Before I go into the detail it might be worth explaining a bit about what a maggot is. A maggot is simply the larval stage of a fly that is usually found on decaying organic matter, whether it be household waste or a dead animal or similar. As with flies not all maggots are created equal. If you take a look around in summertime you’ll probably find that there are several different types of fly that manage to invade your home but typically, in the UK at least, they’ll come from a shortlist of three and they are the common housefly, the greenbottle, and the bluebottle.
The three different fly types are easily distinguished with the housefly being the smallest with a grey or yellowish abdomen and four dark stripes on the thorax (the bit between the head and the main body). The greenbottle is slightly bigger and is a metallic green colour while the bluebottle is slightly larger again with an overall metallic blue tinge to it.
The larvae (or maggot stage) of each of these different fly types are as distinctly different as the flies are themselves and each type of maggot will be readily available at your local tackle shop. In fishing parlance the housefly maggots are referred to as ‘squats’, greenbottle maggots are called ‘pinkies’, and the bluebottle maggots are known as ‘gozzers’. Unless you specify squats or pinkies you will be given maggots that came from eggs laid by bluebottles if you go to a tackle shop and simply ask for a pint of maggots.
You might be wondering why anyone would want to breed maggots when they are so readily available in the shops. The answer is simple – it’s all down to pricing and quality. If you’re into match fishing or you simply fish a heck of a lot it gets pricey. Breeding your own is far cheaper. On top of that shop bought maggots are nowhere near the quality of the bait you can turn out by yourself. When you’re done your home bred bait will be bigger and fresher than anything you can buy in the shops and that’s guaranteed.
Essentially, to breed maggots you only need a few items; a container with a lid for the maggots to feed and grow in, a couple of chicken breasts (or fresh fish if you prefer) as feed, a maggot sieve (a colander will do), some bran, and finally two washing up bowls or similar containers.
Place the chicken or fish onto a few sheets of newspaper and in turn place that in a lidded container that is filled with an inch deep or so of bran. Leave the container in a quiet spot in the garden with the lid on but not secured tight. Leave a little gap enough so the flies can get in and out of the container. Periodically check the container to see if the flies have ‘blown’ on your feed. It’ll be obvious if they have as you’ll see one or more clusters of tiny white eggs on the meat, typically 30 or more eggs in each cluster. When you think you have enough blows wrap the newspaper around the meat to keep the feed and the eggs contained in a parcel and close the lid to stop any more flies entering the container. Make sure there are a few holes punctured in the lid small enough for air to get in but not big enough for the flies to enter.
Leave your container in a dry airy place so that the eggs can hatch and the maggots can begin feeding but bear in mind after a day or so the meat will start to smell and the smell will intensify as time goes by. Periodically check on the maggots to see how they are progressing and to make sure there is enough feed to support them all. If necessary top up the feed. At somewhere between 5 and 8 days the maggots will drop off the feed, that is to say they will stop eating. They will be big and fat and fresher than anything in the shops.
Next you have to clean them up prior to taking them to fish with as fish are quite picky when it comes to hook baits. Remove the newspaper and allow the maggots to fall into the bran and leave them for at least 12 hours. Sieve the bran off and transfer the maggots to one of your washing up bowls and add a couple of drops of washing up liquid and enough water to cover the maggots and give them a good rinse. Next pour the maggots out over a sieve and transfer them to the other washing up bowl that you will have filled with a one inch layer of bran. Give the maggots a thorough mixing with the dry bran. Clean out the first washing up bowl and refill it with another inch of dry bran and add two or three tablespoons of sugar and the same amount of powdered turmeric. Sieve off the maggots once more from the damp bran and transfer to the bowl containing the dry bran and sugar and turmeric and mix everything together.
Leave the maggots alone for a while and see whether or not they can be transferred to the fridge. You must watch to see if they are still damp enough to be able to climb up the walls of your bowl and escape. If they manage to climb up the walls of the bowl then add some more dry bran until they become too dry to stick to the walls of your bowl. They can now be placed directly in your fridge as is until you are ready to use them (note it’s usually a good idea to have a dedicated maggot fridge for this as for some reason wives and girlfriends object to having maggots in the food fridge).
And that’s it. That’s how to breed maggots. These will keep for at least a month if stored in the fridge before they begin to turn to casters but they’ll be the most productive the earlier you use them.