November 26, 2022

Tips on Mounting Your Prized Walleye

Taxidermy Techniques, Fish Handling and Advice on Finding the Right Taxidermist A good-sized walleye (a fish sized between the legally permitted length to

Taxidermy Techniques, Fish Handling and Advice on Finding the Right Taxidermist
A good-sized walleye (a fish sized between the legally permitted length to about 30 inches or so) may sometimes be too good to end up getting filleted and fried. Anglers who catch this beautiful fish often prefer to have it mounted instead of having it end up in the pan, primarily because walleye are beautiful fish, capable of reaching impressive lengths and weights. So if you get lucky with a 25″ beauty, consider mounting it by using taxidermy techniques.

What is taxidermy?
In Greek, ‘taxis’ means arrangement and ‘derma’ means skin. The art and science of taxidermy involves preserving and mounting animal specimens (mainly vertebrates or those with backbones) to be used either for study or for display.

If you think taxidermy or mounting of your prized walleye is just simple ‘stuffing’ of the fish, you’re wrong. A beautiful fish like the walleye needs so much more than just stuffing in order to be put up for display. Remember, you will be mounting the fish for display and not preserving it for future use as food. Techniques involving each differ greatly.

Procedure and cost of mounting
If you’re curious about what happens to your prized walleye once it reaches a taxidermist, here is a breakdown of what the procedure of mounting involves:

Materials preparation
To mount your prized walleye, different tools are used, including knives for making incisions, modeling materials to make the body and chemical solutions for preserving the skin. The fish is then measured carefully and its external features are noted. Most taxidermists may even use cameras or drawings in order to record the unique physical characteristics of your walleye.

Skinning and tanning
The skin of the walleye is removed and treated with chemicals to preserve it. This takes a while but it’s a necessary process to ensure that the skin doesn’t rot or become brittle later.

Molding the body
Depending on the taxidermist, a plaster cast or foam mannequin may be used to represent the body of the walleye. This is where the measurements will matter because the skin has to fit the mold perfectly. The eyes are also replaced with glass or plastic to mimic the real walleye.

As for the cost, it can range from about $350 to $700 depending on size and the work that has to be done. A large-sized walleye may cost more.

Handling your prized walleye for mounting
Before you go to a taxidermist to have your prized walleye mounted, make sure you know how to preserve your fish well. Make sure that the body of the fish is well taken care of.

Try to be gentle with the fish during the struggle and avoid damaging the body. Lost scales, damaged fins and tails won’t look well on the mounted walleye. For this, you might have to use a fish net to protect the fish. Never, ever club the fish on the head. You will ruin its shape, making it difficult for the taxidermist to repair.

Have it photographed. A colored photograph will be a good reference later on because the fish’s colors will fade after it’s taken out of the water.

Next, store your walleye. If you don’t have ice, cover the fish with wet burlap, cloth or newspaper and keep it away from heat and sunlight. If you have a cooler, keep the fish in ice. Unless you can find a taxidermist immediately, best keep the fish refrigerated for about five days. Anymore than that and you’ll have to freeze it.

Choosing a taxidermist

Look for references, if possible. Friends and fellow anglers can recommend a good taxidermist and you can even view evidence of their work. If not, ask for a certification as proof that you are dealing with a professional.

Not all taxidermists mount fish, so be sure to ask. Make sure that the mounting shop you bring your fish to will do the actual work. If mounting involves a third party, it will cost more.

If you want the best deal, ask around and don’t just look at the price tag. See if the quality is excellent or at least satisfactory and up to your standards. If the work is bad, take your fish elsewhere.

How long do you have to wait to earn your trophy?
That depends on how many jobs the taxidermist still has to complete before he takes care of your fish. However, a waiting period of at least a month is reasonable enough. Remember that tanning the skin takes time and once mounted, the walleye has to be completely dry.

Be patient. Some taxidermists may even work on your mounting for 6 months or more.

Should you DIY?

Never try to mount your prized walleye yourself if you have no experience as a taxidermist. Taxidermy is an art and a science and has to be exact and creative at the same time.

It also requires that you know techniques used in dissection, have a little background on anatomy (at least fish anatomy), tanning and sculpture. Learn about mounting first and practice the art. Once you’ve perfected it, then you can try mounting your prized walleye.