„Sa majestie la triute de montagne“
The title of the fishing magazine from 1948 exquisitely depicts the relationship of the people with the fish species which was raised to the pedestal of the queen of all fish by her way of life and characteristics of the landscapes she usually resides in. Demands she puts in front of her admirers are sometimes so difficult that they look like a chess game, but the overall impression after staying in her empire is something that we usually describe as primordial, wild, pure, lone.
The relationship with her, throughout the history of her mention, almost as long as the history of modern society, was mainly hunting. The level of this hunting comprehension of pray has had elements of the game, but not in a prey torturing kind of way but more like putting aggravating circumstances in front of the hunter kind of way.
Passion intensified hand in hand with getting to know her very complicated habits in food selection; someone would call it a capriciousness. In order to increase the joy in outsmarting, limitations grew with the development of the society and recreational fishing skills, with putting more and more accent on only minor reaches in the natural fish population.
However, trout is not only a participant in the game with nature and subject of the culinary skills. In time has her presence become a synonym of the the potential for which the humanity has the only real need. The need to stay near the usable drinking water. Bacteriological and chemical quality of this water is most commonly such that people and animals can use it without or with minimal processing.
We won't mistake a lot if we identify its presence with the existence of one of the most important bioindicators of the basic condition of human race survival. Perhaps her role is so big that one could call her a guardian of the rivers, protector in terms of safety from unpredictable accidents, natural pollutions or even the acts of hostility.
Together with a big group of cephalopods, amphibians and water insects, brown trout is a bioindicator which is used as a first level of ecosystem check. Her presence or absence are the first and the most obvious parameters of the certain water biotope's state.
It's safe to call her the monument of the nature because of all her importance which branches in different directions with the equal intensity, including the economic importance, especially through maintaining the optimal population needed to develop fishing tourism. Examples of this are not so far away from here and the revenue is comparable to the one achieved with corporate approach, with only minor changes and grabs from the nature.
Our mountain queen is the most researched vertebrate and also the one with the highest number of varieties. The set of circumstances and science and educational importance of the research of her specie, have led to the discovery that the South-East Serbia, especially an area between Rupska and Džepska rivers on the south and Crni Timok, Vratna and Zamna on the north is a habitat of the variety with the oldest genome. Another proof of her importance, her role in the evolution and the history of appearance and differentiation of the entire specie.
Now imagine that the existence of trout in a mountain river is just a piece in the mosaic we need to know and treasure until the end. Hundreds of river stories exist in silence and wait to be told; they're the reason why it was worth to stand up against destruction of something which is not just an individual right, but also a value of the community which needs to be saved and exploited in the least invasive way.
Enjoy the mountains and their rivers - they're not blue just on the maps; her Majesty Trout reigns there.
Author: Aleksandar Panić, July 2020
activist of the "Defend the Rivers of Stara Planina (Balkan Mountains)" movement