Guided fishing on the Cayos

Tarpon...Red Snapper...Crevelle Jacks...Barracuda...Bonefish

I have just returned from my fifth visit to the Cayos in Cuba (June 2007). I stayed at the Oasis Playa Coco where I had arranged to meet with a a good friend Julian and his family. We had planned a deep sea trip together but a couple of days before leaving England I got a text from him saying "Bring your driving licence". Why I wondered?

Julian had arranged a day of guided fishing with a receptionist at the hotel. Her husband would take us out for the day but needed my driving licence and passport to hire a car for the trip. I was a little concerned at handing over these valuable documents and 130 Cuban Peso (approx 76) to pay for the hire and petrol, but needn't have worried. The guide turned up at the appointed time of 6am and to my surprise and pleasure it was Juan Carlos Martinez a waiter I had met the previous year.

We loaded the car with tackle and a huge cool box full of ice and set off. I was told we were going to the causeway and the journey was going to take about two and a half hours. I was confused as the causeway between Cayo Coco and the mainland was only half an hour away. Wrong causeway! We were heading for a 47 k long causeway with 44 bridges between the mainland and Cayo Santa Maria.

George, a friend of Juan Carlos came along for the fishing and did all the driving. The route was via the towns of Moron, Chambas, Yaguajay turning onto the causeway just before Cabarien.  We were to fish the bridges (all 44) with lures. The first bridge saw me with a Cubera Snapper caught on a  Yo-Zuri Mag Darter (white with red head) this turned out to be a very good lure  as at the next bridge I had two Red Snapper on it at the same time!                    If you want Yo-Zuri lures try

The only things biting more than the fish were the mosquitoes. The sun got higher and with no wind and a slackening tide the fishing slowed. We worked our way along the causeway trying each bridge. We saw huge numbers of fish but the conditions were against us. Juan Carlos does not give up and picked off a 10lb Barracuda he spotted in just two foot of water off the far end of the causeway George picked one up as well. Juan wanted to us to stay on until sunset for the huge Tarpon in the area but our wives were expecting us back so we worked our way back towards the mainland. The tide started to run and the wind got up so we had a last go on the main bridge. Casting from high above the water Julian got smashed up for the second time (15lb line is not enough) and I got a Jack.

All in all a very good day out and highly recommended.

As Juan's job is a waiter he is not allowed to charge for his guided fishing trips. He is passionate about his fishing and has excellent knowledge of the area. The only way he can get to these areas is by taking someone who can pay for the car hire etc. so he gets a day fishing and so do you!  He does not make any money from these trips! So if you do go with him it would be nice to show your appreciation with a gift, he will take a tip and always needs lures and other tackle. No matter how much he gets in tips he cannot buy fishing tackle, rods, reel, lures etc as they are just not available in Cuba and so are all the more valuable to him. Because tackle is not available Juan cannot supply any for your use so you must take your own.

So how do you contact him? You can email in advance with your name, where you will be staying and the duration of your visit to for the attention of Ilainy Padron (his wife) and he will contact you on your arrival to arrange a suitable day. If you are staying at the Oasis Playa Coco or the hotel next door which is due to open in 2008  called The Blue Bay, you can simply ask for Ilainy at reception. Alternatively. go the beach where you get the Hobie Cats, pedalos etc and ask for George and he will contact Juan for you. If you do go, say hello from me, Mike Hobbs, and have a day to remember with good fishing and a rare view of the Cuban mainland and lifestyle of the Cuban people.

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