My wife, Catherine, and I have had the great pleasure of getting to know “Bonefish Stuart” Cleare, both on and off the water. The first time I went fishing with him, as a novice (read: rank beginner) I was full of questions. I still am. But the first time out, I was baffled at the whole process. Why does he choose to go to one spot instead of another? Why are we driving the boat 30 minutes in one direction when we could just go five minutes down the shoreline to a flat even I know of, and spend our (expensive) time fishing and not just burning fuel? Why does he get to a certain spot in the water, cut the engine and jump on the poling platform when as far as I can tell there is no difference between where we are now and where we are going? Patience, young grasshopper, patience. And on we go.

Then, at some point, while I am occupying my time enjoying the scenery both above and below the water, Stuart breaks the silence by calmly saying that there’s a school over there, 10 o’clock, about 50 feet. Probably 10 or so fish. I am now wide awake and scanning the water in front of me, most likely looking more at the surface because I don’t know how to focus my vision on things happening beneath it. Stuart starts to get excited. His voice lowers and his speech slows. Ten o’clock. 50 feet.

It’s hard to describe how a three- to five-pound fish can cause so much commotion when you finally hook one. The water just comes alive. Evidently those fish do not want to be caught, and once they realize they are hooked, your reel will sing as the line sails through the guides of the rod, often bringing you into your backing, once or even twice. And if you thought you were excited, just look over your shoulder and cast a glance at Stuart. This is truly a team effort, so while any fish lost are no one’s fault but my own, any brought to the boat and netted are a shared accomplishment and one to be celebrated regardless of the size of the fish. And then you gently release him back into the water so he can eat and grow and you can both try your luck again, another day.

To speak with Stuart about bonefishing is to learn a lot about his dad, “Bonefish Joe,” and what he meant to Stuart. I never had the pleasure of knowing or fishing with Bonefish Joe, but—perhaps like other experts on other islands—Bonefish Joe was and remains a legend on Harbour Island in the Bahamas.

Stanley Babson, then a homeowner on the island, is acknowledged as having written the very first book on the sport, Bonefishing, in 1965. His writing is full of the adventures that he and Bonefish Joe shared over many years, whole sections describing various outings and conversations relating to bonefish and how to track them—with plenty of success and failure but what seemed always a memorable day on the water. Spending time with Stuart makes me feel that it was his goal to absorb all of the knowledge and experience that his dad could pass on to him, and then continue that legacy by taking his own clients out and creating a memorable experience for them—it seems so far, so good.

I hope this book will bring a smile, or maybe a rolling of the eyes, to readers who can picture their own time with Bonefish Joe, while savoring the nugget after nugget that Stuart offers to those who want to learn more about the techniques of bonefishing and enjoying a few of his own stories along the way.