Calamari safari by Jamie Robley

Despite the fact that calamari squid are very common along the NSW coastline, not a lot of people seem to pursue them.

They make first-class bait for a range of species, including jewfish, kings and snapper and are superb table fare.

The southern calamari squid prefers oceanic water and is most abundant over inshore reefs, close to the ocean rocks and the lower reaches of large bays and inlets. They differ from another common species, the arrow squid, which is more at home in our estuary systems.

Calamari are more like a football in shape, with wings that run the length of the body. Arrows, as the name suggests, have a more pointed body shape with triangular wings that are about half the length of the body.

Calamari grow much larger, with specimens of 2kg or 3kg reasonably common. They also have quite large eyes, with a prominent green 'eyebrow', which is why another name for them is the 'green eye' squid.

Although it's not hard to catch good numbers of calamari from a boat, it's probably more convenient for most of us to do it from the ocean rocks.

Having spent some time along the North Coast, I understand that not all headlands or rocks are suitable. However, the Central Coast, Sydney and South Coast are blessed with some very user-friendly rock platforms that are ideal places to catch calamari.

A good calamari spot needs to be safe, which works out well, because calamari prefer calmer water rather than washy, wave-lashed spots.

A reefy bottom is essential, so there's no point in casting out over sand. Calamari also prefer areas with plenty of kelp growth, rather than just bare rock.

As for depth, that doesn't really matter so much, as long as it's not so shallow that a squid jig will snag up just after it splashes down. Most of my favourite spots are between 2m and 4m deep.

To help work out where and what you're looking at when selecting a spot to try, polarised sunglasses are a must. Obviously, bottom structure may be hard to see in really deep water but on a sunny day around low tide, most bottom structure is visible.