Two anglers have honored their late fisherman friend by turning his ashes into a bait that snared a giant 180lbs catch.
Ron Hopper, 64, died from cancer before he could go on a much-anticipated fishing holiday to Thailand with friends Paul Fairbrass and Cliff Dale.
While Mr Hopper was on his deathbed when the trio agreed Mr Fairbrass and Mr Dale, both aged 65, should take his ashes to the Far East with them and infuse them with a special bait mix to make “boilies”.
The two fishermen named the special bait “Purple Ronnie” and cast off with it on the end of their lines throughout the nine-day trip.
And their dedication to their late friend paid off as a whopping a 12st Siamese carp – one of the biggest carp fish in the world – took a liking to his ashes.
Mr Fairbrass and Mr Dale spent three hours reeling in the monster and afterwards, when the adrenaline had worn off and they had returned the fish alive and well to the lake, they thanked Ron for making the fishing gods look down on them.
Mr Fairbrass said: “We were gutted that Ron couldn’t come on the trip because he was really looking forward to it, but he was definitely with us when we caught that fish.
“It seemed like it was destiny we would use Ronnie to catch one of the biggest fish in the lake. It’s what he would have wanted.”
Mr Dale added: “I am not a religious person but it felt spiritual, it felt like Ron was there with us.
“After we caught this fish I looked to the heavens and said ‘thank you, Ron.’
Mr Hopper, Mr Fairbrass and Mr Dale, all from Hull, East Yorks, went fishing in Thailand last year as a retirement present to themselves and enjoyed it so much they booked a return this April.
But Mr Hopper, who was a marine engineer, fell ill last December and was diagnosed with aggressive liver cancer by his doctor who gave him just weeks to live.
Paul Fairbrass said: “It gave him enough time to think about what he wanted to do.
“A few days before he died he asked us to take his ashes to Thailand and scatter them around the lake because he had really happy memories of the place.
“I told him we would go one better than that and turn him into boilies and catch a big fish with them. He just cracked up and said it was a brilliant idea.”
Mr Hopper died on December 22 and was cremated three weeks later.
His widow Judith took half his ashes to scatter them on a beach in Grenada in the Caribbean while his friends took the other half.
Mr Fairbrass and Mr Dale got permission from the airline to carry the ashes on board in a sealed container and waited until they arrived in Thailand to make the bait mix.
The two fishermen used them to catch several catfish and small carp before Mr Dale decided to cast off from the same position or peg Ron used last year to land a 150lbs carp.
Mr Fairbrass said: “We caught some smaller fish with it but didn’t think we would get a big one. Ron must have been looking out for us.”
The world record for a Siamese carp is 134lbs but the International Game Fishing Association stopped listing them several years ago as they come from protected waters.
It is believed to be the first time the 180lbs Siamese carp has been caught in the lake and it will now be nicknamed “Ronnie” in honour of the late angler.
Mr Fairbrass, a retired barge master, and former radio operator Mr Dale returned from Thailand with one boilie left which they are going to preserve in Ronseal and keep in a presentation box.
Eddie Mounce, of the Jurassic Mountain Resort which organised the fishing trip, said: “The memory of Ron will live with us here.
“Ron may not have been with us in person this year but he certainly was in spirit. He made sure the fish gods where smiling down and gave Paul and Cliff the catch of a lifetime.
“The three men are now part of Thai fishing legend.
Source: The Telegraph