The Sana and Sanica Rivers - Antun Mateš: The enchanted angler

The Sana and Sanica Rivers

The luxurious source of the Sanica is just one of many excellent Bosnian salmonid waters.

The fishing spots of the Sana, which drains into the Una at Bosanska Nova, are a tale of their own. If you set off towards the source of the Sana, you should take the road from Bihać to Bosanski Petrovac, where the right hand turn takes you via Drvar to Knin. After a few hours of driving from Petrovac, you will reach the town of Ključ. At this point, the Sana is already a respectable river receiving water from the Ribnik, an excellent grayling stream. I was always happy to come and fish here, as one summer, a 20 kg huchen was chasing after a large trout on the line of my friend Jeren. He incessantly spoke about this event, and so we returned there several times to see if that same fish would show itself again. Of course, he paid little attention to the migration of the large fish in winter into the lower reaches of the river to feed, where white fish was abundant, for once spawning season rolls around, the huchen gives little thought to food, not unlike humans. The terrain was particularly good for grayling, though in my early years, I was not so inclined to go on a multi-day excursion to fish for grayling, because I regularly caught them on the Dobra in summer.

Huchen from Sana

In Croatia, the huchen is a winter fish, and so in summer, I did not fish the upper Sana near Ključ. But in winter, I went downstream of Sanski Most, which can be reached from the direction of Dvor and Bosanski Novi, and where on the way to Prijedor you pass through Blagaj, once the seat of the famed Croatian Babonić princes*41, who until 1465 and the Turkish invasions were the masters of Otoka, Bosanska Krupa and this entire area. It is at Blagaj that the excellent salmonid water, the Japra stream, drains into the Sana.

Earlier I mentioned that a cellulose factory was erected out of political reasons at Prijedor, like at Drvar, and this turned the Sana into a disgusting and stinky collector, which also destroyed the Una downstream of the confluence. But, in one of those rare summer trips to these parts, Pažur and I set off to fish for grayling on the Sanica. This river was quite inaccessible, as the roads were terrible at best, and reaching the village of Sanica Gornja was a true feat. The Austrian Empire cleverly created the Bosnian network of roads and railways, and a small, narrow gauge track for a steam engine train named Ćiro diligently and persistently carried passengers through the canyons and tunnels from Sanski Most to the villages Sanica Donja and Sanica Gornja, and ended in far off Drvar.

Panorama of Sanski Most. The landscape is dominated by a large new mosque with four minarets.

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