My dad was one of the first people to introduce fly fishing to the Bahamas. He did fishing guides for Joseph Kennedy, the father of John F Kennedy and Ernest Hemingway. When Hemingway was fishing with us, I was only seven years old. He is a likable person. In fishing, he is still an unmanned master. Instead of begging for fish bites, he automatically bites them. I learned a few things from him.
I was born in 1936 in Grand Cay, Abaco. At 8 years old, I myself became a fishing wizard. My father first let me go to the beach to be a guide for clients because I know where the fish are. Soon, he began to feel comfortable with my client out to sea, or as a young boy, I brought adult barracuda, barracuda, mackerel and tarpon in Abaco’s salt water shallow waters.
In 1968 I started a fishing hut on Andros Island – “Charlie’s Haven” (Charlie’s Haven), which I built by hand with pieces of lumber and some steel. Baseball player Ted Williams became my client. And golf champion Jack Nicklaus. Dag Hammarskjöld, the former Swedish general secretary of the UN, unfortunately, also caught fishing with me for 10 years before losing his plane. While fishing, I also serve as chef and resident musician at Lighthouse Club near Fresh Creek. I cook, fish, and use a guitar bomb Calypso minor.
One day in the late 1960s, Lynden Pindling, then Prime Minister of the Bahamas, came to Andros Island with the then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. They want me to take them to Northern Barracuda. I knew at the time that this time we had to catch fish.
I remembered childhood. Once my father pulled a feather from a mallard he shot and handed me the feather on the hook. I walked down the beach and immediately caught a North Barracuda with it. In the water, the lure looked like a small fish, and I realized at the time that the northern barracuda must love to eat small fish. So I used a chicken feather as the main body of the lure, eyeballing with some beads on the military license plate, and making a lure that looked exactly the same as a small fish. The next day, the two prime ministers had caught the North Barracuda, and I also invented the famous “Crazy Charlie” northern barracuda lure, a revolution that has revolutionized salt water fly fishing.
Later, I worked as a guide for two employees at a flying fishing company in California. They brought my bait back to the United States and made a different version based on the bait. I originally named the lure “Nasty Charlie,” but they later changed their name. Hundreds of different versions of Crazy Charlie now exist. This kind of bait has generated millions of dollars in revenue for the fishing industry, but I myself have never been paid anything.
I do not feel uneasy about this. I have had a very happy life. I am 78 years old and feel like a 28 year old boy. I have 15 sons and 9 daughters. If you’re only fishing, cooking and playing the piano all your life, it will be like me. Now I’m not very good looking, no longer a wizard to do the work, but I am trying to develop more effective North Pike lure.
My son and I are running a flying fishing university to teach young fly bait fishing in the Bahamas. This sport is not really part of our culture. Fly fishing costs are too high – rich people can afford to play. But young people are slowly falling in love with the sport. After flying fishing camp was opened, we not only taught them how to fly fishing, but also provided other aspects of ecotourism training, such as sea kayaking, bird watching, snorkeling and deep-sea fishing.
Our main purpose will be environmental protection. The Bahamas has an extremely rich natural resource, with the world’s third largest coral reef and a shallow sea stretching 20 miles, but we have to use it in a sustainable manner or else typical tourism consisting of hotels and cruise ships that destroy mangroves Mode, it will make all this encounter catastrophe.
We want fly fishing to take root here and also hope that the Bahamians can better manage the land so that they can truly become masters here.
Photo by Duke Wells