Your name or any nicknames you have?

Jessica Haydahl Richardson

(Nicknames: Safety Sally, Haydahl)

Where are you at in the world? Where will you be fishing this year?

I moved 2 years ago from Vancouver British Columbia, Canada to the Bitterroot Valley in Montana. This coming year I will be fishing more in Montana and hopefully Wyoming, also some flats in Florida and Louisiana as well.

My Goals for 2018 is to try and complete a Trout Slam using my own tied flies. So far I have my Brooke Trout, Cutthroat Trout and my Rainbow Trout.

Jessica holds up a large redfish

What river(s) and lake(s) do you guide/fish?

I primarily fish the Bitterroot River, Steel Creek in Wisdom Montana and I fish Holter Lake, Montana by Craig as well.

How long have you been guiding/fly fishing? 

I have been fishing since I was 3 years old. I started with an Ice Fishing adventure in Norway with my father at the age of 3 and then growing up I primarily Salmon fished. I am a Professional Photographer and specialize in Sports Fishing. So my Salmon fishing photography along with fishing lead me down to South America, primarily Panama, where I started photographing Marlin Fishing and other species as well.

I started Fly fishing around 2 years ago and feel in love with it.

Jessica holds up a nice brown trout

What got you into fly fishing? When did you start? 

Around 2 years ago, when I moved to Montana, I watched my husband Fly Fish small creeks and streams on some of our hiking adventures. Up until that point I had just fished with conventional tackle, but had photographed fly-fishing images for some magazine work here and there. I remember after watching my husband cast, I decided I wanted to try to fly fish as well. I spent that first summer on our lawn practicing my casting.

Why do you fly fish?  What does it “do” for you?

I find fly fishing to be super relaxing and I fall into a focused state of mind. I tend to loose track of time and exist in the moment. Also, there is just something about the “Take”. When you see that fish rise and your heart stops just for a second.

Jessica stands on a boat fishing for bonefish

If you own and use a Rod Vault, what do you like about you Rod Vault?

I had been looking at the Rod Vault for quite sometime and I really wanted to buy it due to the fact that I constantly have to break my rods down after each fishing trek. My Brother and Sister-in-law surprised me this Christmas and bought one. I should be getting my Rod Vault with the next batch that ships out! I can’t wait!!!

As a woman guide/angler, you’re definitely in the minority.  What made you decide to be a guide/angler?  

As a woman in the fishing industry I am definitely a minority. I have been Photographing Sports Fishing for over 10 years now and it wasn’t until just recently that I started to connect with more women in the industry. Fishing Photography has taken me all over the world and I just kind of got used to being a lone girl out on the fishing boats. In 2017 I was hired by Costa Sunglasses to photograph an all women’s fishing team in Costa Rica for the Los Suenos Triple Crown Series. This was one of the first times that I really got to hang out with other fellow women in the industry and it was an incredible experience. Strong confident women who fished hard and showed that they could compete with all of the other male dominated crews out there.

jessica drives the boat

Has the fact you’re a female ever been an issue with a client or other angler (such as them hitting on you or maybe talking down to you?)  If so how did you manage it/them?

  • I have been on some boats Photographing where the clients are not very gracious and down right rude, but I feel my work speaks for itself and find it humorous when clients are shocked to hear my credentials and see how hard I work to get the images and to be published.  I am a pretty outspoken person and don’t stand for or put up with narrow-minded views at this point in my life. My advice would be to stay strong and represent yourself respectfully and be confident in your abilities in fishing. Also make sure to surround yourself with positive people in the Fishing industry. The people who will want to help you and further your abilities and career.
  • I also feel passionate about Photographing for companies in the fishing industry that show women in a strong respectful manor as well as showcase their talents rather than their body.

Do you think being a woman gives you a different perspective as an angler/guide?  If so, how?

I think that as women we tend to take advice and instruction very well. So I feel when I float the river with a guide, I tend to learn so much each time. Guides will usually know the river in and out and they have a lot of knowledge that they can teach you. Taking instruction and listening can help make you a better angler.

Jessica holds up a bass

What is a piece of advice you want to give to other anglers or a tip/trick that has helped you grow as an angler?

Be patient and don’t want it too bad. Things will come when they are meant to. “It’s fishing and not catching!”

What’s your favorite new piece of gear?

I just bought a Redington 3wt Trout Spey Rod and have loved Spey casting thus far. I have yet to be very successful catching wise, but Spey casting has been so enjoyable and it feels like a dance when you cast the line out.

A photo jess took on a fishing trip

What is your favorite fly? (To tie, or catch fish on?) 

I am newer to Fly tying, but like fly fishing, it takes practice. I have been tying a lot of Woolly Buggers and Purple Haze Flies and it’s going to be a long winter in Montana!

Best catch of all time?

The best and most memorable catch I have had thus far is when I caught my first Trout on my own fly that I had tied. It was a small Brooke Trout and I was so excited I fell over and lost the fish! But I had a big smile on my face!

jessica caught a trout on the fly

What’s your “Dream Trip”? 

I would love to go fly-fishing in Norway and Iceland.

What are some of the best places you’ve been fishing?

Floating the Blackfoot River in Montana was beautiful, but I have been lucky to fish on conventional tackle in places like Haida Gwaii (British Columbia), Pinas Bay (Panama), Costa Rica, Florida, Louisiana and Norway.

How do people follow you on social media or reach you?

I have photography Instagram feed: Haydahlphoto

Facebook Fan page: https://www.facebook.com/Jessica.Haydahl.Photography/

I have a website: jessicahaydahlphotography.com

Costa sunglasses women crew photo

About The Author

Jill Kana

Jill is in charge of a great deal of our web content here at Denver Outfitters and is always looking for potential blog contributors, content, and #FlyGalFridays. If you have any desire to say hello or have an idea, please touch base with her at jill@denveroutfitters.com

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