Many people associate taxidermy exclusively with large land animals, like bears, deer and mountain lions. It’s actually possible, however, to taxidermy virtually any animal—including fish. If you’ve recently reeled in a catch worth bragging about, you may be wonder what exactly goes into the process of creating fish mounts.
Here are the steps associated with making a taxidermy fish:
- Begin right away: As soon as you catch the fish, you’ll need to start preparing it for mounting. This means that you should photograph the fish’s top, front, sides and belly while it’s still alive, if possible. The fish will lose much of its natural color during the taxidermy process, meaning you’ll have to repaint it at some point down the road. You will also have to work quickly—when preserving a fish, time is always of the essence.
- Skin the fish: Using a taxidermy scalpel, carefully cut through the lateral lines of the fish. Carefully cleave the skin from the meat. Remember that you will need the skin at a later point in the process, so do your best to keep the skin largely intact. You should work around the fish, eventually pulling the skin up to the head. In one motion, pull the skin out over the head. If done correctly, you will end up with a hollow fish with a complete head.
- Clean the skin: Once the skin is hollow, you’ll need to remove the fish’s brain and eyes. You may want to use an awl for this task. Additionally, you should clean any remaining pieces of meat or muscle clinging to the skin. If left on, this will adversely affect the chemical curing process necessary to keep your fish mount looking its best. You should also ensure the meaty part of the fish, containing its skeleton, still appears uniform.
- Inject the fluid: Next, you’ll want to prepare a syringe with embalming fluid. Depending on the type of fish you’re embalming, you may be using either ethanol or glycol ethers. Inject the fish with lots of embalming fluid, slowly moving your way up from the tail toward the head. You should also thickly apply borax to the inside and outside of the fish’s flesh and skin.
- Sew it up: Now, you should begin to sew up the fish. Sew the fish halfway up to the gills, and then use some sawdust to fill up the tail. You should fill the fish with sawdust until it feels firm and malleable. Sawdust should be stuffed into every crevice you can reach. Finally, begin positioning the fish mount into the style you want it. Remove all of the sawdust debris from the outside of the fish while it’s still wet—it will be impossible to remove later.
Since 2004, Nature’s Design Taxidermy has been the foremost resource for fish mounts in Cody, WY. We are proud to provide our clients with high-quality taxidermy services for a wide range of mounts, including fish, bear, mountain lion, African lion, deer, safari animals and so much more. If you’ve recently made an impressive catch that you want to display and preserve as a trophy, you should bring it to our high-quality taxidermy shop.