When you catch a trophy largemouth bass and decide to keep it instead of releasing it, your catch often represents a moment of triumph. It also gives you bragging rights and straight away you want to immortalize that moment. For some anglers, taking pictures is not enough. They want to preserve the bass and mount it on their wall. That way they can point at it whenever they get a visitor and use it as proof of their fishing prowess.
But mounting a largemouth bass isn’t as easy as it seems. You have to consider the costs, the size of the bass, and whether it’s worth going through the trouble. You might also want to consider having a replica mounted on the wall instead of the real fish.
With the advances in taxidermy, anything can be preserved, even largemouth bass. But just because it’s possible that doesn’t mean that it’s the best option.
Read on to find out all you need to know about mounting a largemouth bass.
Factors to Consider when Mounting a Largemouth Bass
Before you go down that road of sending a largemouth bass to the taxidermist, you need to consider some important factors. The first has to do with the size of the bass. Is it really worth the trouble? After all, a small bass is nothing to brag about.
Size also matters when the taxidermist calculates the cost of the process. Usually, they will charge you by the inch rather than the weight of the bass. If the fish is of medium or small size, you would be charged by the length. If it’s a large fish, some taxidermists would charge by the weight.
The fish species also play a major role in the success of the process. If the fish has strong and thick skin, the end result would be satisfactory and look like a real-life fish. However, the largemouth bass tends to have thin skin that bruises easily. This is why the fish covers its body with a protective layer of slime.
Finally, consider the skill and experience of the taxidermist. Especially their experience with fish in general and largemouth bass in particular. Not all specialists can pull off taxidermy of a largemouth bass. So ask for previous work and make sure you’re happy with their qualifications before you trust your prized catch with them.
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Understandably enough, the cost of mounting the largemouth bass depends on all three factors we discussed above. The size of the fish will determine not just the overall cost but the cost per inch as well. Most taxidermists would charge about $13 per inch although you could find specialists who would do it for less.
This puts the largemouth bass in the middle price-wise between the tuna and the shark. Sharks are the most expensive and you can expect to fork up to $19 per inch to taxidermy one. Tuna is the cheapest and only costs $12 per inch.
It all comes down to the taxidermist. The more experienced they are, the more they’ll charge you. It’s a small investment but since this is something you’d have mounted on your walls for years to come, it’s well worth it to hand the bass to a qualified, even if a little more expensive, taxidermist. A botched-up job could ruin the trophy bass.
One of the first things to do before passing the bass to the taxidermist is to temper your expectations. The mounted bass could look very much different from the live fish dancing at the end of your line. So to help the taxidermist, you should take as many pictures of the live largemouth bass as you can.
Also, decide on the best side and angle of the fish you want to be displayed. One side of the fish might give the bass a better profile. Also, settle on a pose for the fish. Whether it will have a relaxed posture or twist its body and open its mouth in a fighting pose.
Keep the fresh fish moist by wrapping it in a wet towel. And do your best not to damage, bruise, or scratch the skin. The skin of the bass is delicate and if broken would become more challenging to taxidermy the fish.
Place the wrapped fish in a plastic bag and keep it in the freezer. Only take it out when you’re going to deliver it to the taxidermist. It’s also recommended that you don’t try to transport the fish yourself. A courier service will do a better job delivering the frozen bass intact to the taxidermist.
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Taxidermy of largemouth bass is different from working with other species of fish. The delicate skin of the bass requires more skill and caution to give the fish a life-like look without ruining the body. This is another reason you should go for a taxidermist with plenty of skill and experience with that type of bass.
The other factor that determines how long the process would take is the backlog. If the taxidermist is busy this time of year, your bass would take weeks before it’s finally ready to mount on the wall.
Some taxidermists offer a faster delivery service which usually costs more than the regular package. But in general, the process requires time and patience. And you could get your mounted largemouth bass anything from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
Once you’ve got your mounted largemouth bass and have found a place for it in the center of the wall, your job isn’t over. If anything, your journey with the mounted bass has just begun. You’ll need to care for the fish and keep it clean. Otherwise, mold and fungus could build up and ruin the fish. So how would you go about cleaning and maintaining the mounted bass?
- Clean the dust and dirt off the fish on a regular basis. This calls for a gentle touch and the right tool for the job. You could use a light duster or a gentle washcloth that doesn’t scar the fish or damage the skin. Avoid applying excessive pressure if you find a stain on the fish.
- Don’t go against the scales. They’re rather flimsy and fragile. The scales are the first to fall if the fish is mishandled. So move your hand with the washcloth in the same direction as the scales and don’t disturb them.
- Apply the same care and patience when cleaning the fins. After the scales, the fins are the second most delicate part of the fish. They are flimsy and ready to break at any moment.
- Don’t expose the mounted bass to direct sunlight as it could ruin the chemicals that preserve the fish. Also, don’t expose it to bright light or place it near a lamp that emits heat.
- Protect the mounted fish against the damaging effects of cigarette smoke.
- Don’t spill chemicals or liquids on the fish as that could ruin it.
- Watch out for the damage your nails could do to the skin of the fish. It’s better to wear gloves when handling the fish.
That’s where anglers differ and split into two schools. The first school favors a mounted skin bass over a replica. The skin bass is a real fish that once swam and had a life. It’s the pride and glory of the angler and brings back good memories.
That’s all fine and dandy. But you also need to consider the downside of having mounted skin in your living room. For one thing, it costs more to get a largemouth bass taxidermied compared to a mounted replica.
The other consideration is the shelf life of the mounted skin. Sooner or later, the fish will lose its bright colors, get damaged, and might even start to smell. As the chemicals that preserve the fish deteriorate and break down, the fish will emit an odor. Eventually, you’d have to throw it away. How long the mounted skin can last depends on the skill of the taxidermist and your maintenance work.
A mounted replica doesn’t have a shelf life simply because it will not break down or deteriorate. It will not give off a bad smell or lose its vivid colors or shape with the passing of time.
And then you have the ethical angle of the debate. To mount a replica, you don’t have to kill a live fish. Only a few largemouth bass would live long enough to reach the size and proportions that qualify them for the “trophy fish” status. So it does make a difference to take even a single bass out of the lake and hang it on the wall like a painting.
To have mounted largemouth bass, you need to consider the cost entailed. You also need to clean the mounted fish and keep it in a good condition at all times.