Fly by day operation

The Bell Museum’s new exhibit explains the science of fishing

by Claire Joseph

Photographer Charles Lindsay, like most artists, finds art in things he loves.

So, when he set out to create “Upstream: Fly Fishing in the American West,” a collection of photographs about fly fishing, he shot scenes with his Rolleiflex camera in one hand while fishing with a fly rod in the other.

The outcome is 25 large, black-and-white, atmospheric photographs, combined with quotes by Lindsay. The art and text work together to illustrate the experience of standing in a stream and fishing in its moving waters.

“Upstream: Fly Fishing in the American West” is also a traveling exhibit currently showing at the Bell Museum of Natural History.

Dan Luce, the curator of events at the museum, said that because the photographs were about nature and the attempt to connect with nature through art, the exhibit was perfect for the museum, given its mission of bringing people and nature together.

“They are photographs of things you might see in and around streams,” Luce said.

The photographs, though, are not typical nature shots, Luce said, because while most nature art is crisp and colorful, these photos are black and white and deliberately blurred.

One part of each photo is focused, while its background and other subject matter is hazy, giving the photos a specific purpose and imitating the eye’s lifelike spotlight on one precise aspect of a scene.

“I photograph to increase my awareness and to extend the process of concentration that culminates when the fish strikes,” Lindsay notes in the exhibit.

One photo, “Bent Rod (Brown Trout), California 1996,” shows the fly rod’s bend, signaling to viewers that a fish has been hooked. The simple arch of the rod, at the forefront of the fuzzy image of a stream, will bring pleasure to anyone who has felt a tug on the line when a fish took the bait.

To further educate viewers about fishing, the museum is putting on an exhibit called “Tricking Fish,” which shows Minnesota fishing records, demonstrates how lures work and explains the biology of fish.

If your interest in fishing is sharpened by the exhibits but you don’t know what to use for bait, the museum has a special day just for you.

On April 9, the museum will host “From Dragonflies to Mayflies: Aquatic Insect Art and Artists,” an exhibit featuring artists who focus on aquatic insects and fly-tiers who will talk about various flies and why they work to catch specific fish during specific seasons.

These exhibits will help meet the museum’s goal of bringing viewers a little closer to nature.

As Lindsay notes in the exhibit, upstream is where one can seek “clear water, solitude, and trout.”