Another Great Fly Fishing Adventure in Cuba

For this time we were planning to be in Punta del Este area, which is the southeast side of Gardens of the Queen.

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Gardens of the Queen is about 80 miles long and 10 miles wide, so it is a huge territory for water with amazing colours like green, violet, pink, blue and white. Everytime you move through the flat, the scenery changes, every time the sun comes up to the sky, the colours of this places change and make this place a paradise.

After all these years of going to Cuba for fly fishing, this was a special occasionbecause my friend from Houston, Rell Tipton, decided to join me and so we went there fly fishing together.

I’ve met Rell many years ago when his son was 13 years old, and it has always been a pleasure for me to be in touch with him and hunt with him through the years, but this time is unique for us because is our first time fly fishing together.

His son Parker has visited us in Argentina and stayed there for an internship and hosting at our lodges. Park is a professional Fly Fishing guide. He spends his time in Colorado, Argentina. He is a great kid, 24 years old, so we hope to continue doing many things together through the years.

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Now, coming back to Cuba, we decided to go to Gardens of the Queen and our goal was to try to go for the big Tarpon – 60 to 100 pounds Tarpon-. This is something that does not happen all year round. The transition happens from late April to June or even late June. So, because of our latest request to go fishing we ended up finding a beautiful spot in Hooker.

Hooker is a small village where most of the boats for fly fishing depart on friday and leave for an entire week.

For this occasion, we brought some Sage rods, number 12 sold model for big tarpon. Sage reels, Sage rods, everything was ready. We also brought number 10 rods for some Permit and number 8 to fly fish Bonefish. I would always recommend to have three different types of rods, because sometimes we are searching for Bonefish and we see a Tarpon, or we are looking for permit and we see a Bonefish. So you should always be ready.

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We knew we would meet our friends from Scotland, Ian and Mark, two great guys that were on a different boat. We had to join them to share this amazing experience with a bunch of friends from North America and two other guys from Germany.

So, six days and six nights for fly fishing in the middle of nowhere at Gardens of the Queen.

We are two blocks away from La Floridita, and about six or seven blocks from La Bodeguita Del Medio, two very famous places in which you can go and drink and smoke great cigars. In those places there’s live music every day and night, there’s a lot of people going there to grab a beer. There are, of course, some other places like Agua de Oro, which is very nice and, apart from tourists, you can see many local people going to that place too, to drink some mojitos, ron and ice-cold beers too.

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The logistics to get to Hooker Apart was not as easy as we thought it would be. They picked us up very early in the morning and then drove us from Havana to Hooker, which was like a five hours drive, and then we had to take a boat to get to Gardens of the Queen. Somehow, that is what makes this place so special, because, once you get there, you really feel like you are in a completely different world.

This time, we were very lucky. It was a great week because all of the best guides were there, and I had the chance to fly fish with Bemba, who is a great guy that has been for more than fifteen years fly fishing in Cuba as a guide. Bemba did an extremely good job taking me and Rell to where the fish was. We’ve been searching the waters a lot for a big Tarpon, and we tried out different things. We went Fly Fishing in Punta del Este, a place in which you have to be very patience because, what you have to do is that you have to hold the boat with an anchor and wait till you see the big fish coming, and when that happens, you have to be ready because you will only have one or two chances, and if you screw that up, you are not going to be lucky again. We would say that probably 50 or 60 percent of our flycast was short or too long and we were not lucky.

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Lets talk about  the good ones, the cast that was followed by the Tarpon. In my case, I had an amazing day in Punta del Este, because three different Tarpons, big Tarpons, came to my fly, followed my fly, and I remember I lost the first one because, when I wanted to catch him, he was not able to get the fly in his mouth, but the other two were not good enough.That happened in between an hour and can’t tell you how frustrated I was, but then, my friend Rell, was at the top of the boat and he was able to catch a beautiful Tarpon of probably 60 pounds, and I say probably because something unique happened. He was fighting with this animal, we saw him jumping, but then, the fish got closer to the boat and while he was trying to catch him, my friend put the line inside it. We fought with that fish but we couldn’t take the picture we needed as a memory of that great moment.

It was amazing. Rell is a great person to go fishing with. He lets you fish alone , he gives you space so you can fish and be amazing at it, so, when you meet someone like Rell and you are with him on the water, is incredible. I wish I could do this many more times.

To get to Cuba nowadays is becoming easier. There are many flights from Florida, through Mexico, and also some flights straight from Houston. Going from Argentina is easy; I took a flight from Cordoba to Panama and then to Habana.I met Rell in Habana on a friday afternoon. We both stayed at Parque Central Hotel, which is a very great option because  is located just on the Habana Vieja part where Obispo street is, place in which you have most of the restaurants, bars and music is.

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This time, before leaving to Cuba, I decided to take very light pants because in July, Cuba is hot and quite wet. So I took some Patagonia light pants and Asilta pants, too.Asilta is an Argentinean brand that has been growing a lot and has also a great potential. This company makes amazing clothing and I personally think they should be on the hands of somebody that want to do some business with this type of companies.

I’ve also tried a blue shirt from Ansilta that worked really good. It was very light and fresh and, of course, comfortable, as well as some blue and grey long sleeve t-shirts from Patagonia.

So, now, let me tell you about another amazing experience;the second day.

On this day, Bemba told us about a blue hole inside the ocean that was a little far away from the coast. So we did like fifteen or twenty minutes on boat until we got to this place in which the colour of the water was different and Bemba told us that there was a huge rock on that place and that the fish was around that rock, so, to fly fish on that place was quite tricky and different so we had to do a long long cast with a sinking line and let it sink for about three or four minutes so the line would have time to go deeply inside the ocean.

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I did that a couple of times, but then, I was surprised that I was hooked by a sixty pounds Tarpon that fought us like crazy for twenty minutes- I can say that he jumped out of the water like fifteen or sixteen times- and there was a moment when I decided to put a little bit +of extra pressure to the lines so it would be time to bring him to the boat,a dn so that little pressure on one of the fish’s jumps made me lose my fly and my Tarpon. The feeling of disappointment was really strong. It took me like half of hour to recover from that episode. So, in order to do that, I told Rell to go to the front of the boat to fly fish while I was grabbing a beer and trying to calm down a bit. In the other hand, I must admit that it was an amazing feeling to be fighting with that incredible animal. It was a challenge that I’m willing to face again soon.

Another thing about Cuba is that it always depends on what would you like to do. There are areas for everything and just that. You can fly fish in Gardens of the Queen on a luxurious boat, or you can stay in La Patana, which is a boat that is kind of parked in the middle of nowhere, or even stay in smaller boats. I would recommend you to check with us the kind of fishing trip you would like to have so we can give advise on the likes or dislikes that you may have.

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Talking about flies, there’s not much to say about that. I guess that in every single fly shop in North America, as well as in Latin America, if you go and say that you are going fly fishing to Cuba, they will know what are you talking about and they will help you the best way possible. Just in case, I would recommend you to use the Avalon flythat works amazingly for Permit.

Another thing I would recommend everyone to do before going to fly fish to Cuba is to double check the gear and equipment information so you bring all the necessary stuff like sunscreen, gloves, hats, buffs, sunglasses, comfortable shoes, everything!

4H8A0573.jpgGoing back to the fishing, I want to mention that we also had Coqui with us that week. He is one of the beginners on that company, but he is well known for being one of the best Permit guides on the southern part of Cuba. He is a great guy, talented and polite, and I think every person that loves doing Permit Fishing should meet Coqui for sure.

So this weeks we fished a lot of Tarpons, baby and big ones, and also a couple of bonefish just to change some days because the Tarpon fishing was kind of slow and I think it was because the weather and the moon were playing against us and so probably that affected a little bit our fishing days.

Great days with great people made this trip to be another amazing fly fishing adventure in Cuba.

Stay tuned for the next incredible adventures we have ahead!

Pablo Aguiló

Owner

Pointer Outfitters

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Testimonial:
I was fortunate to be invited by Pablo Aquilo to join him in May of 2106 for a saltwater fly fishing trip to Cuba. We fished one of the most well known areas in Cuba known as the Jardines de la Reina. We stayed on a large boat named the Avalon Fleet II. The trip was about one week in duration. We spent one night in Havana upon arrival as well as one night in Havana upon departure. This was my first trip to Cuba. Pablo has been saltwater fly fishing in Cuba a few times.
 
The guides and staff were great. The amount of fishable water in the Jardines de la Reina was staggering. Lots of good sized bonefish. We put hooks in lot of tarpon that were 15 to 60 plus pounds. We were told that at different times in the year you are able to get multiple shots at 100 plus pound tarpon. We also had shots at a few permit. A couple of young fellows from Germany who were on the boat with us caught a number of sharks using their fly fishing gear. 
 
It was a great experience and I very much appreciated the opportunity to tag along with Pablo. The most interesting discovery made on the trip was that Pablo is a better fly fisherman than shooter.
 
Rell Tipton

 

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Fly fishing Casa Blanca

Dear Friends of Pointer Outfitters. I just came back from a great fly fishing trip again. Casa Blanca is an angler’s paradise. Situated on the northern tip of Punta Pájaros with immediate access to the prime fishing areas of Ascension Bay, our guests spend less time travelling to the fish.

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The lodge is built right on the water, overlooking a beautiful flat visited daily by bonefish schools, permit and tarpon. Some of the best fishing takes place right off the lighted pier after dark.

We were fortunate to catch good weather for most of the week. For the two preceding weeks, the weather was pretty bad.

A very wealthy fellow who lives in Mexico owns the 24 mile long island on which Casa Blanca and Playa Blanca are located. It is about a 55 charter flight from Cancun. Casa Blanca is located on the north end of the island (and such north end is on the sound end of Ascension Bay). Playa is located around 15 miles south of Casa.

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The fall group that I go with consists of 14 fisherman who all stay at Playa. I have been a member of this group for 4 years. Pretty good fly fisherman.

A typical day at Playa Blanca, Like Casa Blanca, the fishing program at Playa starts with the sunrise, hand delivered coffee, and a delicious made to order breakfast from six to seven. Anglers then load up into the lodge truck for the five-minute ride to the Santa Rosa Lagoon pier or the ten-minute ride to Sacrificio flat, where skiffs and guides await.

Fishermen return home at approximately four p.m., and are driven back to the lodge for waiting appetizers and drinks. Many guests choose to spend the hours before dinner at our beach palapa. Ten feet from the water with a stocked bar, beach towels and snorkel sets, it’s a fantastic place to pass the late afternoon hours.

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I do not recall the final fish count but will see if I can locate the same and send to you. We have a bonefish tournament mid week which results a decent bonefish count since the losing boat has to wear tutus the next day.

IMG_GR_testimonials1465855041.jpgPlenty of good shots at permit this year. A couple of 25 plus pounders with the rest being in the 10 to 15 range.

Lots of snook this trip. One day on my boat we caught 15 snook including 5 very nice sized fish. Could have caught more. Probably saw 60.

In one of the lagoons the snook and tarpon were stacked up. Folks probably saw 200 or so tarpon and 80 to 100 snook.

A number of us walk the beach with spin casting rods with spoons or top waters. Not too good this trip. Frequently catch barracuda and jack crevaile.

We have limited wifi at Playa. Cannot stream anything but can send and respond to emails.

The boats are 16 foot Dolphin boats with 40 or 50 horsepower hand driven Yamahas.

Casa is the bigger lodge that fishes Ascension Bay. Playa is the smaller lodge that fishes south of the lodge. Only one other lodge (located a further south a fair amount) is licensed to fish the waters that Playa fishes (and we infrequently see a boat from that lodge). Casa Blanca is remote but not disconnected. The main lodge has wireless Internet for guest use. There is no regular telephone service, but satellite phones are available for a small fee.

IMG_GR_testimonials1465855062.jpgThe group I go with are all from the States. My son Park has been with me once (in March of 2013). We both caught permit the same day.

 

My best

Rell Tipton

 

 

Bonefish Special

I was holding my third cup of coffee. It was early in the morning but the sun has already been shinning for a while. The flavor of the coffee in Cuba is different. It was good and I need it to wake up. I still had the flavor of the rhum that we drank the night before with our friends from UK and US. I knew my guide Argelio would be waiting for me to jump on the boat and go to Cachi Boca area, but we had time. It is not good to be in a rush when you go fly fishing.

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Mentally; I checked if my gear and equipment was all there as it was supposed to be before taking off from the Patana. I had a sage #8 rod for some bonefish and a TFO #10 rod for tarpon or permit, my reels with floating and sinking lines, the wading boots, my buff, gloves, etc. and my food, very important! I had cameras, sunblock and other staff in my waterproof baggage, and my coffee cup was almost empty.

IMG_GR_testimonials1419336708Time for rock and roll. I took my shoes (I should say crocks) off and I was ready for a ride. It was a beautiful morning, with a lovely breeze. It took us around 40 minutes till we were close to the lighting house of Cachi Boca. Then, Argelio chose some flats and we started moving around with the skif boat and the pou. Water was clear and the wind was not making waves over the surface. Nice. Easy to watch the fish. The water was 15 to 20 inches in some areas, so we anchor the boat and get into the water to walk a little bit. In between us and some mangroves that where about 70 yards away, there was a sand bank and a deep blue channel of water, it looked like a good area. The waves were moving to the sand bank.

We walked 20 yards, and jackpot! Like 50 bonefish were feeding on the flats, just being careful of the blue water, where (we knew later) a barracuda was waiting for them. We took some lines and we started some cast in the air. Argelio, the guide, was just behind me giving me instructions, like: hold on, they are moving, they are going away, they are coming back, cast 50 inches in front. Ok, they split, go to the second group, there is a big one there. Nice fish. Ok now, cast 2 o clock and 18 yards, ok yes, that is a good one, hold, NOW. And a bonefish is fighting with us trying to avoid the blue water, just running in the flats like crazy.IMG_GR_testimonials1419336417

It was a paradise; the bonefish were in the yellow area. It was a blue channel, and a beautiful green and turquoise water. In mainland, there was a group of grey trees and palm trees and white sand, and in that paradise area, two guys, were just fly fishing for a bonefish, 4 hours away from the closer city and 12 hours away from the closer international airport. That was a fly fishing experience, where the remote area and the feeling of our soul in connection with nature made us feel for a minute that life could be forever.

We hope you can fish one of these flats with us. It is a unique experience. We hope every person that fly fish, to live this experience.

My best

Pablo Aguilo

Pointer Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing in Queen Gardens CUBA

We were planning a fishing trip to Cuba for some tarpon, bonefish and if possible, permit. I knew from before that I was going to Paradise, but I didn’t know how paradise looked like… In Paradise we all expect to have some of the best fly fishing we could ever imagined.

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Cuba was a temptation in our bucket list for the famous fishing in the Cayos. It was also a cultural thing for my American and British friends. Cuba is just different to any other part in the world and The Habana has won its reputation for the Rum and the cigars, besides the city itself.

It was a long journey for all of us. From Atlanta, Rob and Weed made a connection through Cancun, and Mike and his sons made a connection from London to Madrid, like Peter, Andrew and Richard did. For me was a connection through Panama City that worked very well. We all arrived one or two days before schedule.

This was not a regular trip and we knew we were going for adventure. We have planned to stay in a floating boat with 10 rooms and private bathrooms, dining room, bar, air conditioned and Wi-Fi connection in the middle of nowhere. The floating boat is anchored in the Cayos of “Jardines de la Reina” that is 3 hours south from Jucaro town and port in Cuba.

So, going to Paradise has a price, and this time was a 5 hour trip by bus (nice one with air condition) and 3 hours by boat to get there. But when you get out from the boat and jump in the skiff boat to go fishing, with your rod in one hand, the fly box in the other one and your backpack with gear and equipment, the world as you know it changes. It feels like a dream for a few to be so far from all our people and family in that crystal clear water.

I took my Crocs as soon as I jumped in the skiff boat, and when we were about to leave for fishing with my guide, I said to my fellows: “good luck chaps, and tight lines”. And then, I had the paradise in front of me.IMG_GR_testimonials1416843374

The skiff boat is flat on the bottom and has a high platform in the back so the guides can row and a platform in the front so we can fish. There is a special area in the front to keep your staff safe and not to interfere with the fishing. I was wearing my Buff protector in my neck, Costa sunglasses, Orvis gloves for saltwater fly fishing and a Columbia SPF. I had a quick-dry long pants beige color. To be protected from the sun is a very important factor if you fly fish in the Caribbean. I put on sunscreen 50, that I also used on my feet.

Little things to consider are, for example to put on sunscreen before your departure every morning so you can clean your hands. Then be sure to keep your gear organized and not to forget anything.  Make sure you have your wading boots or shoes with you, and we recommend you a nice pair of socks to wear every day. Your socks will get wet and then is not going to be comfortable to wear them again. Regarding shirts, the minimum number should be 4 and for fishing pants we recommend 3 light ones.  You will also need some casual clothes to be around in the boat after the fishing. You should consider that weather is in between 80F to 100F. It is very important to have a good Simms rain jacket and some waterproof pants too. There is always a minimum chance to have a rainy and windy day and you will wish you have your gear with you.

The Fishing: It could be from the platform in the boat or wading or the combination of both which is excellent. It is nice to be around on the boat over the flats, which are around 20 to 30 inches of clear water, searching for a movement in the surface or a bonefish tale. It is also lovely to be in the channels in between mangroves, where the water looks greener and transparent, searching for tarpon, or even in the south flats looking for some permit.

IMG_GR_testimonials1416845078The week was amazing and we made an average of 15 to 20 bonefish a day, 2 to 4 tarpons a week, and the group had the luck to get 1 permit total. We have seen and fly fish some barracuda, jack and snapper too.

There were 6 complete days of amazing fly fishing, and in a next report we will write specifically about the fishing, and tell you more secrets about this unique experience of fishing Cuba.

Pablo

Director

Pointer Fly Fishing

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Describe a tarpon: Brutal

The King of Silver has an insatiable appetite, and gets very violent. Tarpon take with power, and show stamina and acrobatic qualities that make tarpon a formidable adversary on a fly rod.

Fishing Tarpon or Sabalo, as it is known in Cuba, can be divided into three categories: Baby Tarpon (those that they weigh up to 30 Lbs), Medium Tarpon (those that weigh 30 Lbs up to 80 Lb) and Monster Tarpon (those of more than 80 Lb and sometimes can surpass the incredible mark of 200 Lbs). Obviously,IMG_GR_testimonials1415304557 the last category is hunted hard, but unfortunately these behemoths are much less common.

When nearing a school of Tarpon, holding an 11 or 12 wt. rod, legs shake and a matchless sensation of adrenalin invades the body, as you anticipate a battle with one of these marine monsters. Sighting and casting accurately play a major role as the angler must reach the school of Tarpon that swim slowly in a circle within meters of the boat. At all times it is important to control one’s nervousness and to never feel intimidated by the presence of these extraordinary beasts.

The beginning of the road to success is to strip strike the fish precisely and firmly. the violent reaction of the Tarpon when it feels the fly in its mouth is going to send him skyward. so you have to bow to the king to keep that line slack and then hold your rod low and keep him under control – easier said than done.IMG_GR_testimonials1415304630

It is a difficult sensation to describe with words

Pablo Aguiló
Pointer Outfitters

Credits to Avalon

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Cuba Fleet II, beautiful day

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Fishing in Cuba is far different from other destinations in the Caribbean.

Avalon Fleet II, beautiful day in Jardines de La Reina, July´s first quarter, great permit fishing!

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Rich landed first permit in the morning, then looking for tarpon and bonefish in the afternoon to complete a Grand Slam! and landed a second permit!!, double grand slam in the day.

Arriving in the boat after an exciting day, Chef Edward was waiting with a wonderful lobster grill. Does it get better than this?

oooh yes!

His wife Millie also landed permit, tarpon and bonefish, third Grand Slam for the couple!! Jardines de la Reina is shining for Rich and Millie with three Grand Slams and great sunsets.

Jardines de la Reina is for those looking for adventure, absolutely amazing food with fresh seafood every day, and complete comfort.

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Here you will cast for large Tarpons (perhaps less BIG tarpon than on Isla de la Juventud, but more classic flats fishing for big tarpon and more variety). JDR is full of everything – Tarpon of all sizes, Permit, bones, Jacks, Barracuda – you name it. JDR is the favourite fishery of all destinations for many anglers around the world.

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Fleet II has 10 deluxe cabines, with 10 private bathrooms Each room includes air conditioning and heat controls, electricity plugs, as well as storage in drawers. Each room has panoramic windows to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Caribbean beaches.

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Stay tune, we’ll be happy to get you started on what should be an amazing Cuban adventure!

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