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Thread: Harvesting Octopus/Squid

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    Default Harvesting Octopus/Squid

    Had a few questions about octopus and squid. Please answer any of them if possible.

    1: Anyone ever accidently hook into an octopus or squid while fishing? I was curious, I have read that they are out there, and wanted to find out more.

    2:Is it legal to keep them if you plan on using them for bait or are going to eat them? I know you usually get squid when you order calamari.

    3:Can you eat octopus as well?

    4: Where are they? Cook Inlet, PWS,....?

    5: Are they normally in deeper water? 100+ feet?

    Any other information on these critters would be gladly apriciated. Thanks for helping me answer all of my questions about Alaska.

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Most octopus (that I know of) are taken as bycatch in the shrimp fishery in PWS. You are legally allowed to keep them for food or bait. I have heard of folks also targeting them on the beach at low tide by spraying a bleach/water mixture under large rocks. That drives the octopus out where you can capture them by hand. I'm not sure about spraying bleach on your food (or in the water that is host to countless other organisms), but it sounds like an interesting approach. Folks do catch octopi on halibut rigs from time to time and we've had a couple squid come up on longline gear, but it's a relatively rare occurrence. I've also heard about people jigging for squid out in PWS, but I've not heard of anyone doing so with consistent action.

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    Bleach spraying is ferboten, but it works. I know folks do the same thing with strong brine. Seems to work as well, but may not be any more legal.

    I've caught them incidentally while jigging rockfish and sometimes halibut on hard bottom. Not reliably productive though, because you're shooting blind. There are some lairs under a dock I know, and I've been able to use jigs to lure them out and hook them once the tide is back in far enough to cover the lair a foot or two. Lotta fun to watch. As for eating? That's even better than the fun of catching them.

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    Member JR2's Avatar
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    I have pulled a couple of Octi out of the shrimp pots in PWS over the last couple of years. Wish my wife would let me keep them, she tells me they are very smart and we should let them go... I tell her they only live 2-3 years anyway so I should eat them.

    I have also caught them while halibut fishing out of homer and in cook inlet. I think there was a thread about setting pots for them out of Homer and maybe even a study by F&G about the potential for a commercial season... here is the thread http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...hlight=Octopus
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I've only taken octopus in shrimp pots while shrimping in PWS. I've taken them in 400-500 feet of water as that is where I drop my shrimp pots. You can drop pots for octopus, check with F&G for the details as far as how many pots you can fish and whether or not a permit is required.

    Octopus are good eating, you can use the meat of the mantle for any calimary recipe.

    I have a few squid jigs but have never gotten around to trying them. One of these days.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

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    Thanks everyone for the great info so far. How would you go about killing an octo once you got it on board?, not to mention taking out the hook...

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Cut its head off. The legs will still crawl around for a while, but a headless octopus will be a lifeless octopus in short order.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Make a cut right between the eyes, dead octopus. You need to be careful you don't nick the ink sack or you'll have a mess on your hands, and all over your boat.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    My dad told me when he was a kid they would go out on the rocks at low tided during a full moon and catch Octopus when they were sunning themselves. They would killed them by breaking there teeth on the rocks. I think he meant mooning themselves. LOL

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    Is there anywhere you can catch them in the Cook Inlet from shore with a surf rod?

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    ESF...fishing the surf for Octopus is like catching birds by putting salt on their tail...good luck! We get lots in shrimp pots and I think they are at a variety of depths, we've gotten them from 150' to 600'+ Some of them are little guys, great bait size and even better eating, but still chewy. We've caught some that have filled an entire shrimp pot, easily 6 feet across tentacles. There are a lot of threads on the forum about eating octopus, check them out, but expect them to be very chewy, even impossible. But, the flavor is great. Some say to boil until tender, and that works but then all the flavor is gone. Anyway, expect to get some if you shrimp in PWS, and don't hold your breath hoping to catch one on a rod, maybe once in 10 years! Reportedly, you can cut a leg or two off of an octopus and return it and it will live and grow new legs. JR2 needs to get a reference on that and show it to his wife...final thing, it is easy to kill an octopus by biting it between the eyes, just don't let go until it is limp.

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    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    I'm with Ron, you'll never catch them on rod/reel but might when shrimping (usually the octopus just leaves their calling card with shrimp shells in your pot, though). The little commercial fishing harvest for octopus either brings them up as bycatch in shrimp/crab pots, or you can (w/ appropriate permits) catch them in "habitat" traps, which is basically like fishing with a vase that they crawl into for shelter/habitat.
    "Fishing relaxes me. It's like yoga, except I still get to kill something." --Ron Swanson

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    Just a suggestion, but if you ever bring an octopus into the boat, make sure and keep them in a firmly sealed container. If they get out they'll squeeze thru incredibly small openings to get into the most inaccessible part of your boat. You'll get to enjoy them for a really long time.

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    We have caught a couple of large ones, to us anyway, 6-8 foot tentacles, fishing by rock piles in Cook Inlet. We were not looking to keep them and we made the mistake of bringing the first one in the boat. It wrapped up our arms, grabbed fuel tanks, hoses, oil tank, spare rods, pretty much everything. When we got it almost out of the boat it inked us. What a mess. The suction cups on the arms left marks not quite hickies but red spots where it grabbed your arm. Quite strong critter. With the tide running they were quite the battle. Kind of like pulling up a small parachute with the arms trailing over it's head. The hook was through a small bit of skin by the beak. We caught the second one right after the first one. But we learned after the first one. This one we were able to remove the hook without bringing it in the boat. We never thought of using them for bait and the ones I have eaten before were like rubber. Cool creature.

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    So maybe a waste of time converting these by adding a treble for more tentacle "grippiness"?? Well I guess I might hook a monster 'butt...




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    When I said 6-8 foot tentacles, I mean tip of one arm to another.

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    The last charter I went on..... Fishin outta Seward in sept. for halibut in like 170' fow. Hooked up with a big octi about 5-6 foot across the tentacles which I guess is a big one? Got her in deck and the cap is like sweet that's more bait! Suddenly she sprayed ink all over the deck, cappy says get that thing back over the side! So I do and it's still hooked up jus trailing in the water. Haha this thing hooked up to the side of the boat, stuck fast. Reaches over with one arm and yanks my hook out of it then falls off into the depths.......... Cap was pissed....



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    As far as food quality, do not pass up trying one. The guy that cooked the one that I tasted might not have done it right. Flavor was not bad. Not sure how he cooked it. But like chewing on a pencil eraser.

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    Caught 4 octopus last shrimp season in our pots from 360-700 feet deep. All of ours where harvested in the early part of the season which begins April 15th. I used a knife between the eyes to dispatch them. No ink issues yet... I work with some Asian's who want to cook them. They are a good bait and they really help keep the herring on the hook.

  20. #20
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    We catch multiple eight leggers a season in the shrimp pots. If you do 24+ hour soaks, they will find your pots. If you long line your pots, they will travel from pot to pot. I bet we caught 15 or so last season.



    We also catch them on jigs and occasionally bait. This guy took a lead head with a glow scampi.



    When we want to kill them we just "stomp" them between the eyes. You can see the color leave them. Kind of brutal, but they rarely ink the boat. We caught the "stomp" in one of the videos I posted in the boating forum.
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