DIY Projects

How to Clean, Restore, and Accentuate a Fish Mount

How to Clean, Restore, and Accentuate a Fish Mount

If you’re an avid fisherman, chances are good that you have a fish mount or two hanging on the wall. Taxidermy work is an artistic way to commemorate and honor a prized catch, as well as means of preserving the cherished memories of an extraordinary day in the great outdoors and the people you spent it with. Taxidermy work can be a big investment, as quality work can be expensive. Thus, it’s important to take care of that investment with regular cleaning and upkeep. In this blog article, I’ll share with you a very easy way to clean your fish mounts, as well as a simple technique to restore and accentuate an old mount to bring it back to life.

For the example in this article, I’m using a massive fifty-pound kind salmon that my dad I caught several years ago. It was an incredible experience, which I also featured in a past video. It was by far the biggest fish my dad ever caught, and as fate would have it, it was also the last fish he ever caught on our last fishing trip together, as he sadly passed away more recently. So, as you can imagine, it’s a very special fish mount that I now have in my office as a way to remember dad.

The mount itself is a mass-produced, fiberglass reproduction mount that we got for dad’s 80th birthday, shortly after he caught the fish. It’s a good-looking mount in general, but it did lack some of the finer, artistic detail that more individualized, custom fish mounts have…which also come with a much higher price tag.

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How to Clean a Fish Mount

The first step in cleaning a fish mount is to give it a good dusting. To do this, use a feather or synthetic material duster of one kind or another and gently go over the entire mount thoroughly, working from head to tail to remove all the dirt and dust. If your mount is an actual skin mount, you’ll want to be extra gentle so as not to snag your duster on any of the scales.

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Next, in order to remove any caked-on dust and dirt, gently wipe down the entire mount with a soft, lint-free rag and some warm water. It’s not advisable to use any cleaning agents, such as Windex on your mount, as it may cause a chemical reaction with the paint or clear coat and damage it.

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How to Restore and Accentuate a Fish Mount

That’s really all there is to cleaning your mount. If you have a much older mount, or, as with this example, you have a mount that could use a little more detail to restore or accentuate it, there’s a very simple technique that you can do which will really add new life to your fish.

If you take a close look at a fish that is freshly caught, most species have small highlights on their scales. For example, salmon species have a small, silver dot on their scales, while fish such as bass and brown trout have more of a bronze highlight. Replicating that detail on a fish mount can do wonders to either restore a fish mount that has faded over the years, or, make a less-detailed mount look much more realistic and three dimensional.

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Notice the small, silver highlights on each scale of this salmon. Replicating this on a fish mount creates a three-dimensional effect.

To add this highlight to a fish mount, it’s simply a matter of painting a small dot on the scales with either a fine-point paint pen or a small brush. Fish typically have these scale highlights most prominently starting on their upper back and going down to the lateral line. So in this example, I’m working my way down from the back to the lateral line area and gently blending the highlights in an out around the edges of those regions as you can see in the photos below…

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After the paint dries you can put your mount back on the wall, or, if it still needs a little more work to bring it back to life, you can apply an additional clear coat finish with an airbrush, or simply take it to a local taxidermist if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

To see more, check out the video below…

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