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Shrinking fish !

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by Bender, Nov 3, 2017.

  1. Im hoping you guys can shed some light on this little mystery .I received a frozen trout to mount , once thawed it measured 77 cms (30 1/4 ins). Ive got the mount prepped and ready for paint , it still measures 77 cm .I just received a pic for paint reference , it shows the same fish fresh out of the water on a brag mat ( measuring mat) and its length is 80 cms . Somehow the fish has lost 3 cm in length .Any ideas why ? do fish shrink when frozen ? The fish was frozen for at least 12 months before i received it .Ive checked my measuring tape and have been assured the brag mat is correct .Ive never noticed this with other fish .Any suggestions appreciated.
  2. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Totally normal for fish to shrink. The main culprit is the freezer cause it's pulling water out of the fish. Next to that is drying. When the fish dries it loses mass again water is leaving the head and fins and will shrink. One reason why I'm a fan of casting my heads and fins. If anything minor shrinkage.
    The best story I can tell you is I did a pike for a guy that was the second largest in the state. When he brought it to me it was major shrinkage, The weight of the fish changed by 8lbs . I also talked him into casting the head of the fish along with the fins. A year later he came backed totally impressed with the fish as it looked liked it was the day he caught it. So I did a dirty trick cause I saved the head of the fish and placed it into the freezer till that day came. When I told him this is what I use for reference he was like yes looks like this head but mine is way bigger than this one you gave me. I laughed and explained to him it was the same head, quick argument and then I said your fish had a broken jaw right? Yes he said. Turn the frozen head over and look. To his amazement the head was the same but shrunk so much by being in the freezer. I said this is why so many taxidermist here it's not my fish cause mine was bigger than what he gave me.
    Just relax and explain to him what shrinkage is all about.

  3. Thanks for your reply Frank . Interesting story about the pike , I also do casts of the heads, though I do use the natural fins and tail . I did wonder also if the trout had been in a fridge for a couple of days before being originally frozen then dehydration and shrinkage would have taken place then also .
  4. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    Another thing, he was probably waving it around by its gills prior to the bragging mat...adding some length. The stuffing in a bag and freezing it caused it to draw back into shape.
  5. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    One thing that surprises me is the people that don't know when you curve a fish you shorten it. That is if you measure a fish lying flat and then measure the mounted fish on the inside curve it's shorter. You can easily show this with a pice of wire that you measure straight and then bend it in a curve. Conversely the outside curve of the fish will measure longer than the inside curve of the fish. You can take both measurements, add them together and divide by two and get the actual measurement.

    Also a fish measured with a flexible tape (sewing tape measure) over the top of the fish will measure longer than on a board.

    Fortunately I've only had one or two people complain their fish came back smaller than it was ove the 33 years I've been doing taxidermy but they were both idiots.