Fish Tips title

Field Care of Your Trophy Fish

1. Keep it cool and dry. Don't gut along belly.

2. Sprinkle skin and fins with salt or borax, if possible.

3. Don't put it in water, directly on ice, in contact with other fish, or in plastic bag (unless ready to freeze).

4. Before freezing, wrap fins with wet paper towel or wrap entire fish in wet cloth towel. Seal fish well in heavy plastic bag.

5. Bring fish for mounting as soon as possible.

Photo of a Fish

How to find a qualified taxidermist

If you caught your trophy fish and looked after it carefully, ( see Care of your Trophy Fish) the next step is to find a good taxidermist. You want to entrust your fish to someone who will return an attractive mount that will provide you with many years of lasting memories. Here are some tips for finding a qualified taxidermist. Don't be fooled by the size of a yellow page ad, the use of the words "Master" or "Professional" on a business card, or whether the taxidermist has a web site!

1. Ask other anglers who they recommend.

2. Ask fishing lodge, sporting goods, and bait shop owners who they would recommend.

3. Does the taxidermist display his/her other work in bait shops, sporting stores, etc, for others to see?

4. Does the taxidermist belong to organizations, such as the Canadian or National Taxidermist Associations that promote the profession of taxidermy and provide ongoing education through conventions and newsletters?

5. Has the taxidermist taken his/her work to competitions where constructive feedback is received from judges who are recognized master taxidermists, and ribbons or awards can be won for quality work?

6. Is the price of the work much less than other taxidermists charge? Professional work takes time and shouldn't be cheap. You may be paying less because someone is learning on your fish!

7. Does the taxidermist guarantee his/her workmanship? If a problem develops with your finished mount (eg. cracking, discolouration, odour) and is not the result of an accident or your improper care, will the taxidermist be willing to fix it at no further expense to you?

8. Study examples of the taxidermist's finished work and decide if standards of good work are met. (See Characteristics of Excellence in Fish Taxidermy)

Characteristics of Excellence in Fish Taxidermy

1. Anatomical Accuracy

2. Realistic Colours, Patterns

3. Natural Functions, Movement

4. Preserved to last

Care of Your Fish Mount

1. WATCH THOSE FINS! To prevent breakage when moving or handling your fish mount, slow down and be aware of where the fins are in relation to surrounding objects. Don't allow young children to touch or bend the fins--they're experts at breaking things! (A broken fin can be repaired, but prevention is better.)

2. To hang your fish mount, use a round-headed screw (or a sturdy nail with a large head). The hanger is designed to fit snugly over the head of the screw or nail to allow the mount to be securely attached to the wall. The mount must be lifted up to be removed. Slow down and be careful when you hang the mount or remove it from the wall. If the mount is heavy, be sure the screw or nail is secured in the wood stud behind a gyproc wall, or use a screw anchor.

3. All mounts eventually collect dust. You can restore them to their original appearance by carefully wiping them with a cloth dampened with water, or lightly sprayed with a commercial dust cleaner (e.g., Endust). A moistened Q-tip will allow you to clean between the fin rays and any corners. WATCH THOSE FINS. DO NOT use any type of solvent (e.g., Varsol, lacquer thinner) to clean your fish mount.

4. If the fish mount is exposed to excessive smoke (wood or tobacco), some discoloration or yellowing may occur. This is not on the surface--the smoke penetrates through the finish.

5. The fish should not be hung where it is exposed to direct sunlight or extremes of humidity, or temperature (e.g., above a fireplace or wood stove).

6. At Silver Doctor Taxidermy Studio a fish skin mount has been carefully prepared, using museum-based taxidermy methods. Oils and fats in cold-water species have been removed through a multi-step process, to eliminate any future oozing of oil out to the painted surface, which would ruin the mount and leave an unpleasant smell. Virtually all traces of muscle or flesh, brain tissue, and most of the bones, have been painstakingly removed, to limit shrinkage and leave nothing edible for insects or rodents. The skin has been "pickled" or treated, to destroy bacteria, and preserve it. A glue is used to attach the skin to the carved body, so there is no future rippling or "drumming" of the skin with exposure to excessively damp or dry conditions. An insecticide has been added to the glue to discourage anything from attacking and destroying your trophy. Several coats of sealer and gloss finish are typically used to protect the skin from the elements. With all these steps and the use of quality materials, you should have many, many years of continued enjoyment of your trophy. If any problems should develop due to workmanship, Silver Doctor Taxidermy Studio will correct the situation at no cost.

Return to Main Page