Ask any Dutch, or German angler, about bream fishing and they'll probably mention the name 'Zammataro'... Michael Zammataro. With many years of success, feeder fishing for bream, Michael and his Team Zammataro have become feared and respected wherever they compete.'s close associates, Champions Team of Germany, recently met up with this 'iconic' angler on his local stretch of the River Ruhr, to conduct a special interview feature, on just what makes him so effective fishing the feeder.

"Good morning Michael, we know you are quite a busy man these days with your company, as well as competing in matches most weekends here and over the border in Holland, so thank you for meeting with us today. As you've brought us to your local River Ruhr can you explain a little more about it?"

"When you phoned me a couple of weeks ago explaining that you would like to do an article based around distance feeder fishing, perhaps on a big river, the Ruhr popped into my head straight away. As you can see, we have the weir to our left with only two gates open, so this particular stretch has hardly any pace at all. It has a width of around 130 metres, so we have plenty of room to launch a feeder towards the horizon this morning! I also thought we could then make a long day of it by moving down below the weir this afternoon, where we can cover the second method about fishing a feeder in the flow."

"Great, two birds with one stone and all within 500 metres! What can you tell us about this section of the Ruhr? For instance, what can we expect to catch today?"

"Ten years years ago, this water was mainly waggler and pole, with plenty of roach and bream. Most fish then where closer to the bank, but since then, roach figures have diminished and to get any bream, a 60 metre cast is the minimum requirement. In a competition, if your neighbour fishes the feeder at 65m, you have to do the same, otherwise he will beat you! What we will catch today? Well two weeks ago I had a few good bream from here, but it is a very temperamental river... you can catch good one day and blank the next!"

"Let's take a look at your groundbait. You manufacture your own along with special additives, which are distributed both in Germany and Holland. Can you go through the ones you have brought today and tell us how you prepare this 'Budgie' mix of yours?"

"For this mornings session, I'll be using 2 parts Feeder Mix Gold, 1 part Brassen, 1 part T3 Birdfood, which you referred to as the 'Budgie' mix. Add to this around 100 grams of Red Nektar additive. As we are fishing a slow moving water, I like to wet the T3 with water, prior to adding it to the dry groundbait, as it ensures that the bigger particles soak up water before being added to the feeder mix, which in turn helps keep the whole mix inert because bream are our target fish today," Michael explained that by preparing the T3 in this manner, he will also avoid attracting too many smaller fish to the bait. However, if smaller fish are the main target, then just add the dry T3 to your dry groundbait before wetting. Grinding the T3 a little finer before doing this will also ensure smaller particles.

"Today, we need the mix to stay in the cage feeder until it hits the bottom, approximately 4 metres deep, then release almost immediately. As there is no flow, it's important that the T3 feed does not leave the feeder in mid-water, which would risk either pulling the fish off the bottom, or a cloud of particles would drift into the next swim." The consistency Michael mixed the T3 to was similar to quite sticky pigeon shit, just before it's mixed with a groundbait. "You want it to work its way into the main groundbait in a similar fashion... impregnating and clagging the action of the dry cereal feed."

"Michael, I can only see 1/4ltr. caster, 1/4ltr. maggots, and a small handful of worms... do you think we have enough bait for today?"

"Don't worry, there's enough bait here. I'm also hoping to use some of it downstream later this afternoon! Now, I know that chop worm added to the feeder does not always go down too well here on this part of the Ruhr, but we'll be giving it a go during the session. However, my experience tells me that bream tend to stay away when worm is introduced. I know this is also true on a number of other venues, so simply turning up to a venue with 2kg of worms and loads of maggots/casters is unlikely to gain you an automatic advantage! Like the 'Old English' saying goes, "you can't take it out, once you've put it in!"."

"Looking at your rigs they seem quite basic. Would you like to take us through them and also tell us also about the terminal tackle you'll be using today?"

"Okay, starting with the tackle. In my view, the rod is the most important part of your outfit. If you haven't got a rod capable of casting long distances, then you can forget how the rest of your set-up is put together. For todays fishing I will be using a Balzer Zammataro Masterpiece Heavy Feeder 155 rod with a Balzer Zammataro Feedermaster 9600 reel. This is loaded with 0.09mm Xtreme Distance braid and a 0.25mm Tornado Tournament mono shock leader.

"Yes, my loop rig is very basic, that's how it should be. Over complicated rigs cause too many problems during a session and as we are fishing at distance, I have made a few slight changes. Firstly, it's not actually a loop! I've tied a stronger length of mono to the main line to carry the feeder when casting at distance. In my opinion the 'loop' where the feeder swivel sits is the weakest part of the rig when casting out, hence the stronger mono. Secondly, I have placed a piece of silicon tubing over the top knot of the loop. Most feeder anglers know the problem of the hooklength settling on the knot once the feeder has hit the bed. Thirdly, I'm using a micro swivel between shock leader and hooklength. This helps prevent line spin whilst using multiple baits such as double maggot, which have a tendency to spin the hook, resulting in the hooklength becoming damaged. I feel that the fish have no problems with this.

Incidentally, my hooklength is 0.148mm Fortex Limited with a size 14 hook. I like my hooks to have a long shank and a nice round bend which helps when using multiple baits. I'm attaching a 70gr Zammataro Speed Feeder to a double swivel. I like to use these swivels as it makes changing the tips easier when the occasion arises. Talking of which, I have a 2oz tip for the session, which is strong enough to cast today's distances, but sensitive enough to see bite indications."

"I see you are fiddling about with that pocket watch Michael. If we are pushed for time, then lets crack on and try and catch some fish?"

"You're alright, I have plenty of time, but before we try and catch any fish I'm going to plumb up the depth of the swim. With the feeder, I measure the depth of the water, not in metres, but in seconds, hence the stopwatch. I want to search the swim for features that might hold fish, ridges, holes or ruts, somewhere that naturally holds baits and therefore fish. The stopwatch may seemed a little far fetched to some, but believe me, 10cm in depth will not register when you are counting the seconds in your head."

"When I cast I hold the watch in my left hand, as soon as the feeder hits the surface of the water, I start the watch.
  • I then place my rod on the feeder arm.
  • As soon as the tip springs back, indicating that the feeder has hit the deck, I stop the watch and receive an exact timing.
I also search the area, to see that it is snag free and not too silty, by dragging the feeder and feeling the bottom. I have found a spot I'm happy with at 74m and clipped-up. Now let's try and catch those fish you mentioned!"

How the session went
After introducing five full feeders of groundbait, maggots and casters, Michael hooked a maggot/caster combination on his size 14 hook. It didn't take too long before signs of life appeared, by small twitches on the feeder rods 2oz tip. A minute later the tip really swung round and Michael struck into the first fish of the day. "Ummh, feels like the line has somehow wrapped its self around a good bream," said Michael adding, "it feels like pulling a plastic carrier bag through a strong current." A second later the rod springs back and the fish is lost, I think to Michael's relief.

After 10 minutes a boat turned up and maneuvered a full 180 degrees, right on top of our baited swim at 74 metres. "Seems like old Captain Birdseye is bored", commented Michael rather annoyingly, "he's travelled 1km downstream just to turn on our spot, before going back to wherever he came from".

Michael proceeded to build the swim up from scratch again, and shortly after introducing a few more feeders full of groundbait and was rewarded, thankfully, with another rod bending bite, "Ah that's better" said Michael after striking and hooking into what he claimed was a nice bream. By the way Michael was pumping the fish in, I was expecting it to be around 500 grams, but was amazed to see the landing net slide under a lovely bream of 1.2kg. From striking and landing, it took less than a minute, and from such an extreme distance.

Another 10 minutes later came the next tip wrap round and another gorgeous Ruhr bream in the bag. Michael had a few twitches of the tip between the bream, but put these down to line bites. He now has swapped the hook bait to imitation red maggot, caster and maggot. "Red maggot, or any dyed maggots, are banned throughout Germany", Michael explained adding, "but these artificial plastic maggots do just as good a job".

As a demonstration that they really do work, another bream tugs on the 2oz feeder tip and is swiftly brought in. This time Michael chops up a few worms using scissors and a pole pot. "Now we have a few bream in the net, we shall have a look at adding a few worms into the mix" he tells me. As salts' in the groundbait kill worms rather quickly, Michael chops and adds the worm to the feeder as and when required, like maggots and casters, these are sandwiched in between groundbait when added to the speed feeder.

Chopped worm: Not always the answer!
This time, we have a longer wait of around 20 minutes before having another nice kilo bream. "As I said this morning, chopped worm doesn't go down too well here", Michael continues, "Even though they take a worm hook bait, it can kill a swim when combined with groundbait in the feeder, I think we'll just stick to worm as hook bait," This time Michael sets up his favourite combination hookbait... the Spider. Consisting of three small worms, each hooked in the centre, with a single maggot on the tip of the size 14 hook, the wriggling mass is then dunked into Zammataro's Mega Liver dip.

Another launch to the horizon and in less than 5 minutes the tip knocks round and with yet another good kilo 'toilet seat'. (German equivalent of 'slab' or 'dustbin' lid!). And so our session continued for the next hour. Six bream followed at 10 minute intervals until Michael asked a certain reporter if he would like to have a go! "Oh me, yes please" came the very eager response. Now before I cast I would like to make my excuses clear in advance. Firstly, I have never cast over the 50 metre mark. Add to this that I have never had such a powerful rod or massive beach casting reel in my hands before, so here goes. Rod in the over head casting position... check line is not wrapped around the tip... look at the feature I've been told me to aim at on the opposite bank... steady... and whoooosh! The rods now in the upright position waiting for the line to hit the clip. Plop! "Shouldn't the line hit the clip before the feeder hits the water" I ask? "Reel in and try again" comes Michael's voice from behind a bush!

Counting the number of reel turns, I get to 53. Michael had said that each reel turn is approximately 98cm of line and it works out that I've just broken my PB 50 metre mark! Again Michael's voice rang out from behind the bush, "Now give it some welly and don't worry, it won't break. Use your left hand to pull the butt of the rod inwards, and build up some power", he added. I re-filled the feeder and whooooosh. Another personal best, this time 60 turns, I think we'll put that down as a near 60 metres eh? Anyway, I had two more tries which took me closer to the magic 70 metre mark. Michael then took over again saying, "it's not easy to cast such distances, especially when you've never had this type of gear in your hands before. It's just finding the right technique, then practice, practice and practice" adding, "it's possible to make 110 metre casts with this tackle, but you need to be accurate and consistent each time to achieve success."

End of Session
After Michael took over, he tried to catch for a further half an hour, but to no avail, "the groundbait has been spread around too much and had obviously disbanded the fish from our original spot" he said, as he looked at me rather pointedly! "but we've had a few fish in the net, so let's have a look at them". During the two and a half hours that Michael fished, he'd taken eleven bream in total, weighing each between 1200 and 1400 grams for over 14kgs. Not a bad session by anyone's standard. The scene was now set for PART TWO of our adventure below the weir in the flowing water.