How to Prepare Fish for Taxidermy


To ensure a good-looking and long-lasting mounted fish, use care and plan properly. Preparation begins before the fish is caught, because finding the right taxidermist is one of the most important steps. You will need to decide whether you want to have your fish mounted or to have a replica made.

Things You'll Need

  • Fish
  • Fish tank (optional)
  • Cooler
  • Camera (optional)
  • Water
  • Plastic bag
  • Cardboard
  • Damp towel
  • Freezer
  • Check the credentials of the taxidermist you have in mind. Ask to see work the company has done. Talk to others who have used the taxidermist.

  • Place the fish you have caught and want mounted in a tank or cooler full of water by itself. By secluding the fish, you ensure that other fish do not cause damage to your trophy fish's fins, scales or tale.

  • Take pictures of the fish. Close-ups against a white background will show the fish's coloring. Record the length, width and girth of the fish. This step only applies if you plan to have a replica made rather than mounting the fish.

  • Handle the fish with care and keep it wet until it dies.

  • Wrap the dead fish in a damp towel and place it in an airtight, plastic bag.

  • Lay the bagged fish on a piece of cardboard and place another piece of cardboard on top to help keep the fish flat. Gently wrap tape around the cardboard pieces to hold it together.

  • Place the fish on a flat surface inside of a freezer until it is time to take it to the taxidermist.

  • Transport the fish in a cooler to help keep it frozen. If you decided to have a replica made, take with you the pictures and measurements of the fish you took at the time of the catch.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wrapping the fish in a towel that is too wet could lead to the formation of ice, which could burn the fish's scales.
  • Keep your mounted fish in an environment that is as smoke-free as possible. Mounted fish will absorb cigarette smoke and discolor over time.

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  • Photo Credit bass image by Liz Van Steenburgh from
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