July 5-6, Long Island, Bahamas
Simon Bain arrived on Long Island as the defending champion of the Bahamas National Bonefish Championship. Little did he know that a few days later he would depart as champion again. After winning last year's event with a strong comeback on the second day, Simon happily represented his home island of Andros in this prestigious annual event that pits the best guides in the Bahamas against one another for honors as the top guide in the country.
Battling uncharacteristically high winds and spooky full-moon fish, 10 guides representing 10 different islands had to put all their skills to the test. Despite the conditions, the competitors managed to rack up some pretty impressive numbers. A total of 197 bonefish were landed over the course of the two-day event.
On Day One Elton "Bonefish Shakey" McKinney of Crooked Island led the pack with 21 points, with Bain in a close second with 20. In a comeback reminiscent of his performance last year, Bain landed 17 fish on Day Two to jump into first place and secure his victory with a grand total of 37 points for as many fish. Newcomer Omeko Glinton of Grand Bahama came in a close second with 33 points, while McKinney took third with 30 points.
What made the difference? Always moving to find the right tidal conditions and playing to finicky fish. On Day Two, Bain switched to a 15-foot leader and continued creeping along the flats, wearing light-colored clothing and making longer casts. Bain also made the extra effort to cast to every school of bones he saw on a flat. He caught fish on #4 and #6 Gotchas, Puffs, Crab patterns and Bonefish Specials, but the real killer was a #4 white-legged Charlie.
Bain summed up what it meant to him to win two years in a row by dedicating this year's championship to his two brothers, Stanley and William, who have been missing at sea since 1995. Stanley was one of the first investors in Andros Island Bonefishing Club, and also in Simon. He made sure Simon learned the art of finding and catching bonefish, as well as fly-fishing. "Without Stanley - there would be no 'Bonefish Simon,'" said Bain.
Simon will receive a check for $5,000, and an invitation to accompany the Ministry of Tourism at trade shows as the Islands of the Bahamas' bonefishing diplomat.