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Conservation, Cooking, and Cool Gear: TREAD Agency River Summit 2024

TREAD Agency's River Summit took us to the incredible Madison Valley to chase trout and talk shop. It certainly didn't disappoint.
Tread Agency River Summit(Photo/TREAD Agency)
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TREAD Agency’s summits aim to connect brands, media, and influential voices in the outdoor space. This year’s River Summit certainly delivered. On the bank of the Madison River in Ennis, Mont., outdoor industry professionals came together for a few days of fishing, connecting, and checking out some of the coolest new products for outdoor adventures.

The Setting: Madison Valley Ranch

Madison Valley Ranch
(Photo/TREAD Agency)

To say this wasn’t roughing it is an understatement. The Madison Valley Ranch provided the most idyllic setting for the few days we gathered. From the breathtaking views to the comforting accommodations, this year’s river summit hosts went about and beyond.

With direct access to the river, we had the chance to cast a line between events and discussions by simply walking out the back door. We were even treated to a visit by one of the Madison Valley’s almost-too-friendly moose.

On the Water and Around the Fire

World-Class Fishing

River Summit
(Photos/TREAD Agency)

The weather didn’t exactly cooperate, but the fishing was still pretty epic. We experienced a true Montana spring, with a bit of every kind of weather in a single day. The moments of sunshine were welcomed between the trademark Madison Valley winds, the late-season spits of snow, and the occasional raindrops.

We ended the day not breaking any records, but we certainly found fish at the end of our lines. Rainbows, browns, and whitefish were the stars of the trip, and I can’t say I know of anyone who got skunked. It was fun to watch first-time fly fishermen feel the tug in such a perfect setting.

Incredible Food

River Summit Food
(Photos/TREAD Agency)

As always, the food was an absolute highlight. TREAD Agency has never skimped on food options, and this year’s River Summit presented some of the most incredible meals you can imagine.

From campfire meals prepared on the infamous YETI Cast Iron Skillets to serious high dining inside the main building, the feasts never seemed to stop.

Conservation in Action

TREAD Agency Conservation Films
(Photo/TREAD Agency)

The most important aspects of these events, at least for me, are the conservation components. We were treated to some incredible YETI Films featuring Hilary Hutcheson, covering topics such as our aging generations of outdoorsmen and the part fishing plays in the greater conservation story.

Hearing from Hilary herself about her experiences as one of the most well-known guides in Montana was such a valuable experience, particularly for those from out of state.

We also had the opportunity to speak with Mike Duncan, the Fisheries Manager at Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, about the threats facing our local fish populations, including fishing pressures and rising water temps.

To cap off the conservation engagement, we heard from Ashley Brubaker of Trout Unlimited. She spoke to us about ways we can get involved and the struggles her organization is facing in an ever-changing political and environmental climate.

Warriors and Quiet Waters

Warriors & Quiet Waters
(Photo/TREAD Agency)

One of the organizations I’ve vowed to get more involved in for some time now is Warriors and Quiet Waters. Their presence at the River Summit was the exact push I needed to reengage that need to help our veterans. So much of my life has been so heavily affected by the military, and it feels right that I give back in some way. For me, the easiest way to do that is by engaging and volunteering for groups such as these.

Warriors and Quiet Waters has built an incredible community for returned servicemembers. The org works to build strong relationships and create healing environments through outdoor experiences.

They really are incredible people doing incredible work.

The Coolest Gear and Tech of the River Summit


River Summit OnWater
(Photo/TREAD Agency)

Honest Initial Reaction: (insert eye-roll) OH GOOD, another app I have to download that I’ll never use.

Almost Immediate Reversal: Holy sh!t. OnWater is rad.

There are far too many reasons to fill you in on why OnWater is an app that will absolutely stay on my phone (full review in the works), but I will give you the highlights.

I’ve always used onX for both my hunting and fishing adventures. I was of the opinion that it had everything I needed, and I had no reason to download a fishing-specific app. However, OnWater proved that wrong.

From mapping routes to having a one-stop shop for all things weather, water conditions, and species-specific reports, OnWater is a true one-stop shop for fishermen.

Real-Time Data

One of the coolest features is the ability to snap a picture of your fish and have the app estimate size and species and log that information, not only for you but also as ecological data for that waterway (if you so choose). You’ll be cataloging your trips and helping us understand our fisheries better.

There really is just so much to say, and I look forward to breaking it down further in a dedicated review. What I can tell you is that if you are a serious fisherman, this app might change the whole game for you.


River Summit - Yeti French Press

Aside from presenting some incredible conservation and adventure films, YETI was present with all the cooking, cooler, and comfort needs we could ask for. I finally had the chance to check out the cast iron pans that I was so notoriously hard on. Price tag and politics aside, they do seem like pretty top-notch cast irons.

The coolest products we had a chance to check out were one little accessory and one not-yet-released product.

It’s hard for me to get excited about new products, but they did it with the new YETI Coffee Press. I have a serious coffee problem, and I end up burning through French presses for some reason. YETI seems to have gone all out on its entrance to the world of coffee (outside of mugs), and I’m hoping it lives up to the hype I’ve given it. Time will only tell.

The Tether Cap is one of those little things that instantly fixed my biggest gripe about my YETI Yonder bottle. YETI’s bulked version of the classic Nalgene bottle ended up being a rad product with one caveat.

The lid was not secured to the bottle. This means I have two Yonder bottles without lids. That is now a thing of the past. All new bottles will come with the Tether Cap, and you can pick up caps for your old bottles to make them complete again. It really is the little things …

Other Products, Orgs, and Sponsors

Coast: Headlamps were provided for all participants from Coast, and though we didn’t get to use them on this trip, I’ll certainly be putting mine through the wringer in the upcoming seasons.

Crazy Creek: The HEX 2.0 Chair from Crazy Creek was one of those products I didn’t know I needed. It has been used in just the past few weeks at baseball practices and bear hunts. I wouldn’t call it ultralight, but it is ultra-comfortable and easy to pack.

Mustad: Fishing takes the right gear. Mustad stepped up and provided the tackle pieces and parts to tie flies and land fish.

Montucky Cold Snacks: I’m never disappointed when I hear that there will be Cold Snacks at an event. I’m known to swing by the gas station and pick up a sixer on my way to the water anyway. It was one of those little perks that certainly kept us smiling.

Final Thoughts on Another Successful TREAD Agency River Summit

(Photo/TREAD Agency)

After last year’s Backcountry Summit, this year’s River Summit was just another step up in the success stories of TREAD Agency. These aren’t my typical media trips, but there’s something refreshing about them. It’s fun but also business. It fills that gap between trade show networking and just fishing to fish.

Connection were made that will be lasting. Gear was put to the test that I’ll certainly use for years to come. And I’m already looking forward to whatever TREAD cooks up for 2025.

Traction Series, Tread Agency, Backcountry Skills Summit

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