Cuttlefish

(Sepia officinalis)

Commonly referred to as Cuttlies!

Cuttlefish would have to be one of the most amazing creatures on the planet! They are incredibly intelligent and have one of the largest brain to body mass ratios of any invertebrate. Chromatophores located in their skin give them the ability to change colours in order to blend in with their surrounding environments perfectly. Cuttlefish are generally encountered whilst targeting other cephalopod species such as squid and octopus and are also sensational eating. Unlike squid and octopus the cuttlefish possesses a hard bone like structure inside its mantle which is often found washed ashore after the animal has passed on. These soft, bone like structures are often seen in bird cages and allow the birds to clean their beaks.

Distribution

Cuttlefish can be found right along the entire southern half of our continent and are becoming an increasingly popular recreational species.

Growth

Cuttlefish live for a maximum of one to two years and can reach a total tube or mantle length of  around 80cm although are usually encountered at around 30 – 40cm in length, weighing in at roughly 1 – 2kg. Sexual maturity occurs at around 7- 8 months of age when the cuttlefish are 15 – 20cm in length.  Cuttlefish have two prehensile tentacles similar to squid that are used to strike out at prey with and also squirt a dark brown to black ink as a defense mechanism. Cuttlefish can grow to a maximum length of over one meter and weigh as much as 11kg!

Habitat

Cuttlefish prefer water depths of around 1 – 80 meters with broken sand, weed and reef bottoms. The water also needs to be very
clear and between 18 – 22 degrees.  Jetties, wharfs and ocean marinas are all great locations to target cuttlefish from shore with shallow offshore reefs and weed beds more suited to boating anglers.

Identification

Cuttlefish can be easily identified by their long tubular, cone shaped bodies with  heads full of tentacles and large eyes. Two tentacles are commonly longer than the others and are used to secure prey and also during mating. Their colourations may vary according to different environments but are generally red to orange upon capture.

Taste rating

  • Ninety Taste Rating
    90%

Cuttlefish are exceptionally good eating and considered to be better than squid by most!

Sport rating

  • Forty Sport Rating
    40%

Cuttlefish are better known for their eating qualities than their sporting abilities although larger specimens are great fun and quite challenging on ultra light spin gear!

Tackle requirements

Small spinning outfits are generally used when targeting cuttlefish, reels in the 1000 – 2500 class loaded with 4 – 10lb braided lines are ideal and rods can vary from short fibreglass and graphite models for boat usage to long graphite and boron rods for shore based use. Attaching your braid to a light 4 – 10lb fluorocarbon leader will also increase your chances incredibly, improved Albright or back to back uni knots are ideal for this purpose.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Quality squid jigs are a must if you want to catch good numbers of quality calamari squid and cuttlefish consistently. Yo Zuri, Yamashita, Bredon, and Daiwa all make top quality jigs in various shapes, sizes and colours. Lighter jigs in the 1.8 – 2-0 sizes are suited to shallow, calm conditions such as found in estuary systems and larger jigs in the 2.5 – 4.0 are preferred for deeper or faster flowing water. Conventional metal Squid spikes inserted into fresh, whole fish such as yellowtail, blue or scaly mackerel, small herring and whiting then wrapped in bait cotton are also very effective on large squid and cuttlefish.

Handy hints and tips

Cuttlefish prefer calm, clear waters of depths between 1 – 80 meters with broken reef, weed and sand bottoms. Try to get your squid jig as close to the sea floor as possible without getting snagged and retrieve  with a couple of short sharp flicks followed by a long pause. Always use quality squid jigs as they will produce far more squid and cuttlefish for you in the long run. Once you have landed your cuttlefish try not to point it at yourself or anyone else, they do squirt black ink which is impossible to remove from clothing and most other surfaces including boats!

Preferred fishing times and tides

Cuttlefish can be caught during most times of the day although this may vary at different locations. High tides and periods of very little to no water movement are ideal. After dark is also a prime time to target cuttlies around ocean marinas and inshore jetties and wharfs, they are attracted to these areas by lights and the small bait fish that congregate because of them.

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[What The Fish]