Posted by: socalsalty | September 27, 2011

Trip Report: Giant Squid Invade Santa Monica Bay

Early in the week leading up to this weekend, I started to see reports of giant squid showing up off the coast down south in Orange County.  As the week progressed I saw them move north getting taken on the boats out of Pierpont Landing down in Long Beach.  I had the kids with me this weekend and the plan was to stay close to home and ride out of Marina del Rey.  When we boarded the Spitfire, the 3/4 day boat out of Marina del Rey, we found out the squid had just hit Santa Monica Bay the night before on the twilight ride, our regular boat the New Del Mar.  We didn’t know what to expect, but I have been fascinated by these strange denizens of the deep and was looking forward to seeing them firsthand.

Juju with new friend Skyler as Andrew chums the spot

Sunday had a crisp Fall bite to it.  It was overcast and a bit drizzly when we first loaded onto the boat.  Not knowing we’d be squidding, we were mostly unprepared gear-wise…most anglers were using large squid jigs with the big glow-in-the-dark torpedoes in the middle.  Since we didn’t have these jigs, I rigged up Jake with a Dan Hernandez Magic Metal jig, and I used a Salas 7x in a calico bass pattern.  Both had large treble hooks on the business end of the lure, and large metallic or white sections to them, which I figured would be enough to attract squid.  I talked to deckhand Derek on the way out and he said we’d be fine.  The one key piece of advice that I got from Derek, as well as some of the other deckhands I talked to prior to going out was, “Don’t look over the side when they come up.”  We’d soon find out why.

Upon leaving the harbor we headed south and worked our way to a deep water spot off Hermosa.  The first spot was pretty slow.

Jake with 2 of the big squid

Then we got word that the action was hot further down off Palos Verdes.  When we got there, the deckhands chummed the water with chunks of sardines.  After the first few squid were taken, their buddies joined the fray close to the top of the water.  At this point, the action was wide open.  Capt. John was throwing whole dead sardines on top of the water and free gaffing the squid that came up to take them.  We could see the squid attacking our jigs and if we didn’t hook up, it was a small matter of dropping back down and quickly getting back on.  A bunch of the other local boats joined us…the New Del Mar and the Redondo Special, as well as several private boaters.  Anglers who had the proper equipment were filling their sacks to overflowing and working on their second sack.  We took 7 total which was plenty for us.  We weren’t having a problem getting bit, it was keeping them on the line.  Now we know what to do next time around to really go to town.

After  everyone got their fill of the squid, we moved in closer and worked the kelp.  There wasn’t much current which is usually a sign that the fishing is going to be slow.  That proved to be the case.  About the only thing biting were blue perch.  The thrill of the stop was seeing a lone yellowtail pick up the chase on one angler’s iron jig (dorado pattern), but he didn’t strike and that was that.  We headed home shortly after…another great day on the water.

Reports as of today had the squid as far north as Oxnard.  Your best bet if you want to load up is get a squid jig, get on a twilight ride, and fill up on the big squid while they’re around.  Please enjoy the video we made of this unique salty experience.  Tight lines!



  1. Joe, Great read. Last week in while we were in San Diego, La Jolla, We were having a bbq on the beach and a squid become beached next to us. There were a bunch of leopard sharks in the water. I think the squid was trying to get away. He was really cool. He kept squirting water in to propel him back to deep water and got us a couple of times. Everybody on the beach was amazed. I finally picked him up and threw him to the sharks. What a great thrill for my son to see. The ocean is a cool place!

    • Hey Tim, thanks for stopping by. Yes, the ocean is a great resource that we enjoy out here. I’m glad you got to get a taste on your visit. Let me know the next time you come to SoCal and we’ll get you out on the water and get you salty 😉

  2. Good job Salty and Unsalted! The video is really cool!

  3. Thanks Claire. It was a lot of fun for the Salty crew…even Pepper (Juliana). She finally got to see the dolphins on this trip! I’ll drop you off some calimari later.

    • Thanks for another salty seafood dinner 😉 I uploaded some pics of the dinner last night on fb.

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