Fish Taxidermy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Mounting Your Prized Catch

How to Taxidermy a Fish: A Step-By-Step Guide

It’s not hard to understand why they keep on casting. The thrill of reeling in a fish that was previously just a speck on the horizon is one that just can’t be matched by any ordinary sport.

Eating what you pull out of the water seems almost like a shame. Yet many fishermen struggle to part with some of their most prized catches. If that sounds like you, it may be time to consider fish taxidermy.

You don’t need to be an expert to mount your favorite fish. Just keep reading our guide on how to taxidermy a fish.

Preparing the Fish

It is best to immediately wrap the fish in a damp towel and place it in an ice chest. To preserve the fish, make a solution of one and two-thirds cups of salt for every one gallon of water; soak the fish in the mixture for up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.

Once the fish is sufficiently preserved, please remove it from the solution and dry it thoroughly. Work out any kinks in the fish’s skin before stuffing it with cotton or sawdust. Insert a wire frame for support and sew a leather patch along the belly.

The patch should be solid and durable enough to bear the weight of the drying process. Finally, close the mouth of the fish and turn the eyes back inward so they don’t elicit a startled look. You are now ready to move on to the actual mounting of the fish.

Securing the Fish

Depending on the size of the fish, you may need to use various mounting tools and materials. If the fish is a saltwater species, you must use a specific type of glue to attach the scales to the backing. If the fish is freshwater, you must use a screw-type mount.

Whichever type of fish you mount, ensure the fish is securely attached to the backing. Take extra caution when using glues and screws on a fragile fish since you want to ensure it is securely in place. 

The Taxidermy Process

Fish taxidermy is preserving a caught fish by replicating the species with realistic-looking body parts and eyes. Here are some of the steps in processing:


Skinning is the first step in fish taxidermy. This includes removing the scales and fish flesh with a scaler or an electric filleting knife. Care must be taken to avoid creating significant cuts or punctures that may cause unnecessary wasting of the fish.

Proper de-scaling and de-fleshing must be done to ensure the mount will be accurate and long-lasting. The scales should be separated from the flesh using a pair of sharp knives. It is recommended to start at the tail and cut to the head, then peel the skin off in one complete piece.

The tail section and, if present, the dorsal fin can be cut off afterward. All excess flesh should be removed from the skull and body to ensure specimen preservation. After the skinning, the taxidermist moves on to priming the fish.


Preserving a prized fish catch through taxidermy is a great way to keep a memory alive. It is essential to understand the steps and materials needed before getting started.

First, select and prepare the chosen fish for taxidermy. Carefully clean and air-dry it, then remove any external parasites and fungi. Next, make a unique registry of the fish using measurements and photographs. Thirdly, purchase all the necessary materials: taxidermy glue, acetone, epoxy, fin stabilizer, and paint.

Fourthly, apply the finishing touches by adding details, textures, and colors specific to that species. Finally, use the fish on a display board or plaque to create a lasting look. 


Mounting your prized catch means preserving it for years and generations to come. First, you’ll need to ensure you have all the necessary pieces to complete the job. These include the fish, the mannequin or forms, epoxy, clay, paint, adhesive, and mounting board.

You’ll also need tools like a saw, drill, and sandpaper. Once you’ve gathered everything, you can start the fish taxidermy process. First, take a picture of your fish to use as a reference for the mounting.

Next, size and prepare the mannequin or form to fit your fish. Then, use adhesive and clay to secure the body parts of your fish to the state. After the body is secure, fill any gaps with epoxy. To become a master in the art of fish taxidermy, there’s no better way than to enroll in Taxidermy Classes. You’ll gain valuable knowledge and skills that will take your craft to the next level.

Necessary Tools and Materials

You need to have the right tools and materials to create realistic and lifelike mounting. Before stuffing and mounting your fish, you’ll need a scaler, utility knife, fishing line, scissors, wire cutters, pliers, hacksaw, epoxy, and fiberglass materials. Additional materials such as glass or plexiglass eyes, mounting board, mounting foam, paints, airbrush, and varnish are also needed.

Acquiring the appropriate tools and materials to mount your fish is the first step in creating a realistic and lifelike mounting. You’ll have the foundation to create a masterpiece with the right supplies.

Detailing and Finishing Techniques

This can include using mud dabs to blend the body sections to form a seamless whole. If a line of demarcation is visible along the joint edges, use finish putty or epoxy-based sealer to fill in any gaps or cracks. Minor details, such as the eyes, fins, scales, and creases or wrinkles, should be detailed with a fine-tipped brush and paint.

Depending on the size of the fish, you may also need to use a micropore sponge to erase any visible brush strokes. Finally, spray the taxidermy with several coats of lacquer or polyurethane for a smooth, glossy finish.

Knowing the Types of Fish Taxidermy

Knowing the types of fish taxidermy is essential for the step-by-step guide to mounting your prized catch. Here are some of the classes:

Traditional Skin-Mounts

A skin mount taxidermy involves removing the skin from the fish’s backbone and chemically preserving the skin and fins. The skin is stretched over a mounting block, often with the fins still attached. The most common fish used for skin mount taxidermy are bass, bluegill, trout, and pike.

The steps of traditional skin mount taxidermy involve drying the skin. The fish species are stuffed less commonly, and internal organs are reconstructed for a realistic look. Selecting the proper cleaning and preservative procedure depending on the fish species is essential.

The size of the fish block must also be proportionate to the mounted skin. The skin must be stretched correctly and secured with the proper adhesive before the final mounting process. 

Freeze-Dried Mounts

Freeze-dried mounts are an excellent alternative to traditional taxidermy and are much quicker and easier to make. This method preserves the fish without disturbing its natural shape, making it look beautiful for years.

To begin, you’ll need to freeze your fish to be appropriately freeze-dried. Place it in the freezer for several days, then remove it and put it in a vacuum chamber. Once the room is sealed, the fish will be moisture-free and ready for shaping and mounting.

You can use a special epoxy to fasten it to the mount and attach a plaque or other accessories to finish the look. Freeze-dried mounts give you the ability to preserve fish safely while still showcasing it in a visually appealing way.

Reproduction Mounts

Reproduction mounts are a great way to mount a prized catch and convincingly reproduce its unique characteristics. Creating these mounts includes measuring the fish for an accurate scale, creating a fiberglass or resin replica, scaling the sculpture’s features, and painting to match the fish’s natural colors.

When creating a reproduction mount, the accuracy of the details is critical. Ensure the fish’s characteristics, including fins, eyes, and scales, are accurately captured. Additionally, use the appropriate paint to match the fish’s natural coloration. 

Study Skins

Study skins, or preserved fish, are a great way to keep an entire fish for private viewing or display in an educational setting. This method involves careful preparation, starting with cleaning and drying the fish and then keeping it by either stuffing or plaster casting. It is then ready for display and will hold up for many years.

This taxidermy method is more accessible than the traditional mounting of a fish, which involves a full mount with fins, natural skin, and an open mouth. Study skins are an excellent option for anyone interested in having a memorial of an exceptional catch, and with a few simple steps, they can enjoy it for a lifetime.

Re-Creation Mounts

They provide an overview and then break the process down into nine steps. First, they tell you how to thoroughly clean the fish, followed by how to “freshen the skin” so it can be used for the mount.

It provides clear instructions on opening the skin along the belly and then preparing the skin for mounting. They provide tips on how to position the fish and how to secure it so it will stay put.

Follow This Guide on How to Taxidermy a Fish

Overall, fish taxidermy provides anglers an opportunity to preserve their prized catch for many years to come. This guide is a comprehensive introduction and step-by-step guide to getting you started. Put your newfound knowledge to use on how to taxidermy a fish.

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