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Folkways Gigging for Fish and Frogs

  This tale was written by Ron Hughes, about Farrell Berry, who used to gig in the Bryant. A gig is a three pointed spearhead made of metal, attached to a long pole for spearing fish. Giggers spear fish from boats, watching the fish through the water below.

  Gigging for Fish and Frogs

"Only gigger I knew was Farrell Berry. Farrell used to keep his gigging boat tied up across from Croney Rock. Some decent holes in the Bryant along there, at least there used to be. Farrell's early gigging boats were made out of three pine planks--one for the top and two for the sides. It was long and lean. He would stand on the end and the other end would rise up out of the water.

"As he poled himself around, the boat would follow like some upraised tail of a water creature. It was like a dance. It was beautifully graceful. Using his upturned gigging pole, he would push and pull and work himself around. Up, down and across the river. He would circle the fish working his way in close and then plunge the gig into the water. Sometimes, he would hurl the gig like a spear. Gigging a large sucker or red horse or gar, the pole would jerk around in the water until he could grab it. Sometimes he would push or pull himself in using his other gigging pole. The second one was for frogs. It had a smaller gig on it, sized for gigging smaller game. 

"An early memory of Farrell is seeing him coming up from the river to his truck, walking across the bottom hay field with a gigging pole over each shoulder. Each gig was stuck through the head of a gar, the tail of one gar was dragging the ground and the other one was close. Farrell was over 6' tall. 

"Virgil Poole was supposed to have been the best one around at making gigs. He made Farrell's, so I got him to make me one. Probably 25 years ago. I paid him $15. He made it out of a king pin out of a '53 Ford. I still have the gig, but no pole on it." 

 

Farrell Berry

photo © Holton Rower
 
Many collections of Ozarks folk tales exist. Some of them are published in books, and many more are passed down in families. We invite you to share your Ozark tales with us, and we'll feature them in these pages.
 
 
 
 

Written by Ron Hughes. Photo of Farrel Berry © Holton Rower.

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