The river Gacka - Antun Mateš: The Enchanted Angler

The river Gacka

Quiet stream of the river Gacka, biotope of big trout

Žorž Vranješ, an authority for fishing at the Gacka

The river Gacka was a cult for European trout anglers. One would meet at least once a year for festive occasions. When the winter passed, the anglers desperately longed for the opening of the trout fishing season, near the hotel at the river in Ličko Lešće. During the winter, we told stories about the last fishing trips and prepared new flies for the longed for beginning of the season. The very exuberant conditions of life of the Gacka trout brought me during my first trips that I made on my own to this river on the verge of despair. I had been a fan of the school of Krešo Pažur, who almost always caught with dry flies. With them you could be very successful at the waters of Ogulin – Dobra, Vitunjčica and at the lake Sabljaci, as well as on the rivers Krka and Radeščica in Slovenia. Actually, the major strategy was waiting for the night to fall, so that this half an hour of dusk and the hunt for the Silver sedge were the most important adventure of the fishing trip. The trout from the Gacka usually feed in the middle of the day and in the middle of the water or deep down on the riverbed. A real trout dance began around noon, when the big fish of several pounds took the flies directly under the water surface, while I desperately tried to fish on the surface and got only now and then a small fish. Žorž Vranješ showed me the right kind of fishing at this river, so that we mostly used wet and sinking flies. Already the first attempt was successful; Žorž caught a fish of 7 pounds. Our fishing gear for tying the flies was poor; we dealt with the other parts as much as we could and shared the material between each other gladly. The filament factory in Zagreb was our source for the right colours, but there were also the colourful wool pullovers and stockings. We took the feathers from slaughtered roosters; their colourful and grey heads were highly esteemed. I remember very reluctantly the occasion when Pažur and I went fishing for huchen. It was winter in Sanski Most. We saw a beautiful rooster. It had shiny, red feathers, and its neck feathers’ quality was exactly right for grayling flies in August or for the preparation of small flies for the summer season. Hatidža, the friendly woman who owned the rooster – it proudly walked over the farmyard – immediately agreed to Krešo’s request and decapitated the rooster with only one axe blow on the head. We would have been satisfied if she had just plucked a dozen of neck feathers and the animal would not have felt this at all. The scene was dramatic, as the poor rooster scampered and tumbled without its head over the yard, so Hatidža had difficulties catching it and in the end let it vanish in her kitchen. I am not sure whether the reason was this horrible scene, but after this experience I started to use more synthetic material for nymphs and imitations from the asellus and the gammarus for my fishing, so that I was not after the neck feathers of poor roosters any more.

Milan Štefanac and engineer Zlatko Bunjevčević

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English Deutsch Hrvatski Glavatice i lipljani