Squid populations in Moreton Bay are very healthy but they're a species that you'll rarely encounter unless you specifically target them. Squid lurk in a broad array of areas, from the deeper channels to the shallow surrounds of the bay islands and the weed beds close to the sandy beaches of Moreton and Stradbroke islands. Squid can be caught in several ways, with the most common being on species-specific lures called egi (squid jigs). Using egi is an active way of squidding in a cast-and-retrieve manner, but there's a more sedate alternative: baited squid skewers. Skewers are easy to set up and simple to fish. Let me tell you a little about them.
A squid skewer is a simple metal shaft with one or two rows of barbs at the bottom end. This is pinned through a bait, generally a whole fish bait such as a pilchard, slimy mackerel, yakka, gar or pike. Pilchards work just as well as any other bait I have found, so I generally use these as they are easy to acquire.
Once baited, the squid skewer is floated out behind the boat. If drifting, I generally just cast it out and let it waft around in the current. If I'm fishing in a deeper channel or a situation where the current is keeping the baited skewer close to the surface, I might add a small sinker to the rig to keep it down.
When fishing in shallow waters, or when there is minimal current, I generally suspend the skewer below a float. This is especially the case when fishing from an anchored position and the current flow is slow. It is best to use a float with minimal resistance so that the squid can easily pull it under when it attacks the baited skewer. Often I might add some weighting to the float, or on the line below it, to decrease the buoyancy. A pencil type float is ideal for this and can be rigged so that it slides along the line. Some lead can easily be wrapped around the shaft to weight it down a little. A float stopper is used to limit the travel of the float up the line and allows the bait to be set to a certain depth. The float stopper will wind through your rod tip easily, and even onto your reel, so as to not hinder the retrieval of the hooked squid. When retrieved, the float will also simply slide down to the skewer so it isn’t a problem either. When cast out again, the baited skewer will sink until the float stopper again holds it at the desired depth.
I often float out such a baited skewer when drifting around the bay islands casting plastics for the snapper and the like. I also use this rig in prominent channels such as the Rous Channel and other areas as it will often produce a few tasty squid for the table. It's also be a good option for those anglers targeting whiting around the Sand Hills and banks areas.
There are many brands of skewers available on the market. Most of these are very basic and are generally rather thick galvanised or stainless shafts with one or two rows of barbs on each. I generally find that these work OK but because the barbs are fairly thick, you often have to strike hard to embed these into the squid properly. When drifted behind the boat in the aforementioned method, these only work a portion of the time and a lot of squid are missed.
However, recently I got my hands on the best squid skewers I have ever seen. These are of the Yamashita brand (one of the leaders in the egi market), which are imported by E J Todd. There are two models available, one with a single row of barbs and another (the one I like best) which has two rows of barbs. This is the Yamashita Squid Spike KTISFB (code 37309-16) which comes in a pack of two and retails below $15. These have a fine shaft and two rows of thin, chemically-sharpened barbs.
These skewers have a special rigging system which is very easy once you know how, however because all the writing on the product is in Japanese it's hard to work out if you're new to using skewers. To give you a head start, I'll take you through the process of rigging these skewers. I'll also discuss an alternative way to adapt and set up the skewer, because the standard rigging method sometimes allows the pilchard to come adrift from the skewer when you do a powerful cast.Reads: 2035