Fish, hike, write (and photograph): Pre- and post-conference trips offer variety of adventures

The slate of pre and post-conference trips surrounding the 2016 Billings conference is growing weekly.
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The slate of pre and post-conference trips surrounding the 2016 Billings conference is growing weekly. Confirmed opportunities already include: a guided fly-fishing trip on the North Fork of the Shoshone River, a historical and cultural excursion to the Little Bighorn (Custer) Battlefield, an overnight excursion to visit sustainability projects in Yellowstone National Park, a backpacking and fishing adventure in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and a hike in the Beartooth Mountains. Other outings in the works include more fishing trips, a tour of Yellowstone exploring wildlife issues, a visit to Red Lodge and several others.
While many trips are open to all, some require you to be on assignment and others give priority to members with confirmed story assignments or regular contributions to media outlets. These sponsors and guides are seeking some reasonable assurance there will be a return in publicity on their investment of time and resources. You’ll find out if you need an assignment for a trip when you go to register at
If you don’t already have any assignments lined up, now is the time to do it. Start thinking about potential stories and outlets. Remember, you don’t have to writing for a fishing magazine to write a fishing story. There are a number of possibilities for assignments. Local newspapers often jump on travel stories from far-flung destinations. Specialty magazines sometimes run articles about a first-timer’s experience with a sport. If you blog or have a website with a signifcant number of followers that may constitute a regular outlet if you include the trip in a posting.
Have questions? Feel free to contact local chair, Jack Ballard, for more information.
406-696-9841 or

Fishing the North Fork Shoshone River

Location: North Fork Shoshone River
Trip Date: July 14
Description: Join Tim Wade, a nationally renowned fishing guide and outfitter for a walk-wade  trip. You’ll cast for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout and might even see a grizzly bear.
Cost: Complementary except tips. Must buy fishing license in advance.

Southeast Montana and Billings historic tour

Location: Museums and national monuments in the Billings region. Leave from the hotel.
Trip Date: July 15
Description: Visit Pompeys Pillar National Monument, the Custer Battlefield Museum and the Yellowstone County Museum with a guide from Visit Billings. You’ll see artifacts, learn about the Lewis and Clark expedition and walk among the headstones of Custer’s troop.
Cost: Complementary. Lunch on your own.

Yellowstone sustainability tour

Location: Yellowstone National Park
Trip date: July 13-14
Description: Spend two days in Yellowstone National Park touring unique energy and sustainability projects, while also visiting natural features like Old Faithful. Overnight accommodations and transportation in the park are provided.
Cost: For updated information check the conference website

Day hike in the Beartooth Mountains

Location: Beartooth Mountains
Trip Date: July 19
Description: Join OWAA and Montana resident Lisa Ballard, along with a representative fromLowa Boots, for a day hike in the scenic Beartooth Mountains. The trip leaves from the Holiday Inn Grand Montana. Carpool opportunities available.
Cost: Complementary

Sylvan Lake, Crow Lake backpacking and fishing tour

Location: Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.
Trip Date: July 20-22
Description: Sylvan Lake is home to golden trout. Crow Lake is home to brook trout. You’ll spend three days hiking through the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and fishing. The hike is strenuous, but doable for reasonably fit individuals.
Cost: You’ll need a Montana fishing license and your own backpacking and fishing gear. Participants also provide their own transportation to the trail head. No other costs other than tips in the form of an OWAA donation.

Follow the money: Learn investigative skills at free workshop before conference

Whether you write about hunting and fishing, gas and oil development, or other outdoor issues, chances are there’s a political aspect to your story. For example, ever wonder what states – and individuals – were the beneficiaries of more than $977 million in donations from the energy and natural resources industries during the past decade? Did you know that contributions to ballot measure committees working to support or oppose hunting and wildlife measures total $24 million? Guess who received some of the $26 million in contributions from supporters of alternate energy production and services?
Representatives from the non-partisan, non-profit National Institute on Money in State Politics will lead a workshop at 2 p.m. Friday, July 15, in Billings, Montana, the day before OWAA’s annual conference officially kicks off.You’ll learn how to follow the political money in your state and across state lines. Using computer assisted reporting, you can look through a database of 60 million records totaling more than $60 billion, and learn who is trying to influence the decisions made in your neck of the woods. Bring along a story idea or two; after showing you how to navigate, staff will stick around for some hands-on use of their website. The workshop is free, as is the use of their database. Register for the workshop at  ♦

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