Is Squid a Good Bait for Fishing in the Ocean?


A live white shrimp swimming in the blue ocean. Soon to be bait.

Probably the first bait everyone uses when they go saltwater fishing is either frozen squid or shrimp. Squid is an awesome bait for ocean fishing.

I’m sure I used frozen un-bleached squid for my first time because it was what everyone else was using that I went with and I figured it must be the best.

Squid have a lifespan of 9 months. They are quick growing and a vital resource for human beings and many fish in the ocean that eat squid as a significant part of their diet.

Squid Description

The species most often sold in the USA as bait and calamari is the “Opalescent Squid”. This one is found from southern California to Alaska.

This squid is less than 10 inches long at adulthood and tube-shaped. It has a triangle point at one end and some wide fins. The color is mostly white with brown areas and they can change color.

Pros of Squid as Bait

  1. IT’S EVERYWHERE. Bait shops always have frozen squid and shrimp. Grocery stores have it. Probably some small convenience stores have it. Walmart has it. It’s very easy to find and you won’t have to think too hard about where is the place nearest to you that would have a couple pounds of frozen squid.
  2. CATCH MANY KINDS OF FISH. There’s no limit to the species you can catch with squid. Almost all fish love it. Even the ones you don’t want to catch like catfish, ladyfish, and puffers.
  3. LASTS ALL DAY. One 3-5 lb. frozen block of squid will probably last a few hours until you’re ready to go home.
  4. ALL SIZES. It’s easy to cut any size for your hook, no matter how big or small.
  5. CHEAP ENOUGH. It still makes sense to get blocks of frozen squid for fishing especially if a group of you are going and you don’t care what you catch. Live bait is expensive!

Cons of Squid as Bait

  1. STINKY FINGERS. It’s smelling and stinks up your fingers and hands. You’ll need to rinse or wash your hands every time you cut the squid to put on your hook because you don’t want to then touch your rod, reel, tacklebox, pants, shirt, or pizza with squid on your hands!
  2. TOO MANY FISH LIKE IT. It’s almost as bad as using shrimp for bait with the amount and variety of action you’re going to attract with it. Plus, squid smells so you’ll get the catfish and stingrays all over your squid if something else better doesn’t take it first! It actually attracts too many fish and some small fish that have big eyes and think they can eat the entire piece will rip it off your hook fast.
  3. SOGGY. It will get soggy and droopy after a short while in the water. If you fish with the same piece longer than 20 minutes it will turn into a booger-like blob on the end of your hook. Not impressive for your date!
  4. EXPENSE IS RISING. Like everything, squid is getting more expensive every year. With our economy going upside down at the moment I’m a bit afraid how much frozen shrimp and squid are going to jump in price. Let’s hope for the best!

Is Squid the Best Bait for Ocean Fishing?

Not the best, but squid is one of the top 2 baits you could use. Live shrimp or a live small bait fish is the best fish to use for catching saltwater fish in the ocean.

You may not catch the fish you want, but you’ll definitely catch fish on squid or shrimp. You’ll even catch more on shrimp, but overall the fish will be smaller because the little pinfish and other grunts and small baitfish will pick at a shrimp on a hook.

Does Squid Catch Many Fish When Used as Bait?

It does, yes. You’ll catch a lot of fish using squid. You’ll catch a variety of fish too.

I have caught ladyfish, crevalle jacks, redfish, catfish, stingrays, snapper, sheepshead, black drum, pufferfish, reef fish, grouper, and more fish I’ve forgotten about!

Squid makes it easy to catch some fish, so it is a universal bait that is excellent for noobs or children that you don’t want to introduce to putting hooks through live bait fish.

How Often Do Saltwater Anglers Use Squid as Bait?

If you go to a fishing pier, you’re going to see about 70% of people fishing using squid as bait.

It’s easy and available and many people don’t really know much about fishing and what they’re even trying to catch, so they put some squid on, sink it to the bottom with some sinkers, and hope for the best.

This DOES catch fish, but maybe not the fish you want.

The other 30% of anglers on the pier are using better baits to target exactly the fish they want to catch.

Large pinfish (a baitfish), mullet, or trash fish caught and cut up for bait are used by most people fishing for specific fish.

Crabs can also catch some of the best gamefish (reds, black drum, permit, sheepshead)!

How Much Does Frozen Squid Cost at the Store?

Sea Wave frozen whole raw squid from the Monterey Fish Co. in Salinas, California. Great fishing bait.
Sea Wave Squid is a very common brand I’ve used before for fish bait.

At Safeway, we just saw a price of $16.99 for 3.0 pounds of whole raw frozen squid. This is one of the most common brands from the Monterey Fish Company in Salinas, California. In the USA, Safeway and Walmart and any large grocery store will have frozen squid like these or similar.

How To Catch Sharks and Rays Using Squid?

Both of these fish love squid, so you’ll need a large hook, possibly as big as the palm of your hand. a #8 hook that’s very strong works well.

Sharks and rays are easily hooked because they take the entire bait into their mouths quickly and you can set the hook right away.

Using a Carolina type rig you can use a 1-2 oz. sinker to keep the weight on the bottom and a few feet of wire leader which can be directly attached to the hook, or use 100 lb. test to connect to the hook.

How To Catch King and Spanish Mackerel Using Squid

King mackerel and Spanish mackerel both love squid in 3 inch strips and an inch wide. These make excellent bait for mackerel.

A size #4 hook and a simple split-shot sinker four feet up the line works well. Cut strips of squid and drift them in heavy tide, or pull them slowly through still water.

Allowing the squid to drop a foot or so under the surface will often prompt a strike from mackerel and other fish like Crevalle Jacks.

How To Catch Flounder with Squid?

Flounder fish live on the bottom and wait to see something in the sand or dirt before attacking. They’ll often lay completely under the sand with only their eyes sticking up.

To catch flounder with squid cut 1-1.5 inch strips and put them on a 1 or 1/0 hook. Don’t cover the hook, leave the sharp part exposed.

Clip some split-shot sinkers about 6 inches from the hook. Throw your squid out and let it sink to the bottom. Drag it through the sand to kick up some of it and entice the flounder to strike.

Unfortunately, you’ll also catch some unwanted fish, but this is a great way to catch a limit of flounder if they’re in the water you’re fishing.

How To Distinguish Squid from Octopus?

Squid swim in massive schools and are attracted to bright ultraviolet lights at night. Octopus are solitary and don’t go toward these lights.

Squid have a couple inch long body even up to 1 foot long, and 8 short arms a couple of inches long and 2 longer tentacles. Longer body than tentacles.

Octopi have a shorter body and 8 longer tentacles.

How Are Squid Caught?

The squid boats can be seen from many ocean shores after the sunset. They have some oddly-colored green ultraviolet lights that attract the squid in huge numbers.

The nets are already out and they simply lift the nets and collect hundreds, sometimes thousands of squid like this.

What Do Squid Eat? How Can I Catch Them?

Squid eat shrimp, crabs, smaller fish, and even smaller squid. They are not very choosy. They are voracious eaters.

There are squid lures that are dragged through the water fast and the squid will attack them and get caught up in their many sharp prongs.

The lure is very unique looking. I’ll show one below. Click the image or here to see them at Amazon.

Caution – when caught, squid squirt an inky jet of liquid at you forcefully and can hit you in the face or cover your clothes with the purple mess! Check out the video after the lure!

Glowing squid lure with 12 sharp metal prongs to snag squid while they chase the lure.
The best squid lures have multiple prongs to snag the squid as they chase and attack the lure. This lure even glows, so it is good for day or night.

Squid Catch and Ink Squirt (Video)

SQUID CATCH AND COOK | Fishing For Big Reds - Ep 92

[Images – Squid lure from product image. Box of squid from manufacturer. Squid on blue background from Unsplsh.]


See more Bait Info here >

About the Author

My name is Vern Lovic. I grew up in Pennsylvania fishing for trout in the streams and bass in the lakes. I’ve fished both coasts of Florida for more than a decade, but I’ve been primarily on the West Coast around St. Petersburg. I fish mostly from a Kayak and pier along with wade-fishing and shore fishing but I occasionally will go out on a boat with one of my friends.

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