On the Water
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Resin Fish Replicas

How to measure, photograph and save your trophy catch
By Patricia Strutz
Published: May 14, 2014
Lax Reproductions resin fish replicas
CAPTURE THE CATCH – Rick Lax of Lax Reproductions in Conover, Wis., proudly displays his lightweight replicas.
Photo by Lax Reproductions
With taxidermists now creating graphite replicas of fish, this lifelike presentation is a fish-friendly alternative to a traditional skin mount. All you need for a quality replica is accurate measurements and photos. If you can get these quickly, you can release your trophy fish to swim another day. Here are a few tips for documenting your fish while ensuring its health:

Measuring
  • When possible, measure in the water with a floating ruler. Keep the fish in a deep, wide, coated net.
  • For length, measure from the snout, mouth closed, to the tip of its pinched-shut tail. Pinching the caudal fin (tail) can add up to a ½ inch. 
  • To determine weight, take a girth measurement and apply the basic weight formula (see info box, right). Wrap a fabric ruler around the widest part of the fish – similar to measuring your own belly.
  • If you take the fish out of the net, support it horizontally. Hanging a large fish vertically can cause damage to the jaw, gills, backbone and internal organs. Lay it on a slightly wet plastic measuring board – not on dry carpet, which removes its protective slime layer.
Photographing
  • In-water release photos are the healthiest for the fish. Take close-up shots of the fish’s coloration and markings as a reference for the taxidermist.
  • If holding the fish for a photo, set your equipment up before taking the fish out of the water.
  • For the best natural lighting, make sure that the sun is behind the photographer.
  • Take off your sunglasses and push back your hat to remove shadows.
  • Use fill flash, even in midday. It adds light to shadowy areas of the photo.
  • Fill the frame with the subject. 
  • Remember, fish can’t breathe out of the water. Hold your breath while taking photos. When you’re out of air, so is the fish.
Patricia Strutz is a fishing guide and CPR (catch-photo-release) enthusiast. Some even call her a “fish hugger!” For more, visit www.pstrutz.com.


measure and photograph your fish
FISH-FRIENDLY TECHNIQUE – Linda Rikkers safely measures a northern pike.
Photo by Patricia Strutz
BASIC WEIGHT FORMULA

girth x girth x length / 800 = weight (pounds)

For example, a northern pike with a girth of 16 inches and a length of 33.5 inches would have an estimated weight of 10.7 pounds (16 x16 x 33.5 / 800 = 10.7). For a species-specific weight calculator, click here.
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