An Interview With Rich Reinert - Wisconsin Musky Expo Organizer
By Craig Sandell

With all of the other Musky shows that punctuate the off season, I was curious why Rich Reinert decided to make the personal commitment required to organize a successful Musky Expo. To satisfy my curiosity, I sat down with Rich to get his perspective.

I asked Rich what motivated him to create the Wisconsin Musky Expo.

"Well, to be honest, I was disappointed with the way the usual Musky Expos had evolved.

Being a Northern Wisconsin resident, I found myself having to brave the winter weather to drive to Chicago or Milwaukee and found myself seeing the same large retailers and hearing the same spiel from the same seminar speakers.

I thought to myself; I Can Do Better."

I asked Rich what makes the Wisconsin Musky Expo in Wausau any better than the other shows.

"In a word, ‘traditionalism’. Musky fishing has never had the following that Bass fishing has enjoyed and, as a consequence, Musky lure manufacturing has always been a ‘cottage industry’. Somewhere along the way in pursuit of the bottom line, the mass produced Musky lures from large retailers replaced the availability of high quality lures being made in limited quantities by dedicated Musky anglers. It was in my mind to change that dynamic when I established the Wisconsin Musky Expo in Wausau. The 2012 Expo was a great success with not only local Northern Wisconsin Retailers but also the small Musky lure manufacturers that have been a traditional source of innovation for our sport."

I asked Rich why these smaller manufacturers are not better represented at the other Musky shows.

"That is simple…the high cost of show participation. The other shows charge upwards of $650.00 for a standard booth space. The small manufacturer cannot afford that type of initial costs and offset the costs of travel, lodging, meals and product display. Add to that the overwhelming impact placed upon them by competition from the larger retailers and it is easy to see why choice in lure innovation is sort of extinct at the other Musky shows."

I told Rich that I could see his point but then, aren’t there better opportunities for Musky anglers to get Musky information from seminar speakers at the other shows?

"Well, I am probably going to get some flak for this but here is my perspective. The other shows seem to have the same list of speakers year after year with the same presentations in an attempt to encourage folks to buy their stuff rather than to impart tips that will actually help them be successful on the water. Some of the best seminar presenters, like Tony Rizzo, John Dettloff and Bob Mehsikomer, are conspicuously absent from the other shows. You see the same faces with the same presentations at the Chicago, Milwaukee, Michigan, and Minneapolis shows. My Wausau show has presentations by accomplished Musky anglers who you will not hear at the other Musky shows. These seminar guests provide the serious Musky angler with what he really needs; solid first hand information that can lead to success on the water.

I asked Rich why he chose Wausau for the sight of his Musky Expo.

"The concept behind the Wisconsin Musky Expo is rooted in the belief that Musky anglers in the fertile waters of Northern Wisconsin should not have to drive to Milwaukee, Chicago or Minneapolis to see new lures and have access to Musky services and resorts. I also wanted the Expo to be friendly to the ‘cottage industry’ of small lure manufacturers; the place where most lure innovations over the past 50 years have been hatched.

In addition, I also wanted the Expo to be a great family Musky outing rather than the madhouse atmosphere you find at the other shows. The 2012 show achieved that goal and the 2013 show is shaping up to be ‘heads and tails’ above last year. We have free Musky lures for the first 200 people attending on Friday and 100 free rods for children under the age of 12 on Sunday."

Interviewer’s Note: Rich and I spoke at some length and after the interview I was convinced that he was the "Real McCoy". It isn’t often in this day of slick advertising that you run across someone as genuine as Rich. I was so impressed with Rich that I decided to do something that I have never done…I decided to exhibit at the 2013 Wisconsin Musky Expo.

I will see you there.

Tight lines