Freshwater Fish Gigging: Rivers, Streams, and Lakes

Fish Gigging -

Freshwater Fish Gigging: Rivers, Streams, and Lakes

One of the most common-known methods of gigging in the South is gigging for flounder, frogs, or drum. We have done many blogs on saltwater gigging in the South but haven’t had the opportunity to touch on one of the most fun past-times with over 200 years of history: freshwater fish gigging.

Freshwater fish gigging is allowed for non-game fish in most states, which include carp, suckers, gar, bowfin, bullhead, drum and “other fish” as stated in most parks and wildlife manuals. One state, Oklahoma, is one of the few that allows gigging White Bass! Known by locals as “Sand Bass” they are one of the most abundant freshwater fish in Oklahoma. Hence, they earned the state fish of Oklahoma title. Quick fact – catfish will follow schooling white bass to feed on the dying shad that is falling from the surface. It’s a free buffet!

Freshwater Gigging Basics

Some states limit the gigging season to certain months of the year and times of the day (Sept. 15 to Feb. 15 and 10 AM – Midnight for Arkansas, Open all day & all year for Texas with restrictions on certain fish) It is important you check with your local parks and wildlife department so you don’t get yourself in trouble trying out what may be a new sport to you.

Similar to flounder gigging, freshwater gigging is best accomplished in shallow water areas and works best with a trolling motor or fan pusher motor on an aluminum boat. Aluminum is recommended over fiberglass simply due to the higher abuse tolerance for the shallow water rocks and logs.

Freshwater fish gigging is most common in the state of Missouri and surrounding areas; namely Lake of the Ozarks area. It's important to know your local regulations because underwater lights are prohibited in most areas that freshwater gigging for suckers is most common. Due do to this, it's important to utilize purpose-built fish gigging lights that can perform well above water and help you see more fish. This is where we focus our time and effort.

Freshwater vs. Saltwater: The Difference

The key to gigging for flounder is “simply” finding them. Once you understand the moon, tide, barometric pressure, seafloor bottom types, food sources etc. (as explained in previous blog posts) you can culminate a good recipe, which will put the odds in your favor that you will find a couple or more flatties. Once you find them, they are stationary and normally don’t move. Here’s the difference: freshwater fish are always moving. Your target fish are all upright swimming fish and much like gigging sheepshead in saltwater, you have to be quick and accurate to bring them in the boat. It may take a few trial and error runs but eventually you’ll be hauling in sucker after sucker.

Similar to flounder, suckers are considered some of the best-eating fish and some Missouri residents will take a sucker over any catfish fillet. The key to cooking a sucker is going to be preparation; they are much easier to mess up than a catfish fillet. They are boney fish but when scored, battered with corn meal and fried, the larger bones will crystallize while the smaller bones dissolve in the fry oil. Some experienced chefs are able to score so well that all of the bones dissolve in the fry oil. Originating in the Ozarks, fried suckers are highly sought after by many avid fish giggers.

Who We Are

Outrigger Outdoors is a designer and manufacturer of fish gigging lights. Our lights are proven to help fish giggers put more fish in the boat due to their ability to adapt to changing water clarities and conditions.

Our Swamp Eye Fish Gigging Lights are color temperature adjustable and can adjust from a deep warm white color for muddy waters to a cool white color for clearer waters (and anywhere in-between). This gives you full control at maximum visibility regardless of the water conditions. Separate to this, we maximize the brightness of our lights while minimizing the power consumptions. This means you get to stay on the water for longer, with brighter lights. 

Our Swamp Eye HD Lights are our top-selling fish gigging light that broadcast an incredibly wide beam capable of adjusting to different water clarities.


Our Swamp Eye Gen 2.X Light Bars are another top-selling fish gigging light that is lower profile and directs more light to the water and less light to the shore. These are most ideal for areas near houses.



Get rigged up for your next freshwater gigging trip – check out our ALL-NEW 17-4 stainless steel fish gigs and shop our selection of fish gigging lights and supplies today. 

316 Stainless Steel Fish Gig

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