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I've been thinking about this a bit... does it have to be a huge fish to have the art on the wall? Or does it just cost more...?

We typically only mount the most impressive specimens. But is that really how we should look at it?

I've always wanted a nice stringer of 14"+ perch. But something tells me a stringer of 12-13's would look gorgeous as well.
There used to be a restaurant in the Soo named The Robins Nest and they had a stringer of 12" to 13" perch on a mount right by the cashier. Always thought that it really looked cool. My only mounted fish was a 15 1/2" perch caught Saginaw Bay in 76 and 32 1/2" walleye caught on Saginaw River in 2004.
 

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There used to be a restaurant in the Soo named The Robins Nest and they had a stringer of 12" to 13" perch on a mount right by the cashier. Always thought that it really looked cool. My only mounted fish was a 15 1/2" perch caught Saginaw Bay in 76 and 32 1/2" walleye caught on Saginaw River in 2004.
Heck yeah! I just think they look awesome and thinking about it, mounts don't always have to be the biggest of the big, ya know?
 

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Heck yeah! I just think they look awesome and thinking about it, mounts don't always have to be the biggest of the big, ya know?
Presentation makes a big difference. The picture above of that young lad with Papa Liver was a 12.6 pounds and it looks bigger than my 12.3 pound. Of course maybe it is the way he is holding it.
 

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Presentation makes a big difference. The picture above of that young lad with Papa Liver was a 12.6 pounds and it looks bigger than my 12.3 pound. Of course maybe it is the way he is holding it.
He’s only 160# with his boots on lol. I can never get a pic of any fish that looks big with me holding it. I’m Big Boned lol.
 

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I've been thinking about this a bit... does it have to be a huge fish to have the art on the wall? Or does it just cost more...?

We typically only mount the most impressive specimens. But is that really how we should look at it?

I've always wanted a nice stringer of 14"+ perch. But something tells me a stringer of 12-13's would look gorgeous as well.
I'll let you know when I get my 8 crappie back (if ever) ranging from 14+"-18 5/8" haha.
 

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How long has it been?
Well, I dropped off the first 2 I guess from the '20-21 season in Februaryish of '21 and then was lucky enough to catch and drop off the 6 from "that" outing last season around the same time of year this year and the first 2 from the prior year weren't even started. He told me he preferred doing fish in the summer (his studio is in his heated garage) because of painting pros/cons and had too many deer to do at that time which was near peak Covid time so it was difficult to get supplies/materials for his deer so he was going to imagine the same for fish. When I dropped off the 6 this year he told me he purposely took in fewer deer to not only catch up but be able to get to other projects which I was assuming would be mine. I guess I learned what assuming does, it makes an ass out of me and me, lol. I'm fine I guess if the quality that he guarantees is there when all said and done. I just look at it as every day that passes by is one day closer to getting them back. I also asked if I could come in at different phases to check it out and he said yes. So unless he forgot that then he hasn't even started yet, lol. I would also like to think that if he bit off more than he could chew that he'd get back to me, refund my first couple deposits and move on. Like the fish, it was a HUGE job admittedly. It was his idea to do it the way he was going to do it and if it turns out it will be spectacular. I was thinking the majority of them on one piece of wood but he said it would suck ass trying to hang it or ever move it and I agreed so what he said he'd do was to put a couple each on their own piece of wood and then make the wood look like it was more or less one mass of wood to where they could be mounted closely together as one school or could be separated throughout a room or multiple rooms so I thought that was a great idea. If I remember correctly, there is the one at 18 5/8", one over 17", a couple at or over 16", a couple at 15"+ and a couple over 14". He was going to do a range of poses with a couple looking neutral and majority with mouths ajar with aggressive looking poses (flared fins and such) then with some curved tails/heads and some not and about 1/2 looking right and the others left. The few real bigguns were too amazing to do the stringer like mount some have referred to as it wouldn't give the fish justice for their size but I am familiar with those types of mounts and they are cool as hell but I think more appropriate for nice quality fish which when in combination enhance one another, like a half dozen 13-14" perch or several 12-14" crappie. When you get fish bigger than that I think they deserve to be shown in full on their own. But, mine should end up looking like a swimming school which to me will be amazing. I'll definitely post the photos if/when I ever get the finished product. He told me several times that if I was in a rush, look elsewhere, if I was going to bother him all the time with the "are they done yet" question to go elsewhere. Well, I haven't bothered him once but I'm not going to wait much longer before I place a courtesy call if you know what I mean. I found it strange that he didn't ask for a deposit when I dropped off the 6 as I paid 50% up front with the first couple and knew that he'll have way more than that into supplies and such before he's done. From what he showed me he does good work so I'm optimistic. There is no way he'll beat my smallmouth mount as it is pure perfection but if he's close I'll take it. I just don't want some fake ass looking mounts like I've seen on here posted by others.
 

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Man it’s a nail biter with a few fish of a lifetime Fack! I’m with you I soooooo hate to bother anyone like I dread to tell a server my order is wrong. Like I don’t want to be that guy. Especially when they have control of what happens to your food. But I’d hit dude up after the new year and just ask if he has even started. If not I’d bite the bullet and let him keep my deposit and take em elsewhere. Longer they’re frozen the more scales you’ll probably lose. And are they getting beat up on the bottom of the freezer. Sucks but hope it pans out my man. I’m rooting for a sick ass mount.
 

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Man it’s a nail biter with a few fish of a lifetime Fack! I’m with you I soooooo hate to bother anyone like I dread to tell a server my order is wrong. Like I don’t want to be that guy. Especially when they have control of what happens to your food. But I’d hit dude up after the new year and just ask if he has even started. If not I’d bite the bullet and let him keep my deposit and take em elsewhere. Longer they’re frozen the more scales you’ll probably lose. And are they getting beat up on the bottom of the freezer. Sucks but hope it pans out my man. I’m rooting for a sick ass mount.
Ya, that's sort of my thinking. I've had the $ put away for some time and would willingly give him more with some production because I understand the costs involved throughout the process. He's got my #, address, email, etc. so I'm thinking it should be him though to call and give me a status report, but that's me, and that's what I'd consider good business practice. He's the type that once you get him talking about the art he doesn't stop so I'd say his passion is there but I'm not so sure about the urge to get things in and out the door in a reasonable amount of time. But, he's retired too and does it in his free time so apparently he doesn't have much free time, lol. He's an interesting character and owns a couple wolves and has had 3-4 the past decade+. He has a TV hooked up near his bench to where he takes your pictures of the fish and zooms in to paint them scale by scale. He said he'll touch each fish thousands and thousands of times with different layers of paint and several layers of clear during and after the process. He said they'll look alive when he's done. I told him he'll get all sorts of free advertising when he's done if I like the finished product and he said nothing leaves his shop until he, himself is satisfied and then went on to show me some pictures of other work he's done. I wanted skin mounts but he talked me into doing replicas for multiple reasons. He said they've come a long way over the years and when done right are just as good as skin on (I still don't believe that as I think it takes a top notch taxi to achieve that) but he said if they get damaged they can be fixed much easier, they won't fade, there is no skin to shrink or separate over the years, and they are easier to clean, etc.
 

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Ya, that's sort of my thinking. I've had the $ put away for some time and would willingly give him more with some production because I understand the costs involved throughout the process. He's got my #, address, email, etc. so I'm thinking it should be him though to call and give me a status report, but that's me, and that's what I'd consider good business practice. He's the type that once you get him talking about the art he doesn't stop so I'd say his passion is there but I'm not so sure about the urge to get things in and out the door in a reasonable amount of time. But, he's retired too and does it in his free time so apparently he doesn't have much free time, lol. He's an interesting character and owns a couple wolves and has had 3-4 the past decade+. He has a TV hooked up near his bench to where he takes your pictures of the fish and zooms in to paint them scale by scale. He said he'll touch each fish thousands and thousands of times with different layers of paint and several layers of clear during and after the process. He said they'll look alive when he's done. I told him he'll get all sorts of free advertising when he's done if I like the finished product and he said nothing leaves his shop until he, himself is satisfied and then went on to show me some pictures of other work he's done. I wanted skin mounts but he talked me into doing replicas for multiple reasons. He said they've come a long way over the years and when done right are just as good as skin on (I still don't believe that as I think it takes a top notch taxi to achieve that) but he said if they get damaged they can be fixed much easier, they won't fade, there is no skin to shrink or separate over the years, and they are easier to clean, etc.
So he does a great job, when he does the job.

I'd be talking to him for an update. Maybe he has something going on and hasn't had time.
 

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Well, I dropped off the first 2 I guess from the '20-21 season in Februaryish of '21 and then was lucky enough to catch and drop off the 6 from "that" outing last season around the same time of year this year and the first 2 from the prior year weren't even started. He told me he preferred doing fish in the summer (his studio is in his heated garage) because of painting pros/cons and had too many deer to do at that time which was near peak Covid time so it was difficult to get supplies/materials for his deer so he was going to imagine the same for fish. When I dropped off the 6 this year he told me he purposely took in fewer deer to not only catch up but be able to get to other projects which I was assuming would be mine. I guess I learned what assuming does, it makes an ass out of me and me, lol. I'm fine I guess if the quality that he guarantees is there when all said and done. I just look at it as every day that passes by is one day closer to getting them back. I also asked if I could come in at different phases to check it out and he said yes. So unless he forgot that then he hasn't even started yet, lol. I would also like to think that if he bit off more than he could chew that he'd get back to me, refund my first couple deposits and move on. Like the fish, it was a HUGE job admittedly. It was his idea to do it the way he was going to do it and if it turns out it will be spectacular. I was thinking the majority of them on one piece of wood but he said it would suck ass trying to hang it or ever move it and I agreed so what he said he'd do was to put a couple each on their own piece of wood and then make the wood look like it was more or less one mass of wood to where they could be mounted closely together as one school or could be separated throughout a room or multiple rooms so I thought that was a great idea. If I remember correctly, there is the one at 18 5/8", one over 17", a couple at or over 16", a couple at 15"+ and a couple over 14". He was going to do a range of poses with a couple looking neutral and majority with mouths ajar with aggressive looking poses (flared fins and such) then with some curved tails/heads and some not and about 1/2 looking right and the others left. The few real bigguns were too amazing to do the stringer like mount some have referred to as it wouldn't give the fish justice for their size but I am familiar with those types of mounts and they are cool as hell but I think more appropriate for nice quality fish which when in combination enhance one another, like a half dozen 13-14" perch or several 12-14" crappie. When you get fish bigger than that I think they deserve to be shown in full on their own. But, mine should end up looking like a swimming school which to me will be amazing. I'll definitely post the photos if/when I ever get the finished product. He told me several times that if I was in a rush, look elsewhere, if I was going to bother him all the time with the "are they done yet" question to go elsewhere. Well, I haven't bothered him once but I'm not going to wait much longer before I place a courtesy call if you know what I mean. I found it strange that he didn't ask for a deposit when I dropped off the 6 as I paid 50% up front with the first couple and knew that he'll have way more than that into supplies and such before he's done. From what he showed me he does good work so I'm optimistic. There is no way he'll beat my smallmouth mount as it is pure perfection but if he's close I'll take it. I just don't want some fake ass looking mounts like I've seen on here posted by others.
Cleaned that lake out of the big breeder Crappies....
 

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So he does a great job, when he does the job.

I'd be talking to him for an update. Maybe he has something going on and hasn't had time.
Ya, I'm going to go with Papa's timeline. I'll give it til after the new year and this ice season is in full swing and then maybe give him a call and ask him if he's ready for a monster pike, a couple gills, and a mega perch and then ask him how the other 8 are coming along, lol.

And ya, seems to do nice work, and does it all. He was in the middle of doing a full bear mount, did a full yote for a buddy, has done birds, full shoulder and headmounts and other styles for deer, and some other odds and ends of different critters. He's done a large variety of fish too from small brookies, to big kings and steel, pike and some bass but I think my crappie are his first of that species. He probably does less fish than anything else. He had just gotten over a bout with cancer and it took my buddy 2 years to get his yote because of that so I hope he didn't have a relapse or anything. That was about 4 years ago.
 
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Cleaned that lake out of the big breeder Crappies....
Nope, the ones I typically put back are going to be prime (typical) mounters 14-16" over the next several seasons and they will all have their chance to reach that 17"+ range (that is big for MI) since I won't have any wall space left, lol. I've caught more and bigger average fish every year since I've been fishing it. Ask anyone that truly knows fish biology, the best breeders are those in their mid range of ages that they can even reproduce. A crappie pushing 19" isn't even possible in the vast majority of any waters anywhere, especially northern bodies, and it was near it's absolute maximum size and could have died of natural causes at any time so I absolutely have no issue keeping it. Just like deer, humans, and anything really, age kills reproduction and most species decline with age. Take a big 12-14 point 4-5 year old buck, most likely he will only be a fraction of what he presently is come the next season. So are you going to let it pass, I'm not. His genetics are already out there. A fish that could reach a significant size is passing on those very genes with every breeding cycle. His or her DNA don't change to produce only big fish only when they are that big. However, kudos to anyone willing to toss a crappie that big back. I've tossed back 100's that would be truly nice fish in the majority of any waters that would have never swam again had they been caught by most others. And besides, fish that big have already had several productive breeding cycles and have spread their genetics multiple times over as already stated. To me, it's as much environment as it is genetics to grow a fish to that size. I'm more worried about keeping the balance and environment the same than I am worrying about taking out 1/2 dozen trophy fish. There is also a case where there can be too many big fish around as well. A large crappie is indeed a predator willing and able to eat the young of every other species around and if you saw the mouths on these things you'd agree. We've caught 14-16" crappie on tip-ups with 6" shiners completely down their throat. I've actually been catching more pike which is what actually scares me. It used to be a few pike a season and they were always keepers. So, fewer and bigger predators has been great keeping everything in balance. Last couple years I've caught mostly undersized pike in the 22-24" range which tells me they are reproducing and surviving better than I want them to and I think it does not bode well for the overall fish population. I think there is some cross breeding going on too as a 50" musky was caught on a tip-up and many of the pike I've caught lately had that "look" to them but the bars were more broken so I'm still thinking they were pike (no other close inspection was given at the time such as pores on the underside of the jaw, etc.) but a musky had never been caught to my knowledge so it is only a matter of time. But, these pike were a totally different color than others we've caught prior that were only a year or two older than these and a few inches longer but I also know that younger pike can exhibit a wide range of patterns and color until they reach maturity. Water color also plays a factor but these were all caught from the same body of water so I think that is a much lesser reason for the difference in look.
 

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Nope, the ones I typically put back are going to be prime (typical) mounters 14-16" over the next several seasons and they will all have their chance to reach that 17"+ range (that is big for MI) since I won't have any wall space left, lol. I've caught more and bigger average fish every year since I've been fishing it. Ask anyone that truly knows fish biology, the best breeders are those in their mid range of ages that they can even reproduce. A crappie pushing 19" isn't even possible in the vast majority of any waters anywhere, especially northern bodies, and it was near it's absolute maximum size and could have died of natural causes at any time so I absolutely have no issue keeping it. Just like deer, humans, and anything really, age kills reproduction and most species decline with age. Take a big 12-14 point 4-5 year old buck, most likely he will only be a fraction of what he presently is come the next season. So are you going to let it pass, I'm not. His genetics are already out there. A fish that could reach a significant size is passing on those very genes with every breeding cycle. His or her DNA don't change to produce only big fish only when they are that big. However, kudos to anyone willing to toss a crappie that big back. I've tossed back 100's that would be truly nice fish in the majority of any waters that would have never swam again had they been caught by most others. And besides, fish that big have already had several productive breeding cycles and have spread their genetics multiple times over as already stated. To me, it's as much environment as it is genetics to grow a fish to that size. I'm more worried about keeping the balance and environment the same than I am worrying about taking out 1/2 dozen trophy fish. There is also a case where there can be too many big fish around as well. A large crappie is indeed a predator willing and able to eat the young of every other species around and if you saw the mouths on these things you'd agree. We've caught 14-16" crappie on tip-ups with 6" shiners completely down their throat. I've actually been catching more pike which is what actually scares me. It used to be a few pike a season and they were always keepers. So, fewer and bigger predators has been great keeping everything in balance. Last couple years I've caught mostly undersized pike in the 22-24" range which tells me they are reproducing and surviving better than I want them to and I think it does not bode well for the overall fish population. I think there is some cross breeding going on too as a 50" musky was caught on a tip-up and many of the pike I've caught lately had that "look" to them but the bars were more broken so I'm still thinking they were pike (no other close inspection was given at the time such as pores on the underside of the jaw, etc.) but a musky had never been caught to my knowledge so it is only a matter of time. But, these pike were a totally different color than others we've caught prior that were only a year or two older than these and a few inches longer but I also know that younger pike can exhibit a wide range of patterns and color until they reach maturity. Water color also plays a factor but these were all caught from the same body of water so I think that is a much lesser reason for the difference in look.
Yeah I always figured taking them before they can even really contribute was better than taking the ones that only have a couple yrs left. Maybe I'm wrong.
 

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I would have absolutely 100% kept and mounted those fish. I doubt they were the only ones left.
I know they weren't :) I may have been lucky enough to have caught the biggest one but there are indeed more bigguns, and lots of them. The only thing I'm putting on my wall this season will be one of them 40"+ pike if I'm lucky enough to land one. I don't usually fish tip-ups much as I'd rather fish 3 rods for crappie myself and all of my pike have come on the rod. I told that story last year of when one ripped a pole out of the holder and down a hole in about a millisecond and lucky for me dragged it into another line where I was then fortunate enough to retrieve my entire set up from the rod all the way to the float and jig and lost nothing more than the minnow, lol. But, a few years ago I landed a crappie and saw another on the flasher so I baited quickly and lowered back down and got smacked immediately. Next thing I knew I wasn't fighting only a crappie but a monster, 45"+ northern that had the 12" crappie in its mouth. That season was the last one where we had a crap ton of ice, around 18"+ mid state for most of the season. I fought it for 6-7 minutes and had my uncle with me. The pike was so big and the ice was so deep that unless I had the pike pinned to the bottom of the hole he could barely touch it and when he finally did he couldn't put his hand around the back of the pikes head, it was too broad. At the base of the tail on that fish was as big around as a 1lb Coleman propane tank and only got bigger toward the gut and head. The girth was amazing. There was just too much weight to even begin to try to get it's head started up the hole and it was too massive in general even with a 10" hole. We could see that the only thing I had a hook into was the corner of the crappies mouth which I eventually landed and was 12". The pike finally let it go and swam off and we were heartbroken. The damn thing only made a few runs no further than probably 10-15 yards with each successive one shorter and shorter. My uncle prefers tip-up fishing and has landed a lot of pike in his day but had never seen a fish that big. He underestimated the size at first and the next few times we laughed about it and then finally said it was a monster and agreed with me that it was every bit 45" especially when I reminded him that he couldn't even stretch his hand across it's back. Needless to say, the first thing I bought after that was a gaff which I haven't needed since, haha. Maybe this year!
 
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