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Lake trout advice

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by nokes, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. nokes

    nokes New Member

    Just took in a Canadian lake trout. Has one of those huge heads and big eyes, but its total length is only 32" and only weighs 11 pounds. Its head is 7 1/2 x 5. Eyes are 18mm. I figure the 4 options I have are as follows. Please let me know your advice.

    1. Full skin mount with real head and fins - think I already know the answer to that one

    2. Skin mount with fake head and fins - Large head doesn't match body form sizes, would that present a problem?

    3. Cast it - only done a couple of those and nothing this big

    4. Try and find a reproduction - odd size, weight, and large head would make it difficult to match.

    What would you do??
  2. M.T.

    M.T. Active Member

    I wuld skin mount it, using the original head. Now, there's probably not another guy on here that would agree with me, but what the hell, they aren't me. I just finished one that same size and it turned out really nice. Make sure you degrease it for quite some time. There are other ticks to, but that will come with time and experience.

  3. Paul C

    Paul C New Member

    Cast the head! Carve a body to fit the skin and the head will fit perfectly. Personally I would buy a set of repro fins as well---lake trout fins shrink horribly.
  4. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Paul C nailed it. Cast original head and fins or order fins for it. M.T. has his methods, but I know for sure I won't get any grease bleed out of the head and he is betting he won't and that is his choice. I feel to clean the head good enough you are going to be rebuilding most of it anyway. Degrease the skin well and if you do as Paul and I suggest you should be fine.
  5. Rick Krane

    Rick Krane Fish Taxidermist/ Judge/ Sculptor/ Instructor

    Nokes you are well on your way as you have asked the questions that will be a great help for many! I teach Fish Taxidermy for a living and I have done so for a good long time and it is my advice if I were to have you in my shop with me that you use a casted head that you mold from your fish as well as cast fins. The reality is that you can for sure work with the real stuff however it is with argument that there is inherent difficulties for the long run with the real head and fins. Your answers are coming from guys who have been at this a long time and all of what they say is valid and useable information but skill levels and confidence are what will make you successful in your project.

    If this is for a client (sounds like it is) then I would take a ready or available fish of your own and practice before working on the clients. Because of my age and the skills I have acquired over the years I can take a real head and fins and make it look good for some time to come however I wouldn't today as I have through experience found this to not be the best way for me for what that is worth. I have a photo of a clients Laker I completed using a custom carved body and molded and cast head and fins and this is acceptable for my clients as I can work in a profitable manner and method while achieving a good look from my client ( I hope) LOL This Laker is approximately 32 Inches. The question I have for you is to take a look at your eye size one more time . Depending on the eyes you use for instance a standard glass eye you want to consider that your measuring the iris or the colorful part of the eye not the orbital opening. When the fish is alive the false nicitating membrane is still present over the orbital opening and this will make the opening smaller when the fish head has dehydrated some the opening will be bigger thus you always want to consider the eye as a whole not just a hole in the head if you follow me. The fish photo here is a 32 inch fish with a 14 MM still life custom painted eye not any bigger.

    I sure hope this helps as you have brought us some great questions all can benefit from!

    My BEst

    Rick Krane

  6. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Just my two cents, but IMO #4 isn't even an option UNLESS you speak to your customer first. Dropping off a fish unless specified ahead of time, a customer is expecting his/her "real" fish back.

    I think Rick nailed it - you need to approach this within your comfort zone. I treat most coldwater species the same - they get an artificial head whether it's purchased from Caribou or elsewhere or custom cast. I rarely cast the fins and tail unless the fish is really large. An 11 pound Canadian Laker doesn't fall into that realm FOR ME. And, I carve my own bodies. SO, I have some latitude there to adjust the body somewhat to accomodate a not so perfectly matched (purchased) head if available and close enough in size. Or I'll cast the head if I have to.

    I'm not sure what the eye size has to do at all in your decision???

    My two cents for what it's worth...
  7. nokes

    nokes New Member

    Customer didnt care if it was a repo or skin mount, just wants it to match that size. I think Rick was correct on the eye size, 18mm was the orbital opening size. Think I will be purchasing the head and carving the body. Are the Dennis Arp heads good?
  8. The Arp heads are ok but Caribou's are much better and easier to modify
  9. bnoody

    bnoody Member

    That is one smoke'n lake trout Rick, you sure know how to set the bar high! Any chance we are going to see that as the subject in a future video?

    Nokes, you received a lot of good advice here. Sounds like you have a unique specimen and would be worth the time to mold the head and fins yourself for this one. I'm with Rick on molding the head and fins. Even small trout and char have very thick fleshy fins. It is far less expensive to use the real fin, but unless your very skilled in rebuilding the shrinkage they will not do the fish justice in my opinion. A cast fin also gives you better control with regard to articulating the fin. For this reason alone I cast all of my fins. When I dry a real fin I still end up with unwanted surprises and it is a challenge to get all the grease out of lake trout fins, but not impossible.

    Good luck with the laker
  10. den007

    den007 Active Member

    Rick, that laker is driving me nuts! Did you just nail the live fish to a black background? Wow! Awesome. I have to know......on the vermiculation and spotting, it looks like dark over light. Was the fish lightened before the dark lines were put on? It just looks like a totally different technique than what I could achieve with an airbrush.
  11. If I had to guess he did it the same way he does the brook trout In his DVD.
  12. Brian W

    Brian W Well-Known Member

    Nokes.....you know which way I'd go as I offered my opinion on the other fish you did. Feel honored that some of very best taxidermists have answered your question. Take that advice to the bank.......

    Rick, that Laker "flows" so well..... ;D.....beautiful job on it!
  13. Rick Krane

    Rick Krane Fish Taxidermist/ Judge/ Sculptor/ Instructor

    Nokes I would like to see how your project progresses with the information folks share so willingly. That is the cool thing about taxidermists... I can't think of any other profession where folks just share, I can assure you that this was not always the way and not that long ago either. Alway be carful with information but as we have talked about here work with in your comfort zone that once your comfortable push through it like a wrecking ball! If you stay comfortable then you'll never find that new level of skill sets and the new confidence that comes with it! I don't directly post very much ( wish IO could make the time too however) but that being said I just remind folks it is YOU and I who come up with questions that stimulate conversation and some times it is truly helpful! I'm glad we can share and play nice for the most part LOL! Remember we all start some where and at some point you just don't know what you need to know. I have never seen a perfect fish nor will I ever live long enough to do so but I can be so inspired by Denny work, Brian W's and I'm even motivated to see a dream come through and a life goal by my friend Brian Noody who took skill sets and the wrecking ball and a long time of hard work and commitment and Won a BEst of Show at the Worlds! It all comes down to being brave enough to ask the questions that will take you where you want to go so Go for it! Well Off to Film a Laker ( Kidding ... Maybe) LOL!

    Have a great Summer and be safe! Nokes here is a eye shot note the iris part of the eye in relationship to the orbital opening. I think your on the right track for your project and with the great a dive and thoughts I think you have helped many folks out! Her is another view of the laker before it was put on the Wall base we make. ( Denny you can call nay time and we can talk about chalk, charcoal, reverse painting and carrying your eyes when your ready my friend)

    My Best

    Rick Krane


  14. nokes

    nokes New Member

    Rick, Thanks so much for all you do. I will post a follow up when I am finished with my Laker. I did post a follow up to the first ever skin mount I did in the "King Salmon throat latch attachment" post. Brian W. the only thing that scares me in using the real head on this laker is the talk of Lakers be the greasiest of all fish, so that is why I am considering an alternative method, also good to learn a new way. Methods and opinions on degreasing are so wide spread that without the experience, it would just be a guess. Thank for you and everyone else for all your advice. This site has helped so much in my evolution, I don't know what I would do without it.
  15. Nokes, you weren't "advised" to use the real laker head were you? Get a new adviser. And here's another plug for A.A. dvds, if you don't own a couple already.
  16. Brian W

    Brian W Well-Known Member

    Just to be clear on this Nokes....on your other post, I was a STRONG advocate on using a repro head. That opinion from me hasn't waivered on your most recent fish either. Good luck to you..........
  17. nokes

    nokes New Member

    Brian I know you were, i was just interested to see if it could be done. I am sure as an amatuer a repro head would have been a better option but using a real also gave me a good lesson on anatomy. Having a hard time with the head positioning, always end up short in the throat latch area, I think I am not fitting the skull correctly on the manikin. I have also noticed that the MT manikins that I have purchased have recessed areas for the paired fins and the cleithruum as if the bones were left on and allowed to be recessed into the body. Does anyone leave the bones on oin those areas? Nobody suggested I do it, just wanted opinions on those that had. I do have some taxi dvds. One from WASCO on mounting a walleye, not very good, very incomplete on some of the steps. Almost feels as if the cut it to edit time. Skull cleaning, manikin fitting and many other things are not covered. Can anyone suggest some good titles that are complete enough for an amatuer. Heck one that I found on You Tube was better than the one I bought. I also have some of Rick's painting dvds and as we know they are awesome. Like I said on my laker I will be using the real skin and a repro head and fins.
  18. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Are you attempting to attach the artificial head AFTER you've mounted the skin? FYI, always test-fit the head on the mannikin BEFORE mounting the skin. It's easy to make adjustments to the mannikin then...
  19. nokes

    nokes New Member

    Everything will be fitted before mounting anything