Generaly about Huchen and Grayling - Antun Mateš: The enchanted angler

Generaly about Huchen and Grayling and Their Habitats

The perfect shape of the huchen.

Krkalić with a huchen weighing 36 kg, caught in the Drina back in 1939.

In all the publications by Zdravko Thaller, I was most enthralled by the photographs and fish from the Drina, particularly one photograph of the catch by Remzija Krkalić in 1940, a 36 kg huchen. Indeed, if we start from the main huchen waters of the Danube with its German tributaries downstream from the Slovak, Czech, Moravian and Ukrainian rivers Váh, Hornád, Orava, Turiec, Hron, Morava, Dyje and Tisa, where huchen are found, we quickly reach the mouth of the Drava, known for catches of exceptionally large huchen, near Spittal in Austria, but there will be more about this later. The Prut and its tributary the Čeremoš flow through the Carpathian mountains and drain into the Danube right before its mouth at the Black Sea, making these rivers, in fact, the final point of the natural habitat of the huchen. Some authors even believe that the huchen from the Prut and Čeremoš is a distinctive species, a missing link to the Siberian taimen. They claim that the huchen is just a taimen that remained in the Danube. They explain that the Siberian taimen used to be spread throughout the entire Black Sea basin and disappeared over time for reasons unknown from the rivers from the Dneister to the Don. As such, the Danube basin remained isolated, and within Hucho taimen became the relict form Hucho hucho. Obviously this long-standing isolation of the vast Siberian lands, with its massive rivers, unjustly made the taimen less accessible to European zoologists and ichthyologists, and so the huchen took the most scientific attention

Unusually fat female from the Una near Tanac, also 114 cm long, but weighing 17.5 kg.

. In line with the habitat of the massive Siberian rivers, the taimen grows to a much larger size that the huchen, up to almost 100 kg. However, respectable specimens of the huchen from the Drava, where several trophy fish of 30 kg or more have been caught, does not make the huchen particularly inferior to its Siberian relative. Huchen can be legally caught only after sexual maturation, at a length of about 70 cm and weight of 3.5 kg. A one-year old fish is 15–20 cm long. At two years, their length is 30–40 cm, while a five-year fish measures 70–75 cm. By the time they reach the preferred length of 83–100 cm, they are typically eight years old. Huchen carry relatively small eggs, and in the first year of spawning, they release 2,500 to 3,000. The general rule is that a mature female's weight is multiplied by a thousand to get the approximate number of eggs, i.e. a 6 kg female will release 5,000–6,000 eggs. Older females that are 15–20 years old, and 125 to 150 cm in length, are allegedly sterile or release eggs with a high rate of mortality. However, due to the small number of such fish captured, this claim has not been scientifically confirmed. The weight of the fish is variable and depends on the conditions and the moment of weighing, and so measuring the fish's length in centimeters is more accurate. One huchen I caught in the Kupa measured 114 cm and weighed 12 kg, while the same length of fish from the Dobra was 14 kg, and a third of the same length caught in the Una on 3 January 1982 weighed just over 17 kg. In her stomach, I found two almost fresh chubs, weighing a kilogram each, and a smaller nase , also about 1 kg. Even with such a full stomach, she still lunged at my lure, attesting to the great voracity of the huchen.

The opportunistic feeding strategy of the huchen is seen from the greedy catch of a small duck by this 18 kg huchen from the Una.

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