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TIPS FOR FISHING FROM A SKIFF

In my past few saltwater trips, I have been thinking about some very simple things I think are useful in being prepared for success on the flats. On a whim, I made this short video at lunchtime with my guide in Cuba last month. I have a couple of warnings! First, it is as I said, done off the cuff. Secondly, these are very basic items and could be obvious for people who are expert at this kind of angling. That said, I think these two or three minutes point out some quick tips useful to beginning and intermediate flats anglers.


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WHY OUR TRIPS ARE SPECIAL

You have probably seen previous posts from me about groups I lead to Cuba, especially those where we mix both Cuban culture with some days of fishing. Other companies send anglers to Cuba, and some others even lead trips. But I believe our trips go the extra mile, and take interested Americans in to places like this, the apartment of Dayami and Javier. Incredible musical talents, they mesmerize our small groups in a friendly and intimate setting.

Enjoy Dayami and Javier here singing a bit of “Llegaste Tu.” And, please consider joining me on and adventure to Cuba.


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Guide Profile.....

When you fish a lot, and fish in different parts of the world, you see fishing guides of all kinds. Some work harder than others, some are exuberant while others are timid. And some see fish that no client will ever see without their help. And, the large majority of them have their clients success and enjoyment as their primary goals.

On my most recent trip to Zapata, Cuba, I spent a day with a very nice young guide named Espin. This was my first day with him, and he quietly asked as we left in our skiff if I would like to fish for Permit. “The tide is very good right now, and there are some lagoons very near." I seldom turn down a chance to fish for Permit, so off we went.

We immediately saw a few fish, but the chances were not great. Then, a fish tailed at a perfect eleven o’clock and within casting range, and it ate immediately. I lifted the rod, and cleared my line and soon the fish was burning coils off my reel. It was then that I heard a voice from the casting platform say “Enjoy your fish!” I thought that was great. I’ve never had a guide say something like that.

 Quiet and reserved, Espin was even happier about our Permit than I was.

Quiet and reserved, Espin was even happier about our Permit than I was.

Later, Espin also said to me, “I always happy. But today, I very happy.” Again, a guide showing that they often get as much or more enjoyment out of the fishing experience, and a rare success like a landed Permit, as any angler does. Good for you Espin…..

 Espin proudly raises the banner letting other skiffs know a Permit was landed

Espin proudly raises the banner letting other skiffs know a Permit was landed

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TRIP REPORT- ZAPATA LIVE-ABOARD

 We started out in Havana, taking in a lot of sights in just two short days. Mojitos at La Bodegiuta del Medio are a must.

We started out in Havana, taking in a lot of sights in just two short days. Mojitos at La Bodegiuta del Medio are a must.

Hi all. I am freshly back from a fantastic trip to Cuba, and still getting caught up on all the things that had piled up while I was gone. This trip was aboard the Georgiana yacht, that moors in the very isolated waters of the Zapata Peninsula, west of the famous Bay of Pigs. However, it was not aboard Georgiana! We found out upon arrival that our boat was in for repairs, and we instead would be aboard the dive boat Aggressor, which to our joy was more luxurious, allowing each of us our own private cabins. Fantastic.

 Our home for the week

Our home for the week

We honestly had just a fantastic week in Zapata. First of all, the staff aboard our boat were incredible. From Suli, our hostess, to the captain, chef, engineer and deck hands, the staff worked tirelessly to make sure that we were taken care of. We could not be more grateful.

Best of all, we had almost perfect weather, and excellent fishing. Many of you know that one of the unique things about this fishery is that guests fish 3 days in a shared skiff, and 3 days in a single. This is fantastic. Each guest receives more fishing time, and without another angler to please can ask the guide to target whatever species they want to pursue. All guests had excellent Bonefishing, both from the skiffs and while wading. As well, I think every angler hooked Tarpon nearly every day, whether it was from the single or double boat. There were a lot of Tarpon, ranging in size from truly little guys of around 5 pounds, to fish pushing 25 pounds.

Great back-country Tarpon completed one of our Grand-Slams

And, we had 3 Grand Slams, which of course means 3 Permit were landed! I had no idea that this area had so many Permit, and having seen more of this habitat realize it could be one of the best Permit destinations in Cuba for sheer numbers of fish. On one day fishing with the Permit-crazed guide Cachimbo, we spotted 35-40 Permit. Really incredible.

 The smiling Cachimbo, racking up another Zapata Permit

The smiling Cachimbo, racking up another Zapata Permit

And speaking of guides, again words cannot do them justice. All were exceptionally friendly, and worked hard to make sure that all guests had a great experience. They are very enthusiastic about the fishing, but not to the point that anglers feel pressured like they do in some places like the Florida Keys. They were a great group, and I cannot wait to see them again.

I will be hosting more trips to Zapata. I really feel that I may have misjudged how good the fishing here could be. I already have inquired about a week for next Fall, and should have final dates soon. Please reach out if you are interested.

 Boat staff, guides, and guests atop the Aggressor

Boat staff, guides, and guests atop the Aggressor

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DONATIONS DELIVERED

I am freshly back from Havana and a fishing week on the Zapata Peninsula. What a great trip! Details to follow.....I have been wanting to share my experience with the Cuban schools and kids, that so many of you were generous in supporting with much needed supplies.

A funny part of this story is that I had always been brought to this school by our guide, and friend, Alfredo. I tried many times to reach him once in Cuba, and could not. So, I had 50 pounds of school supplies.....I had to get them delivered. I hailed a taxi and told him in my best Spanish about where the school was. I had no address, but we were able to find it. I just walked in and knocked on the door of the principal’s office, and all was great. They were very happy to see me, and ecstatic with what you had donated. We visited one of the classrooms, and I was able to chat with the beautiful students in Spanish, and we passed out simple things to them like highlighters and glue sticks. What a great experience. Thank you all!

 5th Graders with new supplies in hand

5th Graders with new supplies in hand

 Yours truly posing with these beautiful Cuban kids

Yours truly posing with these beautiful Cuban kids

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School Donations

My last blog entry was about my upcoming visit to Cuba, and bringing school supplies to a primary school on the outskirts of Havana. People had asked to contribute, so I put the news out. AND, people came through! I think I have enough for my next two visits. For all the challenges we have in the good old USA at the moment, we do seem to be able to count on the generosity Americans seem to possess. Thanks so much for all that contributed! I will post photos from my school visit when I return in early November.

 Calculators, hi-lighters, glue, pencil sharpeners, erasers, colored chalk and geometry tools

Calculators, hi-lighters, glue, pencil sharpeners, erasers, colored chalk and geometry tools

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HELP DONATE!

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.



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DUO IRIS

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.



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FIRST TARPON

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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. 

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Photo of the Day

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.

Guide poles guests over a Bonefish flat at last light-Jardines de la Reina, Cuba

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HOSTED Cultural/Fishing Trip for April 2019

Date: April 13-20, 2019

Price: $4995 per person based on double occupancy

 The colors of Cuba in a Havana neighborhood

The colors of Cuba in a Havana neighborhood

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

 Lucky's first ever Tarpon.....jumped in the Rio Hatiguanico

Lucky's first ever Tarpon.....jumped in the Rio Hatiguanico

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.

 "Sabalito" from the Rio Hatiguanico

"Sabalito" from the Rio Hatiguanico

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!

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