Big Gig a Big Hit with Local Youth

A dozen youth from the area took turns aboard flat-bottom boats to try the century old practice of “gigg’n fish”, thanks to volunteers at the Big Gig event held on Elk River at Sycamore Landing, Noel Saturday evening by Young Outdoorsmen United. The participants ages 7-18 were chosen by submitting an application for the random drawing. Andrew Moritz, age 8 from Rocky Comfort energetically asked all in one breath, “I’ve never done this before. Can I be the first one to go?” Moritz’s dad Adam interjected with a smile, “He’s been like this ALL day!” The youth were given instructions which species of fish allowable by law to harvest and how to identify both legal and non legal fish. A lesson how to aim and use the gig pole was followed by a discussion of boat safety. They were then paired into teams and assigned to go with volunteer guide Bobby Gutherless , Anderson, or with Missouri Department of Conservation agents Adam Strader and Jerid Wilkerson from McDonald and Newton Counties respectively. Powered with motors and aided with bright lights secured at the front of each boat, the kids traveled the smooth currents up and down the river seeking fish to gig. Protective railing at the bow and sides of each boat prevented the inexperienced giggers from taking an unwanted swim into to chilly water as they position the 16ft gig poles and plunged them into the river when attempting to spear their quarry. Squeals of excitement, loud laughing and sighs of disappointment could be heard echoing thru the dark skies as the other youth and parents gathered around the warm campfire waiting for their chance to go. Before the first giggers went out on the river, everyone was treated to a limitless supper of fried fish and potatoes, baked beans, snacks, drinks and homemade desserts. The cooks were kept busy keeping the serving trays full while the appreciative guests sampled their offerings as fast as they could prepare them. No one complained they were still hungry at the end of the night. “I had a good time, it was pretty neat. I saw a bunch of turtles and one of them fish (gar) with a long nose too. It’s the first time I have ever been” declared 9 year old River Killion of Southwest City. It was also the first time for 100% youth attending. Blaine Lemm 13, from Anderson summed up his experience, “I liked it, I learned to gig….not too good at it yet, but I want to go again. The Big Gig event was a big hit.