Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, fly fishing in The Bahamas stirred a multi-million-dollar groundswell of enterprise. At the heart of this unfolding was the elusive game fish called the bonefish, “the ghost of the flats”. Bonefish are a silvery, mirror-like fish renowned for their strength, fickle nature, and lightning-fast agility. Catching a bonefish requires skill, finesse, a sharp eye, and, for many visitors to The Bahamas, a guide versed in the practice of fly fishing. As a direct result of world-class fly fishing found across the islands, an array of industries have flourished, involving restauranteurs and yacht captains, taxi drivers and aircraft pilots, marine engineers and lodge-owning families. If bonefish are the heart of this world, the fly fishing guides who navigate the flats where bonefish swim are the soul, and The Bahamas is home to some of the finest. One world-famous fly fishing pioneer is the legendary Captain Charlie Smith, lovingly nicknamed “Bonefish Charlie” or “Crazy Charlie”.
A man of many talents, Charlie Smith has been a chef, a musician, a yacht captain, but above all he is an entrepreneur and owner of the celebrated Bang Bang Club fishing lodge. The Bang Bang Club sits off the beaten path, on Pot Cay in the Andros archipelago. It is Charlie’s second lodge: fire destroyed his first, called Charlie’s Haven, in 1983. For Charlie, fishing began as a way of life. It was something that he learned, along with sailing and yachting, from his father. Although he roamed through other professions in his formative years, Charlie would ultimately return to fishing as a professional fly fishing guide and lodge owner after years of experience on the Bahamian flats. The Bang Bang Club has grown to become the hideaway and fishing destination of prime ministers, celebrities, and world-class anglers all because of its owner's hospitality and skill, which he gladly shares with his guests. Captain Charlie Smith celebrates the success that fly fishing has brought to The Bahamas. He hopes to go on helping young Bahamians to learn a highly skilled, economically rewarding, enjoyable pursuit. Through his leadership the Bang Bang Club and its network of sister lodges maintain a family tradition of sharing knowledge and expertise; they continue to pass on a culture that has grown up around Bahamian fly fishing; and they offer a mecca for those who feel the call to chase “the ghost of the flats”.