Your name or any nicknames you have?
Jess McGlothlin. “Fire Girl” is a childhood nickname that’s stuck around — I grew up in Montana and always had a fascination with summertime forest fires. When I’m working in Spanish-speaking countries, I’ve learned to respond to “Chica de Fuego.” For whatever reason, people remember it.
Based in Bozeman, Montana, but on the road as much as possible. So far this year I’ve had photo shoots around the U.S. as well as Cuba and Samoa. Eager to see what the rest of the year brings!
I work as a freelance photographer and writer in the fly-fishing and outdoor industries, a job which takes me to all kinds of odd places. So I’ve learned to answer to “hey-you-with-the-camera.” I’m usually the one juggling a camera, fly rod, and notebook. Fishing and photography are a natural blend; fly-fishing is a great “lens” to see the world through!
What river(s) and lake(s) do you guide/fish?
I don’t guide, and am not too picky about where I fish. Fresh or salt, it’s all good. When I’m home, you can usually find me on the Missouri, Gallatin, Madison, Yellowstone… any of the good old Montana rivers.
How long have you been guiding/fly fishing?
Since I could hold a rod! (I’m 28 now… so say 25 years?) I was the kid flinging a rod off my parent’s drift boat. Not catching anything, but it was fun!
What got you into fly fishing? When did you start?
Luckily, my parents. I logged plenty of hours on the great rivers of the West as a kid, and now as an adult it’s ended up (oddly) being a fantastic industry to work in.
As a woman guide/fly angler, you’re definitely in the minority. What made you decide to be a guide/angler?
I get frustrated with the male / female angle. I’m nearly always the only female on photo shoots, and when we’re all piled into a cabin in some far-off corner of the world, it’s actually rarely an issue. Have the skills, get your hands dirty, and don’t worry about the politics of it all.
Has the fact you’re a woman ever been an issue with a client (such as them hitting on you or maybe talking down to you? If so how did you deal with it/them?
Constantly. Had a guy barge into my tent in a fishing camp once and demand some… action. I’ve been proposed to twice. And, when I started really working with magazines, once had an editor tell me he wouldn’t publish a woman. We work together now quite frequently. Just smile, nod, and do what you were going to do anyway. The goal is to be skilled enough at your specialty where you can just let it roll off your shoulders. I actually laugh it off quite regularly now!
Possibly. I think it boils down to the individual.
How can the fly fishing industry and community encourage more women to get involved?
Women: just get out there. Go fish by yourself. Get outside. Just do it.
Guys: Encourage females you know to go fishing. Bring them along in the boat. Just hang out. And make them learn to tie their own flies on. Please.
What’s your favorite new piece of gear?
I’m pretty keen on the Tacky Fly Boxes. I’m always stuffing boxes in various camera bags, and the slimline boxes are easy to tuck in weird places. Plus, flies don’t get blown out of my box on windy days!
On the final day of a week-long shoot last spring in French Polynesia, the client said, “Okay, this is your day to fish.” (Love working with folks like that!) Got a nice bluefin trevally and I was a happy camper. It’s hard to be in some of these amazing locations and not at least carve out a few hours to fish.
What’s your “Dream Trip”?
I’d love to go back to Russia. I worked on the Ponoi — in far Western Russia – and I’m keen to return there and also check out Kamchatka and the far East.
I’m fortunate that works takes me to a lot of amazing places: Russia, Samoa, French Polynesia, Cuba, Belize, Canada… and all over the U.S. It’s always nice to spend a day on Montana home waters with good friends.
How do people get ahold of you for guiding / sponsorship?
My website is www.JessMcGlothlinMedia.com — more work and contact info can be found there. Otherwise, find me on Instagram @jess_mcglothlin_media | Facebook at Jess McGlothlin Media | Twitter @FireGirlPhoto.