Posted by on March 01, 2005 at 12:49:11:
BODEGA BAY - Jumbo squid are appearing by the thousands off California's coast from San Diego to Bodega Bay.
Scientists don't know why the Humboldt squid are showing up in such great numbers all along the Pacific Coast, but fisherman are snapping them up.
"We're going after them again on Thursday," said Bill Parducci, 62, who owns and operates Bodega Charters.
Parducci said 40 fishermen on his boats caught 600 of the 4- to 6-foot long deep-sea dwelling creatures Saturday.
"It's been really good for business," he said. "Out here, they're so unusual that it's a novelty for sport fishermen. And it's really an anomaly for us."
Parducci said his charter service typically does the most business during salmon fishing season with opens in April or cod fishing in July.
The presence of the jumbo squid is keeping his boats running.
"It's whale watching and squid for us right now," Parducci said. "If it hadn't been for the recent storm, there could have been thousands more pounds of squid in someone's freezer right now."
The discovery started New Year's Day when angler Rick Powers said he volunteered his boat for a research trip off Bodega Bay with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study rockfish reproduction.
"I was looking for chilipepper rockfish, so we ran to the deep water ... and looking at my fishfinder, I saw this little mark on the bottom," he said. "We let down and started hooking giant squid."
In the past three weeks, the discovery has turned into a phenomenon.
In 13 trips on Powers' boat, he said a total of 640 people have caught about 9,000 squid, averaging about 20 pounds each, with the largest weighing 58 pounds.
In San Diego this past week, 51 anglers aboard the boat New Seaforth caught 290 squid.
The legal limit is 35 per person, but with each squid yielding between 10-20 pounds of thick white flesh, but "nobody wants that many," Powers said.
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