Flyfishing in Cuba
Fishing for marlin off the coast of Cuba is a pretty cool experience, but the real lure for anglers lies along the southern shores. For saltwater flyfishermen, it offers some of the most pristine, uncrowded flats and backcountry fishing in the world. The best-known area is the Jardines de la Reina, or Gardens of the Queen, so named by Christopher Columbus.
Tucked behind a barrier reef off the southeast coast of Cuba, the Jardines de la Reina is a system of flats and islands holding unheard-of numbers of bonefish, tarpon, and permits. The area is extremely remote and very difficult to get to from Havana. The best way to travel there is to plan ahead with the area's only authorized guide and lodging service, the Avalon Fishing and Diving Center.
The Avalon is run by a group of Italians, and you can arrange a prepaid all-expense trip through themthus ensuring that you do not spend money in Cuba. Again, the U.S. government frowns on this, so you are taking a risk. Contact Avalon by email or check out its website.
The other great place to go backcountry fishing in Cuba is where we went, the Zapata Peninsula. In Havana, I rented a compact Hyundai with turismo license plates and drove two hours to Zapata. Another way to get there is by bus, but service is erratic. If you're lucky you can catch bus number 353 from Havana to Playa Larga and make it to the coast in three hours.
I had arranged to meet Osmany, my guide, through the concierge at the Old Man and the Sea Hotel, the best lodging at the Marina Hemingway. Calling from Havana, you can reach him directly at 059-7249.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication