Outdoors Media Meeting

Lebanon fishing guide Jim Duckworth can out-smart a smallmouth, beguile a bluegill and trick a trout, but he can’t fool Mother Nature.

When a monsoon hit smack-dab in the middle of Duckworth’s recent annual outdoors writers meeting/fishing trip, all he could do was sit inside and watch the water rise.

Actually, only half of the recent outing was postponed. The magazine writers got in their two days of fishing. It was the newspaper writers who (as usual) got left out when rain washed out their turn until the water recedes.

It was too bad because Duckworth put a new wrinkle in this year’s outing. Instead of holding a three-day event at Birdsong Marina on Kentucky Lake as in years past, he decided to host it at his home off Highway 70 and send the fishermen out to area lakes such as Percy Priest, Old Hickory, Cordell Hull and Center Hill.

Like so many plans, it looked good on paper … but then the rain rolled in.

I always support Duckworth’s event sponsors – Driftmaster, Bandit, BnM, Cajun Cooker, Buckeye Shad, Roadrunner and Sure-Life – because they support fishing and contribute to the sport.

Jim likewise is an ardent conservationist who promotes catch-and-release (except for keeping an occasional stringer of crappie, sauger or bluegill for the skillet), and is a strong clean-water advocate.

He also is media-savvy. Duckworth understands that in this day and time it is critical for outdoorsmen to make their voices heard. Hunting and fishing (yes, even fishing!) are increasingly under fire from PETA and similar organizations.

In the past, Tennessee ’s 750,000 licensed outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen have been a silent force. Only recently have they begun to speak up. The Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment that passed by a 10-to-1 majority last fall is an example of the clout outdoorsmen can wield. The reason it passed was due in large part to media exposure. (Even negatively-spun stories drew attention to the subject and fired up outdoorsmen.)

Another thing I like about Jim: he never endorses a product unless he has used it himself and is satisfied with its quality.

I’ve had good luck with the products I’ve sampled. I’ve caught a lot of bass on Bandit crank-baits, and early in the spring I brought home a limit of Stones River white bass that went wild over a white Road Runner.

I’ve never cooked with a Cajun Cooker but I’ve eaten lots of deep-fried fish dipped out of one by Duckworth, and it’s as good as advertised. For a complete list of products endorsed by Duckworth, or information about his guide services, visit his website.

What I missed most about this spring’s get-together (in addition to not getting to sample the new tackle and gear) was the renewal of old acquaintances that I see only once a year.

I’ve become friends with several state, regional and national outdoor writers and tackle reps through Duckworth’s event, and I missed getting to see them.

Oh well, there’s always next year. There’ll be more new lure and gadgets, and no shortage of gab. The sun will come up, the fish will bite and the fishing yarns will be still be spun.

Larry Woody