The Bahamas has long ranked among the world’s top fly-fishing destinations. Familiar surnames like Saunders, Folley,
Leadon, Rolle, Pinder, Neymour, Knowles, Mackey, Glinton, Brennan, and Smith are entrenched in the rich history of
sportfishing in the islands nation, where remarkable guides who could practically sense the presence of gamefish
before they came into view have passed on their love of the sea and their astonishing fish-finding skills to their
The allure of the big (by Bahamian standards) cities and the economic opportunities in Nassau and Freeport have
increasingly interrupted that passing of the torch, but the tradition certainly remains alive and well in one family
in Andros. Three sons carry on the legacy of their famous flats-fishing guide father, Charlie Smith, creator of the
Crazy Charlie (arguably the most popular and influential bonefish fly pattern ever). He was the first Bahamian to open
a fishing lodge in the islands—Charlie’s Haven—in 1968, even before the Bahamas became a sovereign nation.
Legendary Bahamas guide, Charlie Smith, keeps an eye out for bonefish. Photo by John Frazier
A Father’s Legacy
A gifted and versatile fishing guide with a gregarious personality, Charlie quickly gained a reputation for leading
anglers to sensational catches. Word of his talents spread quickly, and soon numerous celebrities and sports stars,
like baseball hall-of-famer Ted Williams and golf legend Jack Nicklaus, and even world leaders, including UN
Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and two United States presidents traveled
to Andros, clamoring for Charlie’s services.
Prescott Smith is one of Charlie’s three sons who took up the mantle, and as one would imagine, he was introduced to
fishing and the fishing-lodge lifestyle early on. He recalls catching bonefish and juvenile permit with a hand line
from the beach as a toddler. By the age of 10, he was helping out with various chores at another lodge run by his
father, where he was constantly surrounded by anglers and introduced to fly fishing. With that kind of immersion in
the sport, it’s natural to assume Prescott would want to follow in his father’s footsteps, but he had other ideas.
Safety comes first with Prescott, so he quickly heads away from a storm. Photo by Andrew McNeece
Big Dreams Take Flight
After high school, Prescott joined the Bahamian Defense Force (equivalent of the US Coast Guard) to make enough money
to pursue his dream of becoming a commercial jet pilot. The stint in the military provided the opportunity to visit
all corners of his native country—an archipelago that encompasses more than 3,000 islands, cays and islets—and
experience first hand the beauty and riches of its waters and coastal habitats.
Soon after, despite having already enrolled in flight school, Prescott decided to make guiding a career after all, and
started thinking about building and running a fly-fishing lodge of his own. Not just as a business opportunity, but
also as a means to introduce anglers from around the globe to the wealth of marine resources in the Bahamas and raise
awareness about the importance of safeguarding them from the constant threats posed by developers and various special
interests. Still in his early 20s, he understood that people usually fight to protect what they know and love.
Quite the astute fishhawk, eloquent and passionate yet soft spoken, and an outstanding fly caster with a knack for
helping his anglers fix deficiencies in their casting mechanics, Prescott quickly distinguished himself as one of the
top flats fishing guides in Andros. And in 1998, combining his resourcefulness and a surprising business acumen, he
opened Stafford Creek Lodge, which has since expanded and become one of the finest fishing operations in the Bahamas.
Big bonefish abound at Andros, and Prescott Smith knows where they live. Photo by Sharon Lance
Fish and Protect
Along with his success came more responsibility, as Prescott juggled guiding and managing his lodge while also acting
as a tireless advocate and staunch defender of his nation’s inshore fisheries and marine habitat, which happens to
include the most extensive network of flats and reefs in the western hemisphere.
At 55, he continues to fight the good fight. Prescott is the sitting president of the Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry
Association (BFFIA), the organization he helped form to provide a voice for fishing guides and lodge owners and
operators who run fly-fishing-related businesses in the Bahamas. And he is also heavily involved in a training and
mentorship program for young Bahamians who hope to make a living as flats fishing guides.
Preventing a proposed mining project that could severely impact Andros’ fertile but fragile nurseries for a number of
important species, including prized gamefish, is Prescott’s latest battle. He is tackling the challenge with the same
aplomb with which he poles his Hell’s Bay Marathon skiff across the flats, calling out incoming bonefish, permit and
tarpon for fly anglers taking their turns on the bow.
Stafford Creek Lodge, truly one of the top fishing operations in the Bahamas.
Over 104 miles long and 40 miles wide, Andros is easily the largest land mass in the Bahamas, yet it remains mostly
undeveloped while its population hovers around a mere 9,000. Prescott built his picturesque Stafford Creek Lodge on
the shores of a coastal creek by the same name, on the imaginary line of demarcation between central and north Andros,
nestled in a tranquil bend that offers great views and remains fairly sheltered while still benefiting from the cool,
The air-conditioned accommodations are spacious, well-appointed, and feature full baths ensuite, furniture made of
local woods, and porches overlooking the water. The main building has a large dining room, a bar, and an adjacent
living area with comfortable seating and satellite TV to keep up with the latest news or catch the big game. The
covered veranda and a couple of gazebos surrounded by tropical landscaping are perfect for hanging out and mingling
with fellow guests while enjoying your favorite libations, appetizers and the view. And you can also stand on the dock
and watch the tarpon and snapper feed after dark.
The proficient staff prides itself on world-class, personal attention, the bar is well stocked, and the food is
excellent. Prescott’s sister, Stacy Smith, is a classically-trained and quite creative chef who delights guests with a
variety of international dishes and her refined versions of Bahamian specialties. For starters, the conch balls, her
take on conch fritters (aka cracked conch) are absolutely scrumptious.
Prescott’s playground includes vast, prolific shallows, like the flats surrounding the Joulter Cays. Photo by
Prescott and his team of hand-picked guides have intimate knowledge of several vast and prolific stretches of Andros’
water, where fly anglers can tangle with bonefish, permit, tarpon, barracuda and other inshore game. Good fishing,
along with the desired protection during periods of strong winds, can often be found in Stafford Creek itself, as well
as in neighboring oceanside shallows. To the north lie the expansive and fertile flats of the fabled Joulter Cays,
where you will marvel at the scenery and the bonefish, permit, and the supporting cast patrolling the pristine, skinny
waters. And just around Andros’ northwest tip unfold miles and miles of undeveloped coastline on the renowned west
side of the island, where numerous freshwater creeks emptying onto the vast, light-bottomed shallows of the Great
Bahama Bank produce the most reliable tarpon fishing in the region, while also serving up the forage coveted by the
many bonefish and permit that inhabit the area.
Andros is the best tarpon destination in the Bahamas, as many Stafford Creek guests are discovering. Photo by
If you’re looking for a place where you can check a few coveted saltwater species off your bucket list in a gorgeous,
peaceful setting away from the crowds, you won’t find a better choice than Stafford Creek Lodge. And It’s open for
business year-round to take full advantage of the superb permit and tarpon fishing during the summer months, when many
lodges in the Bahamas close for the season.