RAISING MONEY TO FIGHT CYSTIC FIBROSIS
The sixth-annual Yellow Dog Redbone Fishing Tournament once more proved to be a tremendous success. (Read last year’s report here.) The event took place from February 16-19 on Andros Island in the Bahamas, where it has been held for the past three years. The weather on Andros was nearly perfect for the tournament, with light winds, warm air and good sun. Incoming tides hit the east coast of the island in the morning and then the west side in the afternoon, which made for solid fish numbers. This was to be expected from a fishery known to many as the “Land of the Giants.”
For the tournament, Swain’s Cay Lodge hosted 24 hard-core anglers with the highest degree of Bahamian hospitality, serving the group fresh stone crab claws from the west side of the island and plenty of drinks. Cal Collier, Jr. opened up the event by reviewing the rules and regulations with all the guides and anglers on this first evening and then, just as Ian Davis from Yellow Dog was wrapping up his welcome talk as the host of the tournament, the unmistakable cacophony of Junkanoo music sounded from the distance and a parade eventually appeared before the group out of the darkness.
As the energetic beats resounded in the night, Mangrove Cay school girls, dressed in extravagant costumes, dazzled the group with their perfectly coordinated dances. A troupe of young boys followed them, using the percussive techniques that are unique to the Junkanoo style of music. This high-energy procession is a festive tradition of the Bahamas that dates back to the 16th century, and not a single angler could take their eyes away from the exuberant fanfare that was playing out before them. This surprise parade made for a very memorable start to the Redbone Tournament this year.
Over the next three days, more fish were landed than in any other Yellow Dog/Redbone event held over the past six years, with a total of 326 scoring bonefish over 18” landed. Only six “non-qualifying” bones measured under 18”, which is an amazing statistic for any saltwater fishery. The guides preformed on every level and every team caught plenty of fish. There was even a tarpon jumped on a bonefish fly! These results are a testament to the quality of the guides and the fishery at Swain’s Cay Lodge on Andros Island.
This invitation-only event is not about competition between the 12 teams, but rather about raising money to fight Cystic Fibrosis. Of course, the philanthropic spirit of the event allows for plenty of fun and fosters camaraderie between competitors as well. With fresh conch salad served at the end of each day at Shine’s Conch Stand and a few fun golfing games thrown in for added entertainment, it’s no wonder that Redbone continues to grow and raise more money for CF every year. No matter the weather, it’s always a good time and everyone gets really excited about the cause that they are fishing for.
On the final night, Cheryl Bastien, the owner of Swain’s Cay Lodge, thanked the group and introduced a representative from the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, who extended his gratitude to the group for coming to the Bahamas. Captain Douglas Saunders acted as the Master of Ceremonies and announced the winners (after Cal Collier, Jr. carefully tabulated the results).
This year’s Grand Champion angler was Captain Justin Rea from the Florida Keys, with a total of 29 bonefish measuring over 18 inches. The first runner-up (also from the Keys) was Capt. Bo Sellers, with 24 fish to the boat. As a team, they secured the Top Team Champs title as well. The runner-up team, with 40 bones, was Cal Collier, Jr. and Dave Collier (who always end up as one of the top teams with their unique left-hand and right-hand simultaneous casting strategy). Dave Benson and Capt. Shane Wood from the Keys landed in third place with 39 bones to hand.
The largest bonefish measured 27.5 inches and was caught by Yellow Dog’s Ian Davis and guided by Captain Mark Bastien. Ian just barely edged out John DiCola, Bo Sellers, and Collie Smith, who each caught 27 inch bonefish. The top guide was Alvin, with a total of 46 bonefish over the three days — his second win in the past three years.
On behalf of the participants in this year’s Redbone Tournament, Yellow Dog extends a huge thanks to the incredible team of guides at Swain’s Cay who helped make these great results possible — specifically, Denzil, Randy, Leslie, Patterson, Kiki, Elvis, DJ, Mark, Doug, Marvin and Shine. A huge thanks to Cheryl and the team at Swain’s Cay Lodge for being consummate hosts and making the tournament such a success once again.
Redbone would not be possible without the generosity of the tournament sponsors: Hatch Reels, Thomas & Thomas Fine Fly Rods, Simms Fishing Products, Old Souls Fly Shop, Morningstar Marinas, and Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures. Our sponsors donated many incredible items for the live auction that was held at the end of the tournament and the total raised for “To Catch the Cure” for Cystic Fibrosis was just over $44,000 (or $134.96 per bonefish caught). Redbone has now raised over $134,000 over the past six years for this very meaningful cause!
We have every intention of breaking new records at the 2018 Redbone tournament, which will be held at El Pescador Lodge in Belize from November 6-11.