The fish we love to catch and eat — I’m talking about delectable critters like white seabass and halibut — in turn love to catch and eat squid, which unwittingly serve as an incredibly important food-chain building block. Healthy squid biomass is fundamentally important to our fisheries.
This year, as last year, we have been enjoying prodigious squid spawns along our coast. The volume boggles my mind. I’ve fished squid spawns between Goleta and Gaviota that went on and on for months at a time, with wave after wave of spawning squid. This massive volume of food, combined with warm water temperatures we enjoyed this year, primed the reproductive pump of some of our most sought-after fish, again including white seabass and halibut.
I confess to mentioning my favorite food fish, but many other dietary fish staples will slurp a squid snack in a hot second. Some of these include red snapper and other rockfish, sheepshead, cabezon, lingcod, ocean whitefish, sand bass, calico bass, mackerel, sharks and plenty of others.
The No. 1 bait we use out there on the fishing grounds is squid. We like to jig up live squid when we can, and we call it “candy bait” because of how popular it is with the many fish species we target. But squid is also effective fresh dead, or frozen, defrosted and fished whole or cut into strips.
Squid move up from the deep abyss to spawn throughout roughly half of the year along our coast and around the Channel Islands. We are blessed with a robust squid biomass here, and therefore we are further blessed with good fish populations.
Squid management is critically important to the overall health and resiliency of our fish stocks. Thankfully, the adaptive fishery management practices of the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the California Department of Fish & Game have kept our squid populations strong. My well-worn hat is doffed to our fisheries managers for keeping squid populations healthy.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.