The Patchwork Sucker is a 17 inch fish decoy carved by the Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin caver John V. Snow. At the time the largest fish decoy known. But that is not what is special about this fish. The paint job on this fish is why it is called the ?Patchwork? Sucker. The entire body, from the back of the gills to the tail fins and from the belly to the back and down again is painted in a multi-colored patchwork design. Only a picture of the fish can describe the excellent painting of this fish.
I first saw the ?Patchwork? sucker in a store in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin in 1994. I completely fell in love with the fish. The paint job on the fish called to me, but at the time I was unable to purchase the fish because of the price.
A year later I saw the fish in another store in Wisconsin. The husband and wife team of the first store broke up and devoiced. The husband got the fish and sold it to another store keeper because of a need for money. This time I did have the money and the price was cheaper. At this time I was told there were two fish painted like this. The store keeper had one in his personal collection. I later found out that this was not true and that this was truly one-of-a-kind.
About a year later I had a meeting with Art and Annie Kimbal. I showed them the fish and had Art certify the fish as a true John V. Snow fish. Later that week I was in the store where I first saw the fish two years prior. The owner/woman of the store told me that I had her sucker. I was surprised by this statement so, I asked what she meant by that and I truly found out the full story of the ?Patchwork? Sucker.
John V. Snow brought in the 17? fish but it was painted all white. The patchwork was carved into the back and side but it was unfinished. The store owner purchased the fish from John and decided to finish the fish and painted the patchwork design that truly makes this amazing fish. She later asked John if she, a white women, had messed up his carving. John indicated he was pleased with the paintjob. I did offer to sell the fish back to her if she wanted it but she indicated she was glad that I had the fish. The fish is currently unsigned by the painter but I plan to correct that very soon.
Update: The fish is now signed by both the carver and the painter.
This story was published in the "American Fish Decoy Association Forum No. 46" September 2001