Just beneath the swirling, cosmic dark of high tide lies the fresh catch of the fall-to-winter season: the prehistoric, legendary squid, a type of tentacled cephalopod that makes for crispy Italian calamari, traditional Filipino adobong posit, and an exotic addition to Spanish paella.
It’s around this cloudy, rainy time when experienced and novice squid fishers flock to Edmonds Pier — right around sunset — setting up buckets with iced saltwater, and iridescent lures and lines, settling in for the long, but rewarding process of jigging for a strike or, more likely, slight weight of a catch.
Both jiggers and squid look for (artificial swaths of light) in the dark, swirling waters, a sure indication of food, depending on who’s doing the catching. Squid linger in the depths of the shadows until they spy young herring or other small fish, then dart out to get them. It is then that they may go for a glowing lure by mistake, and that’s when the squid-jiggers see their chance.
The best season to jig in Edmonds is in September, when hungry squid travel to Puget Sound before spawning. They go from Neah Bay in late May to the Port Angeles area June-Aug., Edmonds in Sept., and south toward Elliot Bay in Seattle, before heading down farther to Tacoma late Nov.-Dec. By Dec.-Jan., squid are plentiful throughout South Puget Sound.
The best time is nighttime on the south end of Edmonds Pier, according to many jiggers. Some swear by the clear, full moon, others insist on full darkness, under constant cloud cover.
Bundle up for squid-fishing weather, which is usually cold, windy, and rainy. Expect a crowd, too, so arrive early to snag a good spot. Anglers spend hours on the pier, waiting for a strike.
Before heading off, be sure to purchase a valid shellfish/seaweed license from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s licensing online or other state license dealers. WA allows 10 pounds/five quarts of catch per day, whichever comes first. Everyone, residents and non-residents, can jig any time of the year in these waters.
New Seattle resident/chemical engineer Kelcie Lei especially enjoys jigging at Edmonds Pier, which features cleaning stations, restrooms, and rain covers. “You can always count on tons of people bringing in their own flood lights to attract more squid,” she wrote in an Oct. 1, 2021 blog post, “Best Locations to Catch Squid in Seattle.” “…Sometimes there’s a guy who sells homemade squid jigs, if you happen to lose some that night.”
Her essentials include a squid jig, plus extras, fishing pole, knife, bucket or cooler, and that Washington state fishing license. She also covers up, layers and layers, for the weather, making sure to wear a jacket and hard shell that “you don’t mind getting squid ink on,” as those little suckers squirt when sensing danger.
The inky black stuff easily washes off in water, so no worries.
Go on YouTube and watch regular Bashi pull his line, and quickly flick his catch off the lure straight into the bucket. He doesn’t mess about, no holding the squiggling squid up to get a better look, tempting fate. The pronged lure keeps the little tentacles loosely attached until the jigger merely turns it loose with a slight jerk of the wrist.
Fishing Duo blogger Kendle gives quite a detailed guide for squid fishing, rods, lures and lines, locations, and techniques. The key is to keep the squid iced right away to prevent spoiling.
“What’s the point of catching all that squid if you didn’t want to enjoy some of the finest calamari around. In order to get the 5 star taste, you must properly care for your catch,” she explained. “Whether you have one or two buckets, one of them should have an icy bath of saltwater. Scoop up some saltwater when you get to your fishing destination and add a fair amount of ice.”
Squid fishing off Edmonds Pier is fun for the whole crew, friends and family (minimum fish-licensing age is 15). Or go solo and make friends with the veterans around you; they’ll be happy to share their knowledge and experience.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Edmonds Pier | “Catching and cooking squid”
KELCIE LEI SEATTLE & TRAVEL, “Best Locations to Catch Squid in Seattle,” Oct. 1, 2021
Fishing Duo, “The Ultimate Guide to Puget Sound Squid Fishing”
Everett Herald, “Jigging for squid: Why winter anglers gather on local piers” by Eric Schucht, Jan. 4, 2022
“Squid Jigging Edmonds,” Low Tone Digging Metal Detecting, Oct. 14, 2019
“Puget sound squid fishing 11052021 | Squid Fishing at Edmonds fishing pier | Squid Jigging at night,” Bashi WA Fishing, Nov. 6, 2021
Images by Janine Harles