Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD           

So you or someone with you catches a special fish. Perhaps it’s a personal best, perhaps it’s a person’s first fish or first walleye or just a magnificent specimen. Sure, take a photo of the fish.  Consider taking it to a taxidermist. There are many options. But how about making a Gyotaku print of the fish?

A what?  Gyotaku is a technique developed in Japan which involves pressing a sheet of rice paper over a fish covered with ink or paint, to imprint a fishy looking image on the paper.

Photograph? Absolutely. Taxidermist? Possibly. Gyotaku? That’s something I’d never thought of until I stopped by the PaperFin booth at the ICAST show last summer. Owner, Robert Chenoweth, made a quick, easy, no-mess Gyotaku print right at the booth in a minute or so, even while explaining the process.

Step one: Dab a towlette pre-moistened with an invisible chemical liberally over the fish.

Step two: Cover the fish with a special “chemically sensitive” paper and press it down over the fish.

Step three: Remove the paper, turn it over and take a look at the Gyotaku-like rendition of the fish you want to memorialize. 

The next steps are up to you. Clean the fish – the chemical is non-toxic.  Perhaps release it, though that would be a tough project – both for you and the fish. Robert said he’s done it. Regardless, you end up with an interesting, visual and artistic reminder of that special fish.  

Go to to order the kits. They come in two sizes, the standard has paper 17.25 inches in length, the large has rolls of paper up to 34.5 inches in length. Each kit has enough paper and other materials to do three or four prints and depending how you cut the paper and the size of the fish, it would be possible to make many more impressions. Instructions are included and there’s a short video on the website shows the process. 

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