You never know when you’re going to land that special trophy fish, and when you do so, of course you have to immortalize it. It’s just not enough to take a photo from every angle and post the images on a social networking site. Sure, doing that could earn you a congratulatory citation from some government official, but after that, what else is there? Having a mount made that you can display on your living room wall is unbeatable, so fishing taxidermy it is! I caught this huge bass with the gear recommended by this awesome site I found, and I’ve decided to make a nice trophy out of him.
I believe skinning the fish for mounting combines art and fishing–pretty awesome, huh? Preparations are important. I never leave fish that has died on a stringer, in water or a live well, or in a cooler with melting ice. Dead fish skin draws water in, causing it to swell and the scales to slip and fall off. Imagine how that would complicate the skinning process when the lost scales can no longer be replaced. To get a quality mount, I place the dead fish in a plastic bag before I put it in the ice chest to transport it home.
Now one thing I would never do to that trophy fish before it undergoes taxidermy is wrap it in wet newspaper then freeze it. Getting newspaper fully saturated takes time, so when it is wrapped around the fish and then frozen, it will draw the moisture out of the fish and cause freezer burn really quickly. Saran wrap will work better. Or better yet, before freezing, I wrap the fish in an old bath towel and soak it in water, making sure it’s all wet, and I mean really wet!
Then I roll the fish up in the towel again, place it inside a plastic bag and let it freeze solid till I’m ready to take it to the taxidermist shop. This kind of preparation enables the fish to last in most freezers for a full year while still being in perfect condition for skinning. Any longer than that and you will have to take the fish out of the freezer to rewet the towel. Bear in mind: the sooner the fish is taken to the taxidermist, the better.
Why do I need to wet the towel? It will prevent freezer burn, which can make the skinning process really challenging or maybe impossible even. The fins will not be spread fully. The wet towel will also prevent breakage of or damage to the tail fin.
The mount can be a molded reproduction of the actual fish, which provides the detail and longevity I prefer. The reproduction is molded straight off a newly dead fish, with fiberglass being made into the mold to preserve the valuable detail of the freshest fish. Molded reproductions first come as a white canvas that the taxidermist works on with much effort to obtain the realism and depth needed. The taxidermist may spend a long time coloring the molded reproduction but the trophy I will display in my man cave will be all worth it.
Of course, I can always go for a skin mount, where the actual fish skin is used. Or I can opt for a reproduction from just measurements and pictures plus fading memories. Photos are always priceless testaments to what I have accomplished with my trophy fish, and I make sure I take a couple of photos and some close ups at various angles. They are valuable especially when I am planning to have a mount made out of the images I get on my camera.
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