Many thousands of years ago the mighty glacial Lake Bohinj was abundant with fish, as it is today. In this time a poor man lived beside the lake and fished daily with a hand-woven basket he used as a fish trap. Every morning at dawn he lowered it into the lake, and pulled it up at dusk. But he never caught a single fish. Confused and angry, the poor fisherman couldn’t understand why his trap always turned up empty. “There must be some foul play at work” he said to himself. He decided to try and outwit whoever was trying to trick him, and instead put out the trap at night. But still it came up empty.
“There’s a beast living in this lake who is stealing all the fish!” he shouted to the other villagers. But they all declared him to be mad. “I’ll show them” he cried with indignation. He grabbed his large pickaxe and began digging a trench in order to drain the lake.
Now little did people know that the poor fisherman was not mad at all. For down in the depths of the lake there is an underwater castle. Inside lives an ugly, greedy merman named Jezernik, a skilled fisherman with a huge appetite. In his greed he had been keeping all the fish to himself, ate what he needed and churned up the lake, creating huge waves and currents to prevent any fish that swam towards the trap from entering.
As the water began to drain and the water level began to drop, Jezernik got scared. He couldn’t live out on the dry land. So he rose out of the water and confronted the fisherman.
“Stop digging that ditch!” he bellowed.
The fisherman was taken aback at the huge and imposing figure of Jezernik before him. But he stood his ground, determined not to be intimidated.
“Are you the one who is taking all the fish?” he asked.
“This is my lake and I will keep all the fish to myself”
“Then we poor villagers will surely die of hunger” and he kept on digging.
“Wait,” cried Jezernik, “If you stop digging that ditch I will give you a special fish trap, and I promise that from now on, and for as long as you live, every time you throw it in the lake I will fill it with more fish than you can imagine.
The fisherman agreed, but left the trench just deep enough for water to run out slowly. He declared that if Jezernik ever goes back on his word, he would return to finish digging and drain the lake completely.
From that day on there was enough fish in the fish trap to feed everyone who lived around Lake Bohinj, and even the people who visited it.
After the fisherman’s death, the fish trap disappeared. Some say that Jezernik took it to the bottom of the lake and hid it in his castle. But, fearful of someone else draining the lake, he still hasn’t gone back on his word and anyone who fishes in Lake Bohinj will surely find luck.
A bridge now runs over that drainage ditch, and the river that runs out is the Sava Bohinjka.