Everything you ever wanted to know about getting your sturgeon mounted
Info on Composite Skin Mounts, Replicas, Head Mounts, Custom Replicas.
Download our Sturgeon Pamphlet
Contains prices and a current list of available sizes for both head mounts and full body replicas
On This Page
How a sturgeon is mounted
Complete list of replicas available
Only available here
Creating a 78" Replica
How a custom replica is built
Info on Alterations
Prices for custom work
Replicas and Composite Mounts
My current price as of January 2021 - is $20 per inch
In the traditional method of fish taxidermy, the fish is skinned, dry preserved and mounted on a foam form. This method uses the entire skin, including the head and fins, to produce a mounted fish. But the sturgeon is an exceptionally oily fish with thick fins and a head full of cartilage and grease. Using these methods on a sturgeon results in a poor quality mount that eventually begins to smell and "bleed" grease.
A composite mount is combination of a skin mount and a replica that I developed for customers that wanted a "mounted" sturgeon, but also wanted a mount that would last. I remove the head and all fins from the sturgeon. Then I cast them and make latex or fiberglass replicas of these parts. A foam form is hand carved to match your sturgeons measurements. The fleshed, degreased & tanned skin and the artificial head and fins are then mounted onto the form. After drying and blending the artificial parts into the real skin, your composite sturgeon is ready to paint. The tanned skin and artificial parts will hold the paint for decades, are exact copies of your sturgeon and since no oily parts are left, it will never bleed grease or have a "fishy" odor.
The following photos were taken as I prepared to mount an 84" - 220# Lake Sturgeon speared on Lake Winnebago in 2010 by Ron Grishaber. It is the new WI record and is the largest sturgeon speared to date. This finished mount can be seen at
Lake Park Pub ~ N8904 Lake Park Rd ~ Menasha,WI 54952
The fins cast and body carved and ready
Test fitting the skin
The fish is assembled and ready to begin drying
Dry and fins blended - it's ready for paint
close up of the cast head
The finished product
As you can guess - it is a very time-consuming way to mount a fish and that makes it fairly expensive. However, since I guarantee all my mount for a minimum of 10 years, it is the ONLY way I will "mount" a sturgeon.
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There are currently only 11 sizes of Lake Sturgeon available from 6 different manufacturers across the USA. Molding and casting replicas of entire fish is NOT done by Simpson Taxidermy Studio. Occasionally some of the manufacturers are interested in making new molds or adding a new size and may be interested in casting your fish for that purpose. Prices for this service cannot be quoted in advance - the manufacturers must be contacted.
Prices below are for finished replicas picked up in Winneconne. WI sales tax or shipping to customer are NOT included. For a current list of Lake Sturgeon replicas available & prices:
Made & Sold EXCLUSIVELY by Simpson Taxidermy Studio
These heads are cast from Lake Sturgeon harvested from the Lake Winnebago system. The replica is made from a rigid casting latex filled with foam and finished at Simpson Taxidermy Studio. Newer molds are made of silicone (highlighted in blue) and the head is then cast in plastic. The plastic is lighter and captures better detail. Older molds will be re-molded in silicone as time & demand allows.
CURRENTLY AVAILABLE - SORTED BY SIZE
2019 PRICES - SM - $225 MED - $250 LARGE - $275 X-LGE - $300
Photos of each head available soon.
Custom casting of your sturgeon head - $500 (any size)
Adding 1 fin to any head mount - $150 Adding 2 fins - $250
Dropping the mouth tube on any replica - $125
Above prices do NOT include oak panel.
Solid oak oval panels are available for an additional charge. Other panels are also available.
Photos of heads ready for immediate sale can be seen on my For Sale page - http://www.simpsontaxidermy.com/4SALE.htm#Sturgeon
How to measure your sturgeon head
You can simply use the length and weight listed above to get a replica head for your sturgeon. However, some fish will be long, but not heavy, others will have a bigger head, but not so much length. So, I developed a chart which can be filled in with the measurements from your fish. I found this to be th best way to accurately "size" your surgeon head.click here for the chart in .pdf format.
Click on th elink below and print a copy of the chart. Use calipers and a tape measure for taking the measurements and write them in the chart. You can bring in your completed measurement chart and I can compare it to the heads in my catalog, or e-mail it to me if you are out of the local area.
In February, 2011 a 78" lake sturgeon witha 38.5" girth and weighing 169.3# was speared on Lake Poygan. This is largest sturgeon harvested on the upper lakes of the Lake Winnebago chain to date. I was asked to make a replica of this fish by the good folks at Critter's Sports in Winneconne. The finished replica is now on display at Woodeye's Bar & Grill in Winneconne.
After doing some checking, I found a 78" replica available from Archie Phillips in AL. However, once this replica, #BL-822 - arrived - I found it was NOT a Lake Sturgeon, but a Gulf Sturgeon. After some dispute over the phone, the sturgeon was returned to Archie Phillips.
I did some more digging and found a 76" X 31" girth Lake Sturgeon at Pete Nicely Replicas in VA. I called to confirm that it was in fact a lake sturgeon before ordering it and was given assurance that it was. When it arrived, it turned out AGAIN to be another Gulf Sturgeon. Since the next closest replica ( that I KNEW was a REAL Lake Sturgeon) was only 72" long with a much smaller girth - I deciided to build the damn thing myself. This is the sturgeon blank I got from Nicely's -
Notice the scooped nose & flattened head and larger scutes on the back, lateral & bellines than on a true Lake Sturgeon. I had some major work to do if this was going to look like the 78" Lake Winnebago sturgeon that was speared.
I started by making a replacement head (seen on the left) in rigid latex from the mold of a 220# sturgeon I mounted in 2011.
The Alterations for size
After cutting off the head of the blank, I attached the latex Lake Sturgeon replica head that I had previously made. Then I cut the main body in half and expanded it to the 78" length using wood strips, glue and screws to secure the parts.
Using mat and resin, I secured the pieces together, then poured foam on the inside to bond it all together.
The next step was to begin enlarging the girth to the 38.5 inches of the actual fish. This took many applications and a total of almost 3 qt.s of 2-part liquid foam. to reach the correct dimensions.
I didn't like the original angle of the head, so I cut it loose, lifted the nose and changed the angle of the head to create a more pleasing line. The scutes (bony plates on the lateral line) and back plates were molded and cast and these new segments were attached along the lateral line and back in the expanded area.
Once all the correct dimensions had been built up and the excess foam shapped and saneded, it was time to put a "skin" on it. I started with a thin layer of Bondo Light. Fairly inexpensive and easy to work, I filled in slight depressions and evened out the body shape.
The fins were sanded and prepped and attached. Then a final skin of Shell Shock - a heavy liquid 2-part plastic from Smooth-On - was applied with a spatuala over the entire side. A special sand mixture was applied on top of the Shell Shock to give the skin that sandpaper texture of a Lake Sturgeon. The barbels were attached and final touch-up and sculpting was done.
After some more detail work, a few minor changes and sculpting - the eyes were set and a a hanging block attached to the back. Final sealing and texturing was completed, and it was primed and ready for paint.
Using reference photos I had taken of the actual fish, it was painted in about 5 hours. After drying and 2 applications of catalyzed clearcoat, it was ready to go. It hung in my showroom for only a few hours before both the client and original sturgeon "hunter" came in and gave thier approval.
The Finished Replica
After 30 hours of work cutting, casting, foaming, sculpting and painting - this is the end result -
A shot of the open mouth
Myself and Mr. Coats with his 78" custom Lake Sturgeon Replica.
What you should know & what I Learned
I have found only 11 true Lake Sturgeon replicas available from 6 different vendors anywhere in the USA. (see list below)
I can alter any sturgeon to match the size and girth of your fish, but it is a time & material consuming job. The creation of the 78" pictured here took approx. 25 hours of time just to make the alterations and custom sizing. Over $150 in extra epoxies, foam, glue and plastics were used in the making of this fish. After carefully documenting the time and material used in this project, I have come up with the following price for custom alterations like the ones pictured on this page.
~ For replicas 73" or less ~
$100 per inch of alteration + price of the closest size replica
~ For replicas 73" or more ~
$125 per inch + $250 (replacement head) + price of the closest size replica
For example - you speared a 70" long X 34" girth fish and you want a replica to match. The closest size is 67" X 33" and costs $900 finished. Making the alterations to match the size of your fish will cost an additional $300 (3" X $100) for a total of $1200 (+ 5% WI sales tax for residents)
However, if you spear an 80" X 38" fish, then it will cost an additional $500 + $1100 for the 78" replica = $1600 total .
(2 inches of alteration + $250 for the replacement head + price of the closest size replica.)
Below are both replicas (top row) and composite mounts (2nd row) of sturgeon I have completely recently. Photos of older mounts have not yet been digitized. Composite mounts use the real body skin tanned and applied over a carved urethane foam with reproduction head and fins.
Click on thumbnail for larger pic
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