Squid are both impressive and important. Impressive because they are voracious and aggressive. Important because they are a primary food source from the depths all the way to the shallows.

We primarily encounter “market squid” (up to about 10 to 12 inches long). They occupy a pivotal point in the food chain, from our perspective, because they eat mostly small stuff we don’t care about (though they’ll eat most anything), and because they are a prime food source to fish and other critters that we care a great deal about.

Squid come up out of the depths of the abyss at night to feed voraciously on nearly anything they can wrap their tentacles around. They are overly voracious and courageous, and so these feeding attempts sometimes wind up with a squid serving as dinner because it went after something higher in the food chain.

At grey light, they move en masse back to the relative safety of the deep basins and canyons of the sea. At all depths, they communicate with colors as they change colors and color patterns at will. It is wild to watch them change colors.

Around full moon times, squid come up very near the beach and spend several days and nights in the spawning process. Much of the action is at night, then during the day the squid mill about and frequently remain very near the seafloor in just 40 to 120 feet of water. That is when they are most vulnerable to fish and fisherfolk.

Some fish such as white seabass have exceptionally good eyesight in dark and murky waters, and so they can scarf up squid with just a half-moon or better to light the way and their favorite time to feed is during the early morning grey light period.

White seabass are basically big, hungry brutes, and they will often take a squid that looks easy to catch at any time of day.

That is the basis of our fishing strategy for white seabass. We love to fish with live squid for bait, but we don’t like it to be too lively since the fish prefer spawned out and dying squid that is easy for them to catch.

California halibut also like to feed on spawning squid. These flatfish lie on the bottom and wait. They are masterful ambush predators. A thick layer of squid eggs on the bottom is somewhat of a hindrance to halibut but they always seem to find a way to feed.

Then there is the value of the squid themselves. A huge market exists for the “candy of the sea,” as squid are often called. People like calamari (very fresh squid), and a great deal of it is packaged and sold for bait at shops.

Squid are carefully managed by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the California Fish & Game Commission. This is a fisheries management and an ecological success story.

— 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. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.