CAPT. NICO MELENDREZ

Char­ter Cap­tain, A-Fin-Ity Casa Vieja Lodge, Gu­atemala

Marlin - - BEFORE THE STRIKE -

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!”

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