Your quivertip twitches and starts to pull round… then eases back, lifeless, just as you are about to strike. You wind in and examine the maggots on the hook. They look slightly chewed, but are otherwise intact. As you forlornly rebait, another bream rolls in your swim. If only you had bothered to breed some gozzers…
Occasionally, bream get their heads down and feed like pigs at the trough. At such times you can catch them easily enough on any of the usual hookbaits, including ordinary shop-bought maggots.
Most of the time, however, bream are cautious and fussy feeders, especially on hard-fished waters where many of them have been caught before. Often they reject ordinary shop-bought maggots, because such maggots are never really fresh and consequently have quite tough skins.
This is why it pays to take the best quality hookbait you can, and when it comes to maggots that usually means very soft, very fresh home-bred maggots – gozzers.
Go for gozzers
Breeding gozzers is really only possible in summer and autumn – which, of course, is when bream feed best.
The thought of the mess and smell involved puts many anglers off, but by following the correct procedure it’s possible to reduce mess and smell to a minimum, if not avoid them altogether.
It takes about eight days to breed gozzers, so if you are fishing on a Sunday, start the previous Saturday. Don’t try to play safe by starting any earlier, because the whole point is to have the freshest gozzers possible.
Start by putting two fresh pieces of chicken, lamb or pig heart, or any other fresh meat, in a clean bucket or similar container lined with newspaper. Stand the bucket in a dark place such as a shed or garage and cover it – but leave a small gap, and make sure there is a window open, so the smell of the meat can get out and the flies can get in.
By the end of the next day the meat should have been visited by gozzer flies – close relatives of bluebottles, but unique in that they only lay their eggs on fresh meat and in the dark. The gozzer flies lay clusters of eggs on the meat, and you want about enough in total to cover a lp piece, so scrape off any excess with the blade of a knife.
Wrap the meat in newspaper, put it back in the bucket and cover it with plenty of bran. This prevents further ‘blows’, creates a warm environment for the gozzers to grow in, and minimizes smell.
Leave the bucket alone for three days. By the end of this time the eggs will have hatched into small maggots. Take a peek inside the newspaper parcel. If the maggots appear to have eaten most of the meat already, add more meat or you will end up with stunted gozzers. Wrap the whole lot up again and cover with bran.
After another two days the gozzers -about a quarter of a pint of them – will be fully grown and will have come off the meat. All you have to do now is riddle them off into damp, fresh bran using an ordinary 3mm maggot riddle.
You now have one of the deadliest bream baits going, but some anglers reckon you can make them even sweeter by adding a little milk and sugar to the bran!