Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, February 20 , 2019, 2:20 am | Fair 44º


Outdoors Q&A: Monster-sized Humboldt Squid

There's no limit on what you can catch but be mindful about what you actually can eat.

Q: There’s been a huge population of Humboldt squid showing up off the Central Coast in recent years. As aggressive as they are, I am curious what effects they may be having on our game fish populations. These squid are also really fun to catch and it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the fishing when you get into a big school of them. Unfortunately, the result is often boats and their anglers wind up harvesting more than they can handle, and many of these big squid end up going to waste. Should we have bag limits on them? (John P., San Jose)

Carrie Wilson
Carrie Wilson
A: Humboldt, or jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas) have indeed made their return to California waters, and in a big way. They are now being caught on party boats from San Diego to Fort Bragg. Special evening trips that specifically target the squid are catching behemoths ranging from 12 to 40 pounds.

As far as what impact the Humboldt squid may be having on other game fish populations, the jury is still out. The squid’s major prey include lantern fishes; however, lantern fishes are prey to a lot of other game fishes, so it may be more of a competition aspect rather than strictly a predator-prey aspect. Humboldt squid are more efficient predators in low-oxygen environments than fish predators and can out-compete these species. However, they also feed on a wide range of species from northern anchovy, Pacific sardine, Pacific mackerel, juvenile rockfishes, and squid species (including themselves, hence their reputation) so there is great potential to directly affect game fish populations.

According to Senior Marine Biologist and DFG squid expert Dale Sweetnam, “Researchers have been observing the expansion and shallowing of oxygen minimum zones off the West Coast in recent years. It is that environment that Dosidicus flourishes in and is probably the reason that they are still out and about and in no hurry to leave.”

Humboldt squid can reach up to six feet and weigh as much as 100 pounds.
Humboldt squid can reach up to six feet and weigh as much as 100 pounds. (Carrie Wilson / California Department of Fish & Game photo)
Although there is no limit at this time on the number of Humboldt squid that can be caught, anglers should be conservation-minded and take only what they can comfortably use. Landing reports indicate large numbers of squid are not only being caught, but also being kept. The DFG is also receiving disturbing reports of a number of fishermen actually then dumping these dead squid when returning to the docks. Not only is this unethical but it also constitutes violations of wanton waste, which is willfully wasting the state’s fish resources (CCR Title 14 Section 1.87.)

For everyone who gets the fun opportunity to fish for these enormous mollusks, take only what you plan to use. One large jumbo squid can easily feed an entire family for quite a long time. By being thoughtful and helping to conserve California’s marine resources, we hope these animals will keep coming back in good numbers for years to come.

If you catch a jumbo squid and do not plan on eating it, please release it back into the water. These monster-sized creatures are a lot of fun to catch and they will usually survive when released, to be caught by another angler on another day.

Q: I’ll be hunting wild boar in Condor Country using lead-free ammo in my rifle. Is it legal to have lead bullets in my .44 mag as a backup safety gun while walking in this lead-free hunting area? (Mark N., Simi Valley)

A: Wild pig are classified as big game. According to Game Warden Todd Tognazzini it is unlawful to possess lead bullets for your handgun while hunting big game. Lead-free bullets are available for your .44 magnum and would be required.

Q: I will be steelhead fishing in Oregon and was wondering if I bring home Oregon fish with the appropriate punch card, may I also stop and fish on the way back (in California) and retain a fish using a California punch card? (John S.)

A: So let’s say you took one steelhead from the Chetco River in Oregon and then stop off at the Smith River to fish. According to Lt. Dennis McKiver, since the bag and possession limit for the Smith River is one steelhead, you cannot then fish for steelhead in the Smith River while in possession of one steelhead. If you took another steelhead you would be over the possession limit. You will also have to complete and submit a “Declaration of Entry Form” when bringing fish and game in from another state. Having the steelhead recorded on an Oregon Report Card will not be enough. Click here to download the declaration forms.

Q: If I am on my own property, can I hunt rabbits at night with a spotlight? (John S.)

A: No.

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. Her DFG-related question-and-answer column appears weekly at www.dfg.ca.gov/QandA/. She can be reached at [email protected]

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.