First the bread crumb. I have been drying my own crumb from cheap supermarket cut loaves. This involves drying and then processing it to a fine crumb. All this is okay when making smaller quantities but when each loaf, after drying will only render about 600g of dry crumb the task becomes impractical when making larger quantities.
The other problem is storage. As the 'second dog' ingredient is liquidised hot dog sausages, and the liquid they are tinned in, the finished mix has to be frozen if it is to be stored for any more than a few days. It is impractical in the domestic environment to store more than a few bags in the freezer. This is not so bad if you have a dedicated fishing bait freezer but even then it seems a bit pointless as the expense of running a bait freezer for groundbait starts to erode any economy of scale that has been achieved by making the stuff in bulk or just adds a running cost to the venture.
After spending many hours drying my own bread, I eventually decided to look around for a supply of ready dried white crumb. I eventually found a supplier on eBay that could supply 20kg bags of either white or brown crumb at a reasonable (£22.49) price including delivery. When it arrived it was perfect; bone dry and very fine with no lumps. But me being a bit thick, It had not dawned on me that a 20kg bag of dry breadcrumb weighs the same as a 20kg bag of sand and is just as awkward to move around!
To prove that I am not really all that thick, I worked out that I could make up all the dry components for my ground baits in bulk and add the 'wet' stuff prior to using it. With this in mind we set about making six times the usual amount and bagging it up in measured quantities ready for the addition of one tin of minced hot dog sausages.
What we ended up with nominally 2kg bags made up of 800g of bread crumb, 800g Rich Tea biscuits, 350g of ground Wagg chicken and vegetable flavoured dog biscuits and 2½g of finely ground black pepper added to 50g of turmeric powder. These bags, I suppose, could be referred to as one dog... The bags can now be stored almost indefinitely in a cool dry, rodent free place. All we have to do now is find such a place.
The difference in cost works out to be about 10p per 800g bag of finished groundbait mix. For all the effort and time it saves, it is a price I am prepared to pay for the convenience. It was okay when I was making the stuff in small quantities but now I make it for Tim (the 'other bloke' in this story as well as being my brother) and a few mates it makes sense to go down this route.
With the Two Dog sorted, I turned my attention to my other favoured mix; Surf 'n' Turf. As the Two Dog mix tends to target F1s and other carp, Surf 'n' Turf seems to target the skimmers, bream and tench. This is only really a bias towards those species as both will catch heavily. The bias can be increased by the choice of hook bait, but that is another story.
Surf 'n' Turf contains a few more ingredients than my other recipes but the dry stuff can be mixed and stored in bulk in pre-mixed bags as with the Two Dog. Again we end up with 2kg bags containing 1kg of bread crumb, 250g of fish meal (or ground pellet), ground 250g cat biscuit and 500g Vitalin.
The wet ingredients can be mixed in advance in sufficient quantities to add to the dry mix either in advance, and kept in a fridge, or made up the day before use and added to the dry mix.
ColourThe bright yellow of the Two Dog groundbait is fine in the summer but as the water clears, I believe the fish can be put off from feeding over it as they become silhouetted against the light colour which makes them easier to spot by predators. The Surf 'n' turf is not so bright and it's brown colour is less of a problem but it is still a bit on the light side.
I have tried liquid food dye in the past without much success. I did find a red powdered food dye that is extremely good that I used in my Red Dog recipe and found it worked well with corn, turning it bright red. Initially I tried to dye the Surf 'n' Turf green but that did not work out at the time.
Recently I have been experimenting with some Sensas purpose made dye. This is a powder and comes in tubs of 100g. It varies in price but if your local tackle shop stocks it it can be purchased for £4 or £5 a tub, through the post it seems to be around £7.00 or more by the time it has had delivery factored in. As it requires about 20g per kilo to be effective, it can be an expensive option.
As the money was racking up, it seemed like it would be worth experimenting with liquid dye again but this time up the 'dosage' A small bottle of food dye is around 60p. I decided to add a whole bottle to one of my 800g bags of two dog. It tinted it green. I added another bottle. Now I am at a comparable cost to adding the Sensas dye. The result was still disappointing. I then added a level tablespoon of the Sensas dye to 800g of the bright yellow Two Dog groundbait and got a mid green. Better, but still not what I was looking for.
As we have also been making up a good stock of Surf 'n' Turf, I decided to try a batch of that too. By the time the wet ingredients are adsorbed by the dry Surf 'n' Turf mix, we ended up with just over 2700g of mix, giving three bags of just over 900g each. one of the bags was tipped into a bowl and one level tablespoon of dye was added. This time the green was darker as the base colour of the mix is a sort of fawn colour. Still not quit as dark as I had hoped, but dark enough to give it a trial.
I think my next move will be to try the black dye. As most black pigments are in fact a very dark green, maybe mixed with Two Dog, which is bright yellow, I may end up with the dark green I am trying to replicate. That will be for another time, I will see how this works out and take it from there.