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Curly's Fish Taxidermy

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  • Curly's Fish Taxidermy

    Not sure where to put this thread, but here is as good as any since most all of my fish come from LKA. Many years ago (40+) I used to do fish taxidermy. I started as a teenager and did quite a number of fish until my early 30's. Now that I'm retired and will be 60 this week.......time to start that hobby again. Have to practice again to see IF I can still do it. I will post the progress (pics) of each fish on this thread as I go. First fish up is a 6 lb 13 oz LKA LMB. About 22.5". Here is a pic of the fish on my boat back in April. It is currently thawing out this morning so I can skin it out.


    Thawing out frozen bass.............

    more to follow...........

  • #2
    The fish is laid with the show side down and opened up lengthwise to remove all the meat.....

    Any meat left behind will cause some smell, but more importantly, the skin will will shrink where any significant meat is left behind causing flat spots or obvious shrinkage areas. Took just over 2 hrs to completely skin out. The little bits of (tough to remove) meat will be removed after curing the skin.

    The skin is then immersed in a borax solution for 1-2 days, then scraped some more and rinsed well.

    Not too bad for first time in 30 years or so......only 2 small holes in the skin that I can fix.

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    • #3
      I moved this to the general board, very interested in your process. Why do you prefer a skin mount over a fiberglass replica - just curious. Cant wait to see how it progresses.

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      • #4
        Thanks Brian,
        Fiberglass blank reproductions are extremely expensive! Around $250 just for the blank for that fish. I learned as a teenager 40+ years ago before there were fiberglass reproductions anyway. Many professional taxidermists use those blanks and paint them up to save time and labor, but the costs to the fisherman is very high (up to $3/inch). I can do a skin mount for about $40-50 in materials. Since I need a lot of practice to get good at it again, it's going to take a lot of fish. Have a 9lb 14 oz LKA bass next, and then a 28" striper, and 2 snakeheads to work on..........

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        • #5
          Man I wasnt aware of the cost difference, so a natural skin wont lose its color - or is there a way to preserve the colors/markings? You have a little work cut out with those fish

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          • #6
            Interesting.
            2013 Frog Only Tournament Winner
            2010 Tie for VA-Outdoors Angler of the Year
            2009 Caroline County Rotary Club Tournament Winner
            2007 Tuesday Night Classic Champions
            "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Brian View Post
              Man I wasnt aware of the cost difference, so a natural skin wont lose its color - or is there a way to preserve the colors/markings? You have a little work cut out with those fish
              Looses all the color when dried :p . Looks like an old fish that has been floating for a week or so..........That's where an air brush with specialty taxidermy paints come into play.....the air brush painting is more of an art........I'm not an artist, but, I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once! ;)
              Last edited by curly; 06-24-2019, 06:42 PM.

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              • #8
                So I am guessing that most mounts done back in the 60's were with actual fish and that the fiberglass method was not used back then? My Dad had a LOT of mounts done of species we caught off of Ocean City, Md. from about 1964-1968.
                2013 Frog Only Tournament Winner
                2010 Tie for VA-Outdoors Angler of the Year
                2009 Caroline County Rotary Club Tournament Winner
                2007 Tuesday Night Classic Champions
                "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
                sigpic

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                • #9
                  The gills and fins look so much better (if done properly) on a skin mount than a replica. The fins are translucent on a real fish or a skin mount, hard to replicate that on a replica. Thanks for posting the process, cool to see.
                  sigpic

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dirtman View Post
                    So I am guessing that most mounts done back in the 60's were with actual fish and that the fiberglass method was not used back then? My Dad had a LOT of mounts done of species we caught off of Ocean City, Md. from about 1964-1968.
                    Definitely skin mounts back then.....salt water fish are generally much oilier and more difficult to do a good skin mount without the oils coming through the skin after mounting an painting.

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                    • #11


                      Have me interested, haven't caught on in a while that I'd mount. But this is cool to see. We had my wifes 8.6 mounted years back in 1986 is a skin mount. Looks as good today as it did then.
                      2017 Ironman winner
                      2019 Polar Bear winner

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                      • #12
                        Definitely will be following this one, very interesting and something I have always wanted to see as far as the whole process.
                        Follow me on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8q...confirmation=1

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                        • #13
                          After curing overnight, the fish was rinsed well and the filler material (commercial "fish fill") was prepared which is similar to paper mache.

                          The throat was sewn back together and sewing began at the tail before adding the filler.

                          The filler is packed into the fish beginning at the tail and head/throat area first, making sure there are no loose areas.

                          The filler is added with sewing from the tail forwards until almost full. Filler will be also added the the cleaned out cheek area through where the eyes and cheek meat were removed.

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                          • #14
                            A piece of wood is inserted and the sewing is finished. The wood will anchor the fish to whatever holds the fish.

                            The fish is turned over and shaped by hand to the desired shape and position. All the fins, gill plates, and gills are carded to the desired shape and position.

                            Close up of head area......

                            Close up of tail area..........

                            The fish is allowed to dry. Most all of the green colors will fade and the fish will take on a more brownish appearance when completely dry. Fin repair and painting will be next.

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                            • #15
                              So when it dries it stiffens up I assume?

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