Where the Buffalo Roam

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

January. Of course, heavy rainfall and strong winds might stir up bottom sediments and cloud the water, but the water usually clears within a few days.


Cold water and weather--especially at night--demand that you dress warmly. Make sure you wear a personal flotation device and bring someone with you.

Many giggers prefer a 14- to 18-foot johnboat with a front deck that's enclosed by a rail. The rail should be about 36 inches high. Both outboards and electric trolling motors work well for gigging. Boats must be properly equipped with lighting and safety equipment to meet Missouri boating law requirements.

You'll need a light fastened to the front of the boat. The light can be powered by a portable generator or batteries, or fueled by propane or white gas. It should be capable of illuminating the water to a depth of 6 feet in a 20-foot diameter area.

Washtubs or large buckets are handy to keep each gigger's catch separate.

Giggers usually use a heavy steel gig attached to a 10- to 12-foot pole. A wide array of equipment is available for bowfishing. Usually you can use the same bow, with a spool or reel added, that you use for deer hunting or target practice.


Missouri's Wildlife Code allows you to gig non-game fish in impounded waters between sunrise and midnight from September 15 through January 31. Bowfishing for non-game fish is permitted during all hours throughout the year, except from February 1 through March 31, when it is permitted only between sunrise and midnight.

Game fish may not be taken using a gig or longbow. The daily limit is 20 fish of non-game species. Fish must be kept separate and identifiable by the taker. A Missouri fishing permit is required.


Non-game fish are often overlooked as table fare because of their numerous bones. Proper preparation and cooking can solve this problem and make for some fine eating.

When cleaning large, non-game fish, it helps to equip yourself with a metal table spoon; a filleting knife; a flat cutting board longer than the fish you are cleaning; and a clean, water filled, bucket or large bowl.

  1. Scrape the scales from a dead fish using a dinner spoon or dull knife, leaving the skin on the fish.
  2. Large buffalo or carp have two layers of skin. Using a sharp knife, you can remove the outer skin (without removing scales first) and leave the thin inner skin on the

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