DIY Flounder Gigging Lights
Flounder gigging at night is best done with some lights. And it has to be done in such a way that your lights won’t scare the fish away. Here’s how you can simply integrate some light fixtures with your gig.
For the best results you’ll need lights that you can submerge somehow - otherwise the glare from the surface will make it hard for you. For this the best solution is to use lights which either work well underwater, or make sure you can make your light water-tight. Now the lazy way around this is just to get an underwater flashlight and use that - problem solved!
Another, even simpler solution is to get a ready-made flounder gigging light.
An important point when building your gigging lights is ergonomics. If you want to hold the light in your hand, to better illuminate the bottom, it will need a handle to hold onto. You’ll also have to plan for the angle of the handle, and the angle of the light so it all becomes usable.
Setting up some lights for your flounder gigging will give you several benefits:
- You get to spot flounders hiding in the sand.
- You get to stun them.
- You get to identify flounders that are legal to gig.
- You get to track them properly.
- You get to spot if it's actually a doormat you plan to gig.
Make sure to consider as well how you plan to gig. Whether it's on a boat, a kayak, or simply wading to gig, you will need a DIY light that will best suit your circumstances. Constructing a gigging light is fairly easy as well. Also, make sure that the DIY gigging light is properly sealed and safe in the water - test it extensively in your sink or bathtub before going out (though this is hardly an issue with underwater flashlights). Any malfunction can be really hard to repair out in the waters!
Still, doing this essential (and fun!) DIY activity should shed some light towards a satisfying gigging experience. Enjoy gigging and hope you get to bring home some really nice doormats with you!
Prepare Your Materials
Here are the materials to set you up for some fine illumination while flounder gigging:
- A thin underwater flashlight, 1 ¼” maximum diameter.
- Some PVC cement
- 1 ¼” to 1” T PVC T junction. The 1 ¼” part is the top of the T itself. You’ll put the flashlight in the 1 ¼” part.
- 45 degree PVC elbow, 1”
- 10 feet of 1” PVC piping – this is enough for two lights (note you’ll need to double the other parts to really build two)
- 1” to 1” PVC T junction for the handle (note link is a 10 pack)
- Two pieces of 1” PVC caps (link is 10 pack)
- A saw to cut the PVC pipe to the desired length.
Assemble the PVC pipes
Assembling the piping is fairly easy. Before using the PVC cement do a dry build so you can see what the end-product will look like. This can save you time, money and headache. It’s also important to get the flashlight before building, and try it in the T junction so you know what you are building for.
- You’ll need to connect 1 ¼” to 1” T junction to the 45 degree elbow. Use PVC cement to fix them in place.
- Once this part is done connect the 1” pipe to the 45 degree elbow. When holding it in your hand, you’ll start to see what your gigging light will look like.
- Find your preferred location for the handle. You’ll probably want to hold this near your hip once finished. So when out of the water you’ll want to have the handle at least 8 inches above your hip. Note that you should go for a larger distance instead of smaller. If you go too small you’ll have to bend to have the light underwater from your boat. If too large you’ll have to keep the handle higher. The latter is the easier.
- Once everything looks good you can do the final assembly using the PVC cement.
- If the flashlight does not fit snugly wrap it in neoprene.
Enjoy your Gigging Light!
Now, building your home gigging light can’t really get any easier. The bottom line is that you must not overthink this - a lot of people will build their own water-tight light and piping when they could just buy and underwater flashlight. (Honestly nothing wrong with that approach if you enjoy building - but opt for a flashlight if you only want fast results.)
Once you get the gist of it you can try other flashlights too - you’ll be able to fit bigger ones to the T junction using simple zip-ties.
How to Flounder Gig
Let us now make the most out of your DIY gigging lights with some helpful flounder gig tips. Not only is this activity really enjoyable - having some knowledge on how to gig properly will give you a catch that'll give you a really big smile!
Know Your Flounder!
Gigging isn't just simply sticking a stick into the water. To efficiently catch some yummy flounder, you've got to know them first!
Did you know that flounders are called doormats? Come to think of it, they do look like one!
Where are They?
And here's where your DIY gigging light shines! Doormats settle on the ocean floor. Their eyes are usually only what's visible (an outline of their body can also be seen with the naked eye, with the right conditions given. Flounders stay this way, as a camouflage as they hunt for their food (which, in most cases, would be shrimp). Take note as well that doormats are found on the sandy and shallow areas, but on some occasions, some flounders do end up on muddy bottoms (but this is a really rare occurrence).
Now, with your DIY flounder gigging light, you'd be able to not only spot where the doormats hide. Having the light exposed onto their eyes should stun them, allowing you to swiftly spear them out!
Track Your Flounder
Doormats do leave tracks. So, it'll immensely helpful to identify these tracks to know where to gig. These tracks are usually a shallow cavity on the sand that is shaped like their body. You would know that you're on the right track by following these holes when you end up in an area that suddenly shines up. These would be the doormat's eyes. Also, flounders travel in groups - so don't fret if you end up seeing lots of shallow holes shaped like fish. They're probably doormats bunched together!
Gig that Flounder!
Here's a fun and interesting part of flounder gigging. Once you have spotted a doormat's eyes, carefully position your gig towards the back of the eyes - that's where you have to hit them. Once that's done, swiftly pitch your gig towards that spot. Make sure that this is done in one swift and strong motion. You would want to spear it all the way through the flounder's body.
Also, you may notice a sudden explosion of sand once you've pierced your chosen doormat. Do not be alarmed with this. Just make sure to hold your gig down. Wait until both the sand and the doormat settles. Hold your gig down until the flounder stops shaking.
Once you do feel like the doormat does not move at all, slowly lift your gig up in a shovel-like motion. You'd want to do this smoothly as well, to prevent the doormat from escaping in case it is still alive.
Why the Eyes?
Piercing the back of the eyes is a highly-recommended spot. This is because you will not only be able to get your gig to penetrate through the entire fish. This spot digs deep into the flounder's gill plate, and will allow minimum exertion of force from the fish itself.
Now, if you are gigging a rather large doormat, you may also require some assistance after stabbing it behind the eyes. A bigger doormat may still fight and find a way out of your gig. So, after stabbing it, get a friend to hold the flounder's body down. Once the doormat stops shaking, go with the motion of lifting out the flounder in a shovel-like manner!
Some Helpful Flounder Gigging Points to Consider
- Stay Legal – aside from first checking if the area you plan to gig considers this place legal (counties normally have regulations for this fishing activity), always make sure to have your fishing license with you at all times. Take note that spearfishing regulations also apply to gigging (more often than not, these two are considered the same kind of activity when fishing).
- Again, the Eyes Matter – we do keep on mentioning eyes, right? Aside from having your DIY flounder gigging light to help you stun or spot the doormats, these lights will help you identify flounders that can be legally fished. There are catch and size limits to follow, depending on local regulations, so it's always good to follow these rules. The eyes will help you determine if a flounder's in the legal age to catch!
- It's really easy to mistake a flounder from a stingray, so always be wary about this. Stingrays are often found near some flounder (and tend to stay hidden in the sand as well). Shining some light before actually piercing something will let you know what you're up against! Doormats, not Stingrays – another reason why your DIY lights will matter – you will be able to know what exactly you're fishing.
When to Flounder Gig?
Aside from the given that it's best to gig some flounder at night, there are certain hours that will give you some nice opportunities to consider. Also, and often a common mistake comitted by some, gigging during the full moon isn't really recommended. Sure, you get to see where the doormats are hiding. However they'll get to see you as well!
A few hours before actual low tide or a few hours before the tide rises are the best time to gig. Once the tide rises, doormats tend to move deeper towards the back bays. Additionally, gigging for flounder during low tides will help prevent the boat from getting stuck (that is if you are gigging from a boat).
Another factor to consider is the wind. If it is too windy, try to move to a different location. You would want to be out of the wind when gigging - it's a hassle that you wouldn't want to experience, especially when you're trying to hold a flounder down!
Where to Flounder Gig?
Here’s where you can gig some doormats!
The simplest location to gig some flounder is from the shore. Simply walk along the shoreline with your gig and light. Once you've spotted some game, spear it! However, take extra care to be as quiet and calm as possible. Flounders are really sensitive to movement and sound. As such, prevent having your gig and your DIY light to startle the sand!
Here's a fun way to gig some doormats. On flat boats, you and other anglers can spot some nice flounders to gig this way.
Gigging flat boats are usually equipped with trolling motor or a fish pole to silently move over the waters. Some of these boats also come with special lights to help spot those doormats. There are even some that come equipped with push poles that allow the boat to smoothly drift. This causes very little disturbance in the water. However, take extra care where to position the poles. It really wouldn't make so much of a difference if doormats are spooked if you startle the sand, anyway!
Consider making some adjustments on your DIY light if you are gigging from a boat. You may need longer PVC piping to get the light under the water.
Want another different solo gigging experience? Try gigging from a kayak! This way, you'd be able to gently guide through the water to spot and gig some doormats! You can also attach a holding bin from your kayak. Your catch can simply be deposited into it, with it floating along with your kayak!
Although you may still use your DIY light for this approach, some anglers do still attach a lamp on the kayak itself. You're solo on this one, anyway. Having to deal with a gig, the DIY light, and The oars may be a hassle to work with!
However, if you can manage the space, this approach offers the stealth approach in gigging some flounder. It's actually fun having to sneak up on some doormats, and gigging them from a kayak above!
Want to know more about gigging? Check these links out:
- Aside from some really nice gigging tips, Outdoor Life also presents a really simple way on how to create your own gig!
- An interesting perspective to consider. Is flounder gigging considered a sport? Should you continue doing it? Check out the wonderful responses in this reddit thread .
- This wonderful article in Great Days Outdoors showcases how gigging evolved throughout the years.