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How do I find octopus?

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Dec 27, 2020
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I’m in PNG (Papua New Guinea) just north of the great barrier reef. I know there are lots of octopus in these waters but I almost never see them. What is the best way to find their holes to hunt them?
 

Andrew the fish

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2010
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octopus is on my list of things to learn how to harvest. So far I learned that octopus is usually hiding throughout the day. At least here in British Columbian waters. Their hide holes are apparently easy to see. They are dug out dens under big rocks, marked by messy surroundings, there will be shells all around the entrance to the den. I see a lot of those in some areas. Kind of too busy chasing fish to go any further and hunt octopus though.
 

Andrew the fish

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2010
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by the way, when I was scuba diving on Roatan, the only time I saw octopus was during night dives.
 

Homerkp

Active Member
Sep 21, 2018
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If they hide like they do in the mediterranean, then it's pretty easy to getting accustomed to spotting their hiding places. You just look for any pebbles or shells that are out of place, like they've been moved, in this case they move pebbles or debris to cover themselves. As Andrew mentioned they will often have empty shells next to their hole (having eaten them). Eventually you will learn to spot even just the form of the octopus itself. You can always see the eyes and a couple tentacles covering their faces. They also love making homes in pipes and cinder blocks.
 

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
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Check some of the videos from Ryan Meyers on YouTube where he dives with Justin Lee in Hawaii (warning, everything is very EPIIIIC on that American channel...;-)). But the content is solid and there are som great examples of Justin getting octopus out of holes.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
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A pile of small stones in a place with no stones, a shell that shouldn't be there and looks just too clean, crabs' claws with no crab attached, sand blown away from under a rock...

An example from my area: all rocks and pebbles were covered with small plants, but at one spot the rocks were clean, there was the octopus. After a big storm that shuffled even the biggest rocks making the area look so chaotic, I thought it would be impossible to find one in that mess. All of the rocks and pebbles were clean from the shuffling, apart from one spot where the pebbles looked messy. There was the octopus.
So just look for anything out of place.

Another good one is in the early morning. Look for fish of different species hanging around a spot for no apparent reason. There might be an octopus finishing its dinner before heading back home.

An octopus will try to hide in its den which makes it difficult to judge its size. Out of its den it will make itself look much bigger than it really is. So I recommend learning to take the octo without shooting it, so you don't take anything undersized. Tickle it with a stick (I use an olive branch) and after a while it will come out. Grab it, size it, check the hole for eggs if you suspect there might be, and bite it between the eyes to kill it.

They're also very nice animals to hang around with. They're playful, social, smart and just awesome to watch. And if you speared a fish before, give them the guts.
 

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
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On youtube, 'Octopus 101' by LEOFALASCO (all caps, really) shows how to bite the octo to kill it.
 
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Homerkp

Active Member
Sep 21, 2018
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A pile of small stones in a place with no stones, a shell that shouldn't be there and looks just too clean, crabs' claws with no crab attached, sand blown away from under a rock...

An example from my area: all rocks and pebbles were covered with small plants, but at one spot the rocks were clean, there was the octopus. After a big storm that shuffled even the biggest rocks making the area look so chaotic, I thought it would be impossible to find one in that mess. All of the rocks and pebbles were clean from the shuffling, apart from one spot where the pebbles looked messy. There was the octopus.
So just look for anything out of place.

Another good one is in the early morning. Look for fish of different species hanging around a spot for no apparent reason. There might be an octopus finishing its dinner before heading back home.

An octopus will try to hide in its den which makes it difficult to judge its size. Out of its den it will make itself look much bigger than it really is. So I recommend learning to take the octo without shooting it, so you don't take anything undersized. Tickle it with a stick (I use an olive branch) and after a while it will come out. Grab it, size it, check the hole for eggs if you suspect there might be, and bite it between the eyes to kill it.

They're also very nice animals to hang around with. They're playful, social, smart and just awesome to watch. And if you speared a fish before, give them the guts.
You bite them between the eyes? I prefer the old stare down. You look down on the octopus from above with judging eyes and it just dies of shame. Heheh joking, the octopus is a proud creature. Seriously though, I've never heard of that. I have a friend who once told me "isn't it dangerous? I heard they can kill you by sticking a tentacle up your nose and touching your brain." I said "well it would have to be close to your face." I guess that's how it would happen, if it's even possible. I figured everyone just did it like this: I manually remove the innards of their head sack. Then they seem to become paralyzed. I don't catch them anymore, but I see em on almost every dive.
 
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Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
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Their brain is between the eyes, biting it crushes it, effectively switching the animal off. It goes limp immediately. It can be dangerous, especially with the bigger ones. Even a 1kg has enormous strength, biting a 2kg proved to be quite a challenge. But it's the quickest and most effective way.

According to a youtube movie of some folks on Hawaii there's also a big difference in color, taste and texture between one killed by severing the brain to kill it instantly or by slowly suffocating or torturing it to death.

Just don't try it for the first time on a 2kg one or alone. Remember that if stuff goes south, pulling the octopus by its body is impossible, even a little one is too strong. Either 'unzip' the tentacles one by one starting from the tips, or simply leave it alone and it will make an escape within a few seconds.

I used to catch them a lot, but nowadays I let most of them live and sometimes donate small lionfish to them.
 

Johny Depth

Active Member
Sep 27, 2020
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The abouve mentions very applicable. They normaly face west anticipating night fall for the hunt.If some one has difficuilty in decending to the depth try a hand line with a white stone with a hook just abouve good advive for the struggling o.a.p seeking lunch. Bounce in a motion like movement the stone or lead weight or other object 2 to 3 centremeters off from the sea floor while observing from water surface.Repeat this in suspected area it works for the small ones for larger sizes patience with fatigue
 

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
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The abouve mentions very applicable. They normaly face west anticipating night fall for the hunt.If some one has difficuilty in decending to the depth try a hand line with a white stone with a hook just abouve good advive for the struggling o.a.p seeking lunch. Bounce in a motion like movement the stone or lead weight or other object 2 to 3 centremeters off from the sea floor while observing from water surface.Repeat this in suspected area it works for the small ones for larger sizes patience with fatigue
You mean doing this so tge octopus thinks it's an easy meal and grabs the stone, then you hoist it up? Here in Greece a lot of people fish from the beach using lures. The lure is a 10-15cm long white slide board with a plastic crab mounted on top and two 90 degrees bent hooks on the end. The octopus grabs the fake crab end gets hooked.

I tried the lure method before I started diving for them, but I never caught anything with it, and all the time the lure got stuck, with me having to dive in to the winter water to retrieve it. I've seen some people do it with a very high success rate though.
 

Manjinetsu

Member
Sep 4, 2019
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Personal Technique. Eat a large bag of potato chips and turn it shiny side out. Take it with you and put your hand on the inside and use it like a sock puppet. I've caught tons of cuttlefish and three octopus with this method. They see the sun shining off of the reflective material and their camoflage will either drop or change momentarily. I had a family of three cuttlefish spot my flash puppet and they let me line up a perfect shot to nail two of them in one go. Please don't litter. Anything you take in the ocean should go out with you as well.
 

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
400
221
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Personal Technique. Eat a large bag of potato chips and turn it shiny side out. Take it with you and put your hand on the inside and use it like a sock puppet. I've caught tons of cuttlefish and three octopus with this method. They see the sun shining off of the reflective material and their camoflage will either drop or change momentarily. I had a family of three cuttlefish spot my flash puppet and they let me line up a perfect shot to nail two of them in one go. Please don't litter. Anything you take in the ocean should go out with you as well.
I've been looking for an excuse to get some potato chips. Thanks! :)

About at what distance it works? I found some octos by them changing color for a second as I swam past, but only at very short range, like max. 3m.
 

Manjinetsu

Member
Sep 4, 2019
11
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I've been looking for an excuse to get some potato chips. Thanks! :)

About at what distance it works? I found some octos by them changing color for a second as I swam past, but only at very short range, like max. 3m.
You deserve that bag of chips mate.

To be fair I swim pretty close to the reef when looking for octopus. I'm trying to get a glimpse of it pulling a tentacle away or sand being moved by the water it propels from its head. I usually see them with or without the bag from 2m.
However:
Cuttlefish have a distinctive shape when hunting from above I'm anywhere from 2-6 meters up depending on visibility. Using this technique I've tricked a cuttlefish into approaching me from around 3-4m.
 

intheblue5

New Member
Feb 5, 2021
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When i was diving in Malta it was almost impossible to spot them. They camouflage really well (duh), so you'd have to dive very close to the bottom to even spot their hiding places. Homerkp said you have to learn to spot their hiding places. But doing so while at the surface is near impossible imo
 
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