Cuba Trip Report - Fly Fishing Forum
Bonefish, Tarpon, and other Obsessions Turquoise water, silver demons on the fly

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Old 11-21-2006, 06:39 AM
English English is offline
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Cuba Trip Report

Just returned from a week trip to Cuba. Fished for bones at Las Salinas and Tarpon at Rio Hatiguanico.
The bonefishing at Las Salinas was great. The fishing is in a goverment controlled nature reserve in the Zapata swamp and is reached by driving down a very bumpy dirt track for around 15 miles (this drive is painfull!). This track eventually leads to a spit where you pick up a guide to access the large areas of mangrove fringed shallow lagoons. The lagoons seem to go on forever joined by narrow channels. I saw numbers of flamingos and a very irritating water buffalo which seemed to follow me around (spooking the bones as it went)
The fishing is from wide plastic canoes poled by the guides. The reserve is a non-motor zone so the guides have to pole you around over quite some distance (I often felt sorry for mine as he strained to push us along and would get out and walk).
The Bones where numerous and very naive , a poorly placed cast would often spook the fish only to have them move on 10 yards and continue tailing. Most fish where in the 3 to 6lb size range. I did not see any huge schools as in the Bahamas but mainly small groups of 6 to 10 fish with occasional singles.I think on a good day you could catch 20 plus fish no problem (my best was 13 in fairly windy overcast condtitions). Fly choice seemed failrly irrelavant. Saw a few permit but did not get the opportunity to cast. Anyway overall a beautiful spot with some great fishing. The quality of the guides and boats is not great but it didnt matter that much. I would just ask the guide to park up and go off on foot (hard bottom averaging 1' depth) and explore the various bays (the fish where easy to spot) before moving on to another area via the canoe.
The fishing here is operated by the National Park and by the Cubanacan tourist agency who you can deal with directly or via a number of holiday companies. I think compared to guided operations in the Bahamas it represent very good value. Unfortunatley you cannot access the reserve without a guide (I would love to get my inflatable canoe in there and explore myself!)

Rio Hatiguanico is almost like fishing in the Amazon jungle. Its a mangrove lined estuary with lots of small channels which eventually leads into the sea. Fishing is from small guided boats with an outboard. There where tarpon rolling everywhere ranging from around 3lbs upto around 20lbs. I found a shoal under some mangroves which when I fished for them resulted in a follow or hook-up on every cast. Must have jumped around forty in the space of a few hours. I fished with a dark cockroach sort of fly but I think they would have had a go at anything. Also had a go at trolling plugs which was equally successful and managed to catch a few snapper as well. Some friends also managed to catch a few snook trolling plugs.

There are a number of cheap hotels within travelling distance of the fishing but these are very basic (would not recomended taking your other half unless they are used to 'roughing it' a little. Also be wary of leaving your wet flats shoes/ trainers outside your room as they may not be there in the morning !
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Old 11-21-2006, 06:56 PM
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Adrian Adrian is offline
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Excellent report!

Travelling to Grand Cayman on business recently the flight from Ft Lauderdale took us over over Cayo Largo just off the South coast of Cuba. I have never seen such an incredibly extensive system of flats and small cays. Stunningly beautiful from the air, it even makes the lagoon at Christmas Island look small! This has become one of my "must do" destinations.
When sight fishing, look over your shoulder from time to time, you never know who's behind you
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Old 11-22-2006, 02:41 AM
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petevicar petevicar is offline
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Hi Adrian

It looks even better from the ground.
I am going there next week for the third time this year.

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Old 11-22-2006, 04:42 AM
FishHawk FishHawk is offline
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I thought that Cuba was off limits to Americans, unless you were on an educational trip. I guess the trip qualifies, got to learn about the Cuban fishery. FishHawk
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Old 11-23-2006, 03:45 AM
English English is offline
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I'm from the Uk where there are no restrictions on visiting Cuba . I have however heard rumours of Americans travelling to Cuba via Mexico (Cuban immigration does not stamp your passport but rather an inserted piece of paper).

On the fishing front many areas in Cuba are barren of fish due to the pressure of local netting. The best areas are those that are protected by either a national park status or general inaccessibility (although driving into Las Salinas early one morning we saw numbers of poachers who had gained access despite barbed wire , guards and checkpoints at the entrance).
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Old 11-24-2006, 11:51 AM
Geordie Shanks Geordie Shanks is offline
but the scenery's great
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very nice


Thanks for the great report. I've read several articles and met a guy in Florida a couple years ago that have fished the reserve area of Cuba, and it sounds like the trip of a lifetime. The guy I met in Florida stayed in a houseboat for the whole week, and they would just tool around and change "camping spots" each night, then the next morning the guides would untether thier flats boats and pole him around. Only 4 sports and two guides, plus staff. He said the week ran him over $8K, but well worth it. That is well outside the realm of my dirtbag fishing budget, but I'm sure there are cheaper ways to do it. Thanks for the cool report and making me forget about work for a few minutes. Any photos you feel like posting?
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Old 11-28-2006, 05:31 PM
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Tin Pusher Tin Pusher is offline
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I never would have guessed a guy named "English" was from the UK.
Tin Pusher is my job, Not gear choice!
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Old 11-28-2006, 05:53 PM
The Thrasher The Thrasher is offline
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Any tips on Varardero?

I'll be there in March -- with family. Not really a fishing trip, but might bring a rod along if there is potential.

Any experience with this part of Cuba?
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Old 11-29-2006, 07:16 AM
English English is offline
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Hi Thasher
No experience of Varadero I'm afraid , i've have read that there arn't any flats there and there has been alot of netting, not sure how true this is.
There's a good webiste on Cuba ( google 'cuba mania' ) with a fishing forum , may be worth posting there to get an update
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