Ron Hopper was an avid fisherman that had planned a trip with his friends Paul Fairbrass and Cliff Dale to Thailand in search of some of the largest carp in the world. With his trip already booked, Hopper didn’t think anything was going to stop him from making the trip until he got some tragic news. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer, and was only given a few weeks to live.

Both Fairbrass and Dale were there for Hopper when he was on his deathbed, and Hopper told his friends that he wanted to be cremated. Not only that, but he wanted his ashes to be infused into bate known as “boilies” to help them catch fish. Fairbrass and Dale honored his wishes, and set off to Thailand with the special bait.

While on the boat, the two men felt a large pull at the end of their line, and they knew they caught a massive fish. It took three hours, but they were able to pull the fish onto the boat, and what they found was a 180 pound carp; one of the biggest ones in the entire lake. Fairbrass and Dale were dumbfounded by they record-setting catch, and they knew they couldn’t have done it without their late friend.

“We were gutted that Ron couldn’t come on the trip because he was really looking forward to it,” Fairbrass said. “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.”

Dale said that “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.’”

The men were in the same spot that they had caught a 154 pound carp the year before when Harper had been with them. This time, he was there in spirit and helped them to catch the largest fish they’d ever seen with their own eyes. The park, Jurassic Mountain Resort & Fishing Park, was happy to share their story on social media. On Facebook, the park said that Fairbrass and Dale had honored Hopper “to the highest level” and that the massive carp was released back into the wild.

Though the record for the Siamese carp is no longer kept because they’re caught in protected waters, it’s still believed that this particular one was the largest to ever be caught. The park even named the carp “Ronnie” in honor of the late Hopper. The two friends had almost lost hope when they were out on the lake, at first. “We caught some smaller fish with (his ashes), but didn’t think we would get a big one. Ron must have been looking out for us,” Fairbrass said.

Eddie Mounce of Jurassic Mountain Resort added that “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 were smiling down and gave Paul and Cliff the catch of a lifetime. The three men are now part of Thai fishing legend.”

Cliff Dale was happy to share the moment on social media, as well, telling his friends and family on Facebook that “I would like to say thank you on behalf of Paul (Fairbrass) and myself for all of your kind comments…This was very emotional for Paul and myself, but to say we accomplished this beyond expectations.” He added that “Spiritually, Ron was there with us catching that big one on Ron’s favorite peg using one of his purple Ronnie’s boilies was not coincidental, it was a phenomenal experience you could not write. R.I.P. Ron. Tight lines.”