Tokaj, City of waters
Anglers see all seasons from the point of view of an angler. While „others” wait for the warm weather to come, the sight of green trees and flourishing meadows, or the opportunities deriving from the lengthening of the days in the springtime, the fisherman’s mind clicks most of the time on the expansion of the fishing possibilities. The season starts indeed in March and April – this is the time to dust the fishing rods, reels and tackle fed up with the winter break! But is it true that spring really promises thriving opportunities for all kinds of fishing methods? Is it worth going spin fishing in March too?
The answer is clearly YES! Although the third and fourth month of the year are full of prohibition periods concerning our predatory fish. From the 1st of March it is forbidden to fish for zander, asp, perch, and Volga zander. At the same time, the ban on pike fishing, that started in February, is still in effect too (ending on 1st April). Therefore, this period of the year is truly difficult for spin fishermen, but it does not mean that we should entirely give up artificial lure fishing.
Most of the fanatic spin fishermen either hunt bass (which count as alien species) in this period of the year on intensely stocked lakes, or they walk about on the shores of rapid (and often rhapsodic concerning water level) creeks and streams hoping that they might catch a good-size chub. However, the lovers of big rivers and wild waters do not have to lose heart either, since there are two fish species that are not protected by catching prohibitions in March, and it is easy to prey them in the quickly warming waters too. And these two species are ide and the European catfish (Wels catfish).
Those, who visit Tokaj in early spring have the chance to catch both species indeed, since River Bodrog is famous for its huge ide fish, while the catfish population of River Tisza is highly exceptional. Thus, nature-loving spin anglers can spin fish here for two species, even on the same day, that behave quite different, and that provide an entirely different fishing experience for those who deserve this.
Let’s start with ide (orfe), which is basically not a bream fish, since it is a member of the Cyprinids family. However, even this attribution of it cannot stop them from hunting prey fish in a predatory manner all year long, but especially in spring and autumn. By the way, besides small prey fish, they feed on almost everything; most of their diet is made up by bugs and insects falling into the water from trees, but they also consume crayfish and leeches too, furthermore, in the summer, they even collect the fruit of wild mulberry trees that fall on the surface of the water.
We must prepare with ultra-light tackle for ide. Our spin fishing rod must be capable of casting small lures. Fishing from a boat, we prefer rods shorter than 2 meters, with casting weights approximately between 1-10 grams, and small, size 1000 or 2000 reels, with 0,06-0,08 mm diameter line (preferably either nanofil or braid) on the spool.
The mouth of the ide is small; thus, we can spin fish for them effectively with smaller-size lures, 2-5 cm wobblers, soft baits, or metal lures (like spinners and spoons). When choosing the color of a lure, we should prefer darker colors and lifelike patterns!
In this period of the year, we may find ide fish in deeper water (too). At spots where the current of the river pushes out to the shoreline and the depth of the water is sufficiently deep enough (2-4 meters), that is where we should search for the ide group. Here, the current constantly drifts nourishment in front of the fish stuck in the coastal lane, which is particularly advantageous for orfe.
Ide is not a lonely fish; where we catch one, probably there are more, but we must know how to deceive them. And we must be quiet and careful during their fishing, since they are extremely clever and cautious fish, and their eyesight is very good into the bargain!
Despite ide, the other predatory fish that can be caught in this period of the year, the largest fish in our waters, the top predatory fish in freshwaters, is the Wels catfish (Silurus glanis). Fishing for catfish, considering the size of it, requires extremely strong equipment. Thus, we must choose heavy tackle, rods, reels, and line which were designed expressly for catfish fishing. Besides the harmony of rod & reel, we must pay special attention to every little element of our rig, e.g.: the snap, the lure, the trebles on the lure, the split rings on the lures, because if we do not do so, catfish will most probably find the weak link in our tackle, and, as a consequence of this, we might lose the fish of our lifetime!
Catfish begin feeding more and more actively due to the warming water. As soon as the temperature of the water reaches 6-7 Celsius degrees, we have a good chance of catching them with artificial lures too. Then, when the water temperature goes above 8 Celsius degrees, they start feeding like crazy, and from this time on, they also react well to the sound of the ancient catfish luring tool, called clonk. Obviously, these measures are not regularities, but experience underlines that they are certainly true to River Tisza.
This is the period of the year – until the water temperature reaches 14-15 Celsius degrees – when most of the large catfish are caught here on the Tokaj Tisza section too. In this period, they attack aggressively wobblers, soft baits, and other kinds of artificial baits too, which action is to their liking and which enters their attack zone.
We can also utilize their greediness. At first, we can find them only in deep waters and steep drop offs, but later, as the weather gets warmer, they start moving to shallower and shallower water as they are following their prey fish, which visit the rapidly warming, 2-3 meters shallow waters in springtime.
We apply two very effective methods. When they are stationary in deep waters, we find more of them in relatively small but easy-to-locate spots. In this case we anchor above the spot and cast our soft baits towards them. We move our lures nice and slow above the bottom, trying to deceive these refined fish. In case we use the other method, we do not anchor the boat, but utilizing the current of the river, we let the flow drift our boat, and we keep moving our baits vertically right under the boat. We apply this technique when – due to the warm water – fish are already scattered around, and not concentrated on one special spot, but they might occur everywhere along a longer river section.
So, there is life beyond zanders and pikes for the lovers of predatory fish, we do not have to leave our spinning rods in their stands in spring either. The essence is that we must aim consciously at these predatory fish (ide and catfish) with the proper tackle and lures, and we must fish at the right places. In Tokaj – in a unique way – we have good chance to catch both species! And after a tiresome day we spent with spin fishing on the rivers, the best relaxing program is to visit the cool wine cellars of Tokaj.
Appointments for fishing trips in the spring are now available!
If you need a local and professional fishing guide, feel free to contact me!
There are varying accounts regarding its origins. Based on historical and linguistic evidence, the most common theories claim french, italian or syrmian sources, although its diversity with many subvarieties located on Tokaj-Hegyalja claim the region to be the source. The most recent genetic research claims that its parents are the Gouais blanc and the Alba imputato, the natural cross-breeding of the two being the result of it appearing until the 16th century.
Taxonomy dictates that the grape is a subtype, specifically belonging to the pontian subgroup, of the common grape vine (Vitis vinifera). Along with the currently grown White Furmint, collections preserve the Red and the Variable Furmint types as well. The latter receives its name from the berries’ early green colours changing into red, then shifting into a shade between greenish to golden yellow, not unlike the White Furmint.
Ampelography is the discipline which works with the detailed description of grape types. I won’t delve into the Furmint’s total ampelographical explanations here, but I’ll mention some of the more significant details; first, its upright sprouting system greatly helps regarding the ’green-work’ of the grape, which consists of the shearing and other handiwork up until the harvest arrives. Thanks to the fact that the shoots growing from the buds grow vertically upwards, the foliage are much easier and convenient to maintain, at least compared to other unruly and spreading types (such as Sárgamuskotály). The Furmint’s shoots also fortunately tend to stay nestled inbetween the wiring that keeps the foliage together. Later on, the first tendrils above the clusterzone twist around the wires, ensuring that the shoots are safe from being blown out or simply broken by a stronger wind. The leaves’ edges are serrated yet lacy, its teeth rather pointy, therefore with some experience it may be told apart from the Hárslevelű’s lacy, rather round and dull teeth.
The stamp of the 1972 I. World Wine Competition held in Budapest. A stylized Furmint cluster and leaves hide behind a popular aszú bottle, the background showing Tokaj and its traditionally cultivated vineyards from the other side of the Tisza. The stamp was made by József Vertel, one of the most employed hungarian stamp designers. Note the berries’ differing hues, potentially indicating overtly ripened grapes or even the appearance of aszú.
Regarding its ripening tendencies, it is considered a late type, placing its harvest to the second half of October. In its complete ripeness it appears greenish yellow and, if exposed to the sun, a distinct golden yellow hue. The most important qualities include defined acid and high alcohol contents in the balanced overcropped plantations, but also a high susceptibility to shrinking and therefore ’aszú-ification’. Although the Furmint doesn’t have any characteristic primary aromas (let’s mention the muskotály type as a counter-example and as Irsai Olivér), during the process of fermentation the secondary flavours can include apple, pear, peach, white flowers and other similar evocative qualities. Most Furmint enjoy being fermented in oakwood, which ensures tertiary aromas to enrich its already versatile taste.
Ripened clusters, also beginning to show signs of aszú. Furmint is susceptible to ’scrubbiness’, meaning that if the badly fertilized, small (runt) berries find majority on a cluster, it can significantly decrease the yield of the grapes. The left image, however, shows the positive side of this phenomenon, providing healthier, looser clusters, which are more suitable for creating dry wine. The large, stuffy, blistery berries on the right image (Hólyagos Furmint) are much more susceptible to aszú.
The variety identifying as a "Hungaricum" is located on around 4000 hectares in the country, most of it being in the Tokaj Wine Region itself. The most recent data suggests that out of the 5603 total hectares 3726 (67%) is home to its most significant grape.
It’s also on the list of traditionally grown grapes in many other regions, such as the Somló Region and around Pécs and Balaton, amongst several others. The Sopron Region has contained much of its plantations some time ago but today it has almost completely disappeared from there. Beyond our borders it is widely represented in Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia and Austria.
translated by Áron Várhelyi