Fish Taxidermy: What I Didn't Know Then...
It was my first Deep Sea fishing trip aboard a charter boat. When the fish hit, the mate quickly put me in the fighting chair to do battle. The captain could see the fish from up in the tower. He was so excited and yelled down that it was a very rare fish.....he hadn't seen one like it for 20 years. The anticipation was overwhelming. Finally the fish got close enough for the mate to lift it out of the water. Quickly the mate asked "Do you want to get it mounted or let it go?" My father and I looked at each other not knowing what to say. In that moment of hesitation, the fish was brought onboard.
What we didn't know then... In many cases, tourists are not aware that the captain and crew are often agents for taxidermists. If they can convince the angler to buy a mount, they often earn a commission on the sale. Of course nearly all businesses offer commissions to their salesmen. To have your captain organize the ordering of your first mount is of great value, especially to a novice angler. However, what we didn't know was that the actual fish was not going to be used in the mounting process. The fact that the fish was killed for us made us feel compelled to get it mounted, even if we had not wanted to.
For decades, marine taxidermists have created fish mounts using only composite materials. This means that the fish can be released alive and the lucky angler can still commemorate his or her catch without the need for the dead fish. Release Mounts are made from molds. Their anatomical perfection and painting make them works of art that will last a lifetime. Release Mounts are airbrushed to resemble the actual fish’s exact color patterns for authenticity, now that everyone has cell phones with cameras. And by the way, did you know that skin mounts needed to be painted too? There was never any way to restore the actual color of the fish, except by painting it.
So, if you happen to go charter fishing and catch your first trophy fish, let the crew know that you would prefer to release the fish unharmed; then go ahead and place your order for your mount either through the captain or by going online and ordering it directly. Either way you will be receiving a Release Mount. And by telling the crew that you are aware of the Release Mounting process, you will be doing your part to encourage Marine Conservation.