop is Sept. 17-19 at Camp River Ranch in Carnation. Learn basics of archery, freshwater fishing, fly-fishing and tying flies, kayaking, cooking wild game, big-game hunting basics, map and compass reading, wilderness first aid, survival skills, how to start a hunting dog and outdoor photography. Must be at least 18 years old. Scholarships still available (wowscholarship@gmail.com). Cost is $235. Details: www.washingtonoutdoorwomen.org or 425-455-1986.

• The Everett Coho Derby hosted by the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club and Snohomish Sportsmen's Club is Sept. 18-19 at the 10th Street ramp in Everett. Cost is $25. Details: www.everettcohoderby.com/derbyinformation.

• The Seattle Rifle and Pistol Association Hunter Sight-In is 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sept. 18-19, Sept. 25-26, Oct. 2-3 and Oct. 9-10 at 725 135th Ave. S.E. in Snohomish. Cost is $5. Details: 360-659-9362 or 425-775-9531.

• In celebration of the Salish Sea's official naming, the tall ship schooner Maple Leaf will offer five-night trip Oct. 18-23, and departs from Sidney, B.C. An onboard naturalist will provide guests with wildlife and natural history of the sea. Details: 800-599-5323 or www.MapleLeafAdventures.com.

• The Northwest Knife Collectors Knife Show is 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 25, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Little Creek Casino & Resort, 91 West State Highway 106 in Shelton. Cost is $5. Buy, sell, trade and learn about a huge selections of knives, plus demonstrations and cutting competition. Details: www.nwkc.org.

• Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Pheasants Forever are hosting a free Youth Pheasant Hunt 7 a.m. Sept. 25 and 8 a.m. Sept. 26. Open to all hunters under age 15. Details: 253-967-8260 or 253-847-3979 or 253-224-6432.

• The Friends of the Cedar River Watershed is hosting the National Wild and Scenic Film Festival 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Patagonia Store, 2100 1st Ave. in Seattle, and 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave. in Seattle. Cost is $8 advance and $10 at the door. Details: 206-297-8141 or www.cedarriver.org.

• The Issaquah Alps Trails Club hosts weekly hikes and meets in downtown Issaquah. Details: www.issaquahalps.org.

• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and trail conditions. Details: www.wta.org.

• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.

• The Seattle Parks and Recreation's Bicycle Sundays along Lake Washington Boulevard to Seward Park are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 29; and Sept. 5, 12, 19 and 26. Details: www.seattle.gov/parks/bicyclesunday.

• The Western Bass Club meets every third Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Kennydale Hall in Renton. Details: www.westernbassclub.comor www.nickbarrfishing.com.

• The new nonprofit Cascade Musky Association is looking for members. Cost is $25 or $35 for a couple/family membership. Details: www.cascademuskyassociation.com or www.wafish.com.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com; twitter.com/MarkKYuasa. For more outdoors announcements visit www.seattletimes.com.

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