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Preserving your trophy catfish

October 24, 2018 GMT

Having been a fisherman all my life, catching a big one was really a thrill. Bass, walleye, and other scale fish make beautiful mounted trophies that decorate my walls.

Preserving a catfish is not the same. The skin on a catfish dries and shrinks too quickly to make a good mount.

I always wanted to find a way to preserve the catfish heads. I asked a good friend who was a mortician if he would embalm a 45-pound catfish for me. He said it might be unethical but would try it if I kept it secret.

He completed the embalming process and it lasted for 40 years. However, it did not make a nice trophy to hang on a wall as the color turned quite dark and was not very appealing to look at. So, I hung it in the garage. But something has been eating at it enough that there is only the head and some backbone left.

My last resort was to try to preserve the fish myself. It turned out to be quite simple and worked well as the picture shows.

I’d take the fresh catfish head and cover all of it with a very heavy coating of salt, including the inside of the mouth. Then the head was placed in a large plastic container and completely covered with vinegar.

It’s important to allow this to remain soaking for 3 to 4 weeks, as it takes a long time for the solution to absorb throughout all the muscle.

The head can then be taken out of the brine and hung up to dry. The salt is what preserves the head. Even flies will not bother it once preserved.

It’s not necessarily the prettiest thing and your wife may not want it inside the house.

Wherever you keep it, it brings back the memories and thrill of making the big catch, and the bragging rights that go with it. Plus, it’s real proof that this one didn’t get away.