Medina FFA makes repairs to giant Chinook salmon

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 January 2017 at 8:17 pm

13-foot-long fish expected to be in local parades, events

Photos courtesy of Todd Eick: Medina FFA member Jack Hill did a lot of work rehabbing the 13-foot-long fiberglass fish.

MEDINA – It may be Orleans County’s most recognizable fish, a monstrous 13-foot-long Chinook salmon.

The fish was created in the 1980s and used to promote the Orleans County Trout and Salmon Derby, which was run by the local Rotary clubs.

The fish was sold in 1990 to Al Capurso, who displayed it outside the Bait Barn, a shop with fishing supplies on Route 279 in Gaines.

Capurso gave the fish to the county tourism department about two years ago. The county’s sportsfishing coordinator, Mike Waterhouse, was hopeful the fish could return to parades and other events to promote the fishery.

But the fish had declined over 30 years. Waterhouse reached out to Todd Eick, Medina FFA advisor and agricultural teacher, to see if his students could rehab the fish.

Eick agreed, but it proved a big job. Students needed to rebuild the tail, strip down and rebuild the fins, fix holes and re-do the interior wire structure.

They applied many coats of paint and studied the right coloring to make the fish look like a Chinook salmon – it’s green and brown with some blue, with a gray belly and a pink stripe on the sides.

“There was autobody work and artistic creativity involved,” Eick said. “We want it to look like a king salmon.”

Photo by Tom Rivers: Here’s how the fish looked when it was outside the Bait Barn, Al Capurso’s shop in Gaines. Capurso had the fish for about 15 before giving it to the county tourism department to use for promoting the fishery.

Rhett Wagner works on a trailer that will hold the fish for events.

Students sanded, patched and painted the fish. They had to be careful timing the work. They didn’t want to stink up the school with epoxy so that was put off until the weekends.

Eick and the students received the fish in the spring 2015. They evaluated what was needed to get it back into shape, and realized a lot of work would be involved. The rehab work began in earnest this fall and is now nearly done. Eick said the fish will make its first community appearance on April 7 when the FFA hosts an animal appreciation day.

The big salmon could be back in parades this June and July. Eick remembers seeing the fish in parades when he was a kid.

“We still have a little more work to do,” Eick said. “I want it to be the best quality we can put out.”

Eick said many students chipped in with the fish restoration, with Jack Hill, Rhett Wagner and Ian Joseph, in particular, working many hours on the project.

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