Zoltan Bodnar moved to Ireland from Hungary . He was quick to get used to Irish fishing and has become one of the top tench and bream anglers in the country. Zoltan also loves his pike fishing and has fished extensively in his home country Hungary. So over to Zoltan now for his interview…
Where did you grow up and how did you start fishing?
ZB: Well I’m from Hungary, and where I live is a very flat and open place, you don’t find that kind of landscape here in Ireland. There was a small lake near my house, more of a pond really. It was very shallow and held lots of tench and rudd so thats where I started really. My friend’s father was a water keeper on the canals monitoring the levels and things like that as the canals are very busy with all the farms. Beside his house was a large lake about 30 ha. that was used as a fish pond for commercial sale. There were tench, carp and grass carp and it was there that I caught my first carp. After that I returned every weekend despite it being 30km each way and I just had a bicycle to travel.
The carp in there were up to about ten pounds, and I also remember seeing my first fishing competition there with 36 guys fishing in it. It was my first time seeing guys putting lots of bait into a swim and the results they were getting and watching them fishing with poles. I learned a lot that day.
So I started fishing at six years old and have been going most weekends since I was ten.
How did you get used to fishing in Ireland?
ZB: Well I was already fishing for bream and carp back home. When I got here first it was hard to get info from the tackle shop as they didn’t know me. So my first day fishing over here, I got the bus and then walked a couple of miles to find a water. Sitting there with maggots on the hook I caught my first Irish fish, a small brown trout.
How did you get into the bream fishing over here?
ZB: Well from fishing back home I will always love fishing for bream. I was working for a painting company back then and my supervisor was an English guy who loved fishing so I started going with him. He said to me ” You have to use the feeder rod over here” and I had never used one as back home it’s mostly float fishing because of the good weather. So I went with him feeder fishing and on that first session we had a few hybrids and small bream and my first Irish tench it was at Gulladoo I think, and he taught me not to take home the fish which is the common practice back home. The tench was 2.2kg and I wanted to take it back but he said to me ” Zoltan, I have fished over here for ten years and thats a good sized fish” so I put it back and have been catch and release ever since.
So later on when we started trying different lakes, and on our first trip to a well known midland lake I caught my first 100lb bag of bream. I was gaining knowledge each trip that all adds to my fishing today. In Ireland the bream fishing is far more sensitive to air pressure, temperatures and light levels due to the zebra mussels than back home so it was all a learning experience. I had come form Hungary and had to learn my fishing all over again really. Looking on forums for info, and the advice was always plenty of prebaiting with many kg of bait. I kept a diary and all weather details etc were recorded. We went back to that lake and this next time had 77kg of bream! We fished that lake for two more years maybe but with a one mile walk with plenty of groundbait made it quite difficult. Our best session there saw us put bait in Thursday and arrive for fishing on the Friday. We started getting our first fish around 20.00 and we finished with 107 kg of bream by the time we stopped fishing the following morning.
You then turned your attention to catching bigger bream, can you tell us about it?
ZB: After catching many big bags of bream, I wanted to start picking out he bigger bream. I started going to a new mark for big bream and while there I met an old English guy who was probably in his seventies or eighty even. At first he wasn’t giving away much info but when I showed him my photo album in the car and assured him I was catch and release angler he showed me a five spots I could possibly try. It was 2008 and on the second spot I caught fish to 3kg. The next time I went back I went to the right and had a fish of 4.2kg. So I decided this must be the right spot. It was a very difficult spot and went for three years every second weekend and on the weekends I wasn’t fishing I still went up to put in more bait. It was a brilliant water and I had over fifty fish over the specimen weight over the three years. If you bait it and bait it, and you know the fish are in there, you will catch. It’s very time consuming but very rewarding.
Do you always fish the feeder, do you ever use alarms?
ZB: All the bream I have caught in Ireland has been on the feeder. I don’t use bolt rig type of fishing, maybe sometimes for tench but not for bream. You have to be sitting at the rod and I have made a special light to see the tips as your eyes will get tired on night sessions.
What is your favourite method of fishing for tench?
ZB: My favourite way of fishing for tench is the pole on elastic. Waiting for the bubbles around the float is magic. I also like feeder fishing but only till the end of May, then after that most tench lakes get too weedy as they love that kind of water. Tench fishing is easier as you don’t need as much bait as for the bream. Maybe only four or five kg. If I’m going tench fishing I will stop by Lidl and get plenty of strawberry jam. I mix it with breadcrumb and Sensas black magic and add plenty of hemp.
If I’m going float fishing I always put in five or six balls beside the float. When the tench come in I just catapult in some more hemp and maggots to keep them there. Tench are also very sensitive to noise so keep that to a minimum especially when on stands.
I know you also love your pike fishing, can you tell us your favourite way of fishing for them?
ZB: Before I ever came to Ireland, I had only ever caught one pike in Hungary on a spinner. You have to stop bream and tench fishing for part of the year so it made sense to go pike fishing in the Winter. While out one day we seen a German angler catch a large pike, so we decided to head back there later in the year. In October we started deadbaiting and were catching some fish up to 16 to 20lb. I seen on the internet that trolling deadbaits was excellent method so I started fishing from the boat for them. I was using large baits and some people said to me “what you doing a half kg bait and they were laughing. After two hours I had a 21lb and was delighted to be proved right. My biggest pike is 28lb and it was caught early one morning while it was still dark when it took a large bait. I have always thought the bigger baits pick out the better fish. I still have yet to beat that fish but hopefully soon. I’m not as keen trolling with lures because with bait you have to think more about how your bait looks in the water and how you can improve presentation, and which bait on the day of course.
What has been your favourite catch in Ireland?
ZB: It has to be some of the bream. In 2010, I was very busy with work. the air pressure was due to rise quickly but with work I couldn’t really go. But at three am I still couldn’t sleep, so I said to my wife I have to go, I can’t miss it. I got my gear together and into the car. I got there and set up for a little later than I would of liked at 05.00 am. There was still a good wind blowing and after only a few minutes I was catching. In one hour I had many bream the biggest three went 4.7 kg, 4.85 kg and the best one of 4.95 kg. That was my favourite session in Ireland and one I will not forget.
If you could fish anywhere in the World, where next will you fish?
ZB: My next destnation will be the Ebro in Spain for the big catfish. While fishing for bream on the river at night I often heard the sound of the catfish like a shovel slapping the water. I have caught some but never over 10lb though. I’m forty next year so that is the plan, go to the Ebro for a big one that’s the next target fish.
What would be your dream Irish catch?
ZB: Although I have caught many pike on lures, I’ve never had a really big one while lure fishing. I also love to fly fish for them now so either on a lure or the fly hopefully a thirty!
What are your fishing hopes for next year?
ZB: I live in Carrick, so there is a lake near to me that I would like to catch a 100lb of tench from that local lake. I also will be bream fishing and this year I want to try some new lakes and hopefully catch plenty of bream.
Well thanks for talking to us Zoltan and hope to see you out soon.
ZB: Anytime lads no problem