The Missouri Department of Conservation is extending the state's fish-gigging season by 15 days beginning this season.
The upcoming season will run Sept. 15 through Feb. 15, 2020, according to an MDC news release.
The move to lengthen the season was based on public feedback the department received through an online survey last year and an assessment that lengthening the season would not harm non-target species.
The Missouri Conservation Commission approved the change last week.
Gigging is a type of spearing fish where participants use a long fork-like spear, or gig, rather than catching them with a hook and line. It is primarily a nighttime activity and is most effective in shallow, clear water.
Some of the most popular places to gig are in the Ozarks, including the Current, Eleven Point, Meramec, Gasconade and James rivers, according to MDC.
Giggers usually stand at the bow of a flat-bottomed boat outfitted with a bright light and a rail to lean upon. They hold their fork-tipped spears over the surface of the water, and once they spot a fish, they gig it with their spears.
The Wildlife Code of Missouri mandates that fish described as "other fish" are the only species that may be taken when gigging. The most common targets are the northern hogsucker and species of redhorse commonly referred to as "yellow suckers."
The daily limit is 20 fish.
On the Current River from Cedar Grove to the Arkansas state line, no more than five hogsuckers can be included in the daily limit. Game fish cannot be harvested by gigging. Giggers should identify fish prior to gigging so game fish are not taken illegally.
For more information on fish gigging, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Z4f.
Fish giggers must possess a valid fishing permit, though children 15 and younger and adults 65 years and older are not required to have a permit. Missouri fishing permits are available from numerous vendors around the state, at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/permits or through MDC's free mobile app, MO Fishing.