Hopefully there will be a time when you reel in a fish that you would be proud to display. Whether it is your biggest catch or the first time you caught a specific species, there are some fish that need to be to be displayed for everyone to see. When this happens you want to ensure that your fish is properly prepared, so it looks it best mounted on a plaque or stand.
How to prepare your trophy fish
If you want your trophy fish to look as impressive mounted as it did when you reeled it in, it is important that you prepare it properly in the field. One of the first things you need to do is take plenty of pictures to ensure the exact color of the scales can be replicated during the mounting process. This is important due to the fact the scales will quickly begin to change color once the fish is out of the water.
You also need to quickly decide if the fish will be mounted on a plaque or stand, and this will often depend on the condition. If one side looks significantly better than the other, a plaque might be your best option. It is also important to keep your trophy fish away from your other catches. Not only will this prevent any damage to the scales during transport, but it will also make it easier to find when you get back home.
Freezing your trophy fish
You want to start freezing the fish as soon as possible and most experts recommend waiting no longer than 6 hours, though this will also depend on the weather conditions. Colder climates can give fishermen up to 24 hours to freeze their fish before spoiling.
There are several ways to properly freeze a fish, though all experts agree that it is important not to wrap it in any material that might stick to the scales. This includes plastic and newspapers which can easily ruin the appearance of the fish. How long the fish will stay frozen should also be considered, and will determine which freezing process is best for you.
For shorter periods between freezing and mounting the fish can be wrapped in a non stick material and laid flat on a piece of wood or plastic. This will help prevent the tail fin from breaking, along with keeping the fish from freezing in a bent or curved position. This is especially important if the fish is going to be mounted on the flat surface of a plaque. Once the fish is completely frozen water can be sprayed over it to create a barrier of ice. Not only does this prevent the fish from spoiling, it also helps to protect the delicate scales. Some experts suggest wrapping the fish in plastic or fabric, while others still worry that the material can ruin the scales if it also becomes frozen to the fish.
If you plan on leaving the fish frozen for up to a year, you might want to consider using this freezing method. Use a wet towel to wrap the fish in and place it completely covered in a plastic bag. The towel will protect the tail fin and the scales from damage, and it can also be easily removed once the fish has thawed. The wet towel also prevents damaging freezer burn which can make it difficult to skin before being mounted.
What not to do when preparing a trophy fish
There are a few things that you do not want to do if you are planning on mounting a trophy fish. You never want to mix it in with other fish, or leave it unprepared for any length of time. You also do not want to cut the fish or gut it. It is also important to keep the fish out of water, since the skin will absorb the moisture and ruin its appearance.
How to prepare fiberglass replications
If you are catching and releasing it is still possible to have a trophy mount. As long as there are plenty of pictures, a skilled taxidermist can create an exact fiberglass replica. If the fish isn’t stressed measurements that include length and weight can also be helpful, but it isn’t necessary to have a stunning replica created.
With a little care and preparation you can easily show off your trophy fish to friends, relatives, and even strangers. Simply follow the simple steps and you will have the evidence you need to back up your latest “fish tale”.