To Hunt the Cunt and Other Country Matters, Part 3: Gigging, Frigging, and Grabbling–the spirituality behind active and passive fishing

I like fishing. For a lot of people, fishing is as close as they come to taking another being’s life. Most people, at least in industrialized areas, don’t hunt, nor do they raise their own meat. This lack of involvement has caused us to forget just what it’s like to see the life leave a being’s eyes and that look, however fleeting, of “you did this to me.” Fishing is a sustainable and renewable resource when done properly. Of course, we’ve been bombarded over the last decade with reports of over fishing and naughty fishing nets wreaking havoc, but if folks only took what they needed when they needed and cleaned up their lines and nets, most of the environmental damage could have been avoided. Except for the sometimes prohibitive cost of a license, fishing is cheap. In its most basic form you only need your hands, or in a little more complicated form you need a line, hook, and a pole. Fishing is also much more accessible to people than hunting and often has no season (except in certain areas with certain fish).

All fishing connects us with the element of water. Water is typically seen as feminine, and it is the element that holds our emotions, intuition, and sexuality. Although humans are land dwellers, we’re biologically drawn to water since our bodies are mainly made up of water and our lives all began in a watery world. We’re more fish like than we’d care to admit.

Passive fishing is what most people think of when they hear the word fishing. It can be basic pole fishing, setting trot lines, or more complex fishing like setting lobster traps and trawling. It’s a slow and meditative process, with lots of waiting, prayer, and luck. You’re not going out and getting the fish; you’re simply setting the scene for the fish to come to you if it chooses too (or is stupid).  

Many people use charms, rituals, and moon signs when fishing passively.  An old fishing buddy of mine was Filipino, which he claimed was a type of fish magic in itself.  He was good at catching fish.  His charm that he used was to light a “fish whistle”, which he would roll on the dock.  He claimed that the fish could smell it burning and would get so intoxicated that they didn’t care if they got hooked.  His fish whistles would work for him, but all it ever did for me was make me forget to watch my bobber and not care when a fish jerked my rod into the water.  Many people consult farmers’ almanacs, which have fishing guides in them.  Some of these guides are based on the weather or the seasons, but many of them are based on the phase and position of the moon to Earth.  has a good explanation of how this works.

Karmically, passive fishing carries less weight than active fishing.  As I said before, with passive fishing, the fish has a choice whether or not to bit your line or wander into your trap.  With passive fishing, there’s also often the choice of catch and release, especially if you don’t use a barbed hook.

Active fishing carries much more karmic weight, since you are actively hunting the fish (or other aquatic animal) down.  With the exception of grabbling, there is no catch and release.  Active fishing includes grabbling (also known as noodling and hand fishing-, frog gigging, and spear/bow fishing.  It’s much more visceral than passive fishing, and it instantly connects you with the spirit of hunting deities.

My favorite active fishing activity is frog gigging.  It’s a huge adrenalin rush–think about the feeling you have when you reel in a big fish multiplied by ten.  You actively stalk a bull frog at night, blind it with a light, and then spear it with a gig that’s reminiscent of Neptune’s trident.  Gigging doesn’t kill the frog, but it does damage and injure the frog.  Frogs, like a lot of reptiles and amphibians, don’t die easy deaths.  They can stay alive for days with only half a body and cover quite a lot of ground if given the chance.

I like this video because it’s simple and they clean frogs a lot like I do–even down to putting the gigged frogs in an old lingerie bag and talking about pulling the frogs’ pants down!  The first time I cleaned a frog, that was the metaphor that stuck in my head–I’m pulling its pants down.  I don’t bash the frog in the head because I’ve found that a sharp blow doesn’t always kill them.  The best way is a knife or an ice pick through the brain.  They’re still going to be a alive for a few minutes, but they’re not likely to reanimate and become zombie frogs.

 In case you’re wondering, yes, you can cut their heart out and it will beat for an hour or more in your palm.  Snapping turtles do a similar thing.  You can hold their beating heart while their dismembered head looks at you, is fully capable of biting you, and the brain is probably conscious of what is going on around it.  Frogs, when prepared correctly, are really pretty tasty.  If grilled in butter, they have a similar taste and consistency to scallops.

If this post disturbed you any, then good.  You should be a little disturbed.  It shows that you have compassion for the natural order of things and the food chain.  It’s when folks stop being disturbed that the natural order gets disrupted and our resources get abused.  However, life’s messy.  Dispatching a frog in the above method is a lot more humane than what the animals that provide most of the industrialized world’s meat endure.  Just something to ponder.

Gig these little froggies online:

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