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He's Hooked On Chain Link Fish
"I brought some scrap chain link home and started playing around with it. All of a sudden, there it was - a fish," explains John A. Rocchio about how he got started making his chain link fish. He has worked around chain link fence for decades, first installing it, and now as shop foreman at a St. Paul, Minn., fence company.
  In his spare time he enjoys woodwork and "making something out of nothing". Friends and neighbors liked his first fish, as did his former boss, Steve Hoopman.
  "Steve said he hadn't seen anything like it," Rocchio says. After one sold for $1,000 at a charitable auction, Hoopman encouraged Rocchio to make more. Hoopman sells them through his company, Keller Fence Company - North, Inc., in Grand Rapids, Minn.
  The 11-gauge chain link is lightweight and bends easily in one direction. It drapes naturally into a fish form. "The diamonds are small enough to give the effect of scales," Rocchio says.
  He starts with a 1/4-in. rod to shape the skeleton - from mouth to spine to tail. The belly is 18-gauge perforated steel from recycled industrial dryer drums. Fins and other parts are made of scrap steel.
  Rocchio uses a hobby argon gas welder to tack weld everything together, then primes the fish with a protective galvanized paint, before spraying it with enamel paints and airbrushing in details.
  "My favorite is the large-mouth bass," Rocchio says. "I can make them look like they're almost smiling. They have unique coloring with light and dark green."
  He has created many species in metal: walleye, muskie, bass, trout, barracuda and some artistic versions. The fish can be mounted, freestanding or attached to a weathervane or mailbox. Rocchio has numbered and signed more than 60 fish already, and has a copyright pending on his design. He does commissioned work based on photos or fish species and sizes.
  "They're totally unique, which makes me feel really good," he says. "I never stop thinking. There might be more ideas."
  Fish start at $250 and can be purchased through the Keller Fence Co. website.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Keller Fence Company - North, Inc., Steve Hoopman (ph 218 328-5504; kelfenc@paul bunyan.net; www.keller fence north.com) or John A. Rocchio, 1376 Dale St. N., St. Paul, Minn. 55117 (ph 612 328-2189; rockit wood @msn.com).

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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #6