Southern Calamari

We fish we care

Sepioteuthis australis


Southern calamari are a species of squid and are closely related to octopus and cuttlefish. Calamari tend to be reddish-brown when freshly caught, but can change quickly and become pale soon after capture. The fins continue around most of the body (unlike other squid).  The head has eight arms, two of which are considerably longer and are used to catch prey. Squid will release a spray of ink when removed from the water, so care should be taken to avoid this.


Southern calamari is an inshore squid species endemic to coastal waters of southern Australia. It can be found in most bays and inshore coastal areas (in waters of less than 70 meters depth) across Victoria. Southern calamari are mostly found over reefs and sea grass beds, often in fairly shallow water, where they hunt their prey. Other species such as aero squid are found more frequently in open coastal waters. Large schools can be encountered in deep ocean waters.


The average size of Southern calamari is around 500g with calamari of a kilogram not uncommon. During the spawning season in spring very large specimens of up to 2.5 kg are encountered in the southern end of Port Phillip Bay.

Fishing techniques and tackle

Calamari and squid are caught using special jigs which have one or more arrangements  of sharp prongs. The two main types are prawn-imitation jigs, which come in various colours and sizes, and stem jigs which need to be baited. A pilchard or silver whiting is skewered on the central stem, head down towards the prongs. Both types of jigs generally need to be presented at mid-water so a float is most often used to suspend the jig. Traditionally squid are targeted at night, especially from piers with lighting, to which they are attracted, but can also be caught during the day.  Generally squid prefer water that is clear.


As mentioned, if using stem jigs, pilchards or silver whiting would make suitable baits.


Many of the piers in Port Phillip Bay and Corio Bay will produce  catches  of squid. Piers known for good catches include Queenscliff and Portsea.  A good tell tale sign are the ink stains that can be seen on the pier decking, indicating recent captures.

Sustainable fishing techniques

  • Hook damage is the most significant cause of fish dying after being released. Deep-hooked (gills, gut) fish are far less likely to survive.
  • Fish with a tight line so that fish are less likely to swallow the hook.
  • Increase the size of your hooks to prevent small fish swallowing them.
  • Avoid suspending fish on the hook.
  • Fish hooked in the mouth or lip have the best chance of survival.
  • Remove the hook with long nosed pliers.
  • If you can’t see the whole hook protruding from the mouth of the fish don’t try and remove it.
  • Cut the line and release the fish.
  • Wet your hands before handling the fish.
  • Avoid touching the gills and eyes.
  • Return the fish as quickly as possible.

Related Resources

Victorian Fisheries Authority