It is an art.
More specifically, gigging.
Gigging for flounder is lots of fun. You walk around in the water at night, carrying your light and your gig, searching the sand under the water for the hint of the flat fish that has shimmied down and hidden himself so well that he is barely visible.
When I said barely visible, I mean you will not find one of those hidden creatures until someone is nice enough to point one out while he’s hiding. After you “see” what you are looking for, it’s on then. Your mouth is already watering because you can taste the meal that’s soon on the way. Nothing in the world tastes quite as good as a freshly caught flounder.
The saying is the best flounder gigging comes during the full moon in August. I don’t know whether that’s true or not; I just know I don’t turn down an offer to do a little gigging with some friends (which has usually been kiddo and his friends), whether it’s traipsing through the water on foot or riding along in a john boat or canoe. Both are fun, both have advantages and both, yes, both have disadvantages at times.
The very first time I went gigging with the boys, I was in the boa, holding the light. Now mind you, this was before everything and it’s brother was regulated by whatever license or law that could be thought up came into being. The words “take a kid fishing” still meant something and it was possible. Now? It’s costs an arm, a leg and your first grandkiddo just to be on the water. Back then, there wasn’t too much to worry about. Nobody was after our rears because we were the local people, having some local fun and going to be eating a fresh, local meal on two within the next day.
So here we go, late at night, by the light of the moon, heading across the creek to ride the shoreline where the ‘cliff’s’ are. Lots of tree debris, consequences of flooding and years of hurricanes, so everybody jumped out except me and I was left holding the light and handing out gear. No problem. Wasn’t a problem when we hit the motherlode of flounder heaven either. Up they came as each boy found and gigged, in the cooler the fish went, one behind another, nice ones. Going to be some good eating for some folks! But I couldn’t see the flounder in the sand! Ever. Down went the gig, up came the flounder. How could I not see the fish until they brought them up? Well….
Easy. They are kid. Very well. They hide very well. A flounder is a flat fish, eyes are on one side of the head. One side is white, the other is the color of sand. In other words, it’s designed to blend it with its environment, which is sand. That’s how it protects itself from predators. This night, we were the predators but only because it was for food. I finally, finally saw a hidden flounder when one of the boys gave me a gig and said put this over it when you see it. Look for the outline of the fish. I didn’t see an outline of a fish, I just saw water and sand! But it was there. And I finally saw it. “Now!” I did and voila, up came the flounder, the one I gigged! Yay! Well, that excitement just about tipped the boat over, with all the gear, the lights, the cooler with the catch, and me. Whew! That was close! It was on then…..I was the flounder gigging queen!
I saw this slithering, sliding thing swimming through the water. I KNOW better, truly I do but I didn’t think. Instead, I yelled, “Snake!” Disaster in process! All toes, legs and bodies IN the water made a quick beeline OUT of the water and commenced to getting into said boat in any conceivable way possible. Dumping one way, dumping the other water, everything inside trying to roll out and everybody outside trying to roll in! Quickly! Gosh, we are all going to drown out there in two feel of river water trying to get away from a snake!
Except, after everyone was in the boat and checked out the slithery creatures, it’s wasn’t the snake I thought it was. It was an eel. They were flat disgusted with me by that time! Kiddo looks at me with a twinkle in his eyes and says, “Mom, the next time you yell snake, please make sure it’s really a snake, okay?”
Oh yea, it was funny. I think about this particular night when the moon is full in August. The long nights of flounder gigging were some of the best times of summer.