Maggots … Glorious Maggots
Posted 09/08/2021 : By: Will & Sarah Draper
A blog all about maggots is perhaps not the most enticing topic that we could be writing about. And we apologise if you are just about to sit down to dinner. However we do want to let you know that we have now started stocking maggots in our ‘Tuck and Tackle’ on-site shop. A great many of our guests arrive without maggots, and it is frustrating to say the least to have to make an hour’s round trip to the nearest tackle shop. No longer! You can now arrive here with an empty bait tin and we will fill you up. Whilst we are on the subject, here is a little about the humble maggot.
Maggots are synonymous with fishing, and no wonder because all species of UK fish will feed on them. Here at Badwell Ash, a maggot is as close as you’ll get to a guarantee of a catch; it’s favoured by perch and roach, but you’re in with a chance of a carp too. A maggot and luncheon meat combo is a particularly effective tactic for tench.
We can trace the origins of fishing with a maggot to at least as far back as Izaak Walton’s day. In his classic ‘Compleat Angler’ published in 1653 he refers to it as a ‘gentle’ and has the following tip for the carp angler: “your gentles should be put two or three days into a box anointed with honey, and you are as like to catch this crafty fish this way as any other”. Interesting that flavourings were already in use nearly 500 year as ago!
The maggot is the larval form of a fly. There are numerous types of maggot although the one most favoured by UK anglers is the bluebottle larva. Smaller maggots known as ‘pinkies’ and ‘squatts’ are the larval form of the greenbottles and house fly respectively. After a few days at room temperature the larva develops into a pupa known to fisherman as a caster; also an excellent bait. To slow down this lifecycle, it’s best to keep your maggots cool, which is why we store ours in a special bait fridge at around four degrees centigrade. They go into a kind of torpor, and will last for a few weeks in this state, but will rapidly revive once warmed up. It goes without saying but it’s best to seek permission from the owner of the fridge and make absolutely sure your bait tin lid is firmly on!
Maggots come in an assortment of colours, but I would suggest you look no further than red for Badwell Ash, which is the colour we stock. When I was a lad, the colour of choice was ‘bronze’. This hue was achieved through the use of chrysoidine dye, which was suspected of being carcinogenic and banned. A shame as they were deadly in winter’s matches on the Grand Union Canal, although they did stain your hands and jeans more or less permanently.
If you are bored of fishing, keep in mind that you can use maggots in other ways, for example medicinally in most cultures around the world, and their use in UK to clean up decaying flesh around wounds was widespread until very recently - who can forget that scene in 'Gladiator'? Indeed, this technique is still used in the US. Equally gruesome is the use of maggots in real life CSI forensic science - the stage of larval development can help pinpoint time of death.