WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will host Introduction to Fish Gigging in Oregon County, Saturday, Jan. 23, from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Registered participants will meet at MDC's Ozark Regional Office in West Plains before departing as a group to gig on private land. Blake Stephens, MDC fisheries management biologist, said participants will learn to gig from the front of a boat, learn about sucker fish and the Ozark tradition of fish gigging.
"We'll demonstrate how to easily prepare a meal of suckers and enjoy a fish fry on a gravel bar," Stephens said.
Fish giggers target drum, gar, carp, suckers and other non-game fish. This is not a catch and release method of fishing. While one person steers the boat, a gigger stands on the deck of the boat, which has a waist-high railing at the front to guard the gigger against falling in the water. The gigger signals to the driver of the boat as he or she watches for obstructions and signals which direction to steer towards the fish. When the boat and gigger get near enough to a targeted fish, the gigger extends the long, speared pole to snag or "gig" the fish.
Missouri's gigging season for fish in streams and impounded waters runs from Sept. 15 to Jan. 31. Gigging is prohibited in some Wild Trout Management and Trout Special Management areas. Giggers should consult the Missouri Wildlife Code for specific regulations and prohibitions, or go online to http://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fishing.
The clinic is designed for young students, ages 10 to 20 years old that have no gigging experience. Students age 16 to 20 will need a fishing permit. Class size is limited to 12 students and students must provide their own transportation and be accompanied by an adult if they are under 16. To register, call the MDC Ozark Regional Office in West Plains at (417) 256-7161. Due to the time of year, the class may be canceled because of inclement weather or poor water conditions.
For more information on fish gigging in Missouri, go online to mdc.mo.gov.