Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gear for Gigging

Do you want to have a great time and catch some fish?  I'll explain how to gig flounder like these in a series of three posts, starting today.
      Hopefully, all my writing about gigging has encouraged some people to go out and give it a try.  It is getting a little late in the year for gigging, but that means I'll be out on the water less and have more time to write.  When I started the blog, we were already in the middle of the flounder run, so I just posted reports.  Now that the run is over, I'll post three more entries about gigging (1) Gear for Gigging, (2) When and Where to go Gigging, and (3) How to make some equipment.  You will have all winter to get your gear assembled because the flounder won't start coming back until spring.  Also, I'll be writing about wadding.  Methods for gigging off a boat might be a little different, but this information may still be useful.

      Like most great outdoor activities, the first thing you will need is proper footwear.  I prefer sandals (not flip-flops) because they drain and dry fast, but if you only plan on going a few times a year, old sneakers will work.  Sometimes they get a little annoying when they fill with sand, but almost everyone has an old pair lying around.  Other folks wear waders and wading boots, which have the added benefit of keeping you dry, but in Florida, you can usually wet wade.  I used to go barefoot, but as you will learn in my future post (When and Where to go Gigging), flounder like to hang out around structure, which means there will be a lot of sharp oysters and barnacles.

Rugged sandals are the ideal footwear for wading, but if you are a frugal gigger, you can do just fine with old sneakers.
      The next thing you will need is a gig. It can be as simple as some nails attached to a broomstick, but I just buy a bamboo pole, for a few bucks, and screw a store bought gig-head into it.  I don't like anything longer than 8' when I'm wading.  This length allows me to reach the occasional mullet or sheepshead that might swim by, but it does not cause problems when I'm wading close to friends.  For the head, I just use a small three-prong head that I buy at Wal-Mart.  As long as you get a good head shot, you won't loose the fish, and if you are wading, you can always just reach down and grab the fish.  If you decide to try frog gigging in the summer, the smaller head size has the added benefit of being very effective in weed mats.

This is the gig head I use, but there are many different styles.  This one has just been sharpened.
        Before you can stick any fish with your gig you have to find them, and to do that, you need a light.  There are many options, but the two I have used with success are a propane lantern with some aluminum flashing to reflect the light into the water, and a halogen high beam attached to PVC.  The former is pretty cheap and quick to make. The latter is much brighter but, costs a bit more in both cash and building time.  Some alternatives I have seen being used are a waterproof flashlight taped to a dowel, bright headlamps, and a handheld spotlight.  The flashlight wasn't too bright but seemed to be working for the guy, spotlights are extremely bright, but don't have much battery life, and headlamps can work, but you will spend a lot more time searching.  I have also seen waterproof lights sold in stores for about $70, but they are more expensive than the ones I make, and not as bright.  If you have about $40 dollars, I'd recommend waiting until I post instructions on how to make a gigging light.  As a side note, I always carry a backup headlamp just in case my battery dies while I'm on the water.  It's not necessary, but a good idea.

Here you can see my flounder light.  The red wire runs to my backpack where I carry a 12V battery.
      You will also want an old backpack so you can carry the battery for your light (if a needed), water, a camera, or anything else you might want or need.  I usually just put my fish in the backpack if I only plan on catching one or two for dinner.  When I go for more fish, I just use a mesh laundry bag to carry my catch.  I have seen some guys pulling rafts with coolers and their gear, but I tend to go near oyster bars where a raft would easily pop.  I find it is easier to just put everything in a backpack.
      If you are going during the fall run, you will also want some warm clothes.  I usually have a fleece jacket and a waterproof shell.  I also carry a wool beany.  Basically, hypothermia is real, even in Florida!  Don't be stupid; dress appropriately.  End of story.
      The final piece of gear, that often gets overlooked, is a fishing license which is required in most states.  It shouldn't cost much, plus the amount of fish you will catch in a year, combined with the hours of entertainment you get while fishing will definitely offset the cost of a license.  Besides, the license money will go to your state biologists who work hard to maintain sustainable fisheries.
      Oh yeah, you will also need access to some water, but I'll talk about that in another post.


  1. How did you build your PVC light?

  2. That is a great question. I have been meaning to post instructions. On Friday, I made one for my friend and took some pictures and video that I'll be posting. It might take a week or so for me to get the plans up but, I'll give you the summarized instructions now. If you are pretty handy you can probably figure it out. If you are not, you can wait until I post the detailed plans. For now, you can watch this video schematic( which I very briefly show and explain the design.

    You will need about 4' of 1" PVC (the handle), a 2" to 1" reducer bushing, a 2" coupler, PVC cement, an automotive highbeam (the sealed glass kind like you would see on an old jeep), about 14' of wire, and two ring terminals and silicone adhesive or a two part epoxy. You will also need soldering tools and an old 12V battery (I use a lawn tractor battery but I really want to test one of the more compact gel batteries).

    Basically, the 4 feet of pvc pipe will connect to the 2" to 1" reducer bushing (use PVC cement), and the bushing will connect to the 2" coupler (also use PVC cement). Now cut your wire into 2, 7' pieces. Thread them both through the PVC and sodder them to the brass terminals on the light-bulb. At this point, I like to cover the exposed metal parts with electrical tape and then silicon, just in case any water gets in your light. Put a bead of silicone on the edge of the 2" coupler and attach the light-bulb to it. It helps to have somebody pull the slack out of the wire so they are out of the way. Let it dry according to the instructions on the label. Solder, or crimp, the ring terminals onto the other ends of the wires. These will be used to connect your light to the battery. It does not matter which ring terminal goes to the positive or negative terminal on the battery.

    Of course, you can always add more into the circuitry such as switches, dimmers etc. I just like to keep things simple. If you build your own and have any improvements, let me know. I'm always trying to improve the design. In fact, you will notice that this light is slightly different from my original light in my picture. My original is still working but after making a few more for friends, I have made the design lighter and smaller.

    I hope this helps. Feel free to comment if you have any more questions.

    Wow, I wrote more than I thought. Maybe I'll just post this to my main page.