Ansil Saunders, Fly Fishing Legend, Passes

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Ansil Saunders at the helm of Jewel, one of his hand-built skiffs, circa 2009. 
Zach Stovall

NASSAU| The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MENR), and the Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association (BFFIA), led by President Prescott Smith, as well as the entire board and the hundreds of fly fishing guides across The Bahamas, extend deep condolences to the family of Ansil Saunders.

Ansil Saunders was not just a fly fishing guide; he was a beacon of knowledge, a guardian of our waters, and a passionate advocate for preserving our marine habitats. His life’s work profoundly shaped the fly fishing industry in The Bahamas, which has been an integral part of our culture for over a century.

Born and raised in Bimini, Ansil was a unique figure in the fly fishing community. His dedication over fifty years to guiding anglers through the pristine waters of The Bahamas was unparalleled. His ability to find the most elusive fish and his warm and generous spirit earned him legendary status in the fly fishing community, both locally and internationally.

Ansil’s contributions extend far beyond his skills as a guide. He was a tireless advocate for environmental conservation, working diligently to ensure that future generations could enjoy the same natural beauty and abundance that he cherished.

His impact extended beyond his career as a guide. He made history as the personal guide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his visits to The Bahamas. Dr. King found solace and inspiration in the Bahamian waters, guided by Ansil’s steady hand and profound wisdom. Their time together on the water was a testament to Ansil’s ability to connect deeply with people from all walks of life, sharing his passion for nature and commitment to peace and justice.

Ansil Saunders was very active in fighting for civil rights and equality for Bahamians. To learn more about his fight for equality, you can view the film “Mighty Waters,” produced by Cold Collaborative: https://www.amff.org/mightywaters/.

MENR and the Board and members of BFFIA believe that Ansil Saunders is a true icon and exemplary of what others, not only guides but all citizens, should aspire to be. His passing is a significant loss, but his legacy of dedication, humility, love for the natural world, and fight for equality for Bahamians will continue to inspire us all.

“As we remember Ansil Saunders, we honor his life and immense impact on our industry and environment,” said Prescott Smith. “Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and all who had the privilege of knowing him. May his spirit guide and inspire us as we navigate the waters he loved so dearly.”

“In memory of Ansil Saunders, we urge every guide across the Bahamas to continue educating Bahamians about the importance of the marine environment. Let us build on his legacy by advocating for the protection of the nursery systems that support flats and commercial fisheries throughout the Bahamas and beyond. Let us honor his desire to teach our nation’s children the art of fly fishing and expand this industry to its true potential, benefiting Bahamians.”

Releasing a nice permit caught with Ansil Saunders. 
Zach Stovall