From Stafford Creek, Davis navigated to a brand-new lodge, owned by Prescott’s brother Benry. When we arrived at Eva’s Bonefish Lodge, the paint was practically still drying and you could see that each and every aspect — from the entryways and the choice of cabinetry and countertop to the location itself — was handpicked and constructed by a person who takes pride in what his name is behind. Benry’s attitude on life is the infectious type. His smile and genuine love of laughter make you excited to share a boat with him, and his lighthearted guiding style subconsciously puts the angler at ease, which in turn takes a bit of the pressure off. Make no mistake, he takes his fishing very seriously, but if you make a bad cast, don’t expect to be scolded. Instead, wait for a deep laugh followed by a clever anecdote and a “No worries, that fish didn’t want to be caught anyways. There’s going to be another one, don’t worry.”
When he wasn’t pointing out cruising bonefish and giving instructions on presentation, Benry spoke of Eva’s, and when he did, the tone in his voice revealed the pride of an achievement he’s waited for his whole life. “My new lodge is my dream come true. Even though we fish the same flats, the same clients here and there with the same rods and reels, we still guide differently. The same applies to a lodge. It’s not a selfish attitude; it’s just that I want to treat my guests a certain way, and in business, to do that, you have to be the leader.”
As proud of Eva’s as he is, like his brother Prescott, Benry has a growing concern regarding the lack of young Bahamians picking up the trade and tradition of fly-fishing. When asked about the younger generation, Benry’s happy-go-lucky air softened and became more somber. “Getting the younger kids is so incredibly important. If guides really love and care about their profession, they’d want an apprentice. I feel that as a professional, especially here in the Bahamas, it’s our responsibility as a guide to pass on what we know to the next generation. We have a big job ahead of us — if the young folks don’t come up, this profession will just die. And that’s exactly what’s happening here on Andros and other Bahamian islands. It’s scary to think about what would happen if the skills and knowledge passed down from our fathers stopped at us. Luckily, many of us are doing what we can to contribute to various programs in the school system so kids in senior high can have another option for a profession when they graduate.”
Over the next two days, Benry pushed us around some of his favorite shallow-water spots, and we experienced great fishing. Having him on the platform reminds us that, oftentimes, the catching aspect of the sport is gravy and that the real meat and potatoes lie in your surroundings and the people you share the experience with. Departing Eva’s and Benry was bittersweet — his laid-back view on everything made us want to never leave; however, the good news was that we still had one Smith brother left to meet.