Hi. First time for me. I've been using illustrator for a little while and some of the explanations of how to do things is way over my head. I found an image on the net of a fish on a black bacground. I imported it into illustrator and tried using the pen tool with no luck. I completely trace the image but can't seem to figure out how to life it out of the background. Be gentle with me. I am not a commercial graphic man. Just a guy working from home to help my churche's small publishing operation. Thanks.
I'm not sure what you mean by "lift it out of the background." If you have traced the image with the Pen tool, you should be able to delete the image when done so that only your traced objects are visible.
In the Properties panel, there is an Image Trace command that could work for you. After using Image Trace, you can click on Expand in the Properties panel. All of the objects will be grouped. You can then use the Direct Selection tool to select and delete the black areas.
After image trace using the High Fidelity Photo setting:
Barbara's answer is the Illy way. Got photoshop? It's one click and done there (okay, not quite - rename your layer (just so that you can have a transparent background [double click layer, enter]), use the Magic Wand Tool on the black (tolerance of 16 should be fine), delete, save as.)