Mark Kiburz pulled up his paint respirator mask and began spraying one of the fish lures he had at his table.
He was one of several craftsmen present for the Fishing Heritage Day event at Schoharie River Center Saturday afternoon. People wandered around to various tables set up to showcase the other activities and traditions that are involved in fishing.
That included Kiburz’s business of making plastic lures to attract fish.
“There’s fishing and then there’s fishing,” Kiburz said, emphasizing the difference between those who leisurely fish and those who spend lots of money to professionally fish.
He said he dealt with a lot of guys who fish professionally and don’t mind dropping hundreds of dollars on good lures in order to catch the fish they want.
He said he got into crafting plastic lures because of the simplicity. Laid across his table were lures of all colors from red and orange to black. People pick lures based on the fish they’re trying to catch. He said in darker, more murky waters, fish are attracted to a darker lure.
With his painting designs he said he tries to make the lures look as realistic as possible so the fish will bite.
“I am by no means an artist,” he said, noting he’ll get design ideas from pictures and catalogs.
Several feet across from his table, Tom Fineout of Herkimer was selling the wooden lures he had made. He started in the 1980s while still working at Remington Arms in Ilion.
“I really liked fishing and I like to work with wood, so it kind of just went together,” he said.
When he retired seven years ago, he really dove into the hobby; now he makes about 10 lures a day. He had a couple dozen hanging on display for people to look at–some larger than others.
The different sizes were used to catch different types of fish. He said cold water fish, like trout, prefer a smaller lure.
Some of the lures also had lips, which not only affect the lure’s diving and wiggling ability, but can also help the lure bounce off of items under water.
Just a few steps from Fineout was taxidermist Matt Pigliavento and his wife, Nacole Pigliavento, of Guilderland who caught people’s attention with the taxidermied fish they had on display and the concept of making the decorative items.
Matt Pigliavento said his father was a taxidermist, which is how he got started.
“There’s not many fish taxidermists around,” he said.
But Pigliavento also taxidermies other animals. However, on Saturday he explained the process of taxiderming fish. He can do both fish people catch and keep or those they catch and release.
For a catch and release fish, it’s a little bit more of a process that includes having a photo of the fish and its measurements. Then Pigliavento said he creates a mold of the fish before he’s able to get to the painting portions, which makes the fiberglass body look just like a fish caught out of water.
He said the process takes time and he could put in an average of 12 hours total spread out across days or weeks.
“You can’t finish the process in one day,” he said.
Ethan McCoy of Middleburgh stopped at the event to check out what everyone had to offer. He had fished as a kid, but got back into it again around five or six years ago, he said, after watching fishing videos on the internet. He said he only does catch and release fishing and likes fishing in the Schoharie River. He lingered at Kiburz’s table checking out the lures and chatting about what makes fishing great.
“Just the fishing experience,” he said. “It’s not about catching the fish.”
Kiburz added “it’s like Christmas” every time someone fishes because you never know what will happen.