It’s with great sadness I report that Capt. Rupert Leadon, owner of Andros Island Bonefish Club, passed away on June 29, 2012, from heart problems. He was 67 years old.
In his lifetime, Leadon accomplished much. I suppose it was about 30 years ago when he invited several outdoor writers to Andros Island, Bahamas. With help from locals, he’d built a one-room cottage, which was the meager beginning of what would become Andros Island Bonefish Club. In one half of the room, Leadon cooked our meals, and the other half was where we slept.
Andros Island is by far the largest in the Bahamas, and we writers were surprised and pleased by the numbers of bonefish we saw and caught during the trip. We all returned to the States to write glowingly about the resource.
During the next few years, the business flourished, and Leadon expanded the number of cottages. Eventually, a large main lodge was built on the shore of Cargill Creek, at the eastern edge of the North Bight, and a smaller office was erected next door. Soon his operation was the largest and most active bonefish club in all the Bahamas. At one time he employed 12 guides. Later he purchased the Cargill Creek Lodge next door. Fly-fishermen from around the world came to wet their lines in these productive waters.
I’ve been fortunate to fish with many guides around the planet, and I would honestly rate Capt. Leadon among the top three or four. No one I shared a boat with could see fish as well as he could on the flats. The first day I fished with him, he said as he poled, “About 150 yards, there are three bonefish — get ready.” I wondered how he could see fish that far away. He monitored their movements, and when they were 80 yards away, I saw three bonefish and couldn’t believe my eyes.
Out of all the days I’ve spent bonefishing, my best day ever was shared with my great friend Irv Swope and Leadon. We made one of the first guided trips to the distant west side of Andros. These bonefish had rarely been bothered by anglers and saw few to no flies. Leadon had a good scale with him, so we weighed the better bonefish. We caught 36 bones weighing more than 6 pounds, one 10-pounder and one topping 11 pounds. I haven’t had another day close to that.
Over the years, Leadon became legendary, and he was highly respected by those in the Bahamian government. Andros Island Bonefish Club will live on and longtime staffers will continue to operate the club that Capt. Leadon made famous among fly-fishermen around the world.