Any serious fishermen knows that once you find your perfect fishing spot, that place becomes sacred ground.
Buddies Paul Fairbrass and Cliff Dale know that to be an absolute fact. The two men, following the last wishes of their recently deceased best friend and fellow angler, Ron Hopper, returned to the same spot in Thailand that the trio had fished the previous year.
The three man originally went in 2015 as a retirement present and absolutely fell in love with the place. They even promised to return the next year. Unfortunately, Hopper was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, which eventually took his life in late December.
Even with this unfortunate loss, Faribrass and Dale were determined to make Hopper a part of this trip.
“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,” according to Fairbrass. I told him we would go one better than that and turn him into [fish bait balls] and catch a big fish with them. He just cracked up and said it was a brilliant idea.”
The pair didn’t just talk about doing this to make their dying friend feel better, they actually did it. Bringing the ashes of their friend along with them on a nine-day trip, the two mixed Hopper’s ashes together with bait, creating something they called “Purple Ronnie.”
After tracking down the exact spot their friend had caught a massive fish the year before, Fairbrass and Dale tried their special bait and it didn’t take long before something big took an interest in it.
What ensued was a 3-hour battle with a 180 pound Siamese carp. This massive fish even set a new record for being the largest ever captured at the lake.
‘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,’ said Fairbanks.
‘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.’
The same Siamese carp can still be captured at the lake if you’re lucky and have the fight in you to reel it in. The carp has even garnered the nickname ‘Ronnie’ in honor of the man that made it all possible.