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!
Looking out the window, there is no snow – but who knows? By the time you read this, the weather could turn quite nasty. However, it’s winter in Tokaj and very quiet. Is it worth it to come to Tokaj during these times? Considering that the museums are closed during quarantine and the restaurants only offer take-out? The answer is yes.
It is worth it, for a breath of fresh air and to take a long walk to clear our heads. Where should we start? Towards the mountain or down the riverbank, or shall we just walk along the city? Each locale can provide us with at least 2-3 hours of exploring.
We arrive by train. From the station, along the end of the Szerelmi cellar range, we can start off in two different directions. (The range is quite approachable by car as well, but parking can be tricky.)
Going straight along the paved road, we reach the Hétszőlő trail. According to our stamina and mood, we may choose one out of 3 color-marked paths; red, green or yellow. They follow the vineyard together on paved pathways, eventually forking out. There might be vehicles working on the way, so proceed with caution!
The green square barely elevates, only surrounding a small vineyard. The yellow one has a few more exciting parts but we can take a breather at any of the information boards or resting sites. While finding our strength we may learn a thing or two about the local grapes of Tokaj. Our destination is the Hétszőlő sign, from which we descend back to our original starting point. Following the red square brings us onto a very steep journey all the way to the top of the property, reaching the Kusajd vineyard. A beautiful view greets us at the top of the Hétszőlő vineyard, panning to Tokaj’s southern area as well as the Taktaköz. If the weather is good enough, we can even see the chimneys of the Tiszaújváros Chemical Works.
If we’re hungry for adventure or just obsessed with nature, turning towards the mountain at the end of the cellar range brings us to Szerelmi vineyard along a semi-paved road. The first part of the path consists of gentle serpentines, but the last straight part rises to a more serious uphill walk. Reaching the end of the former and keeping right, we reach Tehéntánc top. Following the instructions of the guiding signs here, we may go to the TV tower, or keep on towards the Finánc Hill Overlook (although this area isn’t precisely marked). From here on we can decide to decend via the Overlook’s stairs or take the concrete road leading downward. Taking the first leads us to the Erzsébet bridge, while the second takes us to the Employment Center’s parking area, behind the Tokaji Ferenc High School.
Find the vineyards on the map here!
From the Szerelmi range and choosing the green tourist trail, we end up at Szeles top. If we seem less tired and more energetic, we may head east and marvel at the rivers slithering on the Alföld, the Great Plain. From Szeles we have three choices: 1) follow the red sign towards the TV tower. 2) Moving along the green marking and moving around Hideg-side vineyard we reach the Fesztiválkatlan, descending back into the city next to Torkolat lodging, which used to be the city’s northern gate some time ago. 3) The red tourist sign leads us to the cemetery on Dózsa György street. This area has a very steep elevation, making it difficult to travel through in, or after bad weather. However, it’s worth it to take this path, since the doors of Hímesudvar open to this very street, inviting weary travelers in to rest and have a glass of wine in the welcoming garden.
Going back to TV tower, following the asphalt road takes us to Tarcal. From Tarcal, we can return to Tokaj by either taxi or train. Going down the same road leads to the ski-range. Unfortunately, the city has no snow cannons, but in ideally snowy weather, the range is great for beginners.
The Borostyán trail, which eventually forks into the green trail, starts from Szerelmi cellar row as well. A rest may be taken at any of the marked resting sites, where one can find more information on the Kopasz mountain’s flora and fauna.
For these trails I definitely recommend the appropriate clothing, perhaps even a hiker’s stick. Straying from the signs is not advised, since deep trenches and tide-washed crevices aren’t far from the hiking trails.
From the „large” parking lot on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre street one is met with many opportunities to explore. For those who only wish to climb a bit of th emountain, the Finánc Hill Overlook is the closest landmark, although the staircase leading up to it can be slippery and is a little steep. The correct footwear, safe for keeping the ankles in place is highly recommended for this one. The overlook provides a wide view of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers’ fork and the neighbouring settlements towards the east.
Taking off to the south from the parking area, on Széchenyi walkway, along the Tisza’s ramparts, we may move on behind the once Salt Customs Building / Rákóczi-Dessewffy castle and continue near the football field. In front of the ÉVIZIG headquarters is the monument of the flood, which commemorates the great rising of the Tisza in 2000. The record level of 928 cm is still unbroken. Moving south from here won’t allow us to see any other impressive landmarks, although the fishing lakes further away from the city or the Ively-stream’s pass can be exciting in their own ways. However, those who venture this far will be met with the serenity of the Kopasz mountain’s looming presence and the quiet calm of nature. If one happens to be by car, we may drive along the riverbank to reach the neighbouring settlement, Tiszaladány.
Going north from the parking lot takes us to the „old town”. Until the 19th century – when the city’s southern area was built, called Kis-Tokaj – this was the only place which was known as Tokaj by multiple names (Tisza-Tokaj, Nagy-Tokaj). In the old town, every building has its story – but this is for another time
The beauty and atmosphere of the hikes can only be experienced if you take them yourself, so put your boots on - Tokaj awaits!
Translated by Áron Várhelyi