So there I was at about 3 p.m. today, basically lost on a winding back road near Cedartown, Georgia, when what doth magically appear? The Sportsman Hut. I swear there was nothing else around. It was like an oasis. Never being one to miss a chance to visit an unfamiliar tackle shop (and in need of directions and a drink), I pulled my rental car into the gravel lot. Walking into a small-town bar can be risky, but not a local bait shack. That’s because fishing is an international language.
I was the only customer in the place, but owner Mackey Agan greeted me as if I were a regular (despite my Jersey accent). Card after dusty card of crappie jigs lined the walls. Most of the brands, like the Show Downs in the photo, are locally made in Georgia. Are they any better than a Mister Twister? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter because they are something I can’t find at home. That is why whether I’m traveling for work, a wedding, or family vacation, my tackle-shop radar is spinning. You never know what unique things you’ll find.
Mackey told me that he starts serving breakfast at 4 a.m. every morning, he’s always got plenty of live crickets on hand, and on my way back to Atlanta I should stop in again to shoot the breeze. I might just do that. He sent me on my way with a complimentary bucket of cajun boiled peanuts that made the back of my head sweat, and solid directions to my final destination…which you’ll notice I have not disclosed. I also bought a card of the Shown Down jigs above. I’ll mail five of them to the first person that correctly posts where I was headed, which is where I’m writing from now. I gave you plenty of clues. — JC