Autumn represents the end of something in public consciousness; it brings along the twilight of the summer holiday and summer itself. But a new era starts on the rivers too just like at school, since the first cool nights, and the rapidly falling water temperature entail the explosive uptrend of predatory fish’s appetite as well. Most fish consciously prepare for winter, and parallel with the changing weather, a change gets started in the mood and appetite of fish too. For the anglers who arrive to Tokaj in this period of the year, it is not worth missing those unique opportunities that the Tisza and Bodrog rivers can offer.
The rivers show their wonderful faces in autumn. The floodplain forest is dressed in colorful clothes and the slowly balding trees dance to the roar of deer in the morning mist. Foggy mornings lure even the most cautious animals out of their shelter. Under the fog that covers the face of the river like a veil, deer and roe deer swim across the quiet flow. Wild geese, like giant arrows, cross the sky and say goodbye loudly to the changing landscape.
We are lucky in Tokaj because the two rivers have markedly different predatory fish stocks, thus pike, zander and catfish can be easily caught within a relatively little amount of time. The main predator of the Bodrog is pike, and the Tisza is famous for its zander and catfish population. The Bodrogzug Nature Reserve, as the “cradle” of the area, provides the fish with the right spawning conditions every year, thus ensuring continuous natural reproduction.
By autumn, the Bodrog River usually clears and slows down, showing a particularly friendly and quiet face at Tokaj. In addition to the larger depths of 6-8 meters, there are plenty of shallow shores, benches, shores lined with yellow water pumpkins and reeds. These shallow waters attract pike like magnets in September, as the water pumpkin fields are full of whitefish. As the water begins to cool with the first cold dawns, the “crocodile-jawed” predators visit coastal aquatic habitats and here we can catch large numbers of them if we use the right technique and bait.
This is the most exciting course for spin fishermen, as it is a big challenge to catch these strong river predators from the vegetation. Two methods are most effective in this case: we either fish with surface frog imitations on top of the pumpkin leaves or we use sinking lures (usually rubber bait) with protected hooks between the pumpkin leaf stalks. Due to the strikes seen in the vegetation, as well as the sight of pike wildly attacking surface lures, the heart of every spinning angler beats faster. These are the actions that make a spinning guy a spinning guy; usually the moment of the strike, the fierce attack of the predatory fish is what we like best in this method.
This period lasts as long as there is still water pumpkin on the surface. If the aquatic plants disappear once and for all - which usually happens by November - and the water temperature drops below the critical 10 degrees, the pike will also follow the large schools of whitefish gathering in the deeper layers of the water. Even then, they can be caught, but in a completely different way, and only in the vicinity of the bream flocks that gather at the winter dwelling spots.
The Tisza is just as magical as the Bodrog, but in terms of its predatory fish, zander and catfish are much more dominant in it. Even in autumn, these two fish species are the most common guests on the hooks of spinning anglers.
Many people do not even know how ideal September and October are for the scouting of the largest growing predator in our domestic waters. But the catfish is on a conditioning diet, getting ready for the winter. The digestion of the large-bodied fish is still quite fast in 15-20 Celsius degree water, which is why it feeds a lot and attacks larger fish more carelessly than in the summer. At the same time, when preparing for winter, it tries to get into the best possible shape, which it can achieve with regular and indiscriminate foaming.
It is no coincidence that we catch more and more catfish as by-catches during zander- and Volga zander fishing. After all, catfish prefer to stay close to smaller, easily swallowable, cylindrical fish around 30-40 cm length, and they do take the duty from them properly. But not only can we catch catfish by accident on the Tisza, but we can also aim at them consciously. We can be effective with traditional plastic lures and jigging technique or vertical fishing.
Zander migrate a lot during this period due to changing water temperatures. It is often the case that they need to be “investigated” on a daily basis, as whitefish troops move, so do the “spiny-backed” predators. They are most likely to be found on stone structures, drop-offs and underwater obstacles, snags. Interestingly, the deep pits are not yet functioning well during the transition period, they are only visited by whitefish - and thus by predators as well - just in the winter. The sandbanks, shallow but hard, clay-bottomed river sections can surprisingly keep many large zander in the fall.
In such cases, it is worth fishing for zander with the traditional plastic lure technique, but vertical fishing can also be effective. Zander fishing is a much more rewarding task in the fall than in the winter because the fish become inactive at water temperatures close to zero. This way, even a beginner spinning angler can clearly have a lot more success in the fall. Of course, there are better and worse days in autumn as well, but perseverance and conscious “point-hopping” will bring along the long-awaited success.
So, it’s no coincidence that autumn is the real season for predator anglers. We can chase our domestic predatory fish in cooling waters with much better results than in summer or winter. This is worth keeping in mind for all visitors to Tokaj, as it is easy for a spinning angler to catch the fish of his lifetime during a weekend family vacation. And if we want to pamper our limbs frozen due to the cool autumn wind, there is no better place for this purpose than a Tokaj cellar in the company of a little mulled wine.
Events in Tokaj and Hímesudvar
We have long been dreaming about a wine festival in Tokaj which doesn’t pull people into the city’s main square among wooden sheds, continuously supported by large-stage shows and concerts which all make real and authentic interaction with the guests and the winemakers almost impossible. Instead, like many other settlements (Etyek, Mád, Erdőbénye), we’d prefer to invite lovers of wine from around the world into cellars, gardens and wineries where they may taste the delicacies of the region in a friendly and, most of all, genuine environment, while enjoying the local cuisine in the middle of a more personal, smaller concert.
The decision makers here in Tokaj have yet to make this a reality.
Surprisingly, it was actually the Covid-19 situation that helped the locals open up a little bit, and in contrast to the original plans, the festival will take place in multiple locations and span across multiple events this time – almost every winery and restaurant has planned some programme or idea.
We hope that everyone can find their favourite places and their favourite tastes here – this involves musical taste as well!
Come visit, explore a bit, and above all, have a great time!
We’ve invited József Csurkulya dulcimer (cimbalon) player to treat us to a little show on Saturday afternoon of the festival. It won’t be his first time here at Hímesudvar, as he has visited us before.
Having graduated at Franz Liszt Academy of Music, he incorporates several genres into his style, becoming unique and easily enjoyable for everyone – not to mention he plays on a one-of-a-kind instrument with an extreme demonstration of skill and talent.
According to current regulations, a proof of vaccination is not needed while residing in the garden. However, if bad weather decides to greet us, we will be forced to move inside the store, therefore requiring a proof of vaccination from everyone who wishes to stay for the concert.
For the duration of Saturday – during the show as well – Kisfalucska Mansion and Bistro will provide us the gastronomic part of our day with the following: mangalica ham, salami, different sausages, local cheese types, kápia paprika, cornichon and fresh loaves of bread straight from the oven.
We look forward to seeing you!
translated by Áron Várhelyi
We often find ourselves in trouble when we wish to come up with a smart and suitable gift for one of our friends, acquaintances, family members or business partners. Our new giftcards can help you if you find yourself in a similar situation; the article below describes the two types of brand new giftcards we’ve recently introduced.
If we know – why wouldn’t we – our giftee’s likes and dislikes, a giftcard is a great choice for demonstrating our affection, since they may choose anything their eye catches according to the given selection, let that be sweets, cosmetics, entertaining electronics or wine.
We offer them fine tokaj wine, of course, waiting to be opened by curious hands and to provide a momentary or life-long tasting experience to those who try them.
Many times it’s in the last moment we realise that it’s someone’s birthday or anniversary – awkward! The store has already closed and if we order online it will never arrive in time (especially that which we haven’t even figured out yet).
For these „last minute” situations, we recommend the superfast WEBSHOP GIFT CARDS. You only need to input the correct name of the gifter, the giftee and their email, and after a successful online credit card or PayPal transaction, the giftcard will land in your acquaintance’s inbox within a matter of seconds, in the form of a neat letter. The letter includes a code which they may use to purchase anything from the webshop within the gift’s limit.
Idea: if we wish to surprise someone as a group – but separately –, this can also be done efficiently. The received giftcards’ amounts will add up into a balance, which the giftee can access via a unique link, and they may use their available currency in a single amount or in multiple, small purchases.
The other, traditional CARD can also be quite speedy, since it becomes accessible directly after your purchase completes. You can download and even print it if this option is suitable enough for you. We can also send you this version of the card in the form of a 350 gram printed paper if you’re a fan of the face-to-face method of gifting. Don’t forget to indicate this in the ’comment’ section during your purchase!
The only drawback of this card is that it cannot be used in the webshop automatically, but it can be used via email orders.
The cards aren’t exclusively for ordering wine. They also provide the same value when purchasing accessories, books, and even tasting programme or vineyard tours, which provide long lasting experiences in the Tokaj region.
Hopefully we can ease your gifting troubles or dilemmas soon with a TOKAJ giftcard.
translated by Áron Várhelyi
The most recent news regarding opening schedules, service availability and other traffic information are all included in this article, which we will update regularly. Before you start making your way here, make sure you check it out.
From 2021 May 2
Last year, Tokaj’s main bridge had begun to be renovated, mostly the pedestrian walkway and the bicycle road receiving a lot of attention. The renovation of the roundabout is also still under way, therefore, this section of the road is controlled by traffic lights, which slow down the overall speed of approaching from the other side of the bridge. We recommend heading to Tokaj from the direction of Miskolc or Sárospatak and through the town of Bodrogkeresztúr.
Based on our experiences, it’s quite smooth to approach the bridge on weekdays, but the weekends can be rather problematic in terms of traffic jams. Be sure to calculate your trip accordingly!
On our last virtual trip we took our rest at the „great” parking lot next to Bonchidai inn and I promised to write another time about the „old town”. Let’s brace ourselves again and walk further!
Going north from the parking lot – towards the main bridge – we come across several notable sights already. On the side of a large building we can an artwork made of iron by Tibor Tenkács called „Harvesters”, which was created in 1973, and for a long time was located next to the train station. It was moved to its current spot in 2012. This piece of art shows that as we walk around Tokaj, the essence of grapes, wine and the harvest can be felt throughout the whole city.
Next to the staircase leading up to Finánc-hill, and opposite the Erzsébet bridge we can see St. John of Nepomuk’s statue, who is the protector and saint of rivers, bridges and rowers. A few steps further is the statue of Ferenc Németi, who was the former captain of Tokaj’s castle in the 17th century. Moving on, we reach a flight of stairs and a model of some of the Rákóczi family’s castles and fortresses: Tokaj, Sárospatak, Regéc, Szerencs. At the beginning of Rákóczi street, one can still see the volcanic rocks at the foundation of the houses and buildings that were once used to support the city’s port and ferry system. This is also why the city was formerly called Kőrév (Kuurev) – literally: Stoneport – back in the 11th century.
Let’s walk directly up to Óvár street in order to evade all the people who are trying to do their daily business like shopping. The narrow street doesn’t contain any special sights but legend has it that the 1890 fire that raged across the town started from this very street, originating from inside a quilt factory.
Moving around 300 meters further we arrive at the birthhome of Ede Paulay, the former director of the National Theatre. The renovated house is now home to the Paulay Winehouse.
Further north along the Óvár street we arrive at a smaller junction. From here, we may deviate towards the main square between the pharmacy and the Rákóczi cellar, but let’s head to Dózsa György street instead.
A patinated tablet on the corner reminds us that Sámuel Helm, a painter of Tokaj – for now unknown to the history of arts – has lived and worked here. Even further on the left side we can the Roman Catholic parish built in 1693 and the former Lutheran garden, whose renovations for touristic purposes has already begun. We come to a small square and another junction. We see yet another statue of St. John of Nepomuk, created in 1802, although its original location was next to the head of the bridge. Here, we may take a short rest on one of the benches on the small Oestrich-Winkel square, then turn to our left and head up towards the mountain.
In the springtime, during the blossoming of the cherry trees or during the colourful season of autumn, this street is easily one of the most beautiful places to walk along. According to some plans initiated by the World Heritage Centre, this street is getting renovated to make it even more magical than it already is. On our right, the Calvinist church can be seen, built between 1802-22. (I hereby promise to write up a separate virtual walks which tours the temples, churches and other religious buildings in the city). Opposite we may observe the Dobogó cellar’s vine-covered walls and on the other side of the street is a bust of Gyula Alpár Veress and the statue of the Grapestomping girl, both of which making the environment of the street quite pleasant. Although, according to tradition, it was mostly men who stomped the harvested grapes in wooden tubs or tanks, the creator still decided on depicting a young lady in this piece of art. It is also worth observing the statue’s details, especially the hairstyle and clothing.
Not far from the statue is a memorial written in Hungarian and Polish about the the winetrader Robert Wojciech Portius of Krosno, who was allegedly of Scottish origin as well. He was one of the first large-scale importers between Poland and Hungary, having brought many other European royal courts Tokaj wine.
For those who decide to stop here, they can turn to their right and head in and up to the garden of Hímesudvar, moving through a gate-like entryway and climbing a flight of stairs. The winery welcomes all sorts of hikers, even those who aren’t necessarily experts on wine.
And to those who still have some energy left inside them, they may follow the red tourist path and move on towards Szeles-top and the other tourist paths (see my previous post), or from the end of Aranyosi street they can look back onto the city and the Great Plains.
That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed our walk! Next time, we’ll start again from the main square. Have a nice rest and enjoy your wine!
translated by Áron Várhelyi