The Inaugural Jug Fishing Trip
On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis
To say they were excited is a massive understatement. I had built up the trip for weeks to my two boys, discussing the process of jug fishing. When we arrived at Lake Oconee, the first thing we did was tie on small hooks, snap on corks and bait up some red wigglers on their fishing poles. In the rip-rap rocks along the seawall, we dropped the worms into the underwater cervices in search of some bait-sized bream.
The bite was slow on this Friday after Thanksgiving, but we managed to flip some small green sunfish on the bank and tossed them into our bucket. You would have thought that this activity was the grand finale. My kids loved the technique of sinking the wiggling worms into the rocks below the seawall at their feet and witnessing the small fish bite their hooks.
Once we had a half-dozen baitfish, I loaded my boys into the jonboat with a few quart oil jugs. We shoved off and skimmed out to the middle of the cove, the Minn Kota trolling motor pushing us quietly along. I unraveled the line around one of the old, white Castrol oil containers and thought about how many fish my grandfather and I had caught on that very jug all those years ago.
With a smile, I hooked one of our small sunfish and handed the jug to my older son; I was passing the memories to another generation.
“Throw it in, Grayson,” I said.
Grayson’s smile stretched ear to ear as he sent the rig sailing over the side of the boat. Grabbing another jug, I threaded the hook through a second baitfish and handed this jug to my younger son.
“It’s your turn now, Everett.”
The 2-year-old boy beamed a proud smile as he tossed his jug into the water.
After setting six jugs, I pulled up the trolling motor and picked up the paddle. Easing along in the shallow water of the back of the cove, I spotted a blue heron on a dead sweetgum tree hanging out over the water. The bird took flight and honked noisily, flying right over our heads. My boys were mesmerized. They excitedly chattered on about the heron and asked questions until it was long out of sight.
No sooner than we rounded the next curve, two pairs of mallard ducks quickly scrambled out of the water, wings whistling loudly by our boat. More excited questions came from the boys until we saw a lone otter slip quietly into the weeds. Now the talk turned toward the otter.
Paddling stealthily closer to where the otter had disappeared, I saw something yellow protruding from the shallow water. I knew what it was, but I said to my 4-year-old, “Grayson, grab that yellow stick in the water.”
Leaning over the edge of the boat, Grayson grabbed the yellow “stick” and up came a buck skull with a split g2 and double brow tines on one side.
“It’s deer antlers!” Grayson screamed with excitement. “I found a buck skull! I found a buck skull! Dad, can I hang it on my wall?”
Not wanting to leave my 2-year-old out of the treasure finding, I grabbed a long, white leg bone from the buck skeleton at the water’s edge and handed it to Everett. He looked like he just received the jackpot of all prizes. I listened to my two little boys ramble on and on about their finds and looked out across the calm, cool water toward our six fishing jugs, which were silently floating on the surface. Then I realized that it didn’t matter if we caught a single fish on any of those jugs. We had already had one of the best days of fishing…