At 4:30 p.m. Oct. 19, Ozark National Scenic Riverways and Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will host an instructional gigging program for children, and traditional storytelling for all ages on the gravel bar at Round Spring.
The program is free and all are welcome to attend, but reservations are required for gigging.
MDC agents will provide an opportunity for children ages 8 to 15 to experience gigging on the Current River at Round Spring while all visitors enjoy stories from “Current River Ghosts” around a gravel bar bonfire through the evening. Space is limited on the gigging boats so interested individuals should contact Twin Pines Conservation Education Center at 573-325-1381 or mdc.mo.gov/twinpines to reserve a spot and receive additional information.
No gravel bar gigging session would be complete without a fish 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 also invited to participate in a pumpkin carving contest. Decorated pumpkins will be on display during the event.
Participants should dress warmly and come prepared for enjoying the river and gravel bar after dark. Flashlights and folding lawn chairs are recommended.
Visitors who have registered to gig should gather at 4 p.m. at the lower landing at Round Spring to check in. At 4:30 p.m., the program will kick off and MDC agents will discuss gigging techniques, safety and regulations. At about 5 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. It’s common to see boats with generators and electric lights on the river at night in the fall and early winter. Seasoned gigging veterans of the area will tell stories about gigging or “fire fishing” with pine torches and then transitioning 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.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the surrounding resources, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.