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Young Fisherman Celebrates Big Catch

Vidalia Heritage Academy 7th grader Peyton McLain traded the opportunity to watch the Atlanta Braves play in the National League Championship Series Game Six with his family and friends to secure his biggest catch so far on October 23. Peyton and his father spent the day “jugging” at their family pond on the McLain Farms property in rural Toombs County. This type of fishing involves floating jugs with bait hanging from the jugs. The father-son pair set the jugs out around 4:30 that afternoon and did not intend on checking the day’s catch until that night. When they set out to retrieve the jugs, the McLains were quickly filled with excitement.

“Around 10:30 p.m. we were going out to take up the jugs for the day. I noticed a floating jug was moving. It moved from the fountain in the center of our pond to almost the edge of the water,” the 12-year-old fisherman recounted. “We got on the boat and were heading out to get it to see what was on the line when I missed grabbing the line twice. Finally, we got to it and when we started pulling the line, the boat was rocking, so I knew it had to be big.” According to Peyton and his father, not only did the large fish rock the family’s boat, but it also almost broke the fishermen’s net. “Once it was in the net, the frame around the net started to bend. I was so scared we were going to lose it! My dad helped me and we were able to get it in,” young McLain recalled. Peyton had hauled in quite the catch: a 26 pound, 37 inch long catfish, which completely annihilated the pond’s previous largest fish record of 16 pounds.

Peyton’s father, Rusty, noted the significance of this catch. “He has not been fishing a very long time. We started doing jugs at the lake a couple years ago. This is only the second time we’ve done it at our pond at home,” he said. “We caught a catfish the first time we went jugging in the pond that weighed 16 pounds. We had caught a few fish that day that were a decent 7-8 pounds, but nothing big. Peyton’s catfish definitely caught our attention.”

The father and son decided to surprise family and friends that were gathered to watch the momentous baseball game. They quietly laid the record catfish and a small fish at the door and made up an elaborate story to convince everyone to go outside to check out the catch.

“To get everyone to come and see, we told them that it was a small fish but Peyton had caught it with his hands. It was the eighth inning of the Braves game, so it really took some convincing to get everyone to step away from the game. But, when they saw the catch, they were amazed,” Peyton’s father commented with a smile.

The son added with a chuckle, “It was definitely worth missing the end innings of the game.”

Peyton’s fish may not hold any state records but remains the largest fish to be harvested from the farm pond, as well as Peyton’s largest catch to date.

“There’s a difference in a pond and a big body of water,” the father said. “We’ve never really catfished much. We always focused on bass and other fish. Personally, I had never caught anything larger than an 8 pound bass, so when we caught the 16 pound fish the first time we went jugging in the pond, I though it was amazing. This fish completely blew my mind.”

Peyton concluded, “It really makes me motivated and excited to keep jugging.”

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