Preserving large fish tails

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Preserving large fish tails

Postby chris oak » September 21st, 2015, 7:11 pm

I'll move this to a different section in a week or so but it worked out really well and since we're having such an epic so cal year it might be of interest to you guys.

I've done this at work with big great white shark tails, threshers etc and figured I'd try it on fish. Here's some of the key tips:

1. Dry it slowly
2. Inject it with rubbing alcohol frequently, you want something that is toxic to vermin and also helps dry things out. I've also used salt before but it gets messy.
3. Nail it down and you have to flip it over midway through the process.
4. Don't mix the resin too hot.

This was from a big wsb from this season. I threw it in my chest freezer and forgot about it and then saw it a few months ago. I took a board and used finishing nails to nail the tail down spread out, otherwise it tends to curl up and close up as well.

Once the tail is nailed down I use a big syringe to inject it with rubbing alcohol. If you don't have access to one you can probably use one of those worm inflators from the fishing shops. The key is to inject it all over the place and also inject it over the next few days. You want that meat super saturated with it so the bugs can't lay eggs in it. An even better way is to make a screen box and put that over the tail as well.

Dry it slow. Put it in the garage or somewhere where it's hot and dry, but not too hot like in direct sun. You want it to cure like jerky. As soon as it's semi dry, flip it over and dry the other side too. I'll usually do this over a month or so until the meat is completely dry. On big large tails like the shark I cut thin strips of sintra plastic and used them to hold the tail down in sections so it wouldn't curl.

It will always have oil in it as fish bones are heavy in oil, the skin and meat will also be slighly oily. The last step is to coat it with some sort of epoxy. I use fiberglassing finishing resin, I'll do it when I'm working on a project and have left over west systems epoxy but you can use the finishing fiberglassing resin from home depot too. When you do it make sure you follow the directions because if you use too much catalyst you can smoke it and burn the thing up. Hang the tail if you can and coat it all over, especially the meat portion. When you are done you'll have a sealed product that shouldn't smell and you can display where ever you want to. I'm going to do a big halibut tail next.
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby Westbury » September 21st, 2015, 9:18 pm

Cool!
I'm going to try that and then hide it under the wife's pillow!
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby Bill McIntyre » September 22nd, 2015, 8:26 am

Wow! I guess that's what I should have done, but here is the low-effort version. Nancy caught this marlin in 1976. We would have released it but it was gut-hooked. I just cut the tail and bill off and hung them up to dry. Ants helped a bit at the base. Of course they are in the garage rather than in the house, but I think the smell went away decades ago. :)

The turtle shell is from Hawaii in the early 60s, and I did coat it with something. It used to hang in the house with no odor, but its been banished to the garage anyway.
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby squidhunter » September 22nd, 2015, 8:57 pm

I've been working on my marlin tail and bill for about a week now. I've been lazy and left it in the sun and have not done anything too it. It got a little curly but not bad. I am definitely going to try the resin thing. Thank you Chris.
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby Namor » September 24th, 2015, 6:48 pm

I always thought the secret to preserving large fish tales was to exaggerate the first time you tell them and stick to that same lie in subsequent tellings....

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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby Trace » September 24th, 2015, 7:29 pm

What Jeremy said!
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby NaClAddict » September 24th, 2015, 7:36 pm

Did a big thresher tail once. Ants, sun, and epoxy.
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby Bill McIntyre » September 24th, 2015, 8:09 pm

Jeremy nailed it. I've lived by that for more years than most of you have been on earth.
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby dam » July 15th, 2016, 12:54 pm

Namor wrote:I always thought the secret to preserving large fish tales was to exaggerate the first time you tell them and stick to that same lie in subsequent tellings....

jeremy


:bowrofl: perfect.

Bill, who's that young stud standing next to Nancy? You were the one taking the picture, right? :happysad:
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby Stath » July 15th, 2016, 2:14 pm

also, "Living design" in Costa Mesa, they do a great job, for a very reasonable price, and you don't have to deal with the mess.
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby raabephoto » July 20th, 2016, 6:09 pm

I hope I did it right!
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby ApneaAddict » July 21st, 2016, 6:01 am

Has anyone done this with one of the giant bluefin tails? I sure hope so. If so, post a pic!
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby chris oak » July 21st, 2016, 8:50 am

I'm doing one as we speak, it's in the drying phase. Since the tail has so much meat at the peduncle I injected it heavy with alcohol and also put salt on the outside meaty portion. I'm going to cut it flush when it's dried and then resin it, I also pinned it down all over so it won't curl.
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby ksquared » August 1st, 2016, 8:33 pm

In florida, there's an artist that will preserve your sword fish bill but also painted different scenes (swordfish have wider bills than marlin).

http://www.rjboylestudio.com/Swordfish-Bills_ep_41.html

I tried drying out some yellowtail tails, but creatures carried them off. Make sure to secure them so they don't disappear.

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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby Matt mattison » August 26th, 2016, 12:46 pm

I will have to give this a try on the next big ling cod I shoot thank you for the great how to write up Chris
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby Bigdtheraven » October 15th, 2016, 2:29 pm

Thanks Oak! Halibut tail came out tits! I just left it in my smoker (off) to keep it away from my dog. A week went by and it's perfect. What kind of gloss did you use to finish it off?

For the jaws I boiled it to get the meat off, diluted bleach soak for about an hour and overnight in the smoker to dry. Great way to pass the time while I was sick and couldn't kill anything
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Re: Preserving large fish tails

Postby chris oak » August 30th, 2017, 9:18 am

Bigdtheraven wrote:Thanks Oak! Halibut tail came out tits! I just left it in my smoker (off) to keep it away from my dog. A week went by and it's perfect. What kind of gloss did you use to finish it off?

For the jaws I boiled it to get the meat off, diluted bleach soak for about an hour and overnight in the smoker to dry. Great way to pass the time while I was sick and couldn't kill anything


Sorry I just saw this, I use west systems fiberglassing resin but you can use any fiberglassing resin from home depot as well.
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