Ok enough of that sappy leaving everyone behind news. I love everyone and miss everyone yada yada yada Moving on!
It’s been a month since I arrived to Helena. I’m still here! I’ve never done anything like this ever. I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life. I took a job at one of my company’s branches and had never even set foot inside of Montana ever. I took a roll of the dice and here I am. And I’m LOVING it! No seriously, it’s absolutely gorgeous here. I like to compare it to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota, except for the fact that it’s the ENTIRE state of Montana. Seriously, about 20-30 minutes from my apartment is some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I’ve already started a list for exploring starting next Spring.
So far I’ve learned that life here is…life? From all the outrageous stereotypes I’ve heard about this state and this city, it’s not really anything out of the ordinary aside from your occasional deer in the neighborhood or 4 wheeler on the road. It’s easy to settle in this city really. I mean I guess if you were to move from somewhere like New York, it might be a culture shock. I’m from Minnesota, there’s city life yes, but get over yourself Twin Cities, you’ll always belong to “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” no matter how much city cred you get eh :).
Now that I’m settled in and have somewhat of an understanding of how to get around this town, shops open folks. Let me know what I can do for your photography needs! Oh and enjoy this set I put together of my first month in Helena!
Here’s a photo of the fun drive through North Dakota. We drove through 3 down pours and had to get off in Richardton, ND due to 30mph winds pushing us around. It wouldn’t have been so bad but we were driving against the wind, which was slowing us down extremely with the trailer and on the Element (which is not the most aerodynamic vehicle either) and my kayak was shifting all over the place on top. One word of advice, Richardton’s only Motel resembles the Bates Motel, so drive down one more exit to Dickinson because there’s a Super 8.
Check out that scenery. First photo I took in Montana. I think this was somewhere between Billings and Helena. Couldn’t remember exactly where, but you sure don’t see this back where I came from.
Thanks to Peiku and Miki (some of the best family a guy could ask for) I made it to Helena with my belongings safe and sound.
Oh and I had a local assist my move as well. An old friend of mine Sam, who lives in Billings now (also of Minnesotan origin), followed us to Helena. This was taken at the BlackFoot River Brewery. Great selection of beer!
Ladies and gentlemen, my first Montana moment. My neighbor across the street.
Not far from me is the Spring Meadow Lake State Park. Literally a 10 minute drive to see this. You can’t beat that. Also I’ve been told there’s Largemouth stocked in this lake, which is perfect for me.
So after being somewhat unpacked and having worked my first week of the new job, what did I do with my first weekend? Check out the fishing of course! I’ve been researching the area and it’s fishing opportunities and decided to to check out Hauser Lake. I launched nearby the York bridge and paddled downstream. I’ve never fly fished before (although I do own a setup, never practiced much or caught anything back in Minnesota), so I decided to go with what I know. I tossed some spoons and in-line spinners on a bait caster and caught my FIRST and SECOND Montana fish (also a first for Rainbow Trout) within 20 mins of launching! Tiny I know, but I caught them! Oh and all fish were caught and released in this post.
Ok, so my social life hasn’t really started off yet due to checking out the fishing in the area. Another popular spot I read on the local fishing report. I got there about 8am and couldn’t see anything on the lake until probably 10-11am. I paddled through while trolling some spoons and thought I was going straight. Once the fog cleared out, I realized I had paddled in a circle and was nearby the launch site. That was a good laugh to myself.
Finally got into some Rainbows with size at the Causeway!
Another fun shot from the Causeway. If you haven’t gotten the picture, I kind of like fishing. Kind of. A little.
So I took a little break from fishing and checked out the Helena Fall Art Walk. There was work from all ages and all mediums! The majority of the showing was all along Last Chance Gulch St in downtown Helena. Above is some photography work from students of Helena High. Inspiring to see a younger generation with such creativity.
Part of a painting from a Helena High student. The whole piece was of a Geisha. Great work!
Along the Last Chance Gulch Street were what I thought dance students in various shop windows. Pretty fun concept.
A few more of the dance students.
So back to fishing. I decided to venture a little further out and check out the infamous Missouri River. From what I’ve gathered from the locals and the internet, this is a premier trout fishing river. People come from all over the US to toss a fly on this stretch. This photo was taken at the Holter Dam.
Another shot down the Missouri. Again, this is only a 45 minute drive from my apartment. And I won’t even mention the actual drive to this spot. Breathtaking is what I’ll repeat over and over and over. You have to be here to see it.
New type of boat to me. Drift boats seem to be a fly fisherman’s boat of choice in these bigger rivers. From what I’ve read, one guy rows and controls the boat while the other casts. Definitely don’t see that in Minnesota. I had never even heard of this type of boat until I started to read up on fly fishing and Montana.
As you can see, I was still bait casting like a silly bass fisherman from Minnesota. Hey, it worked and caught fish ;). The coloration of these Rainbows from the MO (yes, picking up local lingo) seem to be so much more vibrant in color compared to the Rainbows in the Causeway. Absolutely some of the most gorgeous fish I’ve had the pleasure of reeling in. Check out the frost that was forming on the guides of my rod. It was a bit nippy out that day.
Another FIRST and SECOND. Got into some Browns a little further down the MO. The markings on these fish are amazing.
So I decided to head back to MO armed with my fly setup determined to better my casting and catching a fish. It’s a little bit of an overkill set up as I had bought it for big Largemouth and Pike back in Minnesota (9ft 8wt). So here I am, started at 8am, it’s now 2pm. I’ve been practicing my casting off and on while going upstream far enough to have a decent float down to the launch. I’ve finally somewhat have the hang of it (casting a decent sized Clouser minnow pattern, a size 2 I believe) and decided to head back downstream and try my luck. I put my bait caster away and tried my luck with the fly. About 30 minutes down, I cast towards what looked like a pile of rocks along the shore. The Clouser dropped in and I noticed some movement on the surface. At first I thought I spooked off a couple fish. I started to strip the line immediately after the drop then noticed some fins torpedoing towards where my fly was. The next 5-10 minutes of my life were one of the proudest moments for me. This Rainbow absolutely smashed the fly! I’ve never caught a fish on the fly, so this was my FIRST. I set the hook and people were right, a fight on the fly is so much different from your conventional gear. Best fight I’ve had in a while. I was freaking out to myself that I finally hooked into something on the fly. What a beauty for a first fly fish. I’m hooked (see what I did there)!