Add-ons are always fun. Some are more fun than others. Squid whole, in section or strips are and have been a go-to fish bait add-on. Group anglers have always carried squid in their arsenal of easy-boy live or, at least, frozen baits. For big fish, a whole squid jugged in deep water for grouper sand goliaths is a standby offering. Squid are inexpensive, easy to work with, and have a juice scent and attractive texture. When bottom-bounced or suspended on a circle hook and egg sinker rig, they offer an enticing natural-looking target for ground fish as well as reef-oriented critters like cobia. Calamari, as the Italians refer to them, are sweet and rubbery when fresh; they also exude a tasty scent trail. Often smaller bait fish will surround a squid bait and, in turn, stimulate a predatory game fish to come snooping around and thus inhale both squid bait and unwary lesser fish.
But there are a number of strip bait options that well-versed surf, pass, and backbay anglers opt for when fishing flounder, sea trout, whiting, pompano, and even redfish and the occasional snook. Thin long bait strips add flavor, scent, and undulating action to a vast array of spoons, spinners and jigs, bucktails and other variants.
One standby flounder rig entails an egg sinker pinned up on a 24-inch leader, a spinner blade, and red bead, or facsimile, just ahead of a squid strip-dressed hook. This assemblage cast out and dragged along the sand bottom is a killer flounder, whiting, and pompano rig. The old ways aren’t always the best but some times they’re the only way. Flounder or flatties lie on the sand bottoms half buried in the soft sand or marl, and dash up and out to capture prey that scoots along the bottom making subtle vibrations, a surefire wakeup call to a hungry flounder or fluke.
Redfish and trout will attack said offerings with about the same vigor. A better setup perhaps for these bottom to mid-water column feeders is a simple squid-dressed brightly colored jighead. Bucktails, smallish gold weedless spoons, and spinner baits all work well with a rugged, sweet, wiggly squid strip. These offerings can be bottom-bounced and allowed to flutter through the water column to cover lots of fishy real estate.
Trolled jigs and spoons also benefit from this style of presentation, good old Mother Nature’s curly tail. If you’re handy with a fillet knife you can experiment with differ configurations and sizes of your custom squid strips. If you like to get carried away, like me, try dyeing some with different food dyes, just like bass pork rinds.
The Vietnamese make a sauce from squid juice calledNuoc Mam Cham; it's a dipping fish sauce. It’s made by an ugly, unhealthy looking process, fermenting huge vats of squid guck in sheds swarming with blue bottle flies and such. Ah! for the good old days. No offense meant; you can buy it bottled in Oriental food shops. YuckO! Might be good as a spray-on fish attractor.
Capt. Ron Kowalyk: 239-267-9312