Cayo largo Cuba Report I

We have traveled to Cuba for another amazing salt water fly fishing experience.

Part 1

It has been always a shock when you land in Cuba. It is not my first rodeo there, and after three times I still get surprised for a country that looks like from the ´60. There is poverty in Cuba and almost non opportunities, but at the same time it is a very safety and happy place in the world to visit. The best asset in Cuba could be the Cuban great sense of humor and their passion for music and Ruhn.

I have landed in Jose Marti airport a warm afternoon in mid-November, on my direction to Cayo Largo. This Cayo in the south of the country is it about 30 minutes flying from Habana, and some of the best fly fishing is there. I was not relaxed till I have seen my baggage with rod and reels coming out in baggage claim. Then, no problem, I had just changed money and took a taxi to the hotel. 

Lets talk about money in Cuba for a minute. First you will loose 10% when you change American dollars, so I highly recommend people to bring euro’s.  Second, the best exchange rate it is not at the airport, but in my case, I did not care and change there just to have enough cash and forget about it. So, advise, not big deal, but euro’s help. 

One more thing, do not expect a fancy taxi, ok! You will get the regular taxis that are available and that will be enough, and you will be lucky if there is air conditioned (suggestion: ask before getting into the taxi). The ride to your hotel will be with Cuban music, so enjoy it. 

Hotels in Habana: I have to confess, that I have seen some that are good enough to feel great and enjoy the city, like the Capri, the Park Central, the Panorma, the Zaratoga, the Melia Habano; but this time It was not a good one. El Bosque hotel is not good, an I had spent my first night there, only one thing was good: the air conditioner. Then lobby was bad, service was bad and the atmosphere was bad.- it was ok for me but it will be not ok for  some of my friends from US or Europe. I do not recommend it and Sorry Nico about it! From now on we know what we have to do.

My dinner was good and I had slept really good.- I was ready to go to Cayo largo the following morning at 4am, YES at 4am.- They picked me up to go to a very small airport that was about 30 minutes away, a nice bus with air conditioner was doing a trip through different hotels picking up people.

Before I go forward, let me talk about WiFi, Not good at all, I couldn’t do it. They sell you a card for 2 dollars, and I had bought 3 and they are still in my bag, I had never been able to use internet, what means a chaos! It was a chaos for me! That was the opposite at the Queens Garden in the Patana or the Tortuga hotel boat. In Habana and Cayo Largo was a mess! I do not like to confess this but it is true, and I will still try to push you to come with me to Cuba. My trip was amazing!

I will recommend all of you to drink some old Havana rhun every night, alone, no ice, no other soft drink like coca cola. Rhun is a great drink to get it alone and it will be very Cuban. One more thing, go to Casa de la Musica.

Part 2

I had landed in Cayo Largo in a wet and warm morning! Paradise was there. Mauro, who is a great Italian guy and have been living in Cuba for more than 15 years, met me at the small airport. He is a great guy, belive me, and he knows a lot about fly fishing, he could write more than one book about it. He will be your man for the next fly fishing days, and he really knows what he is doing. Good, finally something is working really good. Mauro is the man! He is the person that had developed the famous Avalon fly for permit, so listen to him and one day you can tell your grandkids you have met Mauro. I did it! Mauro, thanks for your friendship. 

Fishing was amazing! It was not my first rodeo so I had found the professional guides and fly fishing resources I had seen before in Cuba with Avalon, and that is why we work together. 

Lets go straight to the point: I have made my first Super Grand Slam! Randy did his first Super Grand Slam! Our Italian friend did his Super Grand slam too.-Fishing was amazing!

There are permit, tarpon, lots of bonefish, jacks, sharks, snapper, snook, rays and barracuda. It is paradise. Bonefish are bigger than Garden of the Queens, there is not as much tarpon but more than enough, and it was more permit.

Some secrets to keep in mind, on a sunny days try to get permit! On a milk cloud in the ocean try to get bonefish; if it is cloudy or raining, tarpon will be the best, as snook too. It is very important with the tie coming up, most of the fish get crazy and feed. I love tarpons in the mangroves, and I do not care If I loose them, but to hook them and see them jumping is amazing. Permit is not easy but you could have some adrenaline, I like it a lot, oh yes.  

When you go for tarpon, you get in this small areas with mangroves, the water is shallow and quiet, and the guide makes a noise on the boat so they come out, it is amazing; it is opposite of what we have learnt about fishing, but believe it works.

One more thing, your guides in the boat will see and hear much better than you, so please listen to them. They are great guides, they have a great knowledge and they will be very helpful. My guide s name was Everardo and they call him Vera. Great guys. Note: always take extra food for lunch for your guide, they will appreciate, second; always give an extra tip, they need it and they deserve it. Only if you agree with my lines, of course.

Part 3 

To be continued! I will get you more feedback about this great trip with Nico, Jack, Gene, Randy and Mauro from Italy in my next report.

I hope you enjoyed these lines, but also read the opinion from Nico (American friend), who is more demanding that me!

But when we talk about fly fishing and a fly fishing experience, Cuba is definitely a great one!

Tight lines!

Pablo Aguilo


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