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Gigging vs Smallmouth conflict


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#1 Wayne SW/MO

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 11:17 AM

Here's an article done on the subject. I can tell you that the lady did her homework on this.

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#2 jscheetz

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 12:40 PM

Hey Wayne,

Good article. I can tell you that a few years back I was camping and trout fishing on the North fork of the White river. I didn't even know you could ram up that beautiful river in the middle of the night with a motor boat and gig fish. I sat on the bank and listened to a boatload of drunken giggers scrape the bottom all night - and from many of their comments I know they weren't just gigging suckers. They weren't "mistaking" browns for suckers - they were targeting them. As for the "policing themselves" comment - hehehehehehehehehehehehe that may be the funniest thing I have ever read!!!! There are many "locals" down there - not all of course, but many who sort of feel isolated from any law - as anyone who has lived out "in the sticks" can vouch for. They have been going out and spending the night drinking and gigging for years and ain't no outsider going to tell them what to do. I took this up with the MDC and basically got brushed off - with the same old, "there are violations in all areas, and we can't catch them all" nonsense that they usually spew. I don't even know if it is still legal to gig on the North Fork - but it sure seems to me that if you make it OK and the MDC turns it's badge the other way - then you are going to get lots of things speared.

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#3 MoCarp

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 08:28 PM

Can you say CAMCORDER!!!

it been " we have done it for years' atttude by meat fisherman

until some "examples are set" it will continue


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#4 Al Agnew

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 09:19 PM

When I talked to Kathy on the phone, she was a lot more upset about this herself than she wrote in the article, which seemed to me to be pretty even-handed. I too think she did a good job under the constraints of space.

Few anglers spend more time on the Meramec and Gasconade in the winter than Nick Hamra. If he's seriously upset about this, it IS an issue.

Unfortunately, the basic response from MDC is no different from what it ever was. In fact, Kathy told me that one biologist, who shall remain nameless here because I almost always respect him and his work otherwise, suggested that what look like gig scars on smallmouths may actually be scars from great blue heron attacks. How ridiculous is that? Funny how those scars are most likely to show up on bass that are too big for a heron to swallow, and it's funny how I've only seen FRESH wounds on bass during the gigging season...oh, yeah, and it's also funny that those herons have long enough necks to reach bass in the deep water that they are almost always in during the day in cold weather. I'm as big a supporter of MDC as anybody, but they are abdicating their responsibility on this one because they don't want to stir up the good ol' boy hornet's nest, and possibly also because they seriously DON'T know what to do to curb this.

Pray for LOTS of rain next autumn!

#5 Gavin

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 04:07 PM

Good Article. Hope MDC will actually step up to the plate and do something on this issue. Folks have been complaining about jet boat traffic, & illegal gigging on the Meramec for years and nothing has ever been done about it. I'd love to see an experiment were they got rid of gigging between Hwy 8 and Onandaga. I'm sure that both the trout and bass fishing would improve. I'd also like to see some limits placed on the number of commercial canoe rentals, and horsepower restrictions. 25hp should be more than enough.

#6 Forsythian

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 09:43 PM

Hey Wayne,

Good article. I can tell you that a few years back I was camping and trout fishing on the North fork of the White river. I didn't even know you could ram up that beautiful river in the middle of the night with a motor boat and gig fish. I sat on the bank and listened to a boatload of drunken giggers scrape the bottom all night -

JS


Supposed to be off the river by midnight... if they were truly out all night, they are the poaching fringe that plagues every sport.

I agree the article was pretty even-handed, but I didn't get this paragraph:

Glen Sims, of Gravois Mill, is also upset. "I've been wade-fishing on the Gasconade when a jetboat passed by, went around an upstream bend and shut down. A few minutes later, I'd notice dead smallmouth bass drifting downstream," Sims said.

What the heck is that all about? Is he wading at night, and they are upstream gigging smallmouth from a boat that is shut down?
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#7 Forsythian

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 01:00 PM

I just re-read the article, and I still don't get the paragraph that quoted this mysterious "Glen Sims", and his tale of smallmouth carnage. To me, this paragraph does some significant damage to the article. I am a bit sensitive knowing that there are many who would do away with the sport altogether, at once or incrementally, and so have a seemingly endless supply of embellished first-person horror stories to support their preferred usage of a shared natural resource (river).

I'm not doubting that game fish are gigged illegally or inexperiencedly (sp?), and I'm not necessarily opposed to closing some stretches of specially-managed smallmouth waters (as they have done in trout management areas). In fact, I say form a citizen's committee and put Al in the lead!

BUT, I think you all would find much broader support for this if the consensus was the current laws are adequately enforced. The issue reminds me a bit of gun control.
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#8 gonefishin

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 09:39 PM

I agree. The mysterious "Glen Sims" and his account of the Small Mouth Carnage seems about as believeable as the people who will swear on a stack of bibles and under the threat of eternal damnation "that so and so went diving at X Dam and would never go again because they seen "Man Eating Catfish" down there."

You are ablsolutly correct in your assesment of how people would go about doing away with the sport all together.

I am not a gigger but I do support the sport.

Edited by gonefishin, 17 February 2006 - 09:47 PM.

I would rather be fishin'.

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#9 Wayne SW/MO

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 01:25 PM

Well I'll ask Glen and get back to ya'll, but I can tell you for a fact that he's not prone to tall tales.
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#10 Kicknbass

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 01:34 PM

This article is tough on the gigging community. As sportsman, we have too many groups outside the hunting and fishing community that would like to limit our rightís, lets not alienate each other. I am an avid smallmouth bass fisherman that would love to see better management of the states fishery. Most of my time spent fishing is on the waters of the meramec and current rivers. The meramec in the trophy SMB management area is a great fishery, however, it is nearly unfishable during the summer months due to the masses that float the stream.

The current river has a large number of SMB. Unfortunately, it is tough to catch many fish over 13-14 inches. The river is used extremely heavy in the summer months by floaters above two rivers, and boaters below. This would be a great stream to change to a SMB managed area allowing the fish a chance to get to trophy status. I am sure that there are more SMB removed from the stream by the recreational users taking legal fish by legal methods than from giggers. Limiting the SMB length and limits would cause the vast majority of the fish to be released to grow and fight again. Most recreational fisherman are law abiding and would not want to break the rules and would willingly abide.

Fish gigging is a ton of fun. I have been fishing gigging for 20 + years and had very few illegal fish brought into the boat. The rivers have plenty of suckers, which most giggers prefer. However, mistakes do happen and when a error is made, unfortunately the fish will not survive. I am sure far fewer smallmouth bass are removed from the water by giggers than are taken by bait fisherman and recreational fisherman that remove the fish legally. Trout on the other hand are hard to distinguish from suckers and trout water should be protected. Most giggers are honest respectable sportsman that would not purposely kill game fish.
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#11 Simsmarine

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 02:57 PM

I agree the article was pretty even-handed, but I didn't get this paragraph:

Glen Sims, of Gravois Mill, is also upset. "I've been wade-fishing on the Gasconade when a jetboat passed by, went around an upstream bend and shut down. A few minutes later, I'd notice dead smallmouth bass drifting downstream," Sims said.

What the heck is that all about? Is he wading at night, and they are upstream gigging smallmouth from a boat that is shut down?




When I read Kathys accounting of what I said I was afraid it would be confusing. I told her that the "breaking point for me was on a late evening float/wade, we had paddled up and were standing just below a riffle when the gig boat came from downstream, we stepped aside and they accellerated to shoot the riffle. Once through the riffle they backed off to an idle and eased around the bend out of sight (we could still hear them, but could not see them). several minutes later my buddy says "looky here" and points to a solid 3 lber drifting through the riffle, I waded out to it and sure enough, it was stuck right through its guts (looked like they had stuck it from a 45 degree angle to the side). Before it got to dark to see clearly we counted two more smallies. I WAS FIT TO BE TIED ! and mad enough to destroy some trailer tires and call the law had their truck been at the access where we paddled up from. But it wasn't.

No, I don't "wade the river in the dark", it was not dark yet, they didn't have their lights on when they came upriver, and the boat was not shut down, just idling". If I had thought that they were "up to no good" I would have gotten the numbers when they came by, but they slowed down and waited for us to get out of the way before they shot the riffle, we moved aside and gave a friendly wave to let them know it was ok to go for it. I haven't ever done any gigging but it obviously doesn't have to be "dark of the night" to gig.

At the rate they were going I'd bet my last dollar that those guys that nite killed 10-15 bass.

#12 Simsmarine

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 03:14 PM

I agree. The mysterious "Glen Sims" and his account of the Small Mouth Carnage seems about as believeable as the people who will swear on a stack of bibles and under the threat of eternal damnation "that so and so went diving at X Dam and would never go again because they seen "Man Eating Catfish" down there."



Mysterious Glen Sims ? I'm afraid the mystery spawned from the editing and/or the person doing the quoting.





Most giggers are honest respectable sportsman that would not purposely kill game fish.


I wish I believed that.

#13 gonefishin

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 04:14 PM

Seems to me if we are willing to get rid of the giggers because they are no help to the SMB populations we should also be willing to get rid of the floaters because they sure dont help either. And then of course we have to figure out what to do about the bait fishermen (Bluegill, catfish crappie ect) who occasionally catch a SMB accidentally. Then we would have to figure out what to do about the White Bass, Crappie Largemouth Bass fishermen who occasionally catch a Small Mouth because they sure dont help either.......

The point is once certain groups of people are targeted to dislike then there is no end in sight. There will always be a reason to dislilke some group or another. Best thing to do is live and let live. If there are problems with a few people in a certain area then the MDC should be informed and the informer should let the MDC handle it and go on about his/her business.

I dont gig but I have known a lot of people who gig/grab/fish for suckers. Most of them wouldnt give a nickle for a Bass or Trout or anyother fish that swims. They want suckers period. I cant deny there are always exceptions but they are just that.
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#14 Forsythian

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 04:25 PM

Wow! Phil's got quite an "e" community here... everybody knows everybody. Kicknbass, great 1st post!

Glen, thanks for chiming in... and thanks for that telling peak into your psyche. I disagree that most snaggers are poachers, same as I do not believe most canoe-bound smallmouth fishermen are snobs.

I think it's unfortunate that some giggers are giving our sport a bad name. It is equally unfortunate that some would push their fellow sportsmen over the "slippery slope" of more and more regs (or outright banishment of their sport). We've all see it before with hound hunting, bear baiting, fox hunting, etc. Decisions based on "viscera" rather than sound management, and no respect for tradition.
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#15 Simsmarine

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 05:20 PM

ATL giging thread


Here's another gigging debate that I think better states my true feelings about it. I go by "fishinwrench" on that board.

#16 ollie

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 05:21 PM

See guys, now we are getting somewhere. Now we are hearing the pros and cons of river fishing. Personally, I could care less if gigging was illigal, but I know that isn't the real solution to the problem. I too think there is some bad apples mixed in the bunch that gives way to problems on our streams. Maybe we should have a statewide length limit on smallies? ( bigger than 12" ) I know several streams around here still have the 12" length and I rarely see them get any bigger than that in those streams. It is sad when you see average joes taking little fish or more fish than they should. Sometimes there are kids along that think Dad is doing ok by taking those sub-legal or over limit fish and that is when it is really a sad thing to see. They will most generally grow up thinking it is ok to do this. My Dad still keeps everything that is legal to keep and fillets them out. That was the way he was taught. I use to be that way until I realized that a trophy stringer of smallies hurt the future of the streams I fish. Times have changed since I was even a boy and at the rate our fisherys are going I sometimes wonder if my grandkids will be able to enjoy what I have.
Oh yeah, this is about gigging smallies. I say protect them more like we do our trout waters.

Edited by ollie, 18 February 2006 - 05:23 PM.

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#17 Wayne SW/MO

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 08:58 PM

[/quote]Seems to me if we are willing to get rid of the giggers [quote]

I don't know anyone who advocates that. They're may be some, but I don't know them. I know several people, myself included, that believe some waters should be protected, that more enforcement efforts are needed in some areas, and maybe stiffer penalties. Whats being suggested by those I know has precedence all through the code.
We simply want Suckers gigged and Smallies and Trout caught.
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#18 Al Agnew

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 09:33 PM

Guys, I think I said it in the other thread, but I'll say it again...

The problem with gigging is, unlike any other "legal" method of taking fish, you can specifically target the biggest bass in the river. For that reason alone, it's different from fishing out of season, or keeping over the limit, or even just fishing. It doesn't really matter if the majority of giggers don't gig game fish (and I believe that to be true). It only takes a few bad apples to decimate the population of LARGE ADULT smallmouths. I believe, and I'm far from the only one, that illegal gigging is one of the most significant factors in depressing the number of large adult bass in the Meramec. I can't speak for other rivers because I don't spend enough time on them. But I find it interesting that my experience in recent years has been that the fishing for larger fish has declined on the streams big enough for jetboats and gigging from jetboats, and has either stayed the same or increased on streams that are too small for jetboats but big enough for canoe traffic...including streams that have a LOT of canoe traffic and a lot of angling pressure. I also find it interesting that my experience for many years has been that there are more smallmouths with gig scars on them after a gigging season with lots of clear water than the seasons that get a lot of rain and more murky water. The Meramec was exceptionally clear this whole past autumn and winter, and the problem seems to have been worse than ever.

I agree that gigging should not be outlawed, though I sometimes wish it had been outlawed long ago. It IS an aberration...anglers I've spoken to from other states have no concept of gigging, except to relate it to spearing pike in some northern states.

But if you don't believe it is a problem, you either haven't spent enough time on the larger streams during the fall and winter, or you're sticking your head in the sand. Kicknbass has a good point that we shouldn't be alienating each other, and in reality the only answer to it is MUCH better enforcement, and a lot of peer pressure to discourage the bad apples. Outlawing it is unrealistic, and limiting the season probably wouldn't help all that much. Unfortunately, illegal gigging is extremely easy to do without being caught.

I would like to see the smallmouth management area of the Meramec closed to gigging as an experimental regulation for a few years, just to see what that did to the population of larger bass. Once we saw whether it made a difference or not, we'd have a lot better handle on how much effect illegal gigging is having.

#19 Kicknbass

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 12:22 AM

Wow, I didn't expect such a response from my first post. It is great to see that so many are serious about the topic.

I have gigged for years, and kill hundreds of suckers. Suckers are schooling fish that like open water, as do trout. SMB typically are structure oriented found in the deepest water in the winter hid in the structure. You really do not see many bass on a nights outing. Most nights gigging on the meramec I will never see a bass. Al Agnew, - I'll take you out gigging and give you $10 for every bass that you see if you'll give me $10 for every hour that we gig w/o seeing a bass. More big bass are harvested legally by floaters casually fishing each year than by gigging. Gigging is really not a huge threat to the SMB population.

If you have never tried gigging, you should so that you could understand that it does not pose the threat that you fear. Most of the folks that I know in the gigging community are just average outdoorsmen that enjoy the night out on the river. These are people that support your right to fish and hunt. They just enjoy a different method than you.

Trout waters are protected and should be protected from gigging for two reasons. First, there is a very limited number of trout waters in the state. All ozark streams that are gigging water is good smallmouth water eliminating gigging in smallmouth waters would eliminate gigging. Trout water is limited to less that 5% (I'm guessing) of all ozark streams. The second reason is that trout are similar to suckers feeding in the same open waters and trout and yellow suckers are nearly indistinguishable. Even the most experienced gig fisherman will gig trout accidentally. SMB are much easier to identify. Most SMB are killed in deep water near the limit of the visible depth. Changing the length and creel limits would be and have proven much more effective.
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#20 Al Agnew

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 09:42 AM

Kickinbass...I'll take you up on that offer if you let me decide where to look for the bass! I've done enough gigging to know that you're exactly right, the bass and suckers don't hang out in the same places. Which means that those who are gigging bass ARE intentionally targeting them, because if they were only targeting suckers they wouldn't be seeing many bass. Especially largemouths even more than smallmouths. So why am I and others seeing so many dead gigged bass and bass with gig scars on the Meramec?

Bass at night are almost always close to cover, though they tend to often come up shallower at night in the autumn than where they are during the day. They are easy to gig IF you find them, and the only way to really find them is to specifically look for them. Kickinbass, YOU might not be looking for them, and most or all of your friends may not, but that doesn't mean EVERYBODY is not. When I've gigged, I've often gone into the places where I know the bass will be, just to see what's there. I have no trouble seeing bass that I could gig if I was so inclined. I suspect that some giggers just happen upon the occasional bass and gig it for the heck of it. But I KNOW that some intentionally look for them and gig them regularly. Again, IT DOESN'T TAKE MANY PEOPLE DOING THIS TO MAKE A REAL DENT IN THE BIGGER BASS. Your assertion that more big smallmouths are taken by casual floaters than by giggers is supposition, and I think it's supposition not supported by facts...and I don't have real facts on my assertion that gigging is such a significant drain on the big bass population, either. That's why I think it would be very instructive to close just one stream segment to gigging for a few years and study the populations of game fish in it to determine what effect gigging is really having.

Again...I'm not advocating banning gigging. But giggers are going to have police their own ranks more, and MDC needs to get more serious about policing the sport.




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