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The list of places to go fishing in Cuba is about to get much longer with the reemergence of Charles Puff of Cuba Outdoor Adventures (www.cubaoutdooradventures.com) in Missouri. I say reemergence because Puff had some involvement in Cuba way back in the early days of The Angling Report when his close personal friend, Dan Snow, began to take American fishermen there in search of largemouth bass in defiance of what was then a dead-serious ban on Americans going to Cuba.
Snow, some subscribers will remember, is widely believed to be the only American who ever went to jail for defying the American ban on travel to Cuba. The Dan Snow story is a bit of a digression, but it will explain some things in a letter Puff sent us last month and which is printed below. Snow’s story defies easy summary, but suffice it to say it culminated in a Lilliputian fish war that would be funny if it had not had such serious consequences for Snow. We were dragged into the edge of that war here at The Angling Report when a US Treasury Department gumshoe visited our office and demanded we turn over all of our files on Dan Snow. We never did that, but until the end of his days Snow believed The Angling Report helped send him to jail because a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request he filed years later turned up some copies of subscriber reports from this publication. If he had ever asked, we would have told him the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control simply subscribed to The Angling Report (we knew that at the time and behaved accordingly), and they apparently exercised their right as a subscriber to order trip reports. We were never aware that they ordered the reports. At any rate, Snow’s experience clearly left a lasting impression on Charles Puff, because he has taken a very careful and legalistic approach to offering trips to Cuba. That will be clear when you read his letter below detailing his plans to offer a variety of mostly bass fishing trips in areas of Cuba that have not come up in any of the reports we have filed in recent years about fishing in Cuba. Snow says there is still excellent bass fishing across Cuba in something like 1,000 lakes, as well as good fishing for tarpon and other saltwater species in waters that we also have never seen in any outfitter’s literature. What’s really interesting about Puff’s letter is it is probably the opening shot in a race to develop dozens, maybe hundreds, of new, second-tier fishing destinations across Cuba. The new destinations will not compete head-to-head with the super-expensive saltwater destinations that everyone already knows about in Cuba, and they will likely be priced accordingly. They are sure to appeal to that vast army of American hawg-busters who drive rhinestone bass boats around US lakes and to adventurous anglers who just don’t think about fishing and giant sums like $6,000 coexisting in the same sentence. Here at The Angling Report we are not as confident as Puff is in the quality of the fishing in most bass lakes and in unprotected areas all across Cuba, but his claim to have already developed a couple of destinations where the bass weigh up to 14 pounds and where baby and juvenile tarpon can be brought to hand is credible. It is going to be interesting to watch this new round of development in Cuban fishing take place. If you visit one of these new destinations, do file a report. No, we won’t send it to the government! Here is the gist of the letter Puff sent us: “It has been a while since we spoke about fishing in Cuba. Well, we are now putting together our plan to offer fishing there. Cuba has proven to be one step forward and two backward. Those folks are absolutely wonderful, but they have nothing with which to work. You just cannot imagine. “When I started going to Cuba approximately 20 years ago with my good friend Dan Snow, it was not this hard to organize things. Today, it is virtually impossible for anyone to accomplish anything in a timely manner. Most of this, at least the hard part, is behind us, and I am happy to say we have a legal company in Cuba. US Secretary of State John Kerry stamped our paperwork recently in the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC, and along with our Missouri corporation, Cuba Outdoor Adventures, we will be marketing our bass, tarpon, snook, and deep-sea fishing tours. Bass and tarpon will be first on our hit parade. “I do not want any of your readers to think they can go with us right now to Cuba. It is still not legal to travel to Cuba unless your trip fits into one of the 12 categories set up by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In addition, here at Cuba Outdoor Adventures, we are not yet legally allowed to give the Cubans any money. We have been told we can’t do that until the country is officially open. When is this going to happen? We are guessing January 2017, so we feel good about offering our tours a bit before then with a small refundable deposit. Here is a list of the areas we will be fishing starting January 2017. We will run tours to each location weekly. This is just a small sample of the lakes we have under contract with the Cuban government: • Bass fishing in Pinar del Río. Six days/five nights; begins with day tours of Havana; three full days of fishing at various lakes, including Laguna Grande. • Tarpon and snook in Pinar del Río. Six days/five nights; begins with day tours of Havana; three full days of fishing at various areas along the Cuyaguateje River. • Bass fishing Embalse Hanabanilla. Five days/four nights; begins with day tours of Havana; three full days of fishing at Embalse Hanabanilla. • Combination freshwater and saltwater fishing in Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus. Six days/five nights; begins with day tours of Havana; 1.5 days bass fishing at Embalse Hanabanilla; 1.5 days saltwater fishing in the Zaza River and the Agabama River (tarpon, snook, yellowtail, snappers). • Bass fishing at Lake Lenora in Las Tunas—packages pending. “I would be remiss if I did not discuss trophy bass. Fifteen to 20 years ago bass weighing 15 to 22 pounds were fairly common in Cuba. Today, we do not know what size fish are there. However, we do know several of our lakes have 12- to 14-pound fish in them. I know that for a fact. American bass anglers are the best in the world, and they will be telling us soon what is available. It is just a shame my dear friend Dan Snow is not here to enjoy what he started 20 years ago. I am sure he is watching from above.” Postscript: Charles Puff was not ready to share prices of these trips. We will pass those on as soon as we get them. For sure, they will not be in the same universe price-wise as those trips to Jardines de la Reina, Cayo Largo, and elsewhere on offer by Avalon (www. cubanfishingcenters.com).