If you want to get kids involved in the outdoors, taking them flounder gigging is a great way to do it. It’s summertime, and kids love staying up late this time of year. And with no school to prepare for each morning, most parents are okay with late bedtimes for them. And nighttime is the perfect time for gigging flounder.
It’s not all about the fish though. That’s something that John Long of East Columbia Sport Shop learned long ago while teaching his kids and nephews to flounder gig.
“Taking them flounder gigging opens up a whole new world to kids, even ones who spend a lot of time fishing. They’ll see things at night with gigging lights that they’ll never see so clearly during the day,” said Long.
It also teaches kids a lot about identifying different species of fish in their native habitats.
“We see a lot more fish than just flounder. Redfish, ladyfish, triple tail. It gives the kids a whole new perspective over looking at pictures of fish in a book, or even seeing them in aquariums with clean water. And watching a kid’s reaction when a dolphin comes up and blows just a few feet away in the dead of night is a sight to see,” said Long, who does most of his flounder gigging in the areas between Beaufort and Hilton Head.
It’s a learning experience for kids too. Aside from the obvious safety lesson necessary when kids are dealing with the gigs, Long said they also learn valuable lessons on making decisions, starting with whether or not a flounder is the legal size to gig.
“The first trip or two, I’ll make sure to give them the okay or not before they gig a fish, but after that, I tell them they are on their own, and that if they are ever not sure if the fish is legal size, then they should not gig it,” he said.
If Long sees a kid that’s so apprehensive that he or she is passing up obviously legal flounder, he’ll spend a little time praising their carefulness, but also encouraging them to go for it when they’re certain the fish is the proper size.
“They all want to gig a fish, but they don’t want to gig one that’s undersized. I never encourage them to gig one if they think it’s close, but I always encourage them to gig it if they’re sure it’s legal. It doesn’t take long for them to pick it up, and in no time, they’re gigging confidently without my input,” Long said.
And that, in Long’s eyes, is a lot bigger lesson than just showing a kid how to catch dinner.
“It’s a lesson in life. Kids need to learn to make decisions on their own. Giving them the ability and freedom to identify the fish and the fish’s size on their own builds their confidence and teaches them to make decisions in a timely manner,” he said.
One of Long’s favorite tools for gigging, with or without kids, is Hydro Glow’s Wading Light.
“These submersible lights extend your range. Sometimes you can see flounder up in water too shallow for your boat, and too far away for you to get them with your gig. That can be frustrating, but when I see that, I’ll go down current a little ways, get out the boat, then wade back up with one of these wading lights under water. These lights are very lightweight and easy to carry, easy to turn on and off, and light up the water daylight bright,” he said.
Long stressed the importance of wading against the current when gigging in this manner so that the silt stirred up by your feet don’t cover the area you are looking for fish.