This week I learned of the passing of one the greatest people I have ever had the pleasure of both fishing with and getting to know. Sadly, Captain Joseph Sands, “Josie” to those who knew him, was taken from his home waters this week when his boat tragically crashed while at sea. I consider myself extremely lucky to call him my friend.
When I met Josie for the first time in the spring of 2011, I was a very young, eager, angler ready to explore and conquer the world of Bahamian bonefishing. The first time I set foot on the bow of Josie’s boat I could tell I was not ready for what was about to come. I did not have the skills to meet the opportunities presented to me by this legend of the Andros flats, and frankly Josie let me know that. It was a humbling experience that over time turned from just a humbling experience on the water to a humbling experience that began a precious friendship.
In the beginning, particularly on the first few days, I would have described Josie Sands as “gruff” or “intense” or, maybe even, “demanding”. However, over time and now that I have gotten to know the true Josie, his intensity and precise nature never came from a place of malice, yet, a place of passion.
Josie’s passion for the flats and bonefish were unmatched. His passion for sharing his “office” with new and old friends alike was on display every time his boat left the dock at Little Creek.
I have had many opportunities to fish with some amazing guides, many of which guide for the Andros South Lodge and in my mind Josie will go down as one of the “GOAT” bonefish guides to hunt the flats of South Andros. To me he is and forever will be a “Michael Jordan” level figure; he was the guy who you want on the platform when the 10lb bonefish crosses your path. Josie called the shots and put you in a spot where you could win it all.
A tragedy like this shows each one of us that life is short and that we need to emphasize the importance of friendship and lasting memories when times are tough. I know the community of South Andros has been shaken to their core. However, I know that the community will rally together to come through this storm stronger than before. Josie may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.
In closing, I just wanted to say Thank You to my friend for making me a better angler and even better person every time I stepped on and off your boat. Your friendship, kindness, and drive in the pursuit of excellence have shaped me in more ways than you will ever know.
Captain Joseph “Josie” Sands
Imagery taken from Deneki Andros South Management Team – Liz Fincher & Max Pushak