A wood carving by master carver Ellen McCaleb
In years past, when fly fishers wanted to commemorate a fish-of-a-lifetime, they often had to sacrifice the fish itself for a skin mount. In more recent times, catch-and-release has become the common practice, and anglers now rely primarily on wood carvings, fiberglass molds, and photos to recall that day and show the fish to other anglers. But many of us are not very good photographers, and, frankly, many wood and fiberglass mounts don’t bring the fish to “life” as much as one hopes.
Ellen McCaleb is a master carver whose carvings are the rare exception.
According to Hunting and Fishing Collectibles Magazine writer Rod Taylor, “Ellen McCaleb is one of three people worldwide, producing trophy fish carvings in the style and quality of the masters.”
The beauty of the tarpon, captured in wood
As Ellen herself states in her bio on her website:
I carve fish in the tradition of the great trophy fish carvers – John B. Russell, John and Dhuie Tully, P.B. Malloch and the Hardy Brothers. I am inspired not only to continue this tradition but also, through my work, to promote the preservation of all fish species.
Ellen is also a lifelong angler with a deep appreciation for fish and the world the inhabit.
To me, fishing is standing on the divide between the two worlds of earth and water, at the confluence of air, water, hope, and fortune, and knowing that under me, swim some of the most incredible inhabitants of this planet.
Ellen with a nice salmon
Some of Ellen’s work can currently be seen in the “A Graceful Rise” exhibit at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont.
Ellen with an early catch