You may not know it by name, but I guarantee you've seen it before. In brief, it's a traditional Japanese method of printing fish... like actually taking a dead fish, applying ink, and using it like a rubber stamp to make an impression on paper. Sure, that sounds a little crude, but stick with me for a few more paragraphs...
I believe it was used in the past in lieu of a fish mount to commemorate exceptional catches. Today, it is more commonly viewed in the context of art, and some splendid art it is. If you've seen the latest printing of Yvon Chouinard's Simple Fly Fishing, you'll find a gyotaku print of a leaping trout on the cover.
Coincidentally, (and the reason for this entry), I was fortunate enough to add an American gyotaku to my fishing themed art collection recently and I couldn't be happier.
I was gifted this cool little piece by Alan Lueke, a fixed-line angler out of Kansas City, Missouri. He was attending the 2019 Tenkara Wisconsin Driftless Campout, and passed along this print one evening after a day of fishing, which I've since framed.
It's actually a print of a Florida fish. See, Alan isn't a trout or tenkara purist, actually he'll use his tenkara and fixed-line rods to chase anything with fins, large or small. He commented, "The fish is a Gulf killifish caught in a mangrove flat in Fort DeSoto State Park just south of St. Pete Beach."
No matter the species, I think it's pretty rad and fits in well in it's new surroundings above my tying bench.
If you'd like to learn more about gyotaku, there are endless references out there to be had. Being Japanese in nature, it's been a fairly popular subject in tenkara-circles over the past few years, with some exceptional write-ups and examples found HERE, HERE, & HERE.
Additionally, if you're interested in acquiring your own gyotaku print, there are many artists out there, (particulary on Etsy), where you can find them for sale. Modern Gyotaku, Fishing for Gyotaku, The Mighty Bluegill, & Fresh Catch Gyotaku stand out as a few that immediately come to mind.
In any event, thank you Alan, I not only appreciate the print, but also the thoughtfulness of the gift!