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Question: When did you fish in Cuba and how did you get there?

Answer: I fished in Cuba about the first week of May this year. I was invited to go to Cuba to explore the bonefishing, tarpon and snook fishing that is available in the famous Bay Of Pigs. I and my party flew from Nassau, The Bahamas, to Havana, Cuba, on Cubana Air. They have a plane that flies Monday or Wednesday, and Friday and Sunday. The cost is $165 round-trip, and you must pay in cash.

Question: What did you do once you arrived in Havana?

Answer: After we got to Havana we drove around for three hours and looked at the city. I had heard what a beautiful city Havana is, but now the great big buildings are falling apart. There are many bicycles for transportation but no cars. We then drove about 60 to 70 miles on a four-lane highway to a camp, where we stayed in little cottages. They were new, and each had a bathroom, refrigerator and electricity, but no screens or shutters.

Question: Considering the conditions in Cuba right now, how is it there were such good accommodations available?

Answer: I was told the cottages in the camp were built by the government in an attempt to fool tourists into believing this is what rural Cuba looks like. The people I went with say a South American outfitter has signed an exclusive agreement with the government to bring people in for fishing and possibly hunting. That outfitter is said to be planning to bring in some boats and motors.

Question: Where did you fish the first day and what was the area like?

Answer: The first day we drove about 35 miles from camp to an area that looks like the Florida Everglades. I was told it was the Bay of Pigs, a million-acre park that works out to a series of lagoons and finally into a great big open-water area. The manager of the park, a ranger and I got into a little 14-foot boat and went out to explore to see if there were any bonefish.

Question: How far was the fishing from the place you got in the boat?

Answer: The fishing is right in front of the ranger station. I never fished more than a mile and a half to two miles from the ranger station, which is the radio station down there; but you could go for miles if you had the proper equipment.

Question: How was the fishing?

Answer: In the first three hours a tremendous storm came up, but after that we were able to fish. There were plenty of bonefish. I caught 21 in half a day, all on a fly. They weren’t all that big – probably under six pounds – but there were thousands of them. I would compare the bonefish here to the ones in The Bahamas – they average around two to four pounds. They kept telling me there were bigger fish, and I did eventually catch some five to six-pounders. The fish appeared to be totally unafraid. You can throw a fly 15 feet in front of a bonefish here and it will rush right to it and grab it. In addition to bonefish, we saw two big schools of permit, plus snook and tarpon.

Question: Did you fish for bonefish the whole time you were there?

Answer: No. The next day we went with the park manager to a big river in the park where we fished for tarpon and snook. We saw hundreds – possibly thousands – of small tarpon from five to 10 pounds, though we did not see any big tarpon. Sometimes, when we rounded a bend in the river, we could see rolling tarpon all the way to the next bend in the river. We caught some and also caught snook. All together, I fished four days for bonefish and two days for tarpon and snook.

Question: Was there any evidence of netting on the flats?

Answer: Initially I was told the area had not been fished for 35 years and I was the first person to fish there. However, in four days of fishing I never saw any sharks, so finally I asked the rangers if they were sure there wasn’t any netting taking place here. One of them said the area was netted up to about eight years ago, but not since then. That’s the reason why there are no sharks, and probably why there are no big bonefish.

Question: Are the flats wadable, or is all the fishing done from a boat?

Answer: The flats are indeed wadable, almost everywhere. The bottom is firm, and the water is very clear and very shallow – absolutely beautiful. We were using a little fiberglass boat with a motor and it was dragging on the bottom – that’s how shallow the water is. I don’t know what kind of boat you can put in there that won’t drag.

Question: Did you try any bass fishing while you were in Cuba?

Answer: No, I personally did not try out the bass fishing during my visit. However, while I was there, another party came that wanted to investigate the bass fishing in the lakes, including Treasure Lake. When they came back, they said Treasure Lake was all fished out, and was still being heavily fished by visiting anglers.

Question: What was your overall impression of Cuba and its people?

Answer: The Cuban people are just as friendly as can be and hold no animosity toward Americans, though of course they would like to see the embargo lifted. Very few people there speak any English but they can’t do enough for you. Everything in Cuba is very expensive. They have two sets of money there – the peso and the dollar. The peso is supposed to be equal to the dollar, but it is actually worth only 40 cents. If you want to buy something, they want you to pay in dollars the same amount Cubans would pay in pesos. Gas costs about $3.75/gallon. The country really is in bad shape – the people have nothing at all. Food is scarce. In fact, I don’t even know where they buy food. Anywhere you go in the country you don’t see any shopping centers, stores or even police stations. You don’t see anything. I don’t know how the people exist. – Anonymous.

(Don Causey Note: We understand that Colombian outfitter Erland von Sneidern is going to take over the outfitting of this destination, though we could not determine that for certain at press time, as von Sneidern had not replied to a fax we sent him. If you are a citizen of Canada or any other nation whose government permits travel to Cuba and you want to reach von Sneidern, you can do so in Cali, Colombia (*). We have published several other reports on Cuban fishing in the past, incidentally, the most important of which appeared in the January, 1993 issue. It describes some good bonefishing available in around the Jardines de la Reine Archipelago. I might add in closing that our source for this report on the Bay of Pigs confirmed one of the saddest stories that has made its way out of Castro’s Cuba recently – namely, that substantial numbers of US citizens are slipping into the island nation to take advantage of the burgeoning business of prostitution. Many of the girls, apparently, are underage. Sort of makes a joke of the Treasury Department’s concern with sport fishermen, doesn’t it?)

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