check guns sights, Deer hunting, deer season, Eleven Point River, fish, fish. boat, fishing, free, freezing, gigging, gigging lights, Kosh Trading Post, lanterns, Ozarks, paddle, regulations, restrictions, river, streams, suckers, winter
By David Lohr
Kosh Trading Post taxidermist
This time of year we are all so fixed on our deer hunting that we sometimes fall victim of tunnel vision.
Even though it has been many years, when I was a little younger (OK a lot younger), I loved to participate in one of our favorite Ozark winter pastimes. While I was in school I had the privilege of working with a couple of very fine gentlemen who loved the outdoors and fishing in particular. In the summertime their families would vacation together on the lake. In the winter they took to the river with lights and gigs. One of the gentlemen Mr. Gowers introduced me to flint napping and the other Mr. Ragsdale to fish gigging. As a young high school student, that sounded so much fun I had to try, so Mr. Ragsdale gave me my first gig (the one in the picture, yes I still have it) and so I was ready. At first I didn’t have any lights so I borrowed a couple two mantle gas lanterns and my Uncle Bill and I would go on Warm Fork and go gigging.
I never cared for the fish to much but always had friends that were thrilled to get them. This worked for a while until Uncle Bill, one of his boys Wess, and I went one night up the river from where Thayer Warm Fork Park now is, behind the football field, about half way to the Allen Ford and ran out of gas for the lanterns. Uncle Bill walked to the truck; Wess and I took the boat back down stream with no lights. Gigging season is a winter sport (the handle was freezing to our gloves). Taking a boat downstream, with no lights, you guessed it, I ended up in the river. The next day I was telling the story to another friend, and after he stopped laughing, he went and got me an old set of 12 volt gigging lights that he had made and no longer used (also pictured). One of us paddled the boat, only used the motor a time or two, while the other gigged and then would switch off so we both got to fish.
I have intended to go gigging every year for a very long time and have allowed life to get in the way for way too long. The last time that I went was the last night of the season (best I remember that was the last night of the year back then) in 1979. I can remember that so well as that was the only time that dad ever went with me. We went to Rex Moore’s on the upper end of Warm Fork and gigged for a while with no luck and as we were paddling back to the bank to take out, I got into a bunch of Suckers and got a mess of fish which we gave to Mr. Moore.
Here in the Ozarks gigging has been a family tradition for many families, just as deer season for many others. The season is in the fall and early winter. There are some streams with restrictions such as part of the Eleven Point River. So for the season in your state, any stream restrictions, and type of fish allowed check your Conservation or Fish and Game regulations.
Even though I haven’t had the opportunity to gig for many years I will again find a fishing buddy brave enough to get in a boat in the winter, at night, stand on the front of the boat with no hand rails, cold enough for the handle to freeze to the gloves and have the most fun you can imagine.
We will be getting to the firearms deer season by the time our next article comes out, so I would like to make a special offer for our readers. The week preceding the Modern firearms deer season if you would like, bring your rifles by the store here in Kosh and we will check your sights with a laser boar sight for free (call before driving long distance 417-280-6304 as sometimes I have to be gone for short periods of time) in our indoor archery range at Kosh Trading Post, 206 Bingham, Koshkonong, Mo., and check our web page at koshtradingpost.angelfire.com and koshtradingpost on Facebook.