And this time, to also eat some Moon Pies.
Jim, the ultimate promoter, always has a lineup of sponsors for the event. They generally consist of tackle companies that manufacture the gear and lures he endorses, such as Road Runner spinners and Bandit crankbaits.
This year he added Moon Pies to the list.
This month marks the 100th anniversary of the iconic confections produced by the Chattanooga Bakery, and Jim talked the company into signing on as a sponsor.
"Every product I endorse, I personally use," Jim says. "Like every country boy I grew up eating Moon Pies, and I still enjoy them. Each one is individually wrapped, which makes them convenient for fishermen and other outdoorsmen to pack in their lunch."
And so it came to pass that this year the writers' goody bags contained, along with the usual assortment of lures, gear and gadgets, a supply of Moon Pies.
As Jim says, he never plugs a product unless he personally tries it and approves of it. That goes for every sponsor on his list, from Moon Pies to Edgar Evans State Park -- where some of his anglers are headquartered while fishing Center Hill Lake -- to Driftmaster Rod Holders and Sure Life Labs whose chemicals keep bait fresh and frisky.
His fishermen can net their catch with a versatile Stowmaster Net and cook it in a Cajun Cooker. Jim uses a Cajun Cooker for the fish fry that kicks off the annual Writers Conference. The Cooker comes in a variety of sizes to handle everything from a small family cookout to a whopper fish fry that feeds the multitudes.
In addition to such old reliable and versatile lures as Road Runners and Bandits, other bait sponsors include Heddon Lures and Big Hammer Swim Baits. I tried one of Jim's BnM Rods several years ago, and now that's all I fish with. I prefer light tackle, and BnM rods are perfect for crappie, white bass and moderate-sized channel cats.
Jim makes sure he never overlooks any sponsor who pitches in, right down to Lebanon Walmart and Mt. Olive Pickles. He makes no apology for being an unabashed promoter of his promoters.
"I believe in helping the folks who help me, and without my sponsors the Writers Conference wouldn't be possible," he says. "The writers go home and write stories that promote fishing and the outdoors. Hopefully they'll mention some of the sponsors' products if they like them, and convince other fishermen to give them a try."
Jim cites Edgar Evans State Park as a good example: "It's my favorite park because it's located on a great fishing lake and has everything a fisherman needs, from comfortable cabins to a great boat ramp," he says. "The park is scenic and full of wildlife, and the rangers who manage it are a pleasure to work with. I recommend it to everybody."
At a time when outdoors media coverage is shrinking, events like Jim's are increasingly important. They promote the outdoors, encourage conservation, and emphasize the prudent use of our state's natural resources.
And the Moon Pies are delicious.