Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) Conference Creates Synergy in the Outdoor Industry
The 63rd Annual Meeting of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers took place along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin September 16-19, 2019. AGLOW is a dynamic organization of writers, editors, publishers, and many other media professionals. As individual communicators, they educate and inform the masses through the written and spoken word. But as an organization, they also seek to foster fellowship amongst members and provide networking, educational, career and craft improvement opportunities. AGLOW creates synergy in the outdoor industry.
This week was no different as a variety of men and women came together to learn, network and of course, experience La Crosse, WI which is a outdoor rich area. Many attendees of the AGLOW conference participated together in a variety of field activities. Some fished the mighty Mississippi River, others hunted deer and coyotes.
I had the chance to wet a line with Yamaha Outboards pro angler Brett King. King is an accomplished professional walleye angler as well as Regional Manager for Yar-Craft and Bass Cat Boats. Fishing with us was long time outdoor communicator Bob Riege. We targeted walleyes in tough high, dirty water conditions. King, having deep knowledge on fishing rivers set up on a current break off of the main channel.
King was dialed in and had experience with a local bait called willow cats. Basically, they are bullhead looking minnow with a lot of slime and sharp spines on their fins. A challenge hooking them on a rig or jig without getting stung, there was a minnow scoop that actually held them in place to hook without touching them. This provided two purposes, not getting stuck and not removing slime from the minnow. Local fish are more interested in killing these minnows vs eating them for nutrition as they raise havoc with fish eggs, etc. The bottom line, they get hit.
In extremely tough conditions, King put us on some walleyes using willow cats by working a current seam right next to logs next to shore. In dirty water with high current and debris floating down, the technique was to drop the offering amongst wood where the current was altered. Walleyes were living there and in just a few hours of fishing, a couple of nice fish were caught.
Shooting Day. One day of the AGLOW conference is dedicated to shooting sports, guns, and ammunition. There is a lot of controversy for some about various guns in society. It is extremely helpful for outdoors folks to better understand the industry, the facts and simply have a better handle on the products and topics within the industry. The USCCA, US Conceal and Carry Association, does an excellent job of communicating and educating to attendees with seminars as well as hands on experience at the gun range.
Having the chance to shoot a variety of guns with instruction from trained professionals is a big plus in becoming comfortable with firearms. As a traditional hunter, I am much more familiar with shotguns and rifles vs handguns and AR’s. Every time I come away from spending time on the gun range with the folks from USCCA, I feel a desire to shoot more and learn more. Education is key.
Tours discussing challenges with our environment, the importance of the Mississippi River from an economic and environmental perspective and how different species are coping with an every changing environment were available to AGLOW attendees.
A tour of the Lock & Dam with the Army Corp of Engineers to see and understand the role in which the locks & dams provide Old Man River was first on the schedule. Next, attendees toured the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center providing insight on access to research, monitoring, and mapping information about the Upper Mississippi River, its habitats and the diverse species that call it home. Lastly, the group checked out the Midwest Fisheries Center as they highlight Whitney Genetics Laboratory’s work testing water samples for invasive species, the La Crosse Fish Health Center laboratories that test wild and hatchery fish for diseases, and the La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, a team of field biologists that monitor populations of invasive and native species and works on partnerships with other agencies and property owners in ensuring healthy waterways and habitat for aquatic animals, including sports fish. A strong group of outdoor communicators and stakeholders learning about these important subjects pays dividends in many regards.
Education is a big part of the conference. Attendees learned the landscape in fishing and hunting using alternatives to lead from the National Wildlife Federation. Very interesting to learn about the whys and hows available to outdoors people.
Roeslein Alternative Energy explained how they are using cutting edge techniques used in renewable energy, agricultural resource and sustainable resources. Basically, taking methane gas from pig farms and transforming it into renewable energy as well as preserving the surrounding environment.
Other educational topics included omni channel content creation, Juggling the digital jungle, success as an outdoor communicator, working with natural resources agencies, the latest in sonar technology, trail cam tech, and the science behind scent control.
If you have are a stakeholder or would like to be part of the outdoor industry, AGLOW can be a great organization to explore. It brings the people, companies and resources together for outdoor professionals to thrive. This week’s conference, once again, did what it was intended to do, bring people together for mutual benefit having something to do with the outdoor industry.