Friday, May 25, 2012

Asian Eyes' USA - Gig Squad

I went to school in USA back in the early nineties. It was near end-May and the weather was getting hotter. Fishing in the day was far and between as it was too hot. At night we have classes so we would not able to fish either, except weekends. Sam fished at night and I bought the fishes he caught in the morning. Sam has started to keep stingrays for me too, something he used to throw back into the water. The shrimper also started to go out at night. I have steady supply of shrimps and fishes to fulfill my orders. The orders continued to roll in. I shipped what I can lay on my hand on. I have occasional chat with Zak, mostly at time when his balance ran low. I remembered one particular conversation. He asked “Max, what do I do with the bags of dry ice you send me?” I was startled as I never thought of that issue before. “I don’t know. Let me check with Kmart and I will let you know” I replied, admitting my guilt. The next day I got the answer and called Zak. “Zak, according to the store, the ice is made of carbon dioxide. You open up the plastic bag and let the ice melt by a potted plant or you can put them in your coffee to make coffee ice”, I said proudly. “What have you done with it so far”, I continued. I could never imagine he had a refrigerator full of dry ice!
An excursion to a peach farm
                My girlfriend came visiting at end of May. She was on her semester break and planned to be in town for 2 weeks. We went sightseeing around local tourist areas with an excursion to a peach farm. We also went to Orlando and followed by Dallas to visit her sister who was undergoing training assignment. We met with an accident near Ruston, Louisiana. The police there had never seen an International License before, so at the end they use my IC as a license. We changed to a new rental car at Shreveport airport and was given a Ford Tempo, and boy, that was a real gas guzzler! We only arrived Dallas at 2 am that day. On the way home from Dallas, we headed south to San Antonio and then east, visiting Houston and New Orleans along the way. I told her all about the little business I ran. I took her night fishing and accompanied me in my round of fish pickup and deliveries. By the end of her visit, we discussed our future plan, going through best case and worst case scenarios. At the end she mentioned given that she supported what I did and asked to decide next step when nearing my graduation date. I was due to finished my studies by end of the year, so I have roughly 3-4 months to decide what my destiny will brings me. She went back after knowing I was doing well and enjoying myself.
Blue Crab scavenged baits cleanly 
My life went back to routine after she left. I did occasional night fishing trips during weekend with my friends, sometime with Sam. Activities were lesser compared to spring time. I noticed there was certain fixed timing pattern when fish was biting. The timing was 7 to 8pm and 5 to 6 am. These 2 timings were when the tide was coming in and predatory fishes followed. We caught Speckled Trouts and Red Drum during tide rushing in. In between those hours we caught catfish, sting ray, pinfish, croaker, whiting, white trout and flounder. We used pinfish and croaker as bait for Crevalle Jack and Spanish Mackerel. Sheepshead has spawned and moved on to deeper water where it is cooler. Sometime my baits will disappear without a trace. “Blue crab”, Sam said one night after seeing me pulled up empty hook. I thought it was Sheepshead. Occasionally I was able to pull a crab up as it tried to steal my bait. The crab was small and scuttled away as quickly as it landed on the pier.
Keeping awake the whole night during night fishing was tiring. I was always tired the next day and according to my friend sometime I talked in my dream. Luckily my classes were at night. However it was taking a toll on my health and concentration in my studies also deteriorated. There after I cut down on night fishing and let the Sam and his friends do their job. Every morning he will wait for me to show up at the pier. At times when he was not fishing, he got his friend to wait for me. 
Gig sank just behind the head
During the summer Sam and his friends were catching more flounders than usual but they seem to have some puncture holes on their body. Ever the inquisitive me, I pestered Sam about the punctures and he finally relented, "We are gigging". I was not sure what 'gigging' was, so I asked to follow them after they told me that the activity was in shallow water at night. On the following Saturday night, I arrived at the beach beside the Dauphin Island pier on a pitch black night. I can hardly make out the outline of Sam from his 3 friends. I saw 4 ghostly images, reflected by gasoline lantern light they were carrying, wading in shallow water, until I called out his name. Sam replied "Yo, over here" and I shone my flash light to him. He motioned to me, waving with something in his hand, to join him. He balanced a long pole on his shoulder, on which he hung the lantern on one end and a counter weight on the other. In his right hand was a tool he called 'gig'. It was a long shaft with 4 pointed spear tips, like a small Poseidon's Trident. Sam showed me how he catches flounder with the light and gig. He used a shield to block the lantern that faced him as not to blind himself. Then he waded slowly ahead and I followed him 2 steps behind. After a couple of yards, he stopped, pointing to a blur image on the sandy bottom with the aide of the gasoline light, as I reached by his side. He sank the spear right through the flounder just behind the head. He lifted up the fish with his gig, still flopping up and down, and showed it to me with a big grin. A big flounder that did not get away!  
Flounder with its 2 bulging eyes on top

     Sam passed me the pole and the gig for me to try out, before giving a caution not to let water splashed onto the lamp. "It will explode", Sam explained, referring to if cold water met hot glass from the lantern. I had had trouble balancing the pole, let alone catch fish with the gig. I waded some 10 minutes awkwardly, making great effort not to dip the lantern into the sea. My four eyes were not trained to look out for flounder. At one time I thought I saw something big on the sand. Excitedly I approached closer, but alas, it dashed off before I can even raised the gig into it, stirring up a cloud of sand as it left me behind. "Stingray" Sam chided me. He told me I was lucky not to step on its body or else its tail will whip around and impale my leg. At that instance I immediately passed the gigging tool and lantern back to the 'professional'. Sam laughed while he took over. He continued gigging and managed to spot 6 more flounders, speared all but 2, which scooted off before he can sank his gig into them. We took a break after the last flounder was caught. Sam's 3 friends caught a total of 20 plus flounders. Very good catch indeed for them but not Sam, who only got 5. Maybe with me tailing Sam may have spooked the flounders away. I bought all the flounders for that night and bade them good night. They continued to gig well over  midnight. It was truly a great experience to witness and participate in a gigging exercise. A big check mark.
Watch out for the twin stings on stingray!
I dreamed of being stung by a sting ray on the foot that night. Ouch! 

Location: Dauphin Island Public Fishing Pier, 109 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528, USA.
Tel: +1-251-861-3607


  1. i stepped on a stingray before and had to spend a night at the hospital..i will never forget the pain...Terence

  2. Thanks Terence. One cannot be more careful with sting ray. That is how Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin got killed. Take care when you are out there fishing buddy....Max