WINONA, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and National Park Service (NPS) present “Gigs and Ghosts” Oct. 20 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Round Spring's lower landing, twelve miles north of Eminence.
“This is a unique opportunity to learn about our time-honored tradition of gigging for suckers on the Current River,” said Cassie Roberts, a MDC naturalist at Twin Pines Conservation Education Center.
Gigging season on Ozark streams and rivers runs from Sept. 15 through Jan. 31. The daily limit is 20 fish in the aggregate, and on the Current River from Cedar Grove to the Arkansas line no more than five hogsuckers can be included in the daily limit. Gigging consists of spearing fish rather than catching them with a hook and line. It is primarily a nighttime activity and is most effective in shallow, clear water. Fish harvested by gigging are known generally as “suckers.” They are collected in this manner because traditional angling methods are not effective for catching these species.
Giggers usually stand at the bow of a flat-bottomed boat outfitted with a bright light and a rail to lean upon. They hold their fork-tipped spears over the surface of the rushing water, scanning for fish. Once they spot a sucker, they try to gig it with their spears. It sounds straightforward, but it is challenging. The boat is moving, daylight is gone, it’s cold outside, and the fish are quick.
MDC will instruct guests on fish identification and gigging techniques and regulations. NPS will host a storytelling session around a campfire on the gravel bar. Reservation is required in advance at www.mdc.mo.gov/events. Participants should note this program is not at Twin Pines Conservation Education Center but is at Round Springs lower landing.