Over at the Dan Blanton message board I’ve seen frequent posts from Nassim Joaquin, many having to do with my favorite finned fiend, the bonefish. So, it was with great interest that I read about Nassim catching his 1,000th bonefish. One thousand. That’s such a big number, so many fish, so many days on the water, so many flies tied, so many miles flown. I had to get Nassim to answer a few questions and when I asked, he obliged.
That’s one of those things about fly fishing. People are generally pretty free with answers and willing to help. Makes you wish the rest of the world fly fished so we could all get along… however, if the whole world fly fished all the good spots would be taken and we’d all get cranky and probably go to war over trout streams and bonefish flats instead of oil. So, maybe it is best things are how they are.
Here’s my interview with Nassim. Before I get started, I have to say a word about counting fish. Some people think counting your fish somehow cheapens the experience. I am not one of those people. I count. I don’t keep track of how many fish I’ve caught total, but my dad does and he’s a pretty fantastic person. Some folks just count. Others don’t. It doesn’t make you any better or worse of a person or angler, so if you think that… well… it takes all kinds, as they say (for example, some people like ellipses).
Nassim, you’ve just landed your 1,000th bonefish. Tell me about that fish.
I should have caught that fish in 2010 but I finally caught it in year 2011. But I was fishing for other fishes in 2010 and took way longer to reach the 1,000 mark. It took me about 10 years since I caught my first bonefish in Paraiso, Ascension Bay with the long gone Pez Maya Lodge guide Enrique “El Tigre” to my last fish in Cozumel Island, with my longtime guide Gaspar Chulim.
I’m a fish counter, but generally just on the day, not a cumulative tally. How did you actually record all those fish? What was your best day? How long did it take?
I started counting my first catches back in 1995 when I was starting to flyfish in saltwater. Then I got a personal notebook with notes and decide to count all my: bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook and billfish. Thats it. Plus I also have a record of how many flyrod species I have caught. Just flyfishing in Weipa, Australia I caught 25 different species in 2 days with the fly. I also got the information of where I caught all that fish and if it was from a boat or by wading. Finally I also keep track of any of my bonefish over 8 pounds. Plus my Grand Slams and Super Grand Slams (but I got record of those at the IGFA Grand Slam Club anyway). And my 3 IGFA world records for mutton snappers and goliath grouper. It may seem like a lot of work but it is not really, when I clean my flies and tackle with freshwater after a fishing day I take a few minutes to write down the information of the days catch. That is how I keep those numbers going over a decade. I dont think I could quit right now but maybe I will someday.
My best day was in Cuba at the Gardens of the Queen with 30 fish caught in a day by myself. In Xcalak, Mexico I also caught 20 and my partner 12 so we had a 32 day fish fishing together.
After a thousand bones, I’d imagine they start to blend together. Are there one or two that really stand out?
In my opinion there is nothing like my first catch. That is the one I cherish the most. My casting was not good back them, my eyes were not used to find fish and my stripping was no good either and I did strugle to get that fish and I finally did. That one stands out. I guess it is like a virginity matter, you never forget the very first one….Also the biggest, a 10 pound bonefish in Cozumel. A mark that I am always trying to beat. I would love to get a 12 pounder sometime in my lifetime.
How many bonefish locations have you fished over those years?
For bonefish? Not that many international ones. Just Cuba and Belize. But In Mexico I have caught them all over the East Yucatan from way northeast in Isla Blanca, Cozumel, Boca Paila, Ascension Bay, Espiritu Santo Bay and way southeast to Chetumal Bay…I am only missing one at Chinchorro Bank.
What’s your favorite bonefish rod/reel?
I like to fish Sage rods. I like the old RPLX ones. But I am trying to move to the new models. I want to try that new One rod. As for reels I always fish Tibor’s. The Freestone that is no longer in the market was perfect for the small bones of the Yucatan. I still got 3 of those in blue and gold color. I collect reels so I usually fish old models from time to time. I fished my Seamaster “Baby Doll” some months ago and it was fantastic. Perfect for my home waters in Cozumel were I have caught most of my fish and the average bone is about 3.5 pounds. But it is a reel I mostly keep at home at display. I belive that an 8 Wt rod with a fast action is the best bonefish rod.
If someone wanted to hit 1,000 bones, what advice would you give them?
Go to places were you can catch numbers of fish no matter if those are small fish in average. Numbers of fish will make you a better angler and do not fish for them at muds. You will not learn bonefishing by fishing at muds. You got to find shallow water fish or tailing fish in cristal clear waters the better; in places like the Yucatan, Chrismas Island, Bahamas…Los Roques… Mostly try to avoid places with realy big fish like Florida or New Caledonia when you are starting. The size is perfect but it would be very dificult there to have a 20+ fish day there. And fish as much time and as often as you can. I took a long time for me to reach that mark but because I fish for billfish a lot and I love permit fishing too. You know those species will take you away from the bones numbers, but I dont regret it. Now that I got my 1,000 bonefish I can focus on my permit fishing I want to follow Del Brown’s footsteps so it is a long way to get there…. If ever.
Thanks Nassim and congrats on 1,000 bones.