Even though the record was vacant, this atomic sunfish is a monster for the species.
It took six months for Jonathan Johnson to catch fish. He knew he could do it and he spent every chance he could pursuing the vacant record, needing a two pound fish to qualify. The atomic sunfish, or Mayan cichlid as its more official name, is an invasive species to Florida. They grow in large numbers down in the canals and swamps of southern Florida, and now, one has been caught that set the bar pretty high.
“I caught hundreds of Mayans before I finally got one that made the grade,” Johnson said in an interview with Naples News.
Weighing in a 2.37 pounds, made the grade it did. As of now, Florida recommends that all anglers that catch a Mayan cichlid keep it to help reduce their invasive numbers. However, Johnson stated that he lets most of them go. As a matter of fact, he did say that he was planning on eating his record setter had it been under two pounds.
Even though these fish are invasive, Florida officials report that atomic sunfish have no impact on other native fish species that also live in Florida. As far as Johnson goes though, he is looking at catching another invasive species record in the near future.
“I’ve been catching some big tilapia,” he said.
Here’s hoping he gets that record too!