March 16, 2006, by Steve "Bad Dog" Ross:
In Mexico, giant Humboldt squid are rightfully called "diablos rojos," or "red devils," and in marine biology books they're called by their Latin name, "Desidicus gigas," but whatever you want to call these animals, they're just downright nasty.
With large sharp parrot beaks, giant Humboldt squid, travel together hunting as a pack of voracious carnivores, wrapping their prey with razor lined suction cups on long powerful tentacles, drawing the meat to the ripper.
When Humboldt squid charge your boat in search of something to shred and eat, you do not want to fall into the water. These beasts are very intelligent, quick and use flashing neon body colors to communicate their emotions. My personal favorite is dark red, which indicates enraged anger. Their fluorescent white is very bizarre as their whole body lights up like a snow bank. To watch these bad boys change colors from moment to moment is both exhilarating and terrifying.
While giant Humboldt squid propel themselves like a rocket through the water using a jet stream, they use this power and energy to dispel a cloud of black ink to ward off enemies in the sea or they perfectly direct this splash of water and ink at you. So when the moment of truth arrives to gaff this thrashing monster squid, gaff him in the center of his head, hold on for dear life, and do not lift him out of the water until he has expelled all of his ink into the ocean. Not even a gallon of Tide and Bleach will get this squid ink out of your tee-shirt.
Why should anyone in his right mind hunt and kill one of these dangerous creatures? In two words, FRESH CALAMARI!
To fish for these giant squid, you will need special squid jigs or iron jigs with a huge treble hook. The large heavy squid jigs are needed to go down deep and bring up the herd. The smaller squid jigs are used when they have arrived at the boat. These jigs are luminous and need to be charged up in a bright light.
You will need bright light. Two Home Depot clamp-on light fixtures, two 300-watt Sylvania Utility Light Bulbs, and a 120-volt power source. I use a Honda 1000 gasoline generator.
For terminal tackle, I use 4 feeet of Duratest, Sevenstrand's 49 strand 175-pound wire. Make a connecting leader from your main line to the jig; otherwise, they will bite off the squid jig. I use Cyalume light sticks. To keep squid interested and around your boat, chumming helps. Use any bait, but only chunks to keep them there.
Where do you fish for squid?
Last month I followed my Terrafin SST Charts and found them at night west of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, after the temperature break in the warmer water. Another good bet is on the banks, such as the Banda and 9 Mile Banks. Night time is best as it is easier to attract them with lights in the dark of night.
To fish for Humboldt giant squid, hang your lights off the back quarter of your outriggers shining into the water. If you can get the water to look like downtown Las Vegas you are better off than one dim light. Drop either the long large charged up squid jig or a ganion with whole squid illuminated with a cyalume light stick to the bottom of the bank or into a deep water zone of 200 feet or more. The bigger the whole squid bait the better.
At the ready, are outfits with the smaller squid jig or big iron with huge treble hooks. I suggest a minimum of 40-pound test main line; giant squid are not line shy. If you don't use a wire connector leader you will lose a few lures as they will grab and bite through the main line.
With this giant thrashing around on the line at the boat, let him expel his ink and lift him out of the water and over the gunwale as if he was a live shark. Keep away from his grabbing tentacles or he will suck onto your leg and bring his body over for some angler meat while huffing and puffing and flashing dark red.
The delicious seafood is the squid's main body, not the head, nor the tentacles. I recommend that you cut off the head and tentacles immediately and throw them back into the water for a cannibal show and stash the main body into ice at once. If you take this to a Mexican restaurant you will become a dyed in the wool squid killer.
• Steve Ross has been fishing off Southern California and Baja California, Mexico, for more than 50 years. He runs his sportfisher, Bad Dog, out of Marina Coral in Ensenada, Baja California.
(Related Ensenada articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main Ensenada information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Ensenada area in "Mexico Fishing News.")