More Adventures in Cheap DIY Fish Taxidermy

Last year I posted a blog and wrote a little piece in the magazine on mounting the tails from big fish, thus providing a trophy and still allowing you to eat the catch. Well, being the adamant tinkerer that I am, always looking for new projects, I came up with one that'll let you show off the other end of your catch and eat it, too. If you've got $25, a bit of artistic ability, and time, check this out...

This all started last spring when I hooked a fat 20-inch brook trout in a local put-and-take stream right around opening day of the season. I don't keep too many trout, but this one looked like a good smoker candidate. So I broke out the chain stringer and off I went...directly to the crafts store where I found the Precious Impressions Memory Hands Keepsake Kit. It lets kids mold their hands for making grandma's birthday gift or whatever. But both the molding gel and casting cement are 100% non-toxic. I bought the kit and cheap pack of white air-dry clay and went home.

Next, I snipped off the pectoral fins and pressed them between cardboard to dry. Luckily, the instructions for the hand mold are written for a 6-year-old IQ, so I had no trouble figuring it out. Dunk the fish in the molding mix as far as it'll go, fill the mold with casting cement and voila, a fish head. All the molding gel peeled away cleanly or washed out with water, making the trout smoker-ready. It had absolutely no funny aftertaste.

After the fins dried (about a week), I used the air-dry clay to make bases and stuck them back on the body. If you need to accentuate the eyes, gills, or mouth, a little sandpaper does the trick. As you can see I haven't painted my trophy stocker yet, but I figure it'll be a fun winter project.