1. Welcome to Taxidermy.net, Guest!
    We have put together a brief tutorial to help you with the site, click here to access it.

Resurrection - 10 year old freezer burn grayling

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by gfields, Apr 29, 2016.

  1. gfields

    gfields New Member

    I went up to Alaska in 2005, and caught several Arctic Grayling. I mailed them back home to taxidermy.

    I only had a chance to taxidermy one Grayling. It came out pretty darn good for my first shot at fish taxidermy. Unfortunatly, I only had time to taxidermy that one fish, so the other two have been sitting in my freezer ever since.

    Just last night I watched a video that described how to properly freeze a fish. They said that you need to wrap it in a wet towel, which I didn't do. I just wrapped it in syran wrap and dry paper towels. So I checked out the two frozen fish tonight. One looked pretty darn freezer burnt. It had whitish/yellowish coloration over the scales. Miraculously the other one didn't look too bad. I think I had frozen it wet, so it had some moisture over its skin and it didn't have the whitish/yellow coloration. I repackaged that one in a damp cloth and stuck it back in the freezer.

    So I'm wondering, 1, if the one that has bad freezer burn could still be resurrected for taxidermy. I was thinking about maybe just leaving it in a bowl of water, and seeing if I can scrap off the yellow/white layer. I think the yellow/white layer is frozen slime on the skin. Grayling have scales, and not skin like trout, so maybe that would work in my favor.

    2, I'm hoping that I can taxidermy the other one that fared a bit better. I'm also hoping that wrapping the fish in a wet towel was a good idea.

    Maybe some of you seasoned taxidermists can provide some tips or advice about taxidermying freezer burned fish. Is there a method that worked to bring them back from the dark side? :)

  2. den007

    den007 Active Member

    Not sure anyone can help if it is too far gone. Worst I ever had felt very, very light and floated like a cork. It was impossible to rehydrate. I am not saying yours is too far gone….soak in in a bit of borax water with a bit of bacteriacide in it. If you can then skin it…….and the skin has some flex to it…….it cannot hurt to try.

    PS……just a pet peeve of mine……..taxidermy should not be used as a verb. You can mount a fish, skin a fish, display a fish………you don't "taxidermy" a fish. No offense.

  3. I soak in water with borax and a tip from Jimmy add some Tide and soak in the fridge for day or two. This works great to plump up an older fish before molding or skinning.
  4. Jimmy Lawrence

    Jimmy Lawrence Well-Known Member

    Tide in a cooler with ice, or in the fridge for a couple days is a miracle worker. For sure.

    Good luck, and post them up when you get them done. Grayling are a fascinating fish.
  5. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I just rehydrated a couple of bass that were so dried out they might as well have been balsa wood. When I get fish like this I soak them in ice water for a couple of days first to keep the bacteria down. I keep turning them to expose each side. I make my incision and put them back in the water to allow the water to penetrate farther in.

    I keep skinning, putting them back into the ice water until they are hydrated enough to completely skin and scrape. More time consuming but so far I've been able to rehydrate just about everything.
  6. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    You can get away from having to rehydrate fish if you care for them the way I do it. Years ago I used the wet towel and Borax method but the towel left marks on the skin. Now I pre-freeze the fish then put it on a thin plywood plank of the right size to protect the fins and put it in a Freeze-a-Meal pouch and vacuum it and seal it. Works great for me. Good luck. JL
  7. gfields

    gfields New Member

    Thanks all!

    Yes, I think that was the original reason I didn't use the wet towel method for the fish. I thought that the frozen towel and ice crystals might make and indentation on the fish skin.

    Last night, I took them out, and ran some water over them. Then wrapped them in tshirt material, and some syran wrap and stuck them back in the freezer.

    The one that had some good freezer burn seemed to do good when I ran some cold water over it. I could still feel the fish slime on the skin, so that was a good thing. I assume the fish slime protects the fish a bit against the freezer burn. I also noticed that the very tip of the long flowing dorsal fin was moving a little bit under the water. So that's good.

    I have all my taxidermy supplies from 10 years ago still. I'm hoping the chemicals are still good. I don't want to buy more being that I spent a fortune on them originally. But I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. They've been in my basement which is usually a bit cooler than the rest of the house, so that might have helped to preseve them a bit.

    I'll have to bust out my old taxidermy books and try to remember how to do this again. We'll see how it goes!
  8. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I doesn't see how the fish will rehydrate being frozen. Makes no sense to me. But perhaps I misunderstood.

    The only chemicals I use for my fish is 20 Mule Team Borax.

    Many people think the white sheen on a frozen fish is freezer burn. Not so. It's the frozen slime layer.
  9. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    for me my best freezing method, cover in borax ( acts as a preservative and aids in getting the mucus off ) place in a garbage bag wrap in tight in that, then take a damp dowel and wrap that over the bag and then warp another garbage over that. It will last for ages this way.
  10. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I do the same but skip the borax.

    I had fish of my own in the freezer for 15 years and when I thawed it out it was just as good as when I put it in.
  11. gfields

    gfields New Member

    Do you think putting a wet towel directly on the fish's skin is a bad idea? I was hesitant about it because I thought the ice crystals and wrinkles in the towel would distort the fish skin.
  12. gfields

    gfields New Member

    Yes, I have a brown trout and a tiger trout that I figured were waaaay past gone. They're much worse off than the graylings. Maybe there's still hope for them too.

    I tried to upload a pic, but it keeps saying everything's too big.
  13. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    don't wrap a towel over a fresh fish for it will leave marks on it plus it will pull the moisture from the fish. It's best to seal the fish first as I spoke above then wrap in plastic.
  14. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    don't wrap a towel over a fresh fish for it will leave marks on it plus it will pull the moisture from the fish. It's best to seal the fish first as I spoke above then wrap in plastic.
  15. M.T.

    M.T. Active Member

    First off, great job doug! Secondly, there's a big difference in freezing a fish in a frost free freezer versus a standard chest freezer. I once mounted a trophy brook trout that had been in my chest freezer for 18 years. It was unwrapped. I threw that thing around for years before I started mounting it. I took it to the world competition in 2001 and it done quite well. I have also tried to mount fish that have been up above someone's fridge in their freezer for two years snd those ones are s bitch to skin. Ypu have to basically do what cecil suggested. The only products I use for fish skins is borax and dawn dish soap.
  16. hambone

    hambone Well-Known Member

    Perca, your right about big walleyes tasting good, as long as you get down to just white meat it's the same as a small one, nice mount on the walleye.
  17. < Just get the body out and then soak a heavy soapy solution, before cleaning the skin for mounting.

    Doug dont know if I would have eaten those fish but you are alive. I have seen bacteria continue to work int he guts of fish for years.
  18. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    When it comes to care instructions for potential customers, the best way is not always the best IMO. This is because in a pinch people may not have all the materials needed to wrap their fish the way some have proposed here. Personally, I think saran wrap over the entire fish, then a wet towel into a garbage bag is best for both taxi-ing or molding. Which brings up my next point - it sounds like the postee is performing traditional taxidermy? In which case, who gives a rats-behind if a towel leaves marks? I have only had one fish fatty enough (Lake Michigan Lake trout) where it was impacted with small marks on the mandible from the towel that was fixed in 30 seconds with some Apoxie Sculpt after molding the head. Other than that, the only other marks I have seen on fish was from Vacuum Sealing. And those were far worse than the towel. I like to K.I.S.S. because ideal methods rarely happen with customers. Most potential customers can find an old towel or t-shirt, garbage bag and tape. Start adding in borax and saran wrap or any other methods where it isn't simple and you're wasting your time AND actually creating confusion amongst your potential customers. Personally, I'm happy if a customer got their fish cold/frozen quickly and didn't let it flop around - I'll take that any day of the week!

    As far as this fish being salvageable? The fact of the matter is you won't know until you dive into it. The EASIEST crappie I ever did was badly freezer burned. The meat peeled away easily. Scales were embedded. I literally skinned it out and had it in my degreaser in a half an hour! On the flipside, the worst Crappie I ever had was also badly freezer burned. You NEVER KNOW for certain how the fish was handled before it made it into a freezer unles you caught it yourself. And I personally think that early phase impacts the fish more than being in a (chest) freezer with any of the proposed "best" methods of freezing. ANY of these methods work fine they are just preferential depending on ones needs (Frank molds a lot so it stands to reason he doesn't want a towel on there). JMO...