“Guide Desks” in Southern Culture on the Fly

by Fire Girl Jess on October 13, 2015

SCOF_8 copySome publications are always fun to work with, and Southern Culture on the Fly definitely qualifies as entertaining. I never quite know what to expect in each issue that comes out, but it was pretty damn fun to work with the SCOF guys for a piece in their latest issue.

Inspired by a couple of young guides I met while up in Alaska for a shoot this past summer (and maybe also by my own recent personal transition), I went with the theme of guide desks. Sounds random, I know. Read it and find out (starting on page 72).


Starting a New Series Over at Chi Wulff

by Fire Girl Jess on October 11, 2015

IMG_7240 (1)Kind of strange to realize The Vermont Chronicles has come to a close over at Chi Wulff. On to the next chapter; today marks the start of Notes From Base Bozeman (shout out to friend Mike Sepelak for the name idea!). I’m still juggling things as I settle down; moving into a week of AFFTA board meetings and the Dealer Summit. Life’s too short not to jump in with both feet, right?

Some exciting things happening on the freelance front as well. Thanks to all of you who read these weekly entries over at Chi Wulff; I have a feeling this is going to be a good one.


Talking Bull Trout in Fly Fisherman Magazine

by Fire Girl Jess on October 6, 2015

The new issue of Fly Fisherman is hitting shelves, brimming with strong imagery and writing. This publication is always a pleasure to work with, and I unexpectedly had a lot of fun with this month’s article on Montana’s bull trout population. Turns out, the last stronghold of bull trout is in the area I grew up in, which made for a good icebreaker as I talked with regional fisheries biologists about the bull trout’s fate.

The piece contains what has to be one of my favorite interview quotes ever. When I asked Wade Fredenberg, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service fisheries biologist, about the bull trout’s battle against invasive lake trout, he offered this gem. “Have you seen the movie 300? That’s about the correct analogy.” That quote alone made my week, which maybe says something about the personality of writers who write about fish for a living.


Back in Bozeman

by Fire Girl Jess on October 5, 2015


Back in Bozeman. Kind of weird; I’ve lived in this town off-and-on for six or seven years, and every time I come back something else has changed. Town’s growing up. My favorite old gas station now is revamped and has neon signs, there are more stoplights than I remember, and I’m seeing more “foreign” (not Montana) plates than ever before.

Today's desk.

Today’s desk.

But I took a drive up Hyalite Canyon this afternoon only to discover the mountains and the rivers haven’t changed. I can still drive the canyon road with half concentration, the curves of the road embedded somewhere deep in my brain from when, years back, that was my archery practice terrain. The next couple days will be spent fishing and chasing grouse with my brother. Can’t ask for a better welcome home than that.

Was just shooting the iPhone this afternoon up the canyon, but couldn’t resist a few shots. Look for more to come soon.


Rain, Fish, and Vermont

by Fire Girl Jess on September 30, 2015

Vermont_Brown_TroutToday dawned so dark I thought my clocks were wrong. At 7AM it was dark enough I needed headlights, and the pouring rain created trenches of water prime for hydroplaning. It’s kind of oddly fitting for my final day at Orvis. I’m picking up a little U-Haul trailer this afternoon, loading out in the rain (probably wearing waders, if the skies stay this wet), crashing in a hammock tonight, and pointing the Subaru West early tomorrow morning. It’s a bittersweet leave-taking; I’ve been lucky enough to work with some awesome folks here in Vermont and will miss that more than anything.

But looking forward to getting back West. Already making plans to fish early next week; trading in the 3-wt. for a switch rod and little brook trout for big brownies. Going Western. Going back to home turf. In one of those rather ironic little life moments, I went to a little local stream Monday for my final fishing session in the Northeast. I was hoping for some of those hungry little brookies that have salvaged so many rough days, and tied on a Parachute Red Ant just for something different. After a few minutes I had a take—one that felt different than the bouncy brookies. This fish fought better, too. Brought it to hand only to find it was my first Roaring Branch brown trout of the season, nicely colored up with a line of red dots on his dorsal fin.

And that was enough. I still had another hour on my lunch break, but somehow ending on a brown trout seemed fitting for my time in the Northeast. I put the rod away and went for a dirt road drive. Here’s to the next brown, pulled from a Montana river.

I’ll be out of pocket for a few days as I drive and then set up in Bozeman, but be sure to follow along on Instagram. The blog will be back soon enough.


The Final Vermont Chronicles Today on Chi Wulff

by Fire Girl Jess on September 27, 2015

JAM_NE-4I put off writing today’s post on Chi Wulff as long as I could. I really didn’t know where to start.

I finish at Orvis this week, then load my life up into a trailer and drive back to Montana. The goal is to be back in Bozeman by the weekend, hopefully unloading quickly and then heading for the river with a box of streamers and the camera.

Very mixed feelings leaving the Northeast. Unexpectedly, I’ve grown to like it here. I’ve got a small group of friends, some new kinds of fishing, and it’s so different from my Western “normal” that it’s a bit like living in a foreign country. You know how sometimes you leave a place, smiling and saying, “See you somewhere along the road” but deep inside you think you’ll really never see that person again? Leaving Orvis and Vermont isn’t like that. The fly-fishing industry is a small one, and I look forward to running into former coworkers at trade shows, photo shoots, and random places along the way. That’s kind of the beauty of it.

So let’s not say goodbye, but rather, “See you on the flip side.”

Huge thanks to everyone who has supported my work during these two years on the East Coast. I’ve learned a lot, listened a lot, and explored a lot. Met some incredible people, and had opportunities I’d never dreamed of. Here’s to the next adventure(s)… I have a feeling they are going to be doozies.

And look for the next Sunday series on Chi Wulff. Planning to come up with a name during the 2,300 miles between Manchester and Bozeman.



by Fire Girl Jess on September 20, 2015

The past few weeks have brought a few surprises. Sometimes opportunities arise that—while it would be pretty damn nice to keep things as they are—you just can’t ignore. Because new adventures mean new skill sets to gain, new people to meet, new places to see. And I guess I have a track record of not settling down anyway.

You can read the full announcement this morning on Chi Wulff, but in short, I’m leaving Orvis. It’s been a gut-wrenching decision. I’ve learned so much from so many incredible people here, and have made friends that will last a lifetime. Against all odds, life in little ol’ Manchester has grown on me, and there are some pretty awesome things underway at the company right now. Let’s just say it’s not “goodbye” but rather “see you later.”

As some of you know, I’ve accepted a role at the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) as Communications Director. A day after that, I was approached by the good guys at Yellow Dog Fly Fishing to come on board in a writing / photography role. Yellow Dog is an industry leader in fly-fishing travel, and a company I’ve eyeballed for some time.

So the answer was pretty simple. Yeah, let’s do this.

I’ll be relocating to Bozeman in early October. The Montanan in me says this is just in time for good streamer fishing and photographing that mysterious transition between autumn and winter.

My freelance business continues to be the priority, and I’m looking forward to the freedom of not being attached to one of the industry manufacturers. I’ll be actively looking to grow my clientele and partnership base, and there’s some pretty exciting stuff in the pipeline. Stay tuned.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read the odd drivel I post on here now and again. One chapter is closing, another is opening, and who knows what’s just around the corner.