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FURNISHINGS : Holy Mackerel! Fish Catch On Big

August 21, 1993|From Associated Press

A couple of decades ago, William F. Herrick, an avid trout fisherman, started carving cocktail tables with a trout motif.

He figures he's made 400 over the years, selling them for up to $5,500 apiece, depending on size, and could have sold more if he'd had time to make them.

Now he has three apprentices working for his furniture company, Pierre's Gate in Manchester, Vt., and they're making six styles of tables, custom mantelpieces and bars.

"I can sell all we can make," says Herrick, who also writes a weekly newspaper column on fly-fishing.

Herrick's furniture is at the high end of a variety of home furnishings available with fish motifs.

"Fish are one of the hottest looks (to) come around in years," says George White, president of Dakotah Inc. of Webster, S.D. "I've seen fish on plates and cups, on tinware and on candleholders."

Dakotah's contribution to the catch is its Camp Dakotah line--throw pillows, rocker sets, footstools and chair pads. The patterns include individual fish, such as trout and bass, and camping scenes, such as a canoe in an idyllic setting and a fisherman fly-casting. Come fall, patterns with antique fishing lures will be added, based on White's personal collection.

White says the back-to-nature movement and nostalgia have contributed to the fish frenzy. A desire for rustic decor is also a factor, according to the Trend Curve, a newsletter published by Marketing Directions Inc. of Minneapolis. The lodge look, it says, has created a market for products with a "field and stream orientation."

Among the looks are bedsheets and table linens by Joe Boxer for Martex. Nick Graham, a native of Calgary, says the brook trout design was inspired by the "goofy Canadian lodge environment and the lodge I never had." Another pattern created by Graham for Martex is of fishermen in rustic settings.

With sheets on the bed and a coffee table and throw cushions in the living room, why not a few antique fish decoys?

Ubiquitous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in this country, the decoys were used primarily by ice fishermen to lure fish to the surface so they could be speared. The decoys began disappearing around 1930 after many areas outlawed spearfishing.

The real decoys are expensive, but Palacek of Richmond, Calif., has adapted the decoys and fishing lures in modern reproductions. Ranging from six inches to 30 inches long, they can be hung on the wall or used as table decor. Prices range from $14 to $100 each. Decoy lamps, woven wicker creels and antiqued canoe paddles are also part of this company's decorator line.

Many of these furnishings play best where fishing is an important recreation, and true aficionados prefer decorative fish that match the locality's main catch. In Florida, for example, where saltwater fishing is big, Palacek has received requests for sunfish and dolphins, says Lisa Frudden, marketing director.

Herrick says his tables do best in fly-fishing areas such as the river country of Pennsylvania.

"The world of fly-fishing used to be the domain of men," he says, "but now women are also interested."

Not all women.

"I've been on the phone with a guy in California for a week," Herrick says. "His wife doesn't want a trout table in her living room, and he wants it desperately."

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