After 8 years spent targeting an Atlantic-sailfish-on-fly record, Nassim Joaquin found his magic number. Fishing with Capt. Anthony Mendillio and mate Ruben Pena aboard Chachalaca out of Isle Mujeres, Mexico, Joaquin caught and released 12 fish in one day and a total of 18 during a two-day period.
Nassim caught six fish on the first day, just one shy of his personal best. “We tried to the raise the bar and were almost there but the weather was against us,” he said.
The team knew they were witnessing a great bite with tons of bait that would hold the sails. Still, nothing prepared them for what they would encounter.
On February 1, the crew headed to the grounds north of Contoy Island. In almost perfect fishing conditions, they began working some prolific sardine baitballs. “There were so many fish, you could not believe it,” Joaquin said. “It was like seeing rising trout, and everywhere there were birds.”
This was the beginning of a busy day for the angler and crew. “The bite was non-stop,” Joaquin said, “I did not have time to eat or even put on sunblock! I broke some off, pulled the hook, you name it – but I finally reached the magic number of 12!”
The previous record of 10 on fly in a single day was set in 2005 by Joaquin’s friends Joe Zimmer and Capt. Butch Cox aboard Prime Time – it’s a record Joaquin’s been eyeing for a long time. “I’ve been coming back every year to Isla Mujeres waiting for the sails to come to me. Finally they did, in force,” he said.
What also makes this feat so incredible is the manner in which they fished. Normally when targeting marlin and sailfish, the fish have to be teased into taking a fly. In this case, every fish were caught freecasting a fly into the baitballs.
“All of them were caught freecasting, no teasing,” Joaquin said. “As for the flies, we matched the hatch, the sardines, and used only blue and white colors. It was like sight-fishing for tarpon.”
The fish ate Cam Sigler’s Captain Hook Fish Flies, Joe Kononchik’s streamers and Flashy Profile flies from H2O. Joaquin relied on a 14-weight Cam Sigler rod a 13-weight Sage RPLX rod paired with Tibor reels. The fly lines and 20-pound IGFA-rated tippets were made by RIO.
“It was a 100-percent team effort, and Capt. Anthony Mendillo was the man,” said Joaquin, also the local IGFA representative for Cozumel. “Along with mate Ruben Pena, they deserve a huge part of the credit. Mendillo is one of the top captains I have ever fished with.”
After catching the most Atlantic sailfish ever on fly in a single day, Joaquin summed it up by simply saying, “I am very happy.”