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I Killed a Redfish for a Skin Mount and I’m Okay with That

Gerry Bethge Avatar

The recently completed 2016 Outdoor Life Tackle Test was over-the-top awesome. As we’ve done for the past several years, the OL test team loads up the truck with rods and reels and heads down to Cajun Fishing Adventures lodge in Buras, Louisiana to do battle with redfish. The big bulls were chewing and reel drags screamed for three days straight days.

In addition to testing new gear (the results will be published in Outdoor Life’s April issue), I headed south with a selfish goal in mind as well. I wanted to catch a bull red worthy of mounting. Fiberglass reproduction mounts are cool, but there’s just something about skin mounts that seem to do a better job of preserving specific memories for me. I wanted the fish.

I’d caught—and released—mount-worthy reds (51 and 53 inches) in the past, but the one-pose-fits-all, reproduction-mount molds leave me unsatisfied. So, when a 42-inch bull hit the deck of our bay boat last week, he went directly into the iced-down fish box and later the freezer. I killed it.

“My friend Ronnie Arcement does awesome redfish skin mounts,” said buddy Jared Serigne. “It’s all about the painting and he’s got that down pat.”

As it turned out, it was the only fish that our crew kept the entire trip. I half-expected having to withstand a pile of grief from fellow anglers, but thus far everyone seems okay with my decision to become a trophy fisherman for a day. And in this case, I am, too.

What are your thoughts? If the resource is sustainable, is it okay to keep a fish to get mounted?