Story of the Mepps Spinner - Antun Mateš: The enchanted angler

Story of the Mepps Spinner

Huchen, 100 cm long and weighing 10 kg, caught using a Mepps no. 3.

Rubber zopfs were great lures, but expensive and time-consuming to make. What a terrible feeling to lose three zopfs in your first hour of fishing, and then in order to preserve the last one, you begin calculating and stop seriously fishing out of fear of losing it too. For that reason, I switched to a simpler and more effective lure, a mounted chub on steel wire. I caught the majority of my large huchen using this system, though I had some experiences to the contrary. Branko Orozović, my friend from Velika Gorica, and I set off in one cold winter day, just before Christmas to the Una near Jasenovac to fish for chub on the Odra Canal at Buševec. It was here that I had previously easily caught chub using soft bread flake, so I could choose exactly the right size of fish, and return the rest. But that day was terribly cold, and the fish had hidden somewhere to wait for warmer weather. The entire afternoon passed with no success, and I only managed to catch a single chub that had obviously decided to commit suicide, as it was the only fish to bite all day. What now, I thought to myself. Should I return home, or set off on a long trip with just a single chub, a luxury I was not exactly inclined to. But the thought of spending a Sunday afternoon in front of the TV made me decide to head to the Una, even with just a single piece of bait.

The point Uštica at the confluence of the Una and Savas, today a beloved fishing spot for anglers from Požega and Western Slavonia.

We arrived at Uštica at about 4:30 p.m., the best time to fish for huchen in late December. The extreme cold made it difficult to concentrate, and on my first attempt at casting into the deep, swelling Una, I made the beginner's mistake of forgetting to open the bail arm of the reel and the weight of my only chub easily snapped my line as it flew to the middle of the river. What an idiot I am, I scorned myself, considering that I had no other bait and had no idea of how to kill the time, as I couldn't tell Branko right away that we should head home, as he had just cast his lure under the bridge, just upstream. In my tacklebox, I found a sad, old spinner and tied it on, weigted with a little lead and began casting, without any hopes of success. Of course, my luck continued and I soon lost the lure on the bottom of the river when it hooked onto an old oak piling under the rock-covered shore. I knew they were there, but the unusually high water level tricked me. You are no serious angler, you bumpkin, I muttered. Frozen to the bone, I desperately began to search through my pockets, and I found something shaped like a Mepps. And true enough, it was an ancient Agila no. 3 that was once yellow, but now coated with a greenish, brassy, velvety tone. For the sake of doing something, I cast that last lure I had, and due to the weight of the lead, it sank right to the bottom on the first throw. I pulled out of routine, and it soon, in fact immediately, got caught on the bottom. Hell, this really isn't my day, idiots should not be allowed to fish, I thought and barely could move this Mepps, which seemed to have hooked onto a heavy branch on the bottom of the river. Only that heavy branch began to give some strange pulls, and I realized that this was a fish. But which fish, perhaps an asp, as no huchen will take a no. 3 Mepps in 20 m deep water that is completely turbid. But it was a huchen. It was with great astonishment and great delight that I lifted that huchen to the surface of the Una, and it began to furiously thrust its head left and right to try to unhook itself. Despite my beginner's mistake, I had not started fishing the day before, and I skillfully brought it up onto the bank. Bravo, you master!, I shouted in my own honor. From the other, left bank, the Croatian bank, a man, not believing his eyes, asked me what kind of fish it was. I raised it up proudly and showed off the 10 kg beauty. That ancient old Mepps had caught it right in its tongue surrounded by teeth, and so I waited for Branko to come to show him. But he didn't believe me, and he thought that I had later, intentionally, stuffed the Mepps in the fish's mouth, in order to make the story even more unbelievable.

The same fish photographed late in the evening upon arriving back in Zagreb, in my mother-in-law's kitchen. Considering that the Una huchen usually took the bait at twilight in late December, I could rarely photograph them in their natural environment.

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