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Subscriber Pierre Manseau has checked in with an important new report on the Cayo Cruz/Cayo Romano area in Cuba, operated by Avalon ( The report is important because it offers a fresh perspective on an area that was the subject of a controversy report this past March by Uele Zellweger. Many of the complaints Zellweger and the others in his group had were traceable to a misunderstanding with their agent in England, but some of them were about lodging, boats, food, and other important elements that are the responsibility of Avalon.

In our comments about the controversy, we pointed out that Cayo Cruz/Cayo Romano is Avalon’s newest area in Cuba, and it is one where they have not been given the same amount of control as they have in other areas. We predicted that Avalon would bring the quality up in time, and that is what Manseau’s report indicates is happening. Importantly, Manseau fished Cayo Cruz/Cayo Romano back in 2012, so he had a basis of comparison when he fished there again this past January, taking six permit, one tarpon and “many” bonefish. His catch included a Grand Slam for himself and one for his partner. In all, he says, the three anglers in camp with him caught 10 permit. He offers this overall assessment of his experience:

“I fished Cayo Romano/Cayo Cruz for three days in December 2012, just a couple of months after Avalon took over. Given that I was there at the end of a severe cold front, the fishing was only decent and not at the level I expected based on some friends’ reports. The lodge (Casona de Romano) needed to be refurbished, too, and the meals were not very good. The road to the marina was a total nightmare, and the skiffs definitely needed replacement.

“I went back this year with lower expectations, arriving on December 28 with Raphael Ruel-Magnan, a young man from Quebec City, who was completely inexperienced in the world of saltwater fishing on flats. My first surprise was the improvements made to the lodge. The second surprise was the quality of the meals. Avalon had moved the chef from one of its top motherships to Casona de Romano, which pushed the gastronomy to the standard for which this operator is reputed. My third surprise was the road to the marina. It had been dramatically improved. As a result, the transit to the marina was shorter than before by about an hour, and much less tiring due to the use of a comfortable bus. A fourth surprise was the skiffs, which had been improved to the level you expect from Avalon. Moreover, I understand six new Dolphins should arrive soon!

“As for the fishing, during my previous visit, we saw some very big bonefish but few permit, probably because the water temperature was too cold as a result of the cold front. This year . . . WOW! On day one, Raphael and I spent most of the day wading for bonefish, landing 12, some in the six- to seven-pound range. We managed just two hours of permit fishing in the afternoon. During that short period, we had several very good shots. One of them should have resulted in a permit but I failed to set the hook in a timely manner. That same day, our friend Norberto (“El Terrible”), landed a big permit and tried to complete a Grand Slam, but he failed to find a tarpon.

“Our second day began with an almost complete absence of wind, which made permit fishing difficult in the morning. Finally, in the afternoon, we both had some good opportunities but failed to connect. On day three, Raphael and I were determined to spend all of our time looking for permit. Things went very well, too, as we had four good shots before 10 AM, at which point I finally hooked and landed a huge 30-pounder. Since tarpon are not abundant in this location in the winter, we decided to continue our pursuit of permit until about 2:30 in the afternoon, at which point we would switch gears and try to complete my Grand Slam by taking a Silver King. Of course, a bonefish is not a problem to take here. Raphael had a

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