It is the greatest thing in the world to have friends. Especially friends who share your interests, your beliefs, and perhaps most importantly, friends that you trust. As we get older and enter into our golden years, having these people around us is even more important.
Take for instance the tale of three English anglers whose love of fishing and friendship was so great that it carried on after death…
Pull it In
The friends had one hell of a giant fish on the line and they were not about to lose it. Though it had been nearly three hours and the men were obviously feeling the fatigue of the catch, they had to imagine that the fish, or whatever it was on their line, was about to tire itself out at any moment. It was a dream come true for the old friends.
Ron, Paul, and Cliff had all been friends for decades. All three came from Hull in East Yorks, England and spent their retirement doing the thing they loved the most: fishing. They even booked a trip to Thailand together and had enjoyed the experience so much that they decided to return a year later. Unfortunately, there was just one problem…
It came to pass that Ron Hopper, who was a marine engineer, was feeling a bit under the weather. When his condition worsened and turned out not to be just a bad bit of flu, like he previously believed, he decided to go to the doctor. Before long, Ron Hopper was subjected to all manner of tests and with each one, it became more and more clear that Ron’s condition was worse than they thought.
Can’t Believe It
Finally, Ron’s doctor told him the grim news: he had an aggressive strain of liver cancer. Ron Hopper had mere weeks to live. His wife and friends couldn’t believe it, just a few months prior he had been right as rain, and now he had to figure out what he wanted to do with the little time he had left in the world…
Paul Fairbrass and Cliff Dale were beside themselves with grief. “We were gutted that Ron couldn’t come on the trip because he was really looking forward to it…” explained Mr. Faribass. Still, they had to be strong for their friend. The two fellow anglers were at Ron’s bedside almost every day, talking about old times and laughing.
One of the subjects that came up during their chat was the subject of Ron’s ashes. In fact, a few days before Ron passed, he asked his friends to take his ashes and scatter them around the lake where they had fished in Thailand, because he had such fond memories of that place. “I told him we would go one better than that and turn him into boilies (lures) and catch a big fish with them…” said Paul. What he didn’t realize then, was that Ron had taken that joke much more seriously…
Ron Hopper was on his deathbed when he decided that Paul’s little joke was exactly what he wanted as his last request. So he called his two 65-year-old friends and told them that he wanted them to mix his remains with a special bait mix to create bollies and take the lures with them to Thailand.
Death of a Friend
Ron Hopper died from liver cancer on December 22, three days before Christmas. He was 64 years old. It was a grim holiday season that year but three weeks later, Mr. Hopper was cremated and the next stage of his journey began…
Of course, Ron didn’t want all of his ashes going into fish bait. He left his widow, Judith, half of his ashes so that she could scatter them in Grenada in the Caribbean, one of his other favorite places. Meanwhile, his two best friends took the rest of the ashes with them to have them turned into bollies.
Planning the Trip
Paul Fairbrass and Cliff Dale were getting themselves together for their trip. They packed their poles, their hooks, and the material that, once they arrived in Thailand, would become their primary bait. There was just one more hurdle to go over before they could cast off with them: they had to find a way to get the airline to carry the ashes on board with them…
Travel to Thailand
Thankfully, Paul and Cliff had very little trouble convincing the airline to let them carry the ashes on board in their sealed container. In no time at all, they had made it to Thailand and were ready to make their bait. Soon enough, Ron had been transformed into a couple of “Purple Ronnies”, as they called them, and was hooked to the ends of their lines.
The two fishermen rowed out into the middle of the lake and cast out into the open water. Yet, despite catching a few small catfish, they couldn’t seem to hook anything Ron-worthy. “We caught some smaller fish with it but didn’t think we would get a big one…” explained Mr.Fairbrass. Then, just as they were about to pack it in, something else bit on the line…
Something big had latched onto the Purple Ronnie bait and nearly yanked the rod out of Cliff’s hands. As he recovered and began to reel, he realized with a rush of adrenaline, that whatever had grabbed hold was no ordinary fish. Mr. Fairbrass and Mr. Dale spent the next three hours taking turns reeling in what they could only assume was some kind of lake monster.
It was ironic that not a few minutes before they had decided to take the boat in, Cliff Dale had decided to cast off from the same position peg that Ron had used the year before to land a 150 lb carp, which is one of the biggest fish in the world. Whatever had the bait now, was bound to be bigger…
The two friends pulled a whopping 180 lb Siamese Carp out of the water that day. The previous world record for a Siamese carp was 134 lbs but the new fish has smashed that record entirely. What’s even stranger, is that this was the first time a Siamese Carp had been caught in that particular lake. Locals were so impressed that they named it “Ronnie” in honor of the late fisherman.
Whence You Came
Once they were done taking pictures of the massive monster, the two men decided that it should be returned to the lake from whence it came. After all, as far as they were concerned, it was Ron who sent it to them in the first place: it was only right that he have it back. The men were overjoyed at the catch…
What he Wanted
Mr. Fairbrass, who is a retired barge master, and former radio operator said, “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.” Truly it was a great moment for both men and the perfect send off for a friend who had been an important part of both their lives.
Cliff Dale added, with a bit of a tear in his eye, “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.” But what happened to the rest of the Purple Bollies after they had caught their monster?
Well, Mr. Dale returned from Thailand with only one boilie left. The two friends decided they were going to preserve the bollie in Ronseal and keep it in a presentation box so that their relatives and Ron’s will be able to remember him doing what he loved most.
Eddie Mounce, of the Jurassic Mountain Resort which organised the fishing trip, said: “The memory of Ron will live with us here.” He added that the three men, Ron, Cliff, and Paul are all part of a Thai fishing legend and that thanks to them, big “Ronnie” will inspire countless new anglers to catch the uncatchable fish.