Farewell, Cap

by T&T on July 9, 2012

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

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

marilyn July 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

R.I.P you will be sadly missed coz

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mike michalak September 15, 2012 at 11:54 am

The world of bonefishing lost a true pioneer this summer when Rupert
Leadon, longtime owner of Andros Island Bonefish Club passed away at his
Fresh Creek home of natural causes. Rupert left behind a bunch of kids,
a huge family, and as many friends and fond memories as one man can
collect in 67 years on this Earth.
It’s hard to believe that his heart gave out, because Rupert had as much
heart as anyone that ever pushed a pole. He was seldom without a smile,
and could laugh as easily at misfortune as he would at success. Like
most of us, he had his share of both.
Rupert combined charm, talent, a bit of guile, with a lot of hard work
and built AIBC into what was once regarded as the top lodge in the
Bahamas. With a little help from the McVay family, Rupert created the
nearest thing possible to a Bahama bonefish dynasty in mid-80’s, and
it’s reasonable to offer that between Rupert and Charlie Smith, they
probably trained or inspired everyone who now owns or operates a
bonefish lodge on North Andros.
If it’s true that a man lives on as long as he is remembered, then this
man’s memory will be around for quite a long time. Anyone who was around
Rupert would recognize him to be as close to a Renaissance Man as the
Bahamas could create. The guy was equally comfortable with a
screwdriver, hammer, or a push pole in his hands. He’d be mixing drinks
for the crowd one minute, playing the saw the next, and be the first one
up in the morning, ready to head for the ‘West Side’ if the winds were
right.
Rupert Leadon was an honest and loyal friend. I count myself lucky to
have shared the boat and a bunch of good times with him.
Mike Michalak

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