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More than fifteen years ago, I had the chance to fish the flats of Cayo Largo, the beautiful island south of Cuba. At that time, those waters were over-fished by commercial fishermen, and neither guides nor boats were available for sportfishermen. I recently heard that the island’s waters have been closed to commercial fishermen, and that Fabrizio Barbazza, a dedicated fly fisherman, has started a new fishing operation under a special agreement with the local authorities.

The fishing club he has created is called Casa Batida, and he has hired four of Cuba’s best guides, whom I have known for a long time. One speaks English fairly well, while the others do their best. His boats include two 16-foot Hewes Bonefishers, plus 17-foot Sea Pros, and 12-foot Carolina Skiffs. Fly and spinning tackle is available at the club house, which also is well-equipped for tying the last-minute fly. I was at Casa Batida the last week of February, a cold and windy week, certainly not the best season for fly fishing the flats. Despite the weather, my friend, Edgardo Oppizio, and I saw an impressive number of fish, and we each caught more than five bonefish from five to seven pounds in three hours. We also jumped and sight-cast to about a dozen tarpon, landing several 10- to 30-pounders in a single day. The sight-fishing for jack crevalle was tremendous. There were a few permit around, too, but the weather was too cold for a real chance at them.

Our goal was more to explore a new area than to break any records. Based on what I saw, I think an angler here who dedicates a full day to bonefishing, under the right weather and wind conditions, should be able to catch 30 to 40 larger-than-average fish. I am returning to Cayo Largo next June to prove it!

While the club doesn’t have lodging facilities, guests can stay at one of the big tourist compounds nearby. The food is not always top-class, but the accommodations are quite comfortable and air-conditioned. Getting to Cayo Largo is no problem from Montreal, Canada, and Frankfurt, Germany, as there are direct flights. From other countries, one must overnight in Havana and fly to Cayo Largo the next day on a local charter.

I recommend this trip to every fly fisherman interested in fishing almost virgin flats, crowded by the largest number of fish I have ever seen in the Caribbean. To be sure, you have to come here prepared to face some problems with local airlines and tourist organizations. The delights of fishing Cayo Largo more than offset the problems, however.

As for your February report on Cayo Largo, which mentioned problems with wind, I did not find Cayo Largo more windy than other places in the Caribbean, nor does it lack in sheltered flats. Apparently, you were aware at the time only of incidental fishing available through local resorts. Believe me, Casa Batida’s guides and boats are among the best I have seen, and I say that having taken five Grand Slams and having fished around the world.

(Editor Note: Word reaching us at press time is, the only agency authorized to book Casa Batida is Go, Ghen!. Trip prices had not been sent to us as this issue went to press.)

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