How to Mount a Fish

How to Mount a Fish
Mounting a fish involves taxidermy, the process of mounting dead animals for display. Mounting an animal is considered an art form by many, and may take months to achieve lifelike results. Many taxidermy professionals consider a fish to be the most difficult animal to mount, but once the fish is prepared and mounted, it can be a great addition to any cabin, den or family room.

Instructions

Difficulty: Challenging

Choose a mounting method

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fish Mounting board 1-1/2 to 2 inch silver nails Mannequin or other filler Hammer Sewing needle and thread Chilled environment Plastic wrap Optional: Artificial heads, fins, tails
  • Fish
  • Mounting board
  • 1-1/2 to 2 inch silver nails
  • Mannequin or other filler
  • Hammer
  • Sewing needle and thread
  • Chilled environment
  • Plastic wrap
  • Optional: Artificial heads, fins, tails
Step 1
Mount warm-water fish with tough skins and large scales using the "skin mount" method. With this method, the fish is skinned and the preserved skin is either mounted over a mannequin or filled with material that gives the fish weight. The specimen's original head, tail and fins are usually still attached.
Step 2
Mount cold-water fish with smooth skins and fine scales over a smooth foam mannequin. While the original skin is preserved, these types of fish are usually not mounted with the original head, due to spoiling and grease bleed-through. Use artificial heads, fins and tails using this method.
Step 3
Mount artificial recreations of saltwater fish, as these fish are most prone to spoiling. Accurate synthetic mounts can be created based on any type of fish, and are by far the most durable type of fish mount available.
Step 4
Use reproduction taxidermy if you wish to release the fish after you catch it. This process involves taking pictures, measuring the length and girth of the fish, then taking these to a taxidermist that specializes in fiberglass reproduction.

Prepare the fish for mounting

Step 1
Clean the fish. This can be done in several ways and usually depends on the type of fish, but make sure all guts and bones are removed from the fish.
Step 2
Pat the skin of the fish with paper towels until it is as clean and dry as you can get it. Then wrap the skin in plastic wrap and place it in a chilled environment, such as a refrigerator. The skin will take several days to dry completely.
Step 3
If using filler instead of a mannequin: Sew the skin of the fish about two-thirds back together, using a regular sewing needle and a thread that matches the color and pattern of your fish.
Step 4
Fill the partially sewn fish skin with a material that will give it form once it is finished. Decorative rocks, beads, or other lightweight materials work well.
Step 5
Sew the remainder of the fish back together.
Step 6
If using a mannequin: Sew the fish half way back together, using a regular sewing needle and a thread that matches the color and pattern of your fish. Insert the mannequin, then sew the remainder of the fish closed.

Mount the fish

Step 1
Buy or make a mounting board. This is the piece of wood on which you will mount your fish. It should be slightly larger than the length and height of the fish, and can be as simple or elaborate as you wish.
Step 2
Finish any carving or plate mounting before attaching the fish to the mounting board. This is a much simpler process without the fish getting in the way.
Step 3
Mount the fish using 1 1/2 to 2 inch long silver nails. Silver nails will not tear the skin of the fish.
Step 4
Drive the nails through the back of the mounting board, so that they stick out the front of the board in the rough outline of your fish - the number of nails will depend on the size of the fish. Use nails liberally.
Step 5
Press the fish down onto the nails from the front of the board after the nails are in the mounting board.

Tips & Warnings

 
Bass, crappies and bream fish can usually be mounted with the original head, tail and fins intact. When cleaning a fish, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and keep them clean. Make sure the mounting board is clean before mounting the fish. During the drying process, the skin of the fish will lose much of its original color and pattern. If you feel confident, you can paint this color back on after the fish is filled but before it is mounted. If not, a professional taxidermist can do this for a fee.
 
Bass, crappies and bream fish can usually be mounted with the original head, tail and fins intact.
 
When cleaning a fish, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and keep them clean.
 
Make sure the mounting board is clean before mounting the fish.
 
During the drying process, the skin of the fish will lose much of its original color and pattern. If you feel confident, you can paint this color back on after the fish is filled but before it is mounted. If not, a professional taxidermist can do this for a fee.
 
Trout, salmon, and char are best mounted without the original head, tail or fins.

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