Of all the creatures in the sea, squid are surely one of the weirdest. Picture yourself 70 miles off the DelMarVa coast on an overnight fishing trip for swordfish and tunas; the sky is ink-black (ha ha!), populated only by stars that seem to bob up and down as the boat rocks in the swell. You’ve invested gobs of time, effort and money to get here, but there have been no strikes from the oceanic predators. Yet hooting and hollering punctuated with squeals of uncontrollable laughter rips through the night air.

fishing for squid at night

Durning an over-nighter at Washington Canyon, Josh Lowery (seen here) did not stop laughing from 11:36 p.m. to 1:04 a.m. Literally.

What gives? Squid are on the prowl. Since the fish weren’t cooperating, you’ve tied on some squid jigs, dropped them over the side, and began pulling in the wriggling gelatinous creatures hand-over-fist. There must be tens of thousands of them right under the boat, because you can’t drop the jigs more than 20 or 30 feet before they become entwined in hungry tentacles.

You need to get them into the boat quickly, before the school departs. This is no time for neatness or care—reel ‘em up, shake ‘em off the jig, and get it back into the water ASAP. Within minutes you’re ankle-deep in soon-to-be calamari, sliding en-mass from side to side across the cockpit as the boat rocks. Ink shoots through the air. You get hit in the back with a flying squid. One wraps around your leg, another finds its way north and latches to an arm. You can feel squid slime oozing down your neck in the midst of the chaos.

A buddy screams, but you can’t tell if it’s pain or joy. Maybe it’s both. He’s just discovered that squid have a sharp beak, and when you glance over you see him yanking on a squid’s mantle, trying to pop its arms free of a bleeding finger. He’s laughing uncontrollably. Scream, laugh. Scream, laugh, scream, laugh.

Squid fishing: it’s a riot.