Learn about gigging for fish at Oct. 15 MDC virtual program

News from the region
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WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Fall is when hunting gets much of the outdoor focus, but for some stream enthusiasts, this is the time of year to enjoy gigging – a form of fishing that has a long history in the Ozarks.

People wanting to learn more about this unique form of fishing should sign up for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) virtual program “Gigging in the Ozarks.” This free online program is from 10-11 a.m. on Oct. 15 and is being put on by the staff of MDC’s Twin Pines Conservation Education Center in Winona. People can register for this program at:


At the Oct. 15 program, guest presenter Skyler Bockman will discuss gigging’s equipment, strategies, and regulations. Missouri’s gigging season runs from Sept. 15 through Feb. 15 on streams and impounded waters. The hours are sunrise to midnight. Nongame fish are the only species legal to be taken by gigging. This group includes suckers, buffalo, carp, and gar. It is illegal to gig bass, catfish, trout and all other species classified as game fish. It should be noted that nongame fish can be taken with a gig on impounded waters (lakes) from sunrise to sunset throughout the year.

Bockman, who is the Upper Current River District Interpreter for the National Park Service, will also discuss gigging’s history in the Ozarks. Before there was a gigging season or regulations, people were plying southern Missouri streams after dark looking for fish. Early giggers knew fish spawning activities were completed and streams tended to be clearer at this time of year than in spring and summer when water clarity is diminished by rain and flood events. Another factor that likely led to gigging’s popularity in fall and winter was the simple fact that there was more available time to do it. As harvests completed the yearly agricultural cycles, farmers had more time to shift their focus from scythes and horse-drawn machinery to home-made gigs and johnboats.

Though the Oct. 15 program is free, registration is required to participate using the link above. Registrants must provide an e-mail, so a program link can be sent to them. This program will include a chat-based question-and-answer period where participants can interact with the presenters.

Program registrants should note that they now have the option to link their children’s accounts to their own, which will streamline the program registration process. Once a group account is set up, parents will be able to register their children for an event without having to log-off or log-in for each person. This allows parents to register an entire family or select family members for an event at the same time.

Staff at MDC facilities across the state are holding virtual and in-person programs. A listing of these programs can be found at mdc.mo.gov/events.