It took a while for the coconut telegraph to reach me, but when it did the news left me more than sad. Legendary Bahamian bonefish guide and owner of the Andros Island Bonefish Club, Captain Rupert Leadon passed away recently. The Islands have lost a charismatic ambassador, bonefishing one of its true pioneers, bonefishermen a colorful host and saddest of all, Rupert’s extensive family, their Daddy. Rupert’s legacy will live on through the many talented Androsian guides he was responsible for training, a good many of whom were also his brothers and sons.
I caught my first bonefish with Capt. Rupert Leadon and a year later my first tarpon—a single stray that cut across the famous Wide Opening flat while we were looking for ghosts not kings. A fish so intent on going somewhere that Rupert poled for twenty minutes to catch up with it and get us in to a favorable position. It was the only time I saw Rupert pole straight across that flat, his preference being to zig-zag until he found the depth that the big fish were patrolling. It took more time and it took more effort, but Rupert always had both in abundance when it came to hunting the giant bones of the Westside. Despite his exertions and the extended chase, I never worried about messing up the shot. With Rupert, if you caught the fish he laughed, if you missed the bite he laughed, and if you spooked the fish so badly it headed for the Berry Islands he laughed the longest. To Rupert, every sunrise, every skiff ride, every bonefish, every happy hour and every sunset was cause for infectious laughter.
Keep laughing, Cap—because every time a fisherman that shared your skiff cracks open a cold Kalik, we’re going to hear you. And we’ll remember how good it felt to arrive at your world-famous club and hear you say Welcome Home.
- Mark Richens