Scott is almost in tears.
He is doubled over laughing. The drag on his reel is screaming. If he doesn’t get his composure soon he’ll likely loose a nice fish. From the platform Josie Sands is steadily chewing his ass.
“No Scott! That was all wrong,” the disgust in his voice palpable.
“But I caught the fish?”
“I don’t care, it’s still wrong.”
Josie is the head bonefish guide at Andros South and his reputation as a hard ass is world renowned. He is relentless, barking direction, criticism and sarcastic commentary from his perch on the stern. Today he’s ripping my buddy Scott a new one for catching a bonefish. Neither Scott or I remember what it was he did wrong, and apparently neither does the fish, but Josie is pissed.
There are a lot of guests at Andros South who will not fish with Josie. Frequently they are C-level executives who are used to doling out the criticism and don’t like being on the receiving end. Frankly, some of them are racist who don’t like being called out by a black man. Some just have fragile egos that can’t take the pounding. Whatever the reason, I feel sorry for those guys. They have no idea what they are missing.
I love Josie. I consider him a friend. I go out of my way to fish with him and have for years. For this, I get twice the tongue lashing everyone else gets. Josie will chew my ass and I will reply something like, “I love you too Josie,” and he will laugh and say, “you my boy!” I’m not sure which of us enjoys it more but I do know who reaps the reward. Me.
The truth about Josie Sands is not that he’s a grumpy old flats guide. It’s not that he’s a hard ass or bitter in any way. If that’s how he sounds, you’re not listening. Josie is a serious dude, to be sure, but in a good way. He’s proud of his position. He’s proud of his knowledge. He’s proud of the fish he puts his clients on. Josie is a teacher and I’d be half the angler I am today, if not for his tutelage.
Granted, his ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ approach doesn’t work for everyone. It took a little getting used to for me but it worked out. I got to know the man. I talked to him. Learned about his life and his beliefs. I realized that fishing with Josie was not a chore but an opportunity. I learned to respect him and I learned that his riding my ass didn’t mean he didn’t respect me. Quite the opposite. If I went on Josie’s boat now and didn’t get chewed out for something, I’d want to know what I’d done to piss him off.
In truth, the sarcastic stuff that comes out of Josie’s mouth, stuff like, “The fish has got no mouth on his ass man,” is all in fun. Nothing he says to a client is meant to be hurtful. It just takes a minute to get his sense of humor through the thick Bahamian accent. Josie is a great guy with a big heart. He just takes his job very seriously. I know with complete confidence that when I step on Josie’s boat he has two goals. To give me the opportunity to catch the fish of a lifetime and to be sure I have the skills to not fuck it up. He’ll do whatever he can to see that those goals are met. That’s a guide I’ll fish with any day.
If you make it down to South Andros, I highly recommend that you spend a day on Josie’s boat. I guarantee you will learn something. I’ll not be surprised if you catch the fish of a lifetime. I also recommend that if you your ego is fragile, you leave it at the dock.
Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com firstname.lastname@example.org Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!