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mounting a Gar

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by drwalleye, Jun 26, 2018.

  1. drwalleye

    drwalleye Active Member

    I had a guy bring me 2 gar in last night. one is about as big around as a golf ball and maybe mid 20" the other one is in the mid 30" range and probably a bit thicker than the first one. does anyone have any advice on the form? should I carve it or is this something I can do some kind of a fill method since they seem to hold there shape fairly well. also any thoughts on what kind of eyes to get. Thanks
  2. I carve all mine, the 7'+ ones can be a task.....but those small ones are rather straight forward. I paint my own eyes, no one has them that I'm aware of. Unique pupil. Good luck.

  3. Ron Kelly

    Ron Kelly Active Member

    I have used sawdust forever and empty after dried. Skin is so hard, it holds it's shape. I know guys that have mounted them with newspaper and the skin held the shape and they looked good. I know it sounds off the wall and old fashioned, but it still works for me. Waste of good foam to me when it is this easy.
    George and drwalleye like this.
  4. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    The next one I do, and I hope it’s a looong time, I plan to remove the head and then clean the body through that opened without make my an incision in the body.
  5. drwalleye

    drwalleye Active Member

    that seems like it would be very hard to do and get it clean and snip fins
    George likes this.
  6. Large ones!
    I cut the head off, cut the body skin down one side, as normal in any fish. Pressure wash it clean. Soak it in Da. Sew back up the seam good and tight!!!!! Clean the head by removing the entire top of the mouth, amost all of the bottom including tounge. ( all of this will have to be rebuilt) Soak it for several days. Screw a 1x2 about a foot long to the inside top of the head. With the extended portion sticking out towards the body. Aline head to its correct position and run a screw through the top of the back into the 1x2 to hold head in place. Hanging the fish in the air head up. I use my hoist and gator hooks. Just put the hooks in the eye sockets. Spray water along the sewing seam to make sure its wet. Have help with this next part!!! Have plastic bags news paper handy.
    Mix foam .you want to try to do it in one pour if at all possible. Estimating the right amount of foam is the hardest part of this. ( several pours dont work because it causes lumping, to much you got a mess to clean up.) The skin on large gars is stiff as hell. It will hold its own shape as the foam rises. Pour the foam into the mouth opening into the fish. ( at the tail cut is the worst of the foam leakages. Clay packed on there helps.) As the foam rises cuver the fish into desired curve. This is where the extra hands help. One person holding it still, while you shape. When the foam is just about at the mouth opening stuff the paper into it , to block the foam from coming further. Then place the bag in front of the paper so you can keep your hand inside it to help control escaping foam. The foam that leakes out on the seam will come off , thats why we wet it. I have done lots this way works great.
    If you have to foam in several pours and it turns out lumpy don’t worry. Just cut the seam open, take the foam out in one peice and rasp into shape.
    After the fish is completely dry and ready to finish, cut a slot out on the back side something like 2inches wide by 6 inches long several inches deep. Heat a thread rod bend it in half to fit the length of the slot. Bondo or foam it in place. Note: read this twice! The teeth will cut your a$$ up its gonna happen in the cleaning if the head, the foaming, finish work in mouth. And when you aren’t looking it will attack and cut you some more!!! 2AC1AF8D-3755-4A3D-864D-95AC0C6B0AFF.jpeg
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
    Dave Byrd, Taxi-lover and big dan like this.
  7. david roemer

    david roemer New Member

    Nice gator gar, buckfever.

    Average sized longnose gar are relatively easy to mount, skinning them is the most difficult aspect due to the rigid scales. I mounted a few back in the 80's lining the skin with mache and packing with sawdust, sewing up the incision while packing from the tail. In a few days, after the skin, mache and pose are set, the sawdust can be removed and the skin allowed to dry. Then filled through the back incision with foam. The excess foams out the back and can be cut off easily. Longnose Gar Roemer.JPG Attached is an image I obtained with my phone this morning of a fat longnose gar about 40". Still looks like it did 30 years ago with no bleeding.
  8. David i have done one or two 12 plus gators basically the same way. Packed them with saw dust. After it was dry got it out and foamed back in. Big difference in weight! Lol
    I found with the big gator doing it that way, it was best to drill holes in a few of the bach bone shoots put a hook in them and tie to the ceiling to help support the weight while it dried.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
  9. drwalleye

    drwalleye Active Member

    very interesting thanks ive never used the foam yet I do have some but haven't played with it yet for a 2' or 3' gar how much would I mix up and what do you guys use for the eyes. and the other to just use sawdust and sew as I go and let dry? some new ways I haven't heard of thanks alot
  10. None of us can answer those two ?
    We cant make a guess on the foam, with out seeing the fish, and knowing other things to many factors.
    Foam rises and expands different at different temperatures. How old the foam is can be a factor. Density of foam. Even then it can throw you a learning curve.
    As said before they dont sell eyes for them. You have to look at the eyes in the fish eyes in photos, compare those to eyes in suppliers books. YOU Have to decide what YOU think is the closest match. I may tell you to use stripper eyes, the next guy thinks i am blind and says no way use shark eyes. Next guy tells him bs use Muskie. You get my point! Use what YOU SEE.
    In the end anyways your costumer wouldn’t know if you used a gar eyes or a barbie doll eyes. As long as it has a eyes. And I said eyes put one on both sides!!!!!!!!!!
    Its time for you jump in and get your feet wet. You will figure things out as you go. if you cant figure it out as you go. Taxidermy might not be your thing!!!!!
    Ron B is giving crocet lessons. Ea is teaching how to pic up women, livebucks is dang if i know. Megan is teasing us all.
    Pick your poison.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
  11. drwalleye

    drwalleye Active Member

    Thanks again for all your help.dont worry taxidermy is for me lol but I never even knew there were gar anywhere near me much less be asked to mount one thus all the questions.maybe I'll practice the foam on a paper towel roll since that's very close to the girth of them.. by the way your mounts look super!
  12. david roemer

    david roemer New Member


    What a job it must be mounting one that large! I hung all my drying fish from the ceiling with wire through the eye sockets after removing the sawdust when the skin and mache was set.


    I mounted all my fish in those days like that, laying pieces of paper towel against the wet mache and then lining with part of a plastic bag before packing with damp sawdust. This helped to keep the mache in place and it was then very easy to remove the bag and sawdust after the skin and mache had set. I filled them all with 2 part foam after the skin had dried, usually at least 2 weeks. Pretty easy to restore the fish to the original proportions with this method, with practice. They could be mounted without filling with foam after dried and removing the sawdust, and some taxidermists did this. However, I filled all mine with foam to prevent the mache from coming loose and for durability in general. I believe I used 2lb foam which resulted in the mounts being very light, but durable. In testing this method with a trial fish, a friend who weighed over 250 lbs was able to stand on a mounted bass, before painted, and rock back and forth with no damage to the mount. You'll have to experiment with the amount of foam, it's been many years since I've mounted a fish. I would practice on something other than a customer's fish, it probably won't take as much foam as you would think. Also, I placed pieces of paper towel against any opening I could see in the mache inside the fish when preparing to pour foam. This would help prevent foam from running out somewhere on the mount. I used masking tape to tape part of the back seam before pouring, particularly the tail section. This would limit the area that that the foam would exit and make it easier to manage. Staple your block of wood to the inside of the back skin through the seam before pouring the foam. I cut the excess foam from the back and sanded, then covered with fin cream. A quick but very good method for finishing the seam on a one sided mount. For a small fish, it may be easier to use a can of foam to fill. This is typically more dense than the 2 part I used, and you would have to be careful that the pressure didn't break or distort the mount. I wouldn't leave sawdust in a fish, may possibly attract insects. I painted my eyes, which were tohican.
  13. I bet you just hurt old Ron b. Feelings , he is real sensitive about his crochet stuff.
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Life Sucks.....Then comes the death roll!!!!

  15. ToddKo

    ToddKo New Member

    I know this is an old post but if anyone is still watching it I have a friend that wants a gar mounted. Any updated tips for the process? Anything special you’re doing for the head to remove any oils different then other fish?
  16. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Clean the inside of the head thoroughly, when you finish, clean it again. Then, soak in denatured alcohol for a couple of weeks. Remove, position as you desire, then allow to dry.
    ToddKo likes this.