When you want to let the big one get away, Rockford man has the answer
When Floyd Riegling retired from his upholstery business, his wife Carol wondered what he would do. He is enjoying his second career as a “starving artist” with his new passion of carving fish from photographs.
“I always wanted to carve,” he said. Self-taught, the artist can re-created an angler’s favorite catch in about 25 hours and result in a product that is life-like but didn’t cost the fish its life.
He works from either basswood or foam and has developed his own techniques. The teeth of a sturgeon and whiskers of a catfish are actually nails he embedded and filed to shape. Onion bags under the paint give his foam fish scales. On wood they are burned in.
He recently presented Rockford eye doctor Carl Stites a duplicate of a fish Stites caught this summer. Riegling saw the photo in the Squire and took it upon himself to make the carving. “It’s very flattering, actually,” Stites said. He took the fish on a crawler harness in Intermediate Lake in Bellaire. It was 22-1/2 inches and he took it at about 5:45 a.m. and earned him a master angler’s patch for the catch. “I let it go so maybe someone else can have the fun of catching it,” Stites said.
Riegling said he enjoys the work so much he would rather carve fish than go fishing now. Fish range from under $100 to over $500, depending on the size, because of supplies and the amount of time they take.
The carver showed his work at Art in the Park and sold several pieces. He has many at his Rockford home to show people interested in hiring him to carve their favorite catch. To find out more, give him a call at (616) 454-7847. He just doesn’t have any examples of fish he’s caught himself. “I never caught anything big enough to catch and release,” he said.