February has come and gone and my beautiful wife, Lia Jones, and I have put yet another adventure behind us. Two days of unpacking and laughing at all the trivial, memory inducing trinkets, shells, documents, and of course, 10 pounds of sand, my favorite… The last month has impressed upon me the importance of just being still and happy. The world that I left on January 30th had been harsh. Sickness in my family, sickness in my best friend, sickness on the internet and TV 24/7, all of these things are too real… too stressful, and unrelentingly persistent, and hell bent on bringing us down. To stand on a hurricane punished dock, staring at a sunset going down over an abandoned shipping vessel with the woman of dreams has a powerful effect on a person who has had a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as of late. For the first time in what seems like forever, I could feel the peace and happiness overcome the stress, fear, and sheer panic that I have been dealing with over the last 6 months. It’s not that the feelings went away, it’s that my perspective was slowly changing. As the sun went down I was excited about what the next day held. Would I be fishing with Al for the elusive mutton snapper in his secret hole or diving into a blue hole, which is part of the largest underwater cave system in the world, who cares. The only things that were certain were that the sun was going to set, Al was going to smoke 2-3 fat cigars, and another adventure was about to rear its head with the sunrise. The feeling of waiting for the future, however near, with excitement and fearlessness is one of the greatest experiences that I believe anyone can, or will, ever have.
Lia and I were lucky enough to be joined by an amazing group of people, some clients, but all close friends, and if they weren’t before the trip, they sure as hell were afterward. There were four people in particular that made each week equally as memorable. I want to thank Hank, Eva and their staff (Arlene and Jennifer) for their support of this new project we have lovingly dubbed “The Andros Connection.” The generosity that we experience on the island, not only from the friends we knew, but the new ones that we made, was exceptional. Al Lefor…what do you say about this man. Probably one of the few people who have done more than I have, and was probably better at it. Al made sure that we felt at home even when we drank all his rum and tonic…literally every night. I learned that if you show up, better bring a bottle of cheap rum and a bottle of wine, because every gorgeous night gave us another reason to celebrate being alive. From the fly shop in Divide, MT to the shores of Fresh Creek on Andros Island, Big Al has put up with the craziness that is the life of the Jones’ with a smile on his face. His secret spots are no longer secret, but they won’t go far buddy, I promise you that. Thanks for beating the hell out of your Ford daily, to take us fishing, and being willing to share with Lia and I the beauty that you have found on that peaceful island in the Caribbean. I also want to thank Linda Reiswig for going through the effort to make sure that Lia and I were put up in a beautiful house and deal with our constant arrival questions. We will miss all of you.
To those of you that thought about coming but couldn’t find the time or means to follow us to Andros, don’t worry, it’s not over by any means. I think that one of the reasons that Al, Linda, Hank, and Eva let us come down and interrupt their peaceful existence might just be as simple as this: These people don’t have a selfish bone in their body. They are driven, like my wife and myself, to try and bring people closer to the beautiful, simple things in life, like hooking a bonefish in the most beautiful water you have ever laid eyes on. It would be very easy to keep my secret spots hidden, my secret fly in my box, but where does that leave me? Fishing a lonely hole, by myself, because I am too self-centered to share what I have found with the people that I love.
To everyone that joined us, thank you. It would not have been nearly the experience without you, even you Juice Box. I want to thank Brian Wheeler, Ninja, Stephanie, Juice box, Ben and Dylan Hahn, Josh and Kelly Bush (that shark survived a Bush attack), and last, but not least, my good friends, Jed and Chris. Without all of you the experience would not have been as satisfying as it was. The bad news is that we had to leave that place behind, the good news is that we WILL BE BACK, so the future is looking pretty good from here. Brown trout, here we come!