Looking for squid jiggin’ grounds? Try Holyrood

Anyone with a hankering for fresh squid would do well to visit the beach in Holyrood, where squid were rolling in Wednesday. 

“We come up to get a bucket full to eat, so there’s lots of them there,” said Ray Batten, who was picking up “breakfast, dinner and supper,” he said with a laugh. 

He used to catch and sell squid about 30 years ago, but said this was the first time the squid have been in like that since. 

“People coming in from everywhere now, like the squid!” Batten said, to fill their buckets just like he and his grandson were. 

Ray Batten, left, and his grandson Colby Batten with their catch of squid in Holyrood on Wednesday. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

Colby Batten said he’s never seen anything like it in his lifetime. 

“You can just dip ’em out, plenty out there,” he added. 

Squid rolling in, and the frenzy to catch them, was once so common that it inspired one of the province’s best known songs, Art Scammell’s “Squid Jiggin’ Ground.”

“I grew up not far from here in Harbour Main. I used to see this regularly in the 1970s. It used to be routine and now it’s a phenomenon,” said Mac Pitcher as he collected his catch. 

CBC videojournalist Zach Goudie gets a closer look at one of the squid in Holyrood. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

Although they reportedly roll at high tide, in the morning and in the evening, a crowd of people were catching them with nets and bare hands midday Wednesday. 

“It’s a lot of fun, brings back old memories of being young and doing this!” Laura Park said with a grin. 

They’re back, and that’s what matters

While people on the beach filled their buckets, fishermen were filling their boats with squid jiggers as fast as they could.

You can’t get no better place in the world, I s’pose.– Stan Smith

Stan Smith, from South Dildo, was one of them. 

“More people eating ’em now than they ever did … everywhere,” he said.

Fisherman Stan Smith says no one really knows why the squid are back in abundance this year in Holyrood. (Jane Adey/CBC)

But it’s hard work, with roughly 90 jiggers on a boat to hook the squid, he’ll get $1 per pound.

“You could be there for hours and hours and not get one, and then they might come for 20 minutes,” Smith said. 

But even a seasoned professional like Smith can’t say why the squid are back rolling in Holyrood this year. 

“I don’t know anybody know where they go when they leave, I don’t think so,” he said. “Everybody know the squid went away. Now they’re back.”

Nonetheless, Wednesday was a good day for Smith, too. 

“You can’t get no better place in the world, I s’pose, than on the water fishing.”

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