CAPT. NICO MELENDREZ
Charter Captain, A-Fin-Ity Casa Vieja Lodge, Guatemala
Responsible for close to 40,000 billfish releases in his lifetime, Nico Melendrez runs the 39-foot Billy Knowles A-Fin-Ity, and says at Casa Vieja Lodge, it all starts at the bottom. “Most of us start out as washdown boys, working for tips and hoping we get an invite to go fishing,” he says.
In a high-profile charter business such as
Casa Vieja Lodge, Melendrez points out that having a worthy mentor able to effectively teach you is part of the process, and names Capt. Chris Sheeder and award-winning angler Tim Choate as two of his. “Mr. Choate made sure we all perfected our fish-handling techniques, and Chris has an understandable reason for doing things the way we do. He is always calm, and his spread is flawless.”
The only way to stay humble is to watch and learn from others — the good and the bad. There will be times you learn more
from others’ mistakes, but whenever in doubt, Melendrez insists, “You should ask, and most importantly, don’t ever think you are above anyone.”
Although he admits he does miss the cockpit action from time to time, Melendrez finds being the captain offers him the perfect mix of emotions. “This is where nervousness and anxiety become pure satisfaction, because once they start biting in Guatemala — and you know they will — all the anxiety goes away!”