‘The Fish’ is back!

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL 

Fish stories, by their very nature, get bigger and bigger and bigger every time they are retold. This one is no exception.

When Rockford resident Tom Healy boated a monster world record brown trout while fishing in the Manistee River last September it set forth a series of events that continue to this day.

Healy was fishing with long-time fishing partner, Bob Woodhouse, and professional guide par-excellence, Tim Roller. Although absent in the boat that day, there was another party that had a vested interest in the world record achievement.

Behind every great fisherman stands an understanding wife. On the banks of Rockford's Rogue River, a proud Kathy Healy displays an exact life-size replica of husband Tom's world record brown trout. "The fish" is almost as long as Kathy is tall! photo by CLIFF HILL

Healy was fishing using a Cabella’s rod and reel. Healy purchases his “fishing stuff” exclusively from Cabella’s Outfitters and the giant sporting goods retailer leaped at the opportunity to promote Healy’s once-in-a-lifetime triumph.

In an exclusive arrangement Cabella’s offered to do a skin mount of the 41 lb. 7 oz. – 43¾ inch fish along with six exact life size replicas free of charge. Healy could hardly say no to that offer!

Cabella’s used their preferred taxidermist, Artistic Anglers of Duluth, MN, to undertake the task. Artistic Anglers is a world-class professional taxidermy art studio, with 25 years of experience, which specializes in Masterpiece Fish Reproductions.

First-rate taxidermy takes time and it wasn’t until early August, some eleven months later, for “the fish” and its six replicas to be completed and personally delivered to Healy’s door.

Healy now has his beautiful (understatement) skin mount in a protective glass case on prominent display in an impressive trophy room in his Rockford home.

An extremely generous person by nature, Healy has already or is about to gift the six replicas. The very first of which was presented to Manistee County and in particular to the peoples of the city of Manistee, MI. “This special first one is being presented to Manistee County because of the respect everyone paid to this fish on the day it was caught,” said Healy, adding, “They really know what fishing means. I was just a lucky guy. It’s all about the fish.”

One will go to the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac as a gift to the State of Michigan. One will go to Healy’s guide and one to his “fishing buddy”.

Another will go to the Freshwater Fiing Hall of Fame and Museum in Hayward, Wis.

And finally on Saturday, Aug. 28, Healy traveled to Cabella’s in Dundee to unveil an even more elaborate replica of his world record brown trout.

Most certainly this won’t be the final chapter in “the fish” story. Stay tuned to your hometown newspaper, The Rockford Squire, for the rest of the story.

By the way, obviously it pays to shop at Cabella’s! One can only hope that America’s favorite sporting goods outfitter would one-day site one of their megastores in the Rockford community.

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