2008 was the year to remember for british fishing guide Peter Cockwill. For over two decades Cockwill guided clients into the wilds of Alaska in search of trophy fish, and in doing so, shared his passion for adventure fishing skills with clients from around the world.
Each season brought a new and exciting adventure , but this year it would be different (he thought to himself ), as he gathered his gear together in preparation for his long-awaited adventure. This year was his turn to be the hunter and his ambition was to catch the Alaskan Grayling that would beat any record or legend he had heard of. His lifelong fascination with the Grayling evolved into an obsession – and soon would become a moment he would never forget !
Because the only practical means of access to remote fishing locations is by helicopter, Peter sought the service of Twin Peaks Adventures, which is a helicopter fly out fishing guide service based in Nome Alaska. . His guide that day was Fred Di Cicco -retired ADFG, who spent his life studying char and grayling. It was late August 2008, when they flew out to the banks of a remote stream on the Seward Peninsula. The fish were waiting for him and he was living the dream sight-casting for large Arctic Grayling. One after the other he caught more large Grayling than he could count. Again and again the line pulled tight and each time he wondered “could this be the one” ?There was no doubt when he caught the largest fish. It taped at 22.75″ in length – and had a girth of 13.5″. After weighing this grayling on an IGFA certified scale it was over 5 lbs !
After taking photographs the fish was released back into the river unharmed. “We weren’t going to kill a fish to establish a record”, De Cicco stated and Cockwill agreed adding “We cannot replace these wild fish”. It was the first time Alaska recognized a released fish as a state record claimed DeCicco, who estimated the fish’s age at 30 years.
In the fall of 2011, I received an e-mail for The United Kingdom. It was Peter Cockwill writing to inquire about having a fiberglass Grayling replica created to commemorate his catch. We discussed the importance of building the model to scale, and wrote back and forth about many display possibilities for his art. His hope was to display the fish replica in his flyshop in Albury, called Albury Game Angling.
This is a very important milestone for me. I spent many years searching for a truly large grayling and having accomplished this, as well as catching the state record for Alaska, record it would be a real treat for me to be able to look at my fish again and re-live the moment.
I assured him that Blackwater Fish Replicas specializes in custom fish replicas created and sculpted accurately to match the physical attributes as well as coloring the specimen to the photograph. Peter commissioned the project and the replica of his grayling was scheduled for completion in May of 2012. He mentioned he would be travelling in Washington state on business soon and wanted to stop by the shop to meet while here. He arrived in Gig Harbor in November and It was great to meet in person and we talked for a long time about the process of creating fish replicas and I showed him some current projects I was working on at the time and during Peter’s visit we discussed the modeling process and how fish replicas are created from fiberglass resin and sculpted and airbrushed. This is a very detailed process involving several stages including fabrication , sanding and assembly before actually applying the paint which is also done in stages including hand-painting. I stayed in touch with Peter throughout the process and in May of 2012 I had completed the fish replica, carefully packed the artwork and sent the grayling to Albury. It took only (5) days for the crate to arrive in perfect condition to his flyshop in the UK .I received an enthusiastic email for Peter soon after and replied with my appreciation of the opportunity to work on such a special project.
Luke ,The fish replica is in the shop now and already drawing many admiring comments.
I had an ambition to catch a truly verified Arctic Grayling over 4 lbs and during a ten-year search it became clear that a fish of this size would need to be at least 30 years old. Eventually I found a remote stream where such fish still exist and then got lucky in 2008 to catch the impossible. That fleeting moment of capture, weighing, photos and release has now been immortalised by the skills of Luke Filmer who re-created my dream fish and his magnificent work now has pride of place in my fly shop. Luke, you are a genius and I have the utmost praise for your commitment, talent, honesty and professional ethics. Fly fishing is my life and to cap it with your fantastic study of my fish is the realisation of all I have ever wanted from my career and I wholeheartedly recommend you to any angler wanting the ultimate trophy replica.
– Peter Cockwill