Taxidermy for your Trophy Fish

          Wondering what to do with the prize fish you just caught.  Or do you want to preserve your daughter’s first catch for posterity?  If so, read our tips to get the best mount possible for your trophy fish.  There are two ways to preserve your catch.  One way is to get a fiberglass reproduction and the other is to obtain a traditional skin mount. 
            A fiberglass reproduction is basically a ‘copy’ of your fish.  After you catch your fish take its measurements.  Document the length and the width of your catch at several points around the fish’s body (remember to write down the information).  Try to keep the fish in the water while you are measuring.  The longer you keep the fish out of the water the greater the likelihood that you’ll harm or kill the fish. 
            You’ll also want to take a couple of quick photos of the fish.  This is to capture the unique coloring of your catch.  After you have your measurements and your photos, take your information to a company that specializes in fiberglass mounts.  In some states, such as Illinois and Wisconsin, the state will pay for your fiberglass reproduction (on select species) in order to save ‘at-risk’ and potentially endangered fish.
            A skin mounts uses the skin of the actual fish.  After you catch your fish take several photos of it to document the color.  The color of the fish will fade after it’s killed so you want to keep a record of the beautiful coloring of your catch for the taxidermist to duplicate.  Kill the fish with a Fish Billy and then put it on ice.  Do not gill or gut the fish.  A good taxidermist will use the real gills in the mount and once a fish is gutted it is difficult, if not impossible, to try to cover the seams. 
            Once you take your catch back home you will need to wrap the fish in a wet towel and let it freeze.  After the fish and towel are frozen, cover the towel with freezer paper to prevent freezer burn.  You can keep your fish safely preserved like this for up to a year.
            When selecting a taxidermist always ask to see their work beforehand.  Ask the taxidermist if he will ‘tan’ the fish hide or ‘preserve’ the fish hide.  A tanned hide will last in excess of 100 years but a preserved hide will only last approximately 20 years.  Never put your mount over a fireplace or heater.  Keep it away from direct sunlight as well.  A well-mounted fish can be a source of great family pride and interest for several generations.  And even if the fish doesn’t continue to grow, the adventure stories and fish tales certainly will.
Questions?  Comments?  Send them to Trix@Adventurewoman.com.  Send us your fishing photos.  If we feature your photo you’ll receive a t-shirt and a REAL Adventure Woman certificate.