Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Tribute to the Trout

Fly fishing is an addictive sport. This is my fifth year fly fishing with my husband, who is a fishing guide and boat builder. Once you are hooked, so to speak, there's no going back. Fishing is not a new thing for me. But fly fishing is.

Growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, my father commercial fished the Great Lakes. I saw a lot of whitefish on beds of ice, silver gleaming amidst a succinct muskiness. Crates of them would be loaded onto a truck headed off to fish markets. For fun, in the winter we did some ice fishing, peering through a small opening in the floor, where we might get a glimpse of a fish in the depths. The rest of the year we spent lake fishing in a small boat, drifting over weed beds, hoping to attract a walleye or perch with our live bait. Our sole purpose for being there was the hunt, the catch, and the spoils.

The first time seeing someone shadow cast a fly rod, I wanted to try it. Watching the eloquent motion of the airborne floating line, the desire welled up to be at the base of the rod. Here was something more than hurling a lure into the sea. It was hand-held poetry. It was mellifluous concentration. It was ballet infused undulation. But it was not easy. For quite awhile, trying to operate that rod, the hook seemed to gravitate toward the upper end of the trees. My line saw the inner workings of more foliage.

Time and practice were on my side. Eventually, persistence allowed me to plant that fly under a small tussock, or to drift it alongside a bevy of gnarly logs. Acquiring even minimal skill yields incredible satisfaction. Every minute was about being out there, ultimately, searching for life in the depths. But it was more than that. Many days were spent floating on the sparkling water, with only the sounds of a trickling tributary, a bird or a buzzing insect. Wading in the crisp flowing torrents, and feeling the pressure of it envelop my legs, I became one with the landscape, and a houseguest to its residents.

Becoming aware of the delicate surroundings, and the privilege of visiting there, you gain tremendous respect for the ecosystem and its inhabitants. Especially the trout. Watching a trout suspended in the flow of the stream is blissful, eloquently idling there as if invisible. Once you feel the tug on your line, and the battle is on, it's minutes of adrenalin infused exhilaration. The reward is bringing in the splendiferous creature on the end of the line, and then, watching him swim away.

The paintings came about as an idea from my husband, the fly tying, insect scrutinizing, feather collecting, trout-enthusiast, fishing guide. As a fan of my work, he's been pestering me to paint fish for a couple of years. This year, he put a challenge in front of me to create some art for the Fly Fishing Expo he was planning to attend with his drift boats. I pondered the idea for awhile, wondering how to fuse the notion of painting fish and still use my beloved vibrant colors. Once the painting began, the work came easily and naturally. Each one was done from photographs or videos taken by my husband on his fishing trips. I especially like the ones created from his underwater videos. A frozen moment in the video captured a visual for a painting, and when finished, that millisecond is preserved, and then the video pause is released. It's gone. Just like the trout.

These pieces have been a joy to create. I loved choosing colors for the trout, and each one reflects the feeling that I wanted attached to them. These pieces are currently on display in a special exhibition hosted by the Bay Harbor Lake Marina, Harbormaster, Bay Harbor Village, Bay Harbor, MI, or can be seen by contacting me for an appointment.