Fish mounts should totally be up the angler who caught the fish. There is more to it than the size of the fish. You can get crucified on fishing sites for saying you mounted a smaller size fish. You are right...just based on colors and markings I would say it is worthy. That and the memory you will have of the experience!
You could get a replica made I had one done of a 7lbs bass I caught it looks great. When I caught the fish I wanted to let it go would of felt bad not letting a brute like that go. I just made sure to take as many measurements as I could so it would be as close as possible to my fish and good pictures. I assume you have already kept that gill but this way you could eat it and have the mount/memory.
No. I'd eat it and wait for 11"+. There are plenty of them in Michigan if you target them and fish with someone who knows what they are doing and you are patient. Then again if you have money to blow as a doctor, why not! Taxidermists could use the money around here with the economy like it is.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'm not the beholder, but I still think it's a beauty! That colors are just awesome. I agree with gillcommander. To me, the size of this fish one decides to have mounted matters much less than the memories it will bring. Nice catch!
As far as price it depends on the taxidermist. Most do it by the inch, my guy is the cheapest I have seen at $8 an inch but most are closer to $12 an inch. So a 9.5 incher can be around $100, and a nice bass around $200 to $250.
That is a beautifully marked specimen! I would suggest that you take that pic to the taxidermist you choose. Few pumpkinseeds ever make it to a taxidermist and thus most lack experience in painting them. Colors are a tough match...most of the paints are not as bright as that fish so they will have to be very attentive to detail. Be specific with the person doing it and don't accept a finished product you don't like.
Checked out some local references and I'm going to take it Tom Wolf. Looks He does some quality work and will hit those colors just right. I was out last night and we boated a couple 10" and couple 11", none with the colors to the guy in above photo.
It will look great in my office. And the nice thing about living in Howell. my patients (yes Fishin Wiz I'm a doc) are pretty comfortable with dead things in the office. In whole office celebrates the good old out doors.
Most of my mounts I do for the memory and if its a good fish/duck. I had a sunfish mounted that was 10in. Was out ice fishing with dad and it was a good memory, plus panfish dont cost much to get done. On a side note im not sure how much the coloration of the fish matters because it will get painted anyways. If its a good taxidermist he'll try to match it as close to what it originally looked like, so take lots of pictures.
Edit: I see the painting subject was touched on already, sorry for the repeat.
Regardless of the big variations in "per inch" prices for fish mounts, almost all of the shops I know of have a "minimum" that usually affects panfish. eg... A shop may charge $10.00/inch so your 9 1/2" fish should cost $95.00. However, that shop might have a $150.00 minimum so that's what your 9 1/2" sunfish would cost.
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