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A U.S. subscriber who did not give his name is not entirely happy with a recent trip to Cayo Largo, Cuba, handled for him by Avalon (www.cubanfishingcenters. com). His main disappointment was the scarcity of permit, snook, and tarpon, but he was also not happy with the quality of the food provided by the hotel where he stayed. He writes:
“I had been wanting to go to Cuba since my fifth-grade school trip there was cancelled 55 years ago due to the revolution. I particularly wanted to see Havana and target permit on fly. Indeed, I found Havana very interesting. I enjoyed the music, food, sightseeing, and old cars. But as far as the fishing is concerned, I was disappointed by the scarcity of permit, tarpon, and snook. Yes, I did hook four tarpon, but they were not as abundant as they are in the Florida Keys, for example, and in other areas in Florida.
As for permit, I saw one in five days of fishing. I was told this was due to their spawn on the April full moon, which continues through June or later. I guess I should have researched this better on the Internet, and I think Avalon should have mentioned this, as I expressed an interest in targeting permit. My lack of success was shared by anglers in three other boats who had several hookups on tarpon but no permit. They did catch one snook. On the positive side of the ledger, I was surprised by the number of mutton and mangrove snapper willing to take my fly. Bonefish were plentiful, too, and easy to catch. Most were in the two-and-a-half- to three-pound class, with the largest weighing about six pounds.
“Overall, my experience with Avalon was good. The staff was efficient, and everything came off without a glitch. Mauro, manager of Cayo Largo, runs a great operation.
The boats were ready to leave when we arrived every morning, and it was good to see that rods had been washed and placed in the office from the previous day’s fishing. The food at the hotel was quite another matter, however. It was simply bad. The cereal was stale and the fruit was hard and unripe. Every morning, there was an egg station and waffle station set up, which was fine. You needed to prepare your lunch from the breakfast offering, however, which meant we pretty much had peanut butter sandwiches every day. At night there was an OK pasta station, but the vegetables all tasted like they were out of a can. There is an upscale restaurant at the hotel where we stayed, and we were allowed to eat there one or two nights, but you had to make your reservation when you arrived, not ahead of time.”
The subscriber who filed this report says he was aware that Avalon has five different operations in Cuba. He chose Cayo Largo because he had only five days to fish and the other operations all involve a weeklong stay. “I would like to return to fish from one of Avalon’s motherships, as I think that would make for a great fishing vacation. All problems with the fishing aside, the waters I saw were magnificent and they contained a variety of fish to target with the fly. I recommend the experience to fellow subscribers.”
Postscript: The subscriber who filed this report gives the cost of his trip as $6,000, including ground transportation and airfare to and from Havana to Cayo Largo. As for getting to Havana, he says he flew Cubana Airlines from Cancún. There were long lines at the ticket counter, he says, so you needed to arrive two and a half to three hours ahead of time. We sent this report to Avalon for comment near press time, by the way, and we were told there is no truth to the story that permit desert the flats around Cayo Largo in April, which is when the subscriber was there. “Our website does state that spring and summer are the best times for permit at Cayo Largo, but this angler wanted to come in April. We also say on our website that Cayo Largo is not known for it tarpon. Still, we appreciate getting this report, as it will help us make our pre-trip literature more useful in the future.”