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We pull up to a scorching hot Hayfield lakes to be met by locked gates, a sight which has become all too familiar over the last couple of months with no fishing allowed. But thankfully today is different! Before long Noelie Goforth, who owns the stunning complex, comes up the drive to let us in. The team at Hayfield have been good enough to let us use the complex on one of the days it is currently closed to the public, a time which they are using to get on with any maintenance and ground work, without having to worry about breaching any social distancing rules.

It seems a little strange to see the venue so eerily quiet, as with many of you reading this, the mental image which Hayfield conjures up, are the hugely popular finals such as ‘Fish’O’Mania’ and ‘Match This’ which they regularly hold on the famous Dannie’s Island lake. Today though, we are focussing on the prolific Adam’s lake where we have come to take a look at a slightly different approach to margin fishing which has been serving Spotted Fin and Matrix angler, Katie Crooks well for a couple of seasons now.

On arrival at her peg, we are greeted by a bucket of red slop and judging by the colour of Katies hands, it’s obvious that this is what is getting fed down the edge! Before long she was explaining all about it…

“To make the mix couldn’t be simpler, it’s a case of taking some 6mm pellets, covering them in lake water and leaving them for around half an hour until they start to go a bit mushy. You want them at the stage where you can easily squeeze them into a ball and the outer is nice and soft, but don’t leave them so long that they turn totally to slop!

Once they have reached this stage drain them off and add a good glug of the Liquid Red to dye the mix. Not only does this make the mix more visual, the Liquid Red also has a number of attractors such as betaine added to the bottle which really help to draw carp in from far and wide!”

With the mix ready to go, we asked Katie what the thinking was behind the approach?

“I’ve taken a lot of the thinking from the specimen carp scene, when fishing for big pressured fish, washed out baits can play a huge part! You see it so many times that freshly introduced baits will just get ignored by big carp, they have been caught on them hundreds of times before. It’s not until they start washing out and breaking down that they will confidently eat them. This is exactly what I’m trying to achieve by soaking the pellets like this. The addition of the dye to the mix works on two levels, as I’ve mentioned it is packed with attractors and feed stimulants, secondly it creates an awesome cloud in the water. Again, this helps to attract fish and give them that bit of extra confidence.”

With all the bait ready to go it was time to kick off the peg, three cups of the sloppy, cloudy goodness were soon shipped out bang inline with the corner of the next platform. As the mix hits the water, you can see the attractive red cloud following the bait down, exactly as Katie had explained. A 6mm Catalyst pellet was quickly slipped onto a bait band and lowered onto the spot, it was obvious that the fish were straight on it with the float barely keeping still! Before long though the float confidently buried and the first carp of the day was hooked and played expertly into the waiting net, a long lean common typical of the stamp of fish in Adam’s lake.

With the fish safely returned, it was time to check out the rig Katie was using, “Well it’s nothing too complicated,” she explained, “It’s all about keeping things strong and reliable, I’ve got a nice strong 0.20mm mainline down to a 0.15mm hooklength with a size 16 KKM hook, perfect for banding a 6mm Catalyst pellet. The float is a 0.4g F1 Edge from Warren Peaty, these are mega strong so will stand up to some real abuse and that is finished off with a bulk of Stotz. Couple that rig with a 12-16 rated hollow elastic and you will be able to land anything you are likely to hook!”

It’s clear that is the case as Katie continues to land a number of carp (and the odd bonus crucian and rudd!) as efficiently as anglers three times her age. Whilst playing the carp she remarks how important it is not to panic, ship back keeping the pole tip down and only lift the top kit once you are ready to net the fish. This routine continues for the rest of the day, topping up with a small ball of the red mixture after each carp, it’s clear that the theory is well and truly working.

It perfectly demonstrates that with a bit of careful thinking and two simple ingredients (three if you want to include lake water!) you can give the fish something a bit different to the usual cad pot of hard pellets and experience some epic edge fishing like we have today!

Katie Uses…