Sunday, 22 March 2015

Boilies! ... and the same to you!

Mmmm... Spicy boilies!
Just before Christmas I won an eBay auction lot. It was one of those lots that you really wish had gone to someone else. The parcel was spilling a sand like dust that stunk! The poor private carrier was delighted to get it out of her small van. The lot was a mixed lot of fishing gear that included some boilie making equipment and some supplies. What was not stated in the listing was that all the supplies were years past there sell-by and the rancid smell was enough to make you heave. Nothing had been washed after its last use and the remains were all growing.

Most of it went straight into the wheelie bin. I did salvage the almost new looking rolling tables and the chip basket. This sat around for a while until I had a chance to do a bit of research into what I needed to get going. My! This is one weird subject. There seems to be several schools of thought out there ranging from "Don't bother, buy a bag of ready made"  to recipes that include dozens of ingredients. After a while, I came to the conclusion there is no definitive answer to what should or should not be included in the mix. I decided to settle on a mix and have a go.

The recipe

I found a basic recipe published by the guru of boilie making Ant Wood. He has probably published more recipes for home-made boilies, and all sorts of other bait, than anyone else I could find. He has written a few books and I have ordered one for further reading. My recipe, although based on others, is made using my own ground-bait mix.

The basic recipe:
  • 200g Ground-bait
  • 100g Semolina
  • 50g Rice Flour
  • 50g Dried Skimmed Milk
  • 225g Eggs in their shells

The ground bait mix is made up from 50% very dry and fine, sieved, breadcrumb. I have taken up using a pestle and mortar for this - very therapeutic! This is mixed with 25% gingernut biscuits and 25% custard cream biscuits. These can be bought very cheaply from the supermarkets, have a hunt around. I bought mine for twenty-odd pence for 300g packs. These were whizzed in a food processor until they are really fine. The sticky stuff in the custard creams (which, incidentally I can't stand the taste of) adds a bit of moisture to the mix and a very pungent smell. I have used this mix with or without 'additives' and it seems to work well. Mixed with lake water and balled up onto small golf-ball sized lumps it makes a nice cloud as it descends. Unfortunately the swans seem to like it too.

The strawberry paste is ready
The eggs came from Tesco and were their cheaper eggs at 15 for £1.20. The eggs are all different sizes! That is why I have given them as total weight instead of a number of eggs. Some recipes suggest that the shell is included as well but I have not included them in this batch. Using the basic ingredients I made two batches. To one batch I added red food colouring and strawberry flavouring. To the other, I added yellow colouring and garam masala for a spicy flavour. I have no idea if this will work but I have to start somewhere. Wrap the paste in cling film until it is ready for use will keep it moist by preventing it drying out. It is moulded into a long sausage just before it is placed in the sausage gun. There are lots of these guns on the market, the gizmo fans will bet looking at the compressed air powered sausage guns, but unless you are going into mass production, a good quality, middle of the price range, branded gun will do the job well and give your hand a good work out! My gun is branded Gardner and is actually a modified Cox caulking gun. All the parts are readily available as spares. The gun is tough enough to do the job easily and should last me a lifetime.

Off we go...

For each batch all the dry ingredients were thoroughly mixed together. The eggs were whisked in a separate bowl. Colour was added to the egg mix, dry or wet and flavours were added, dry to dry and wet to wet. The dry ingredients were gradually added to the wet while being whisked in using a fork. As the mix became stiff, the fork was abandoned and it was in with the hands to knead the mixture to a stiff paste, while adding as much of the dry ingredients as the paste will take. When it will no longer stick to the hands, it is ready. I still had a few grams of dry mixture left. This was added to my 'been to the bank' groundbait stock, so that nothing goes to waste. I have not bothered to show these mixing stages as there are plenty of step-by-step articles and videos on the internet already! Powder and liquid being combined in a mixing bowl do not make exciting still photographs!
Ta dah!
The paste was loaded into a boilie gun and squeezed out over the bed of a rolling table. The top was pushed up and down and hey presto - Boilies!

Show off!
As confidence grew, my loyal assistant decided to go for it and was rolling two 'sausages' of paste at a time - Show off! A large pan of water was brought to a vigorous boil. The boilies were cooked by lowering them into the water, contained in a wire basket intended for chip frying, for ninety seconds. After being fished out of the water they were transferred into the state-of-the-art drying bags (also known as onion bags!) and hung up to dry for twenty-four hours.

Water at a vigorous boil
Cooking about thirty boilies at a time keeps the water close to the boil
Tomorrow the boilies will be packed into plastic zip-bags, labelled and added to the growing stock of bait elbowing its way into one of our freezers...