I just love squid! Grilled, fried, stuffed, in a salad or a risotto, I will munch on them with delight however they are served! However, by far the tastiest squid are those that I catch myself or in good company. This is one of my favorite winter adventures. Unfortunately, as I spend most of the year in the continental part of Croatia, squid fishing occasions are short and far between, and yet it is so rewarding, which is why I try not to miss out on it whenever I have a chance to go. An afternoon spent in good company, usually with family, in the fresh (and often quite cool) air is a priceless experience that only severe weather can dissuade me from pursuing.
In fact, I usually cannot wait for the afternoon to pass and for the sun to set. That means it is time to take out the fishing rod. My strategies come from my parents, who have taken me squid fishing my whole life, and considering their impressive hauls, their advice is more than effective.
Cast the lure as far as possible; try to remember how deep the water is so that the lure does not get stuck at the bottom (as you might lose it), then retrieve it with a series of jigs in order to imitate its prey. If you feel a sudden pull, start jerking upward immediately, paying attention that your fishing line does not get tangled, and, more than anything, making sure you’re having fun. These are just some of the skills my parents have taught me. Sounds simple? Still, it takes practice to hone in on your skills and learn to do it properly.
The adrenaline you will feel every time the squid takes the bait is contageous, and the joy over the catch is enormous. But once you get the squid out of the sea, there is not much time for joy. You should cast the lure back into the sea as soon as possible like an experienced Wild West cowboy. What’s the hurry? The first catch usually means there is a squid shoal around and you should not miss out on the opportunity to catch more. If you put it off, the shoal will move on and you will not catch another.
When we get tired, and it gets late into the night, we return home. If we’re lucky, we bring back a few samples of this sea delicacy, and then family time really starts. We heat up some olive oil, dice some potatoes, and together with a few small squid throw it on the pan. We save the bigger ones for special occasions. When squid is fresh (meaning it hasn’t been frozen), they will let out their ink when you cook them, which will give the dish a particular aroma and look. After a few minutes of frying, we gather around the table for the most delicious squid dish and we continue with our fishing tales.