A Crate of Fish Mounts and a Flood of Memories

It's a bit like a belated Christmas morning in the F&S offices today. Without giving away the details, I'm working on a little project that required securing six replica mounts of true trophy-sized specimens. The fine folks at King Sailfish Mounts were happy to help us out, and the crate, as you can see in the photo, has arrived. Funny thing is, even though none of these mounts represent specific fish that I or anyone in the office caught, I want them all. I just have a thing for mounts, though in the end I could never hang one of a fish I didn't catch. It was still fun to crack open that crate and marvel at the replicas, though, which reminded me of the first mount I ever had made, and what it was like seeing it for the first time.

I had begged for a fish mount--any fish mount--basically since I was old enough to talk. However, it wasn't until 2001 that I finally caught a fish I thought was genuinely worthy of hanging on the wall. It was a 21-inch brown trout from the South Branch of the Raritan River in New Jersey, and what made it extra special was that it was my first trout over 20 inches on the fly. It also happened to eat a fly I tied. So I convinced my Dad to pay for the job as an early birthday gift.

At the time, I knew nothing about replica mounts, and frantically searched for the best taxidermist as my trout lay on ice in the garage, carefully wrapped in moist paper towels. I found Dave Tuttle, an award winning taxidermist, about an hour from home. When I got there, he took one look at the fish and said, "don't you want to eat that thing?" Then he explained the benefits of a replica mount, took some pictures, assured me he'd make a carbon copy, and off I went with my fish. Skin, Dave said, was not the way to go anymore.

When I got the call 6 months later that my trout was ready, I couldn't drive to Dave's fast enough. When he brought the trout out of the back room, so perfectly matched and painted, I was instantly hooked on fish mounts.

Do you remember the excitement of seeing your first one? Was it all you could have hoped for?