Night kayaking + giggin' = good ol' fun!
I lived in the Carolina low country for a while and heard of gig fishing. Fishers go out at night in flat bottom boats and cruise the salt water marshes looking for flounder lying along the river banks. Using a lantern, you can see the fish on nights with clear water. Flounder initially rely on their camouflage, presenting an opportunity to spear with a gig spear, effectively a trident-tipped pole.
I am always looking for new ways to push my kayaking. Gigging was great fun and an awesome excuse to go out at night. After chartering a few trips, I was ready to try giggin' from my kayak and needed a gig spear of my own. Rather than the typical 12-foot pole, I made the following 4-foot pole that can attach to my 2 piece paddle, by switching out one paddle blade.
Out on a trip, I slowly stalked the shore looking for fish. The shoreward side was usually too shallow to paddle. Poling would stir up the sediment and obscure the hunt. So I'd paddle only on one side and the gig trident was ready to spear flounders. When not hunting, the gig could be detached and stowed the kayak deck, out of the way.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
1. Paddle: a fairly standard Aqua-Bound Fiberglass 2-piece paddle. This paddle's shaft diameter fit the cuff very well. My other fiberglass touring paddles also accommodated the cuff, so the inner shaft diameter must be fairly standard.
2. Spear Head: I used a B & M 55PK Spear. I preferred this to the flat tine spears, seeming to work better while sitting in my kayak.
3. Connection Cuff: the outer half of a 3/4" PVC expansion fitting, found in the electrical conduit aisle of Lowes]. Paddle shafts of different diameters may not fit this well. One aluminum shaft paddle I tried had a smaller diameter and did not lock snugly.
- Cantex Part# 5144032
4. Pole: I used a hickory replacement shovel handle. The shaft diameter was a bit larger than the cuff's inside diameter.
5. Two squat wood screws, spear-head and cuff attachments to pole.
-Rotary tool with plastic cutting and wood shaping tips
Step 2: Attaching Spear Head
I cut the pole to a reasonable length, removing the top end of the pole. I found 4-feet to be comfortable when attached to my paddle.
The pole had a tapered end that fit the spear head very snug after tamping. I backed up the connection with a wood screw in the hole at the base of the spear head.
I was able to change spear heads, but never noticed wobbling or slippage, even through wetting/drying cycles of normal use.
Step 3: Cuff Attachments
The pole had a diameter slightly too big for the cuff. Using a rotary tool I ground down the shaft into a very slight taper. Once reduced, the pole could be tamped about 2-inches into the cuff. I drilled a hole through the cuff into the pole and backed up the connection with a wood screw.
To clip into the paddle, the cuff needed a hole drilled for the connection-button. The paddle has two shafts, an inner and outer. The cuff fitted over the inner shaft and butted against the outer shaft. I measured the distance from the outer shaft to the button's center and drilled a hole through the cuff for the button. Using a rotary tool, I scalloped out the sides of the button hole to make it easier to disconnect.
Step 4: Giggin' Time!
Done! The spear was easy to stow and clip-in when I reached good gigging areas. I used a headlamp for light and had good luck many nights.
Kayak gigging is a great adventure, especially in a labyrinth of salt marsh channels in the dark. Good luck to intrepid fellow kayak giggers!