Cuban Fly Fisher
What does a fishing paradise consist of....well, every fisherman always dreams of prolific fishing and catching a large fish from time to time. Imagine a vast expanse of flats with mangroves, spoonbills and herons gliding above a tranquil stretch of water, the soft plop of your guide’s pole as he takes you to one of his secret nooks and crannies to cast an accurate line a metre in front of a skulking bonefish. Bonefish like bottom feeding but with
this nice crazy Charlie fly, the fish is diverted and executes a perfect turn around in the shallow water to inspect the offering. The silver eyes of the fly together with the wrap around tinsel and brackish coloured feather streamers prove too much for this fine example and he greedily slugs the fly. The fisherman does a mild yank with the slack fishing line in his hand and whoosh, the it takes off like a fish out of hell, heading for the tangled mangroves. Bonefish are wily creatures, strong and determined to live, but this fisherman has seen it all before (in the Bahamas, Florida, Los Roques in Venezuela etc) and he skilfully draws the fish away from the gnarled roots. But excitement mounts because he has just hooked a 9lb monster that is screaming line so he reels it in fast with every slack and gradually draws the fish towards the skiff. He is nearly there, when suddenly the fish zooms off under the boat, a sure way to be free, but the fisherman is also wily and calmly passes the rod to the front and around the bow of the skiff. Within 20 minutes he has landed a trophy fish.
Las Salinas off Cuba’s south coast opened officially in the year 2000 after Fidel Castro gave permission for tourists to fish here; before, he used to practise scuba diving here in this silent world of birds and fish. Cubawelcome obtained the first fishing contract here after advising the Cuban agency (at the time it was Rumbos) on pricing and technical details about the fishing. A ripple of excitement passed through the fishing world as anglers saw a golden opportunity to fish virgin waters, undisturbed for years, at a very attractive price. The fishing remains pristine to this day because the skiffs are poled, leaving nothing to disturb the firm sandy bottom, and the boats reach a limit after which one can only dream of what lurks in deeper waters. The silence of this vast expanse of these wetlands, located in the infamous Bay of Pigs, Cienaga de Zapata (famous for the failed US attempt in 1961 to invade Cuba), the schools of tailing bonefish, the swish of a Jack and maybe an elusive Permit, all lend a certain peacefulness not to be found anywhere else. It is truly, a staggeringly beautiful place.
The guides are old hands, their eyes as sharp as hawks. They stop you fishing at about lunch time when the sun is a golden sphere above the mirror water, he comments that men eat when fish dont. You swop old tales of fishing at home, how a lovely silver salmon, caught on the Spey, took an hour to land. Juan Carlos, the guide, regales you with opposing tales of the monster Tarpon that was caught in the Hatiguanico river with a sinking line last June, claiming a weight of 150 lbs. Or the 35 lb Permit caught on the flats three years ago with a Gotcha fly and a bonefish light weight rod.
The Hatiguanico river resembles a mini Amazon river boasting tons of water birds that fly in front of your boat as it chugs along with its outboard motor, until Felipe, the mythical river guide, finds a sink hole with fresh water bubbling to the surface. He instructs the angler to cast a sinking line. After a few attempts, there is a strike. The tarpon takes off but the angler turns it just before it buries itself in the bank’s murky water. The silver king jumps clearly from the water, a flash, a reflection of this spectacular fish which causes adrenalin to rush through the angler’s body. The guide also cannot help showing his pleasure when this fish is landed. A photo is taken and the majestic creature is carefully released.
Cubawelcome has had the pleasure of receiving two English anglers who have been coming to this paradise for six years. A combination of attractive pricing, varied flats species including prolific bonefish, occasional permit, jacks, barracuda, snook and tarpon in the river, a completely unspoilt environment and the delight of Cuba itself, all, together encourage fishermen to leave behind cold blustery winters in the north to taste the delights of this balmy island. Packages of 6 days fishing with 7 nights in a three star hotel on the beach full board, all private taxi transport in Cuba, fishing licence and visa if coming from the UK, starts from £1550 per person. Tackle can be hired locally. If you have never been salt water fishing before, I guarantee that you will learn very quickly how to cast a fair line and catch a bonefish. It makes trout and pike fishing seem like a cosy picnic. This is Sport with a capital ‘S’. All the fish are captured on a Catch and Relase basis, thus preserving fishing stock for future generations. We meet you on arrival at Havana airport and transfer you within two hours to the fishing hotel. Alternatively, you can add some days in Havana as well.
Why not combine the above with a day’s deep sea fishing off the Marina Hemingway in Havana. Fully fitted boats take you out to the channels where, depending on the season, you can catch Marlin, Sailfish. Wahoo, Black Fin Tuna and more. A boat for four people is priced attractively at £300 for a four hour session including pick up and drop off at your hotel.
Finally, if you have the same tastes as myself, i.e. fine Havana cigars, Cuban cocktails and great Rum, you are in for a pleasant surprise, as you discover that you can imbibe in these pleasures for a third of the cost in the UK.
Please contact Cubawelcome’s owner, Michael Mirecki at email@example.com for further details or telephone 0044 53 53448888.
Our new fishing site, CubanFlyFishers.com will be up shortly. Also, check us out at the CLA gamefair, where we will have a stand. This year it is located in the magnificent grounds of Blenheim Palace near Oxford, UK.