TODAY   |  January 09, 2013

Giant squid swarm waters off California coast

For the first time since 2009, massive numbers of jumbo squid are showing up in southern California waters, as fishermen troll the coastline hoping to get in on the catch. NBC’s Tom Costello heads out on a night-fishing expedition.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> if you like calamari there may be no better place to go than southern california . fishermen there are catching huge numbers of jumbo squid . tom costello out on a nighttime fishing expedition . good morning, tom. did you catch the big one?

>> reporter: this job never gets old, i'll tell you. you may call this the great krz jumbo squid rush or calamari rush because fishermen have never seen these jumbo fish -- squid, rather, out on the ocean in years. now it seems the whole ocean is full of them. a beautiful picturesque sunset over the pacific and the hunt is on for the ink-spitting humble squid or what we know in the restaurant as calamari.

>> oh, yeah. probably catch some big ones .

>> reporter: after word spread last week that hundreds are being caught at a time, fishermen up and down the california coast have been trying to get in on the catch.

>> welcome to squid fishing.

>> one of my co-workers is a fish guru and watches this like a religion and told me they're biting like crazy.

>> reporter: it didn't take long. within minutes, the squid were hitting the deck, lots of them. katie mason brought along her kids, including 5-year-old catalina.

>> well, i warned them, it's wet, it's dirty, it's crazy. so i wanted them to kind of have that experience.

>> it's really big.

>> it's like pulling up a volkswagen tire.

>> reporter: putting up a fight and squirting water and ink at everyone on board.

>> once they come up and they get in the light, you can catch as many as you want really quickly.

>> reporter: the last time so much jumbo squid showed up here was back in 2009 and the discovery channel just shot this first-ever video of an elusive 600-pound giant squid . why are so many suddenly showing up off the california coast? we asked marine biologist chris plant.

>> it is remarkable we're seeing them in the density worry seeing them in. we can only guess that they're chasing food. they could be eating anything from small krill all the way up to bigger fishes.

>> reporter: catching them isn't difficult. i don't think he's happy. even i caught one and i never catch anything. whoo! how did i do?

>> you did great. good job.

>> reporter: this is what it's all about. this is how -- they tell me i have to hold a squid. and the key is to souffle it very quickly because the meat will go bad in just a few hours. we won't show you the deck hands rushing to cut and clean the squid right away. but on this night off the san diego coast --

>> feels like hitting a home run in little league .

>> reporter: everyone went home with some calamari for the freezer. they put up such a fight and they could get up to five, six feet long. why are they here now and how long will they stick around is really anyone's guess. back to you.

>> tom costello, congratulations. hope you washed your hands.

>> 2,000 leagues under the sea.