Perhaps you have planned a one-off trip to visit a famous bream venue like the River Witham or Welland, and really want to get to grips with those shoals of slabs. Or perhaps you are going to fish a match on a hard canal noted for its shy skimmers and roach. Whatever the reason, you want something that is a cut above your ordinary commercial maggot. Breeding your own gozzers is one answer but there is an alternative – sour bran specials.
What’s the attraction?
These maggots get their name from the mixture on which they are bred — bran soaked in sour milk. They are slightly smaller than gozzers and commercial maggots and, because of the milk, are pure white in colour. They are very soft – softer than gozzers in fact, and far softer than commercial maggots which seem to have the texture of leather by comparison.
Few if any anglers have actually seen the fly which produces the sour bran special – it is very secretive – but it is thought to be closely related to the fly that produces the squatt. When it comes to special hook maggots there is often disagreement about which flies are responsible for producing them. But for practical purposes you needn’t worry. If you stick to the guidelines for breeding your specials then you should end up with the right product – which is all that matters.
You can tell if you’ve produced a sour bran special because it has the distinctive habit of crawling backwards — blunt end first – if you put it on a flat surface.
Clean and easy
The beauty of the sour bran special is that, apart from being an excellent hookbait, its breeding process doesn’t involve meat. Even when breeding gozzers on chicken – a relatively clean and odourless task compared with other meats – there is still a bit of a pong. But with sour bran the job is not at all unpleasant and the procedure is very simple. This makes it a good bait for keen young bait breeders who want to have a go. The hardest part is in getting a blow. Firstly, the bait is essentially a summer one, the best time being between June and August. Once the weather begins to turn cool you may as well forget sour brans since getting a blow becomes nigh-on impossible. Secondly, unlike the gozzer fly which often blows fresh meat almost as soon as it has been put into a dark place, the mysterious sour bran fly is not as obliging. It may take a few days or even a week for the fly to find its breeding ground. So you have to be patient and, if you are doing the job for the first time, cannot rely on the bait being ready for a specific occasion.
Having successfully bred some specials you’ll have a good idea of how long the cycle takes and can then put down containers of sour bran mash on a regular basis – ensuring a frequent supply of quality hookbait. v«j^.ij.rtri.m»iifl.iiai»ttumiu.,tf..iM
Quality – not quantity
Don’t expect a great many maggots from one batch – about 50 or so is an average yield. This may not seem such a large number when compared with the number of maggots in half a pint of commercially bred maggots, but you should remember that these sour brans are special!
They aren’t meant to be loosefed or used at venues where you are expecting scores of bites. They are much better suited to those occasions when you set your stall out to catch half a dozen good quality fish. Under the circumstances, your 50 maggots could be all you need to account for a very good catch indeed!