How to catch river bream on the pole

Words: Mark Perkins. Pictures: Lloyd Rogers

Pole feeder on the Trent 

Mark Perkin’s clever approach to fishing the feeder on a flooded river pays off with a nice net of winter bream…

I have fished the Trent for more years than I can remember and most of the better days have come along when the river is carrying some colour and extra water, especially in winter. Back in the 70’s these conditions were normal as there were power stations warming the water and the fish fed well and the river stayed coloured with the discharge water going in. 

The stations have gone and the river is now a lot cleaner, which is a good thing, but means my angling approach has changed and I spend a lot of time walking the banks, looking for rolling fish or feeding bubbles. Locating fish makes things easy and essential on the Trent, so if you do not walk the banks, it can pay to talk to the guys in the local tackle shops for advice.

Over the last week the Trent has been carrying over 3ft of extra water and this means there’s a good chance of catching some of the big bream, especially when the water drops slightly and fines down a bit. In these conditions there is also far less rubbish coming down the river, which makes things easier as an angler. 

In this session I’ve headed for the Shelford section of Nottingham AA water, which is a member’s only stretch. There are lots of good pegs along this bank and some are well worth the walk, which many anglers do not make the effort to do. My swim for the day is on a slight bend below some trees. There is a nice slack at about 11m and the main flow starts at 13m. the depth is around 10ft and it gently slopes away from you, which is pretty perfect and I also saw fizzing in the area. Any slack water with a good bit of depth is a good starting point for big bream. 

With the water temperature only in single figures and a cold wind it makes sense to start softly, softly with the feed. In the past I have over done it with the bait and have learnt good results can be had a light baiting approach.

I’m fishing my pole feeder set up, which I believe along with a flat float, is one of the best methods to use on the flooded rivers. The pole feeder gives you precise presentation and with careful plumbing up you can locate and avoid snags in your peg.



  • Maver signature 1000 pole
  • Grey Hydro Elastic
  • 0.20 silk shock line
  • Preston quick change swivel
  • Size 12 drennan wide gape hook


  • 1 ½ pint caster
  • 1 ½ pint red maggot
  • ¼ kilo worm
  • Dynamite Marine Halibut Sweet Fishmeal groundbait

I use a 1oz pear lead for plumbing up as I can drag it around and feel for any snaggy roots / branches on the bottom. I also use it for my pole support as this needs to be correct when I start with the feeder. The pole support bar I’m using today is only used by myself when I’m fishing this method. It keeps the pole stable in the wind and is an excellent in these situations.

On my first drop in on the feeder I use a maggot and worm hookbait with little feed. It only took ten minutes for the first indication which is easy to see when the elastic twitches. After another minute the elastic pulls properly and goes away and I pick up into a 6lb bream. This was the first of six fish during the afternoon to over 8lb, which was great action with some big fish. One thing that certainly got me an extra couple of bites was to lift the feeder and drop it again, twitching the bait. Using the pole makes this so easy and effective.

When I fish the pole feeder, I like to lower it in and create a slight bow in the line from the pole tip to the feeder. I also use the lightest feeder I can get away with. Bites can be shy in winter, so you need a sensitive set up. And I’m sure when the fish dislodges the feeder, the hookbait moves and the fish love to grab the moving bait and not a static one, especially in winter. I also, always try and position the pole directly over the feeder as it results in more positive bites and hooked fish. 

It’s a tactic that is simple to master and does not take lots of practice. It really suits the flooded rivers and is much more accurate and effective than a rod and line. It allows you to position your bait exactly on the edge of the flow and no rubbish to pick up on the line. Plus you can twitch the bait.

I had 14 big bream in a day last winter and my biggest fish from the stretch in this feature is just shy of 10lb. Big river bream in winter are special creatures and I hope some of you can give this method a go and track them down.