It’s October 1984 and Ritchie McDonald has rocked the carp world with the capture of a 45lb 12oz mirror from Yateley North Lake, Hampshire. It’s a fish which would go on to become one of the country’s best known and most loved…
It was the second-largest carp ever landed, playing second fiddle only to Chris Yates’ 51lb 6oz fish from Redmire Pool in June 1980 – and just as Richard Walker’s 44lb British record of 1952 had inspired a whole generation of carp anglers, so Ritchie’s capture of the North Lake Mirror did likewise.
The story behind the catch can be traced back to a conversation Ritchie had with close friend and fellow big-carp pioneer, Rod Hutchinson.
Speaking to Angling Times shortly after the capture, Ritchie (then 30) said: “The fish had been caught several times before and I wasn’t impressed with the pictures I’d seen of it. Then, in a café one afternoon, Rod suggested I take another look. After seeing the photo, I knew I’d have to go for it.”
Some weeks later Ritchie began his prebaiting campaign, using 9lb of Rod Hutchinson’s Catchum Protein Mix, flavoured with Pukka Salmon and coloured orange.
Two friends, John North and Mark Cox, baited up for Ritchie two days a week for a fortnight before he began his two-month campaign to catch the fish, which would later become known as Bazil.
After catching three fish to 28lb over his first three trips, on October 12 Ritchie set up for the session that would make history, fishing alongside his mate Richard Everson.
“I had a feeling and said to Richard ‘we’re going to have that fish this time’. He knew it too,” said Ritchie.
A couple of days into the session Ritchie cast his rig 50 yards to the back of a gravel bar, and was drinking tea at 5pm when his bite alarm sounded.
“I picked the rod up and straight away knew it was the big fish. It came in quite easily, as do most big carp. The fish was in superb condition, and the pictures I’d seen in the past really didn’t do it justice.”
The fight from the North Lake mirror might have been unspectacular, but the impact the catch made was anything but.
Above all, perhaps, it showed that it was possible for anglers to set out their stall to catch a particular fish through a dedicated campaign. For that reason alone, it remains one of the most influential carp catches of all time.
TACKLE AND BAIT
- Rods: Spiralite 12ft and 13ft carbon
- Reels: Abu 55
- Line: Maxima
- Hooks: Size 65 spade-end Au Lion D’Or
- Bite indication: Optonics, with Catchum Monkey Climbers
- Bait: Catchum Protein Mix boilies, flavoured with Pukka Salmon