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GREAT PRICE: ZAPATA LIVE-ABOARD: Hosted by JON COVICH

 

Zapata Peninsula Aboard Yacht Georgiana

October 27-November 3, 2018

$3450 per person

4 Open Spots

The massive Bonefish flats of Zapata

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.

Nice Zapata Palometa (Permit)

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.

 

Home Sweet Home-Skiff and angler return to the Georgiana

Zapata Resident Tarpon

 

 

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LAST MINUTES REDUCED RATES FOR CUBA!!!

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.

 

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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

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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

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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

 

 

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AGUA BOA-BRAZIL

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.

 Guests cabins at Agua Boa, just above the river. 

Guests cabins at Agua Boa, just above the river. 

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!! 

 Peacocks are beautiful predators

Peacocks are beautiful predators

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.

 Watch where you step!

Watch where you step!

Stay tuned. I will be returning to the jungle and may invite you to join me!

 

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ADDING ANOTHER COMBO TRIP!

 Old Havana in all its glory

Old Havana in all its glory

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)

ITINERARY:

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.

 Head guide Felipe with a perfect Rio Hatiguanico Tarpon

Head guide Felipe with a perfect Rio Hatiguanico Tarpon

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

 The beach and private guest-houses along the Bay of Pigs in the small town of Playa Larga

The beach and private guest-houses along the Bay of Pigs in the small town of Playa Larga

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

 


 

 



 

 

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CUBA COMBO CULTURAL/FISHING TRIP ITINERARY

Somehow, when I posted information about this exciting new trip, I did not include an itinerary! Here it is below, showing what we will be doing in Havana, and how the days of fishing shape up.

Date: April 29 – May 6, 2018

Rate: $4,650 per person

Note: Currently 7 spots available (Jon will join as host with a minimum of 5 guests signed up)

 Vintage American car, with the Capitolio in the background

Vintage American car, with the Capitolio in the background

Itinerary:

Day 1
Guests Arrive in Havana. Check in to the Hotel Parque Centrale after transferring from airport.
4:00pm: We have a walking tour of the historical Plazas in Old Havana. These Plazas include San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja, “Arma” Square and Cethedral Square.
7:30pm: We will dine at one of Cuba’s new privately owned restaurants, El Canonazo Paladar. This family-run establishment is located in a very small community east of Havana, with a quaint backyard restaurant and fine Cuban cuisine. We will also see the La Cabana Fortress, built by the Spanish to protect Havana’s harbor, and observe the nightly canon blast ceremony.
10:00pm: Return to our hotel via the famous Oceanside Malecon

Day 2
After breakfast at the hotel, we will discover Hemingway’s Havana. This will include visits to some of the author’s favorite haunts in the city, as well as a tour of La Vigia farm, where Hemingway lived and wrote over many years. We will also have a short walking tour of Cojimar, the small fishing village where Hemingway moored his boat Pilar, and was the inspiration for his book, “The Old Man and the Sea.”
12:00pm: Our group will have lunch at the La Moneda Cubana paladar, located next to the Havana Cathedral.
1:30: Our tour will continue around Old Havana, where we will tour a cigar factory, and walk Obispo Street. We will be given an overview of Santeria and other Cuban religions by the scholar Elias Assef, and then watch a dance performance. Finally, we will stop at the famous El Floridita bar and restaurant to sample a Daquiri where it originated.
3:30pm: Before returning to the hotel for a short rest, we will ride in vintage American cars and visit other famous landmarks around Havana such as the University, Revolution Square, the Capitolio, and the famous boulevard along the sea, the Malecon.
8:00pm: Dinner at El Cocinero restaurant in the Vedado neighborhood, with a visit afterwards to the Fabrica de Arte located next door.

Day 3
6:30 am – breakfast at hotel
7:00 am – transfer to Rio Hatiguanico for day of Tarpon fishing
4:00 pm – Depart for Playa Larga, and check in to Hotel Playa Larga
7:30 pm – Dinner at paladar in Playa Larga

Day 4
7:00 am – Breakfast at Angler’s Club at Hotel Playa Larga
7:30 am – Meet your guide and transfer to the flats of Las Salinas
8:30 am to 4:00 pm – fish the saltwater for Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon Snook, etc.
4:00 pm – Return by car to Hotel Playa Larga
7:00 pm – Dinner at Paladar in Playa Larga

Day 5 & 6
Same itinerary as Day 4

Day 7
7:00 am – Breakfast at Anglers Club at Hotel Playa Larga
7:30 am – Transfer to airport for return flight home

 

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EXCITING NEW TRIP! COMBINATION CUBAN CULTURE & FISHING

 Time warp in La Habana

Time warp in La Habana

Cuban Cultural & Fishing Tour – Spring 2018 w/ Host Jon Covich

We are extremely excited to offer a new Cuban adventure that combines both an introduction to the culture and life of the Cuban people and the pristine fishery of the Zapata Peninsula. You are invited to join host Jon Covich, who has made more than a dozen trips to Cuba, on this amazing adventure. Jon has spent many weeks exploring the back streets of Havana and visited some of the most remote and seldom visited corners of the country. Jon has fished every available fishery on the island and his unique passion for Cuba and vast experience in the country will prove invaluable to guests that choose to join him on this remarkable excursion.

“ Somehow, I just can’t seem to get enough of Cuba. Besides having fished all the destinations in Cuba, I have made a concerted effort to really understand the country. I am fascinated by the Cuban people, by the way they live, in understanding how they have managed within a pretty difficult political system, and so much else of what it means to be Cuban. In every trip to the island I have added extra days to explore the back streets of Havana, to drive around the less-touristed cities on the island, to go to baseball games, find good music, and discover the best cigar factories, etc. I think that I can add value and insight to people wanting to truly experience Cuba and all it has to offer.”

This unique cultural/fishing adventure complies with all of the requirements set forth by the United State’s Office of Foreign Asset Control. All guests will have the same daily itinerary, and participate together in group activities. Individuals joining this trip are required to retain a copy of their final itinerary for the next five years.

Please do not delay in letting us know if you are interested in joining as we expect space to fill quickly for this trip.

Date: April 29 – May 6, 2018

Rate: $4,650 per person

Note: Currently 7 spots available (Jon will join as host with a minimum of 5 guests signed up)

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NEW ZEALAND BACK-COUNTRY

Yet again, this post is not about Cuba! I apologize, but figure that if you are like me, all fishing is good. And where can trout fishing be better than in New Zealand? If you haven't been, even as just a tourist, you owe it to yourself. Few places are more beautiful, or populated by such lovely people.

There are great lodges on both the North and South Islands. Some of those are Poronui and Tongorairo on the North, and Cedar and Owen River Lodge on the South. These are top notch operations, and some even include daily flights by helicopter to the best rivers in the region. If you have the $'s, like great wine and great food, not to mention a bit of pampering, go for it.

There are also possibilities for a mixture of DIY and guided trips. But for me, nothing beats getting in to the backcountry on your own, and exploring. No country in the world has the elaborate system that NZ has for helping backpackers, deer hunters, and intrepid anglers see these places. There are first of all "huts" built all over the country. They can be extremely rudimentary, and they can be very nice. Just depends on how many people access the area. And, there are DOC offices (Dept of Conservation) in nearly every town to help you with maps, understand access, etc. They are super helpful.

I just returned from spending Christmas with my family on the North Island. My two sons are now 15 and 16, and can handle the rigors of a hike in the wilderness, and tramping up and down streams littered with huge boulders. They especially can do it when there are 4-6 pound trout in nearly every pool, most of which are willing to come up and eat a dry fly. Here are some photos.....

 Working our way to places few other anglers have gone before.....

Working our way to places few other anglers have gone before.....

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HOW A PRODUCT IS MADE-FISHPOND SUBMERSIBLE BACKPACK

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This is not something that I have done in the past, as I have tried to keep this Blog largely dialed in to travel and fishing related to Cuba. However, I do represent good companies like Fishpond, many of whose products work great for our travel, or for fishing around the salt and on the flats. If you can, take a second to copy and paste this link to your browser, and see the painstaking process taken by Fishpond in bringing a new product to market.

http://www.moldychum.com/inside-mind-fishpond-thunderhead-submersible-backpack/

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4 SPOTS AVAILABLE!.........GARDENS OF THE KING, CUBA

 This is what it is all about at GOK......Tarpon Baby!

This is what it is all about at GOK......Tarpon Baby!

Gardens if the King is located on the North Coast of Cuba, about a 5 hour bus ride from Havana. All guests stay at the all inclusive Iberostar Cayo Ensenachos Resort, which is well appointed, and on a stunning beach. The fishing at GOK is all about Tarpon. Once the Tarpon migration starts, fish that are already here and the new fish gather in the bays and channels around the islands here. These habitats are full of crabs and shrimp, which makes the Tarpon very happy.

There are a lot of fish in the 40-60 pound category which in my book are the perfect Tarpon. They are big enough to make you feel like you are fighting a beast, but not big enough that they cannot be landed in 15-20 minutes. That said, there are bigger fish in the mix, and anglers often hook fish nearing 100 pounds. My guide last year said the largest Tarpon he had landed in his boat was 162 pounds! No thanks....

There are other fish here, but Tarpon are again the main quarry. There are some Bonefish in the back country, but excellent Snapper and Jack fishing around the Tarpon areas and in some of the exterior channel openings and flats. Last year, our group landed 4 or 5 Mutton Snapper that were over 15 pounds. Those are hard-pulling critters.

These available 2 skiffs should fill pretty quickly. The price is good, especially given that this is prime time at GOK. Remember that travel to Cuba is legal, and we have all the paperwork to guide you through that process. Reach out if you, or your friends, would like to join along.

Here is our proposed itinerary:

June 8th: Arrive Havana. Spend a night on the town, with accommodations at a hotel of our choice

June 9th: Transfer to Cayo Ensenachos Resort by private coach. Trip is approximately 5 hours. Check in, and enjoy the rest of the day on the beach

June 10-15th. Fish each day, 2 anglers per skiff

June 16th: Depart Cayo Ensenachos directly to airport and connect to flights home

Price is $5420 per person, double occupancy for accommodations and fishing skiff

Included:  Transfers to and from Havana to Cayo Ensenachos Resort, meals, most drinks, accommodations, and 6 full days fishing.

Not Included: Flights to and from Cuba, $250 Bonefish/ Tarpon Trust donation, $100 parks fee, Cuban Tourist Card (approximately $100) transport from airport to hotel, meals and miscellaneous expenses while in Havana, some beverages aboard skiff, staff and guide gratuities.

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ALASKA AIRLINES CANCELS HAVANA ROUTE

I just returned from 10 days in Cuba, which I will report more about shortly. Something immediately evident , was that American visitors to the island are down drastically in numbers. I flew from Los Angeles to Havana round trip on Alaska, and came back thinking that something was going to change. There were only 44 people in coach out of 160 odd seats filled on that return flight. 

So, I was not surprised when I heard two days ago that Alaska Airlines had decided to cancel their service to Havana as of January 2018. This is sad news for those of us living on the West Coast, and an unfortunate consequence of recent changes in Washington. While in Cuba, I was asked non-stop by Cubans as to why the US and Trump were changing things yet again. People were upset, and in disbelief that their hopes of getting help through increased visitors from the United States was going away.

The worst part of this is that US citizens commonly think that Trump's recent changes mean that they cannot visit Cuba. This is NOT TRUE! That said, visitors are under more strict guidelines, much like they were 4 or 5 years ago. In short, people must go in groups, and have the same daily itineraries. Those itineraries must adhere to one of the 12 legal reasons for travel to Cuba. Anglers generally use research, and travel under a license issued through the Bonefish/Tarpon Trust. And, there must be a group leader who reports on the trip once finished.

We are leading and organizing trips to all of Cuba's fishing destinations for 2018. If you are interested, please let us know and we will get you organized. Let's continue to enjoy Cuba, and help our Cuban friends in any way we can.

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GARDENS OF THE KING, CUBA HOSTED TRIP

A group of us had a great time at Gardens of the King, and Cayo Ensenachos resort earlier this summer. Several people wanted to return, and have talked friends in to joining. As of today, we have 3 available spots open. Below are details. Please reach out if you have any questions. We would love to have you along!

 Tim Cudney and our guide Elyses with a perfect Tarpon from GOK

Tim Cudney and our guide Elyses with a perfect Tarpon from GOK

Gardens of the King is highly regarded as a Tarpon fishery. Both residents and migratory fish flourish here, and numbers increase dramatically starting in late Spring and continue on through Summer. Most of our time will be spent seeking Tarpon in bays, channels, and even the open ocean. Most of the fish are between 30 and 80 pounds, although many fish over 100 pounds are caught every season. To add to the variety, there are also some Bonefish, and chances at Permit, Snappers, Jacks and Barracuda.

Here is our proposed itinerary:

- June 8th: Arrive Havana. Spend night on the town, with accommodations at a hotel of our choice

- June 9th: Transfer to Cayo Ensenachos Resort by private coach. Trip is approximately 5 hours. Check in, and enjoy the rest of the day on the beach

- June 10-15th. Fish each day, 2 anglers per skiff

- June 16th: Depart Cayo Ensenachos directly to airport and connect to flights home

Price is $5320 per person, double occupancy for accommodations and fishing skiff

Included:  Transfers to and from Havana to Cayo Ensenachos Resort, meals, most drinks, accommodations, and 6 full days fishing.

Not Included: Flights to and from Cuba, $250 Bonefish/ Tarpon Trust donation, $100 parks fee, Cuban Tourist Card (approximately $100) transport from airport to hotel, meals and miscellaneous expenses while in Havana, some beverages aboard skiff, staff and guide gratuities.

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CUBA SUFFERS AFTER IRMA

Wow, it has been an interesting couple of weeks hasn't it? Fires here in the West, record flooding in Houston, a massive earthquake in Mexico, and then Irma. You have seen the news, and seen the destruction, but it may be that you have not heard too much about Cuba.

It seemed that the worst of Irma was going to miss most of the island, but indeed a good portion of the north coast was hit by the eye of the hurricane, and has been badly damaged. From Camaguey, to Ciego de Avila, Moron, Santa Clara, all the way to Havana people and buildings were hit hard. Wind and waves hit the capital hard flooding much of old Havana. Ten people were reported killed in Cuba as a result of the storm.

 Wind and waves pound Havana's Malecon

Wind and waves pound Havana's Malecon

 People wading the streets of Old Havana

People wading the streets of Old Havana

We have been getting news from our friends at Avalon and Fly FIshing the Run about the damage. The good news is that everyone we know connected to the fishing operations is OK. The southern coast of the island, the fishing destinations, and the equipment all seem to be intact. The operations along the northern coast, all through the Gardens of the King Archipelago are another story. 

First of all, the causeways leading out to the cayes have seen significant breaches, and are already undergoing repairs. On the islands themselves, resorts, hotels, and even the airport at Cayo Coco have been heavily damaged. We have had reports as well that there has been damage to some of the fishing skiffs and the marinas. With these resorts, and the tourists who come to them such an important part of Cuba's economy, it is obvious that the government will make repairs here a priority.

 Some of the damage in the small town of Caiberien, near the fishing operation at Cayo Santa Maria

Some of the damage in the small town of Caiberien, near the fishing operation at Cayo Santa Maria

I have a lot of friends now in Cuba, and have just started getting reports from them via e-mail. One friend in Ciego de Avila said that the night she and her family spent in their little house while Irma passed through was terrifying. She thought all the windows of the house were going to blow out, and their roof be torn off. They were lucky, and those things did not happen. But for them, and friends I have heard from in Havana, most people are still without electricity and water. She went on to say that they must move forward, but because almost everything was destroyed, it will take a lot of time.

For those of us thinking of fishing in Cuba, it pales in importance to the lives of our friends there and what they have gone through. That said, fishing will continue. As I mentioned, the southern operations of Jardines de la Reina, Cayo Largo, Isla de la Juventud and Zapata were relatively unaffected and will be operating. Cayo Cruz, Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria are another story, and will have to rebuild and recuperate. I am sure that they will all be available for anglers in 2018 but exactly when is another story. As we hear more news, we will pass it along. 

 

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