Angler follows in family tradition

Marcel Meloche can barely remember a time when he wasn’t carving fish decoys. At 12 years old, his father helped him carve his first decoy and he has steadily been improving that skill ever since.
Meloche now creates a variety of decoys and carved fish sculptures which he sells as well as entering into competitions.
For Meloche, the hardest part of the entire process is coming with an idea to carve.
“The only limit is in your mind,” Meloche said. He explained that about half of the work comes before he evens begins carving.
Meloche came to town to fish in the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Tournament as well as several other tournaments, and is spending most of the summer here working and enjoying Rainy Lake.
He came to Fort Frances with a bass sculpture made out of tupelo wood, which was bought by his fishing partner, Luc Levesque. The sculpture represents approximately two months of work.
The process of going from a block of wood to a fish can be rather complicated and tedious, but Meloche sums it up simply.
“People ask me how I know what parts to carve off,” he said. “I take off the parts that doesn’t look like a fish.”
For the small fish decoys, Meloche often makes a dozen at a time and they are almost identical to each other.
“It ends up being almost a production line,” he said. “They are too much work to only create one.”
Creating these realistic looking fish involves much more than carving though. Meloche said that in order to ensure that the likenesses he is creating resemble the real thing, he is constantly collecting books and magazines with photos.
“Sometimes I will buy a book just for one photo,” Meloche remarked.
Meloche makes several sketches of each sculpture. He requires a view from the top, front side and underneath before he begins sketching on the wood.
Meloche comes from a long line trappers, fishermen and carvers.
“My family was one of the original to settle permanently in Ontario over 300 years ago,” he said. He explained that to survive the winter, the natives taught them to spear fish through the ice, which required the carved decoys.
There are different types of decoys which Meloche creates. Some are working decoys which are meant to be used in spear fishing and others are simply for decoration.
“[Of the ones I sell] I would say 98 percent sit on the shelf and the other two percent are being used,” Meloche said.
Meloche said that while it is not impossible to make the creations all as one piece, many of his larger pieces are made as separate parts. For example, the bass he brought with him here is eight pieces.
Meloche explained that because of the immense amount of detail required, people can wait for anywhere from one month to two years for an ordered sculpture.
For more information on Meloche’s sculptures visit www.marcelmeloche.com

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