Bull Trout

Fish taxidermy has come a long way in the last decade or so. However, not all taxidermists are familiar with these advances, nor use the reference materials so readily available to them. One of the biggest problems in fish mounts is poor anatomy. A good fish mount should look fleshy and "squishy", not shriveled and lumpy. Here are some questions to consider when looking at a fish mount:

Anatomy:

Is the body symmetrical?
Are fins centered on body?
Is the head cleanly joined to the body in a smooth line?
Are the cheeks smooth and flat, or overstuffed?
Is the body smooth and streamlined or is it lumpy?
Are the scales flat and smooth or are they lifted?

Shrinkage:

Are the fin bases and the base of the tail smooth or shriveled?
Have the head and the throat been rebuilt to look fleshy?
Paint Job: Does the fish look real or painted?
Are the colors and markings correct for the species?
Is the gloss applied evenly or are there sags and runs?

Eyes:

How good is the quality of the eyes?
Are there one or two? Are they symmetrical?
Using a live fish photo, are the eyes set correctly?
Fins:
Do the fins look real and fleshy or dried up and brittle?
Do the fins seem durable?
How effective are fin repairs?

Grease Bleeding:

How was the fish tanned?
How does the taxidermist deal with a trout head?
(artificial heads eliminate grease problems)

Finishing:

Does the back of the fish look smooth and neat?
Is the fish firmly attached to the wood?
Is the hanger firmly attached to the fish?

Fish taxidermy involves many steps and is a time consuming process. Drying time is especially lengthy, particularly with large fish. If epoxy work and painting is done before fish is completely dry, the end result is buckling, lifting of scales and/or cracking of the skin. Be cautious if the “turn around” time quoted seems unusually short.