Surf Fishing with Squid for Bait

Likely the first choice for new surf anglers, squid is considered a universal bait by many when it comes to saltwater fishing. Offshore, squid is known to catch a number of species including yellowtail and white seabass. But does it work for surf fishing? What can you catch with squid? How do you surf fish with squid? What’s the best bait for surf fishing? All these questions and more will be answered within this article.

Is Squid Good for Surf Fishing?

Yes, squid works for surf fishing. In fact, it works quite well… for some species. At the end of the day, squid is a natural source of food that can be found in the surf zone, estuaries, inshore reefs and in other similar habitats.

What Can You Catch with Squid for Bait?

fish you can catch with squid for bait

Since you won’t often be fishing live squid in the surf, your common catches from the surf (using squid for bait) will include the following:

  • stingrays (cut squid)
  • small sharks (cut or whole)
  • batrays (cut or whole)
  • yellowfin croaker (cut squid)
  • shovelnose guitar fish (cut or whole)

You’ll also catch an occasional corbina, spotfin croaker and a handful of other species. But, those above will be your most frequent catches when using quid for bait at the beach.

Fishing for Sharks with Squid for Bait

I get this one a lot. When it comes to shark fishing in the surf, squid is NOT the best bait for sharking. Will it catch sharks? Yes, but for every shark you catch, you’ll catch at least two rays. Additionally, the sharks you catch on squid will usually be smaller sharks.

The best bait for shark fishing from the beach is cut bait like croaker, perch, or mackerel. These baits will catch 80% sharks and 20% rays and the sharks you catch (and rays) will typically be much bigger. Cut your bait into 1-inch segments and you’re good to go. For more on shark fishing in Southern California, read the linked article: Surf Fishing for Sharks.

How To Use Squid for Surf Fishing Bait

using squid for bait for surf fishing

Step 1: Buy Frozen Squid from Bait Shop

Most local bait shops or tackle shops will have squid available for purchase. If you’d rather catch them fresh, go for it.

Step 2: Bag Them in Bunches (enough for one trip at a time)

Usually, you don’t use an entire case of squid at a time. For that reason, I take them home, break them apart into bunches of two or three and that way I won’t make them all go bad if I only use a third of a bag at a time.

Step 3: Cut them or use them whole (depending on your target)

If you’re fishing them whole, be prepared for lots of batrays, a handful of small sharks, and an occasionally guitarfish and stingray. If you’re cutting them, cut the tentacles off first (you can use this too but it’s tricky to hook) and cut the cone into 0.5” – 1” segments and use one at a time. These will catch your smaller species and finfish.

Best Rig for Surf Fishing with Squid

surf fishing rig for squid bait

Depending on your target and your desire to be mobile vs. stationary, you have a few options when choosing the best surf fishing rig for squid.

If your fishing for sharks and rays, use a traditional 3-way rig as mentioned in my shark fishing article. If you’re actively fishing for croaker, guitarfish, and hoping for a corbina or spotfin, use a Carolina rig.

For somewhere in between, use the fish finder rig mentioned in the “best surf fishing rigs” article. Oh, and if you’re fishing a reefy area, use a bank weight with the dropper loop rig (also illustrated in the article mentioned above.

Best Bait for Surf Fishing?

sand crabs surf fishing bait

The best bait for surf fishing depends on your target. If you’re surf fishing in So Cal and you’re looking to catch the common species like corbina, spotfin croaker, yellowfin croaker and other species that come along with those, surf fishing with sand crabs is your best bet. They’ll also catch you the largest variety of species too.

If you’re fishing for halibut, white seabass or other predatorial fish, surf fishing with lures like swimbaits or even jerkbaits are your best bet.

Sharks are another story and so on. For a complete list of the best baits for surf fishing per species for surf fishing across the nation, check out this article: “Best Bait for Surf Fishing”.

Subscribe to

* indicates required

Leave a Reply