(KDKZ-TV) On Saturday, October 20, Ozark National Scenic Riverways will host an instructional gigging program and evening of Ozark storytelling at Round Spring in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). The “Gigs and Ghosts” program will begin at 4:00 p.m. on the lower landing at Round Spring. National Park Service rangers and MDC staff invite everyone to gather around a gravel bar campfire for a program on the history of gigging, an overview of modern-day techniques and safety, as well as storytelling around the fire throughout the evening. The program will include an opportunity to gig fish on the Current River under the guidance of MDC Conservation Agents. All are welcome to attend this free program, but space is limited on the gigging boats. Participants who want to try their hand at gigging should reserve a spot by contacting Twin Pines Conservation Education Center at 573-325-1381 or the MDC program hotline at 888-283-0364.
No gravel bar gigging session would be complete without a sucker fry. Specialists from Twin Pines Conservation Education Center will be on hand to provide a sample of this traditional Ozark delicacy to visitors. Campers and visitors attending the program are invited to bring their carved or decorated pumpkins to the event to participate in a carved pumpkin contest. Decorated pumpkins will be on display during the event. As darkness falls, rangers from Ozark National Scenic Riverways and members of the community will host presentations around the campfire from several “Current River Ghosts”.
Participants should dress warmly, and come prepared for enjoying the river and gravel bar after dark. Flashlights and folding lawn chairs are recommended. All giggers should possess a valid Missouri fishing license. Visitors who have registered to gig should gather at the lower landing at Round Spring at 4:00 p.m. to check in. At 4:30 p.m. the program will kick off and MDC agents will discuss gigging techniques, safety, and regulations. At approximately 5:00 p.m. gigging sessions will begin as ghosts from the past make their appearance around the campfire for an evening of storytelling.
Fish gigging is a time honored tradition on the Current River. During evenings in the fall and early winter, it’s common to see boats with generators and electric lights on the river. Seasoned gigging veterans of the area will tell you stories about gigging or “fire fishing” with pine torches and then graduating to incandescent gas lanterns prior to the use of electric lights. Gigging has grown from a necessity to put food on the table to a recreational sporting activity. What was once a means of survival in the Ozarks, today has become more of an opportunity for socializing and getting back to primitive outdoor skills. Whatever the motivation behind the art of gigging, it brings friends and families together to enjoy each other, good food and the beautiful Ozark rivers.
For more information about the Gigs and Ghosts program, contact Park Ranger Dave Tobey as 573-323-8093.
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