Squidding on the Vineyard is fun for all and dinner for some

Crowds of people gathered at Bend in the Road Beach at sunset, eager to reel in some squid.

Donald O'Shaughnessy, 16, of Edgartown casts a jig as the sun sets and the fishing picks up. — Photo by Michael Cummo

This time of the year, Islanders and an occasional visitor clued in to the fun can be found lining the water’s edge on Bend in the Road Beach in Edgartown at sunset, pails and fishing rods in hand.

It’s not fish on the end of a hook they are after — it’s squid on a jig.

Jigging for squid has long been a pastime for Vineyarders. Although squid come and go in certain areas, squid can often be caught near the lighted docks on Edgartown Harbor. On some nights, crowds of squidders show up to test their luck.

Joe Abromaitis of East Chop has been “squidding” for 40 years. He couldn’t recall how he originally began squidding.

“I probably saw somebody doing it,” he said. “I used to watch the old ladies doing it.”

Mr. Abromaitis began squidding at about 8 pm on Friday night. Although he had only caught one, he was optimistic that his luck would turn after sunset.

“The process is throwing a small jig lure, and then sort of bouncing it on the way in,” he said. “But you’re not going to get them if they aren’t there. It’s still a little early.”

By sunset, the beach was lined with hopeful squidders — brothers, couples, friends, families, children — all hoping to catch the big-eyed, slimy cephalopods which when pulled from the water display hues of white, red, and brown. Some were there to catch bait, and others just for a little bit of fun. Mr. Abromaitis, however, was there for dinner.

“I like to eat them: calamari,” he said.

He recalled nights of filling entire pails with squid, but his funniest memories were the moments when he fell victim to the squids’ well-known ink squirt.

“When you bring them up, they can squirt their ink,” Mr. Abromaitis said. “You can get it on your glasses and your face and your sweatshirt. You can get it on your good sweatshirt too — and then it becomes your squid sweatshirt.”

On Friday, however, he wasn’t wearing his squid sweatshirt. He was wearing his paint sweatshirt.

“But maybe it will become my squid sweatshirt,” he joked as he threw his jig back into the sea, and reeled in another squid as the sun set.