Public Fishing Piers of Puget Sound
Market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens, aka Loligo opalescens)
Washington's squid generally are less than a foot long
Photo by David R. Andrew
Fishing license required for squid
All squid anglers 15 years or older must carry a current Washington fishing license. Options range from an annual shellfish/seaweed license to combination fishing licenses, valid for a single day or up to a year. Information on options is located on the license fee website.

Recreational Squid Fishing

From the Strait of Juan de Fuca to south Puget Sound, recreational squid fishing in Washington state is available to sport anglers year round, although the best time to catch squid is during the fall and winter.

A nighttime sport that requires simple, inexpensive fishing tackle, squid fishing-or jigging-typically takes place on the many piers and docks throughout the Puget Sound region.

The most common species of squid found in Washington waters is known as market squid (Loligo opalescens) and measures less than a foot in size. With a long tapered body and triangular tail fins, these fast-moving, ten-armed mollusks are also known as calamari when prepared as food.

Washington's Squids

Squid found along Washington's coast, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound are called Pacific squid, opalescent, or-most commonly-market squid (Loligo opalescens). Adult market squid found in inside waters average about eight inches (mantle plus tentacles).

Biologically, squid belong to the class of mollusks known as cephalopods, which also include octopus. Squid are decapods, having 10 tentacles, compared to the eight arms of octopuses. They also are free-swimming creatures and exhibit schooling behavior similar to many species of fish. Evidence indicates that these squid are short-lived, probably having life spans of no more than one year.

Squid eggs
Photo courtesy of NOAA

Squid most commonly spawn in waters that have gently sloping bottoms at depths of 15-60 feet. Covering a small area, anywhere from a few to several hundred of the squids' gelatinous egg cases can be found attached to common points, such as underwater rocks, anchors, even crab pots. Each of the two-three inch cylindrical cases contains 100 or so eggs.

How soon the young market squid will emerge from the egg capsules depends on water temperature. In California waters they have been known to hatch in 12-23 days, while mid-March deposits in some of British Columbia's chillier waters have taken 90 days to hatch. In Puget Sound, it takes about 70 days for the eggs to hatch.

Humboldt squid
The Humboldt species of squid is usually found off the coasts of central and South America but has extended its range to the north, mainly during the late summer and early fall months when the water temperatures are at their highest.

Humboldt squid

Humboldt squid are a large schooling species. Most researchers believe these squid live for only one year, but there is some evidence they may live to age 4. During this time they may grow to a length of 7 feet and weigh 100 pounds.

Humboldt squid seen off the Washington coast are often encountered by persons fishing for tuna. Humboldt squid also have been encountered in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Hood Canal.

Commercial fisheries exist for this species in Mexico and they can be good eating. However, you should be very careful if you handle one of these animals. They are aggressive and can deliver a nasty, painful bite. In Mexico these squid are known as diablo rojo (red devil) due to their aggressive nature.