June 2001

Fly fishing for Bonefish---Deep Sea Fishing


Before I went to Cuba I knew there were Bonefish in the Bay of Pigs area on the South West (Caribbean) coast. I was going to the North East (Atlantic) Coast. I asked many Bonefish angler if there were bonefish where I was going. To a man they answered NO. Guess what? They were all wrong! Here's the proof!

Cayo Coco Bonefish taken on a fly

In fairness, I must say that probably the only reason I was told that is due to the inaccessibility of the flats. As I flew from Veradero to Ciego Avila I saw hundreds of potential Bonefish habitats. Getting to them was the problem. As the resorts are all inclusive they have their own section of guarded beach. This means it is very difficult to meet any locals apart from the hotel staff, and they don't have boats.

I was fortunate in that my room at the Melia Cayo Coco had a balcony over a saltwater lagoon. The first evening whilst standing there sipping my Cuba Libre and looking into the shallow water, I spotted a BARRACUDA of about 30" in length. I set up my fly rod and with the assistance of Ben and Jo (our friends in the room above who acted as fish spotters) I cast a deceiver to it. The take was almost instant, no problem with the first run, but I over set the clutch on the second and the 15lb leader parted. I was shaking like a leaf! I looked out towards the middle of the lagoon to see Bonefish tailing, I nearly fell off the balcony with excitement!

The Hotel has "pelican" fishing boats with electric motors, free for the use of guests, on the landlocked lagoon. So next morning I set off rod in hand for the jetty. It was Sunday and Fidel (no not the Fidel) was on his day off and the boats were locked up! Disappointed I went back to my room. I looked out to see three small TARPON (about 8lb each) within casting range. I could not believe my luck! I did not even bother to change my fly (a bonefish special) but cast just ahead of the patrolling tarpon. Three pulls back and a very surprised Tarpon went steaming towards the next group of chalets. It threw the hook on it's first leap! They never came back.

It was Tuesday before I could have a go at the Bonefish. Jo the bubbly girl from the room above came to act as gillie. Fidel who was in charge of the boats explained that the boats were free, except for fishing. For that you had to pay 5 dollars per hour. After coming so far it seemed a small price to pay. Fidel wanted to accompany us, and said he knew where the Macabi (Spanish for Bonefish) were, we agreed. He was over the moon to be going fishing, and shut the booth. For two hours no one else could play in the boats.
We made our way to the seaward end off the lagoon. There were Bonefish everywhere. Unfortunately they were charging around in frenzied groups, sending bow waves ahead of them. It was only after an hour and a half of casting at them that I finally hooked my first Bonefish. It went every bit as well as they say. Trout just cannot compare, the sheer speed of the runs is breathtaking! When It was landed the reason for the frenzied activity became clear. He was in milt, they were spawning. The fish was returned to do his duty, although I don't suppose he was going to have more fun and excitement than I had just had.

I would like to thank Dave England from Veals in Bristol for the loan of his travel rod and reel for my trip.
Cheers Dave.

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Nice new boats and a keen crew

Cuba Barracuda

I went to Mauritius for some Marlin fishing and caught a barracuda, I went to Cuba for some Marlin fishing and caught a Barracuda. I'm not sure where to try next!

The Cuban boats are much smaller than the ones in Mauritius, but the DC8 (above) that I went on was much better appointed. These boats are new and the equipment is bang up to date. They leave from Cayo Guillermo which has excellent fishing from the pier (over 300m long) in front of the Melia Cayo Guillermo. It was fascinating to watch the geo satellite and depth displays. These were in the main cabin and on the manned flying bridge.

It was quite cramped with four anglers and five crew but there was still enough space for the cold beers (included in the price) and my own trolling gear. When the skipper saw my t shirt with the PAA logo, and the Marlin lures I had brought with me, he did his best to find some Marlin. I set up my gear and put it at the back of the lure pattern. We trolled for over an hour, twice something (I believe a sailfish or small marlin) took short on my lure. We then saw birds in the distance, the crew got very excited and headed straight for them. The first pass saw a strike on my set up. It was the first strike we had had in three hours and turned out to be the barracuda pictured above. Marlin lures have skirts of soft plastic and are not meant to be chewed on by Barras, he made a right mess of it. One more Barra came to one of the six rods set by the crew, then our half day was over.

Normally these boats take you trolling for the first three hours, if nothing is showing, they then reef fish for snapper and the like for the next two hours. We stuck it out because the skipper had said (rather gestured) that if I had a Marlin, it would cost me my PAA t shirt!

Cuba entry page.......June 2002......June 2003

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