Caught that trophy fish but not sure when to bring it to the taxidermist? Don’t worry,  it is indeed a wise move to preserve the fish until you’re totally ready for it. But, how do you preserve a fish for mounting?

Preserving a fish for mounting involves wrapping it in a wet towel and letting it freeze on a flat surface. For extra precautions, you can coat the fish with borax powder and keep it inside a plastic bag closed with tape.

In this guide, we will give you a detailed walkthrough of how to take care of your catch before you take it to the Taxidermists. We will also clear out your common concerns like the longevity of fish in the freezer and common mistakes, along with alternatives to traditional fish mounting. So let’s dive right in!

Essentials Of Preserving A Fish For Mounting


Here’s what you need to preserve a fish for mounting before you take it to a taxidermy shop.

  • Fish (Must)
  • Wet Towel (Must)
  • Borax Powder (Optional)
  • Plastic Bag (Optional But Preferable)
  • Tape (Optional But Preferable)

How Do You Preserve A Fish For Mounting?Step-By-Step Guide

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Handling, Measuring, And Taking Pictures

After catching your fish, handle it gently and take a couple of pictures of it from all sides. It will be helpful for taxidermists while preparing the actual mount.

For more guidance on this topic, you can also refer to our guide about getting a mount just from a picture.

Remember fish color and markings can fade with time, so having a record is beneficial.

After taking pictures, place it on a flat surface, and measure its length from mouth to tail ti[ using a measuring tape. Then, also, measure its weight as much as possible.

After all the measurements are done, bring it back to your home.

Wrapping The Fish In A Wet Towel

First things first. Decide which of the fish you will like to show when hung on the wall, and keep that side of the fish upwards.

After that, take a wet towel and place your fish on it.

Pro-Tip: To better preserve the original colors of your fish, you can also coat it by sprinkling the Borax powder all over it.

Wrap the fish in a wet towel gently. And then you can just keep it in the freezer for preservation.

If you are planning to keep the catch for a long time, then you can also take extra precautions like wrapping the whole fish in plastic wrap and applying the tape. This minimizes the chances of freezer burn or any other damage to the fish.

Now I know what you’re thinking:

You’re worried and unsure how long you can keep the fish in the freezer before it becomes unusable for a mount. Right?

Well, let’s take a closer look at that in the next section.

How Long Can You Freeze A Fish Before Mounting?

In general, fish can last in a freezer for a very long time – for as little as 3 months to up to 3-4 years, if it is properly stored.

But here’s the thing:

The sooner you can get your trophy fish to the taxidermists, the better it is.

Right after the catch, the fish will start losing its color. Hence, it becomes important to take good pictures of your fish from all sides.

In a nutshell, the idea is to keep a record of the original fish color and all the details. This will help your Taxidermist while doing the final detailing of the fish mount and make it look realistic.

It’s common among anglers to get their fish mounted even after 2-3 years of their catch. Although with time, there is always the risk of freezer burn or damage to the fish body itself.

But overall, if you follow the right steps, you can preserve the fish for quite a long time.

But wait there’s more. By now, you already know how long fish can last inside a freezer, but what about the actual fish mounts? To learn more highly recommend reading this guide about how long fish skin mounts last.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Preserving A Fish

Here’s an easy checklist of things you should avoid when preserving your fish:

  1. First things first, avoid cleaning or gutting your fish if you want to take it to the taxidermist. It is best to leave such tasks with the experts to avoid any damage to the fish.
  2. Avoid wrapping your fish in a coarse material as that can harm the body, fins, and scale of the fish. For real fish skin mounts, it’s essential that the fish skin remain undamaged because that’s the main part of the display.
  3. Try to do all the preliminary steps of recording the dimensions of the fish and taking pictures as quickly as you can. Fish can start spoiling with time and its original color and markings can start changing. So act fast if you’re serious about making it a trophy. Usually, it is best to freeze your fish within a day to avoid any spoilage or deterioration issues.
  4. It is also important that you don’t miss out on choosing the show-up side. Normally, when you display your fish, you will choose either side of the fish facing towards the viewers. This side is known as the show side. If you don’t keep the show side upwards, there will remain a risk of damage to that crucial fish part. So it is recommended to keep the show side up because that forms an important part of the display.
  5. Avoid too much hand contact with your fish to keep the fish skin intact as much as you can.
  6. Finally, it is also important to avoid keeping the fish inside the freezer for too long. Even though the fish can remain well if properly preserved inside the freezer for 3-4 years, it is best to avoid longer storage if possible. Remember, the more you keep the fish inside the freezer, the higher will be the chances of freezer burns.

How To Transport Your Preserved Fish To The Taxidermist

When it’s time to transport your fish to the taxidermist, ensure that the fish is properly frozen and has a nice protective layer of ice around it.

During transportation, especially for long commutes, the ice layer can provide necessary protection from heat. If you have a dedicated cooler box to carry the fish, then that’s great. But if not, then also you can use plastic carry bags or buckets.

Choosing The Right Taxidermist

Selecting the right Taxidermists is also a crucial part of making your catch an unforgettable memory!

Choosing an expert taxidermist is highly recommended especially if you’re looking for perfection and realistic looking fish mount.

To learn more about fish taxidermists and a complete start-to-finish guide on fish mounting, check this article: where to get your fish mounted?

Pro Tip: One of the best ways to find out the right taxidermist is by looking at their work portfolio. Have a look at all the precious fish mounts they have done, the detailing of their works, and how realistic the mounts look.

Then choose the taxidermist whose work resonates with your design style and requirements. On average, the cost of fish mounts lies between $15 – $20 per inch of the fish.

So be prepared for it. For a 20-inch bass mouth let’s say, you will have to pay anywhere from $300 – $400.

Does this sound like too much?

Well, we have already made a detailed guide about cheap fish replicas. Please have a look at it to explore the budget-friendly fish replica mount options.

Even better.

Are you looking for fish mounts just for decoration purposes and not any custom fish? Then why not check out metal fish replica mounts?

Why Are Metal Replicas A Better Alternative?

Firstly, metal fish replica mounts are made from laser-cut metal. So they are much more durable and long-lasting than traditional fish mounts.

You don’t have to worry about taking pictures or preserving your fish. Just select the ready-made metal fish replica mounts and hang them on your wall. It’s that simple!

Of course, if you’re looking for a custom fish mount of your choice, then it may not be a good option. However, we have a pretty large collection of metal fish mounts. All these fish replicas are made with advanced design and metal-cutting technologies which allow them to look as realistic as the real fish.

Check out our Etsy store – Reelistic Replicas to check out the diverse collection of metal fish replicas.


So the bottom line is, just wrap your fish gently in a wet towel and keep it inside the freezer (with the show-side facing up) and that’s it!

For extra care, you can keep it inside a plastic bag sealed with tape to prevent any freezer burn. But the most important thing is to make sure you wrap the wet towel. It is the main thing that will protect the fish. 

And even though fish can last for pretty long inside a freezer, the sooner you take them to Taxidermists, the better.

Lastly, if you are looking for a simple yet durable and affordable solution to traditional fish replica mounts, you can also explore metal fish replica mounts.

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