A few months back, I made a post on Facebook about bringing school supplies to elementary schools in Cuba. This is something I have now done a few times, sometimes with customers on a Cuba trip with me. After my post, I was amazed at how many people contacted me offering to make donations the next time I did this. WELL, now is your chance if you are interested. I am leaving October 24th for Cuba, and will again visit students and teachers at a primary school on the outskirts of Havana. When I was there last, the teachers gave me a list of very specific things that they needed for their classrooms. I have sourced them all in bulk, and most items cost between $5 and $20. Please message me if you are interested in contributing. I will send you a link to Amazon where I have a very specific list of requested items.
I have mentioned Dayami and Javier before. After meeting them more than a year ago while singing in Old Havana, we have now become good friends. When I have groups in Havana, we will meet up with them for a performance, often in their apartment in Vedado, where along with their friend Christopher on the violin, they play for us. In this latest video, they collaborate with the famous Brazilian singer Fabiana Cozza singing “Gente Humilde.” If you can find someone with a more angelic voice than Dayami, then you have found a treasure.
Lots of fly anglers have never had the chance to jump or land a Tarpon. They are great fish, and should be on everyone's list. My son Greger has been wanting to catch a Tarpon for a few years, and finally this Summer was able to fulfill the dream at Gardens of the King, Cuba.
It got me thinking, while using Instagram for so many photos of Cuba, that I should post a few photos each week just to remind people of the beauty of the country, and the fishing.
Date: April 13-20, 2019
Price: $4995 per person based on double occupancy
This trip to continues in is popularity, and is evolving in to one of the best trips to Cuba that we offer. So many people on fishing trips to Cuba only get a short glimpse in to the life that Cubans lead. Furthermore, they are often surrounded only by the other guests that like them, come from North America or Europe. Our itinerary solves that dilemma. We spend 3 great nights in and around Havana. While there, we tour all parts of the town, at times in vintage American cars. We eat at local Cuban restaurants, and stay in a private Cuban guest house. Because we now have a close relationship with our Cuban guide, we have customized this trip to include things that many other tourists are not able to do. For example, we always try to visit an elementary school where we are able to mix with students and teachers, and bring them supplies that are so hard to come by in Cuba. We also do our best to sample the great music available in this country. This includes musicians playing in restaurants and bars that we visit, but when possible also in the apartment of a couple I now know who are both talented and personable.
"The trip was a fantastic mix of learning and fishing. Making the rounds in Havana before heading out to the Zapata peninsula made the trip far more informative about the whole of Cuba than it might have otherwise been. Jon does a great job of hosting the trip and providing meaningful thoughts on how Cuba works (not to mention how best to cast into the wind from the bow of a skiff). The trip exceeded expectations and left me with a desire to do it again. I would recommend this trip for both experienced and amateur saltwater fly anglers, and can't say enough about the experience of seeing Cuba as it is today." - Geoff Wilson
After Havana, we transition to the fishing portion of our trip. Our first day is spent Tarpon fishing on the famous Rio Hatiguanico. From there, we place our stakes in the quaint seaside town of Playa Larga. Again, staying in a privately owned Cuban house, we are right on the beach bordering the famous Bay of Pigs. Each morning we travel the approximately 40 minutes through the remote access to the saltwater flats to meet our guides. Our quarry will be varied....from Bonefish, Permit and resident Tarpon, to Snappers, Barracuda and even Snook. In the evenings, we typically enjoy a rum drink on the beach or even in the bay, and then head out for some local food.
This is the first announcement advertising this date. I expect trips at this time of year to fill quickly. We need 6 guests, and will accommodate as many as 8. I will be along as host, and together with our local Cuban guides will make sure than any bumps in the road are minor. Please consider joining!
You have seen my recent posts, and know how jazzed I am about this new trip we have been offering to Cuba. To reiterate, this itinerary includes the best of both worlds. We spend three nights in Havana, and most every hour of the day is accounted for in making sure that we experience all that the city has to offer. After, we transfer south to the small beachside town of Playa Larga. We fish one day in a freshwater river, and three days on the saltwater flats. During this time, we interact with Cuban hosts at our quaint lodgings, visit sights in and around town after fishing, and eat at great family-owned restaurants.
In order to make this trip work, we have to have at least 6 customers signed up. I will accompany the group every step of the way while in Cuba, and of course beforehand in taking care of all necessary details. This will be my 15th trip to Cuba, so I feel I can be of value in coordinating daily with our Cuban hosts, and in handling any challenges that arise.
November 4-11, 2018
Price: $4950 per person, based on double occupancy (this means 2 guests per room, and 2 anglers per skiff)
Included: 7 nights accommodation in Cuba, all meals except on the first half day, guides and transportation, entrance fees for activities, four days fishing.
Not Included: Flights to and from Cuba, Cuban Tourist Card (visa), Gratuities, food and drinks over each meal allowance, miscellaneous guest purchases
Along with six great adventurers, I just spent another wonderful week in Cuba. All trips are different, and this was no exception. The greatest part of our trip, and of the continuing relationship we have with our Cuban guides, is the ability to customize these trips as we learn more and more. A couple of the highlights as a result of this collaboration with our hosts, was an incredible visit to a Cuban elementary school, an evening of music in the home of university students, and a pig roast on a farm in the Cuban countryside.
The challenging part to this particular week in Cuba was the weather we had during our fishing days. May in Cuba is generally considered to be part of the "rainy season," which also includes the months of June-September. Average rainfall in May is usually between five and six inches. We had over twenty inches in about four days! Luckily, our group was made up of experienced travelers who were also friends. Knowing that nobody can control the weather, we made the best of it. A few more mojitos than usual were consumed!
After three nights in Havana, we moved south towards Playa Larga, stopping the first day to fish the Rio Hatiguanico. A great Tarpon river, all guests had some kind of encounter with these silver kings. Because of the rain that moved in, we changed one of the days that was meant to be spent on the salt flats, back to the river where being able to see fish is not as crucial.
What makes this trip so special is the time spent with the Cuban people. Guests come away from their week on the island with a greater appreciation for the challenges of life in Cuba, the resiliency of the Cuban people, and the amazing kindness and hospitality these people possess. Our week ended with a day of Tarpon fishing, and a barbecue at a local farm, hosted by a wonderful family.
Well, in three short words, IT WAS GREAT! This was the first ever trip we had booked that stepped a bit outside of the fishing only box, and added in several days of visiting sights in and around Havana, as well as outside of the town of Playa Larga where we were based for our fishing. Joining me were two college buddies, a husband and wife, as well as a father and son.
Part of what made this a great trip was that all people on the trip were easy to deal with, and went with the flow. As a host, nothing could be better, and makes the job much easier. In Havana, our local Cuban guide Alfredo organized several days of sightseeing, and everything went without a hitch. We had great food, heard great music, toured a cigar factory, drove the town in vintage cars, saw Hemingway's ranch outside of town, and much more. Alfredo was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and truly had everything dialed in for us.
After Havana, we traveled southeast a few hours to the small beach town of Playa Larga, at the very end of the famous Bay of Pigs. We had opted for accommodations at a private Cuban house, and that was a great call. The family took care of us, and every night after a long day of fishing we had the beach in front of us for a quick swim, and cocktails while watching the sunset. Our organizer in Playa Larga was Alex, who equaled Alfredo in his skills. Again, he was perfectly organized, and we went to different small restaurants after fishing each night that would never have been found without a local's knowledge.
We fished four days around Playa Larga. The first was on the Rio Hatiguanico. Famous for Tarpon, the river also has Snook, Snapper and Jacks that are sometimes in feeding frenzies. We also fished three days on the saltwater flats of Las Salinas. Overall, our fishing was a bit slower than average, largely due to strong winds that made some areas hard to access, while other places had water that was somewhat stirred up by the wind. That said, we landed Tarpon, Bonefish, Jacks, Snapper, and one lovely Permit.
I am so pleased with how this trip turned out. As I said, our group was great, but the staff setting this up, and the staff in Cuba was incredible. Thanks to Alfredo in Havana, and Alex in Playa Larga for all their hard work, and in going the extra mile to make this a truly memorable trip. If this the kind of trip that would interest you, please reach out. Some new dates to be set soon, but custom dates and itineraries can be accommodated for groups of 5 or bigger.
Zapata Peninsula Aboard Yacht Georgiana
October 27-November 3, 2018
$3450 per person
SOLD OUT!!! (inquire about future dates if interested)
This is a great opportunity for anglers interested in Cuba to fish one of the most protected marine areas on the island at a very good price. Jon Covich, FlyWater’s specialist for Cuba, will be hosting this trip. This will be Jon’s 15th trip to Cuba, and he will be an indispensible help both before and during your week on the island.
The ZAPATA PENINSULA is located on the south-central coast of Cuba. Most of the peninsula is a national park, and makes up the largest protected wildlife area in the entire Caribbean. Noted as one of the best bird-watching destinations in the world, it is home to 175 bird species, 900 species of plants, and 31 reptile species including the Cuban Crocodile. The landscape of this area is very similar to Everglades National Park in Florida.
The expansive flats that extend from this huge mangrove swamp are an amazing fishery, particularly for Bonefish. The flats themselves vary from soft to very firm, and anglers do have the chance to fish both from the skiff and wading. Bonefish are prolific, and range greatly in size. While most fish caught are between 3 and 5 pounds, fish pushing double digits are landed fairly regularly. There are also Permit here, particularly in the outer edges of this vast expanse of flats. Resident Tarpon are found as well, often in the slightly deeper water of the channels and lagoons, or in the mangroves themselves. Jacks, Snapper, Barracuda and Snook are also present.
The first night aboard Georgiana is spent in port, giving everyone time to get situated in their rooms, and to arrange tackle. Early the next morning Georgiana steams to a remote moorage, and once anchored, guests begin their first full day of fishing. From Georgiana, rides to the fishing each day will be short, and can be varied to the kind of fishing anglers desire. Best of all, each guest fishes three days in a single skiff, and three days in a shared skiff which means significantly more fishing time per person than all other destinations in Cuba. Guests return directly to Jose Marti airport for flights home (unless otherwise arranged). It is recommended that departing flights be scheduled no earlier than 5:00pm on that day.
It is not often that such special rates come to us for Cuba, but we did just receive several. All of them are at prime locations, during prime time fishing. This means that weather patterns are more stable, the flats are typically warm and accommodating, and all species of the flats fish we love should be available. Please reach out immediately if you have interest. I would imagine that these will all go fast.
JARDINES de la REINA: May 12-19, 2018 aboard Avalon Fleet 2. Rate of $4766 per angler with a minimum of 6 in the group. Rates go up accordingly if fewer anglers participate. This rate is based on two anglers per skiff.
Jardines de La Reina is one of the most preserved marine habitats on earth. Guests will stay on AF2, the most luxurious of all the live-aboard accommodations in the Avalon Fleet. This time of year, JDR sees an influx of migratory Tarpon, and these will be a primary target for anglers. Bonefish, Permit, Jacks, Snapper and Cuba will also be available. Click the link for more details of JDR.....http://www.cubafishingoutfitters.com/jardines
ISLAND OF THE YOUTH (Isla de la Juventud). May 19-26, 2018. $4125 per person double occupancy based on a group of 12. Inquire for pricing for half boat with 6 anglers.
Island of the Youth is the largest of the many islands surrounding the Cuban mainland. As a fishery, it is one of the most renowned locations in the entire Caribbean for pursuing Tarpon. By late spring, migratory fish have arrived and inhabit flats, channels, lagoons and the nearby reef. All guest stay aboard the luxurious Avalon Fleet 1. Please click on the link for more details of Island of the Youth.....http://www.cubafishingoutfitters.com/isla-de-la-juventud
CAYO CRUZ June 9-16, 2018. $2999 per person based on double occupancy.
Cayo Cruz is located on Cuba's north shore, at the eastern end of the Gardens of the King archipelago. Guests will stay on the beautiful resort island of Cayo Coco, in an all-inclusive resort, and travel to the marina at Cayo Cruz each day for their fishing. This is a highly touted fishery, especially for Permit and large Bonefish. This time of year, Tarpon also arrive to inhabit the many channels that divide the islands of this island chain. Click here to see more details regarding Cayo Cruz.....http://www.cubafishingoutfitters.com/new-index
Again, I apologize. This post is not about Cuba!!! I cannot refrain from sharing great trips to other parts of the world, and this is one of those. I just returned from a week in the Brazilian jungle with a great group of guys from across the US. This was my first trip to the Amazon, and based on the experience, it will not be my last.
Agua Boa is one of the most respected fishing lodges in all of South America. Guests fly to the lodge from Manuas in a private charter and land directly at the lodge's airstrip after about 2 hours of flying over the jungle. The lodge can accommodate up to 12 guests, in very comfortable cabins all with their own bathroom and shower. The lodge facilities are amazing given where you are ultimately at, and include a freshwater swimming pool, game room, and sitting room with satellite TV. Carlos, the manager, along with Matt Ramsey who hosts at the lodge for part of the season could not have been more accommodating and attentive to our group.
Auga Boa is a Peacock Bass fishery. Yes, there are other species of fish here, but 95% of what anglers catch are the three species of Peacocks that inhabit the river, lagoons, and lakes isolated during the dry season. Most boats in our group caught bass over 10 pounds every day of the trip, with the biggest reported at around 14 pounds. The fishing changes dramatically here, according to the lodge, throughout the season. The river itself can recede as much as 15' from the high water at the beginning of the season, to the very low water of the late dry season, which is what we experienced. There are advantages to each. Higher water means that the fish are less spooky, feeling comfortable in the deeper darker water. In low water, there is more sight fishing, but of course the fish are able to see boats, fly lines, and poor casts!!
For me, the best aspect of this trip was the isolation and incredibly intact environment. We did not see another person during our entire week, that was not part of the lodge. And it dawned on me after day 3 or 4, that I had not seen a single piece of garbage on the river.....not a plastic bag or bottle in sight! Furthermore, the wildlife was amazing. I was not prepared for the abundance, and size of the Black Caimans that we encountered, some of which neared 15'. The group also saw several Tapirs, an incredible diversity of wading birds including huge Wood Storks, several species of monkeys, Amazonian River Otters, and freshwater dolphins. The lodge reported that for the past several weeks each group had seen at least one jaguar.
Stay tuned. I will be returning to the jungle and may invite you to join me!
We recently advertised a combination CULTURAL/FISHING excursion to Cuba, which was the very first for us. Interest from customers was fast and furious, and we quickly sold 7 spots. We have room for just one more.
The exciting news is that we had customers ready to book a trip, but for whom our dates did not work. So, we found another week at the end of May, and have 4 clients signed up. We can accommodate as many as 4 more customers.
As with our first trip, I will be along as host. That means I will be with the group in Havana, as well as during our fishing at the Zapata Peninsula. In Havana, we will be joined by local Cubans who will lead us around to the best sites in town, as only the experts could do.
Dates: May 21-28
Price: $4650 per person based on double occupancy (rooms and fishing skiffs)
Day 1 (May 21)
Guests arrive in Havana, and check in to the quaint Azul Habana guest-house. We will meet for dinner or drinks if people want, but otherwise this evening is planned to be free for guests to relax after their trip to Havana.
Day 2 (May 22)
-9:00am- After breakfast at Azul Habana, we will discover Havana’s beauty. Alfredo, a free-lance guide, takes you to the most interesting cultural and historical sites in the capital, including Old Havana, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. We will also tour Havana’s Historical Squares: San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja, the “Arma” square and the Cathedral square. We will make a stop at “El de al frente” bar for their signature drink. Around 12:00pm we will have lunch at “La Moneda Cubana” paladar.
After lunch we will continue our tour around Old Havana visiting a tobacco factory, Obispo Street, the “Callejón de Hamel”, a neighborhood that has been converted into a cultural center rich in Afro-Cuba religion, art and dance. Scholar Elias Assef will provide an overview of Santeria and other Cuban religions with African routes, which will be followed by a folkloric dance performance. We will then stop at “El Floridita” restaurant for Daiquiri tasting.
03:30pm- Before to get back to your hotel, Panoramic Tour by the Modern Havana (Revolution Museum, Central Park, Havana Theater, Havana Capitol, Havana University and Havana, Revolution square, “Malecon” (its famous sea view boulevard) in Old cars.
07:30pm Dinner at El Canonoza paladar. To the east of La Cabana Fortress, this historic structure protected Havana’s harbor against pirates beginning in the 16th century. There is a small community here of only two streets with just 30 houses. One of these houses is a very special space; it’s the home of Hostal El Cañonazo, a three-guestroom casa particular featuring a charming backyard paladar restaurant with fine service and beautifully prepared Cuban cuisine. Both the guest accommodation and the outdoor eating experience are the work of Abel Martínez who has lived in the home that houses them since he was four years old, and still lives there today. It’s an excellent place to visit for visitors who come to the visit Fortress, take in the stunning view of the city from across the water and catch the daily 9 o’clock ceremonial cannon firing to enjoy a fine meal in a lovely environment. Abel was working in a Havana cafeteria when he envisioned his own place right in the home where he had grown up. Today it has 46 seats and a comprehensive menu that features an extensive range of seafood – fish, crab, shrimp lobster and octopus plus a number of chicken preparations and house specialty traditional ropa vieja.
After the traditional 9:00pm Cannon Blast Ceremony, we will return to our guest-house after a drive along the Malecon.
Day 3 (May 23)
- 9:00am After breakfast, we will see Hemingway’s Havana. Guided by Alfredo, you will visit the places where the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway lived as well as other sites he frequented and where many of his most renowned works were later set. We will drive to La Vigía Farmhouse, former residence of the renowned American writer. After, we will have a walking tour of the fishermen’s village, Cojimar, where Hemingway found the inspiration for “The Old Man and the Sea. We will sample a cocktail at Las Terrazas de Cojimar restaurant before visiting the nearby Hemingway monument.
- 12:00pm: Lunch at “El Aljiaco paladar” in Cojimar. Café Ajiaco is a place trying to stand out from the Paladar crowd while offering a 100% Cuban ambiance. They know by the time you get to their restaurant, you have probably already sampled more than a few mojitos and daiquiris. So they mix it up a bit with dark rum mojito sweetened with honey instead of sugar. Their cucumber daiquiri is even more ambitious, and delicious. From Café Ajiaco, it is a few short block downhill toward the sea. There you can check out the local vibe (lots of bench sitting and dockside fishing), along with Hemingway´s drinking and fishing holes.
- After lunch, visit to Fusterlandia, in the village of Jaimanitas, where the centerpiece is Fuster’s own house. Taller-Estudio José Fuster is a sizable residence decorated from roof to foundations by art, sculpture, and above all, mosaic tiles of every color and description. Over half the neighborhood has been given similar artistic treatment, from street signs to bus stops to the local doctor’s house. Wandering around its quiet streets is a surreal and psychedelic experience. Cuban artist José Fuster’s art is “naïve,” meaning he uses childlike crude shapes and bright colors in his untrained composition. His work has been compared to that of Picasso, a comparison that followed him in successful gallery tours across Europe. In 1975, after moving into a modest wood house in the rundown neighborhood of Jaimanitas outside Havana, Fuster set about decorating his studio in colorful mosaic. Once he was done there, he asked his neighbors if he could decorate their homes and business as well. A few accepted his offer and the tile creations grew. Over the course of a decade, doctors’ offices, bus stops, fountains, benches, gateways, and more were enveloped by Fuster’s whimsical imagination. Today, his artwork coats the neighborhood in a rainbow of strange, enchanting fantasy. Jaimanitas was an economically depressed area before Fuster arrived, and now it has turned into an artist’s paradise. Tourists are bussed into the neighborhood to admire Fuster’s still-growing kingdom, which has spawned a new generation of artists inspired by the surroundings they came up in.
08:00pm- Reserved dinner at “El Cocinero” paladar. A New York loft-style lounge with a rooftop terrace, El Cocinero with its unique construction and interesting history is one of Havana’s buildings that has been rescued from deterioration and made into one of the city’s top restaurants. El Cocinero sits in what used to be a cooking oil factory but is now a chic venue for Havana’s trendy crowds. The beautiful infrastructure, which was once inaccessible, is now easy to reach via its spiral staircase. The towering chimney still evokes the building’s industrial past, but the food and the atmosphere are all about modern sophistication, from the melt-in-the mouth duck confit and blinis to the delectable seafood options on offer. El Cocinero has two main areas, an air-conditioned lounge on the second floor and a spacious terrace overlooking the neighborhood. The fast and well-trained servers welcome visitors to reach the top after a stroke of a welcome bell. After dinner, order one of the expertly prepared cocktails, sit back on the terrace and enjoy the sprawling views of the city in front of you. El Cocinero is the undertaking of rock, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban fusion musician X-Alfonso. Its popularity makes El Cocinero something like the Hard Rock Café of Havana.
Day 4 (May 24)
06:30am- Breakfast at the house
07:00am– – Transfer to Rio Huatiguanico to fish the river for Tarpon! (about 90 minutes drive)
04:00pm – Continue to Playa Larga (about 1 hour)
05:00pm – Check in at Caribe y Sol private house. This private Cuban guest-house is right on the beach at the very end of the famous Bay of Pigs. Clean, simple, but friendly and well placed, our Cuban hosts will take great care of us.
7:30pm- Dinner at the hostel (included).
Day 5 (May 25)
07:00am- Breakfast at the house
07:30am – Meet your fishing guide and transfer to Las Salinas.
08:30am – Fishing journey at Las Salinas . Catch and Release fishing for Bonefish, resident Tarpon, Permit, Jacks, Snapper Cuda and Snook.
04:00pm – Return to lodgings at Playa Larga, passing by the house of local handcrafter Don Yoyi. Born in Colon, Matanzas, Cuba in 1979, Don Yoyi took up fishing at early in his life. He also studied and perfected the woodworking technique of marquetry. Marquetry is the painstaking process of cutting and shaping thin pieces of wood veneer and forming them into a shape or image. Combining his two passions of woodworking and fishing led to the creation of his company. Each piece of his art is handcrafted using native Cuban woods. No two pieces are the same as this style of woodwork blends the color and grain of the wood with the artist’s eye for creativity.
07:00pm- Dinner at our guest-house
Day 6 (May 26)
07:00am– Breakfast at the house
07:30am – Meeting with local fishermen to discuss local economy and role of foreign visitors to their economy, traditional fishing methods, efforts in conservation, scientific research, etc. –
9:00 am- Fishing at Las Salinas
04:00pm – Return to the house.
07:00pm- Dinner at our guest-house
Day 7 (May 27)
07:00am– Breakfast at the house
07:30am - Meet Abel Lopez, a free-lance guide specialized in bird watching who will accompanied you for 2 hours along the National Park familiarizing you with endemic birds of the area. The Zapata Peninsula is one of the best places for bird watching in Cuba. 280 of the 350 species of birds that have been reported in Cuba -62 percent of the total- can be seen here.
10:00am – Fishing at Las Salinas
04:00pm – Return to the house passing by Don Alexis paladar- bar to talk about our fishing experience with some people of the town while enjoying a cocktail .
07:00pm- Farewell at the house enjoying a whole roast pork (typical Cuban cuisine)
Day 8 (May 28)
07:00am– Breakfast at the house
08:00 am- Transfer from Playa Larga to Havana International Airport - Return Flight to USA, TBD