BBC2's latest episode of new fish-off series filmed in Cuba

Posted: 19-Oct-15 12:12

The second episode of a competition-based documentary series by BBC2 aired last night showcasing some of Cuba's most beautiful and challenging fishing destinations. Part of the new Earth's Wildest Waters: The Big Fish series, the latest episode to be aired was shot in various locations around Cuba, including the southern salt flats of Las Salinas, the Bay of Pigs and the north Atlantic coast of Cayo Santa Maria, where competitors had to try their hand at fly-fishing, raft-fishing and big game fishing.

BBC2's latest episode of new fish-off series filmed in Cuba

A new documentary series that recently started airing on BBC2 filmed the latest of its episodes in Cuba, where seven competitors had to battle it out to determine who got to remain in the competition and continue onto to the next stage.

This new hybrid series verging somewhere between documentary and reality TV fish-off sees Ben Fogle taking an initial number of eight fishing amateurs from the UK around the world for some spectacular fishing challenges. Alongside him, fishing expert Matt Hayes is on hand to advise contestants on the skills and methods required for the specific locations that await them. He also gives them an insight into fish behaviour and how locals operate to lure them. On this occasion they were also accompanied by local Cuban fishing expert, Lazaro Viñola, a legendary fisherman with many years of experience in these challenging waters.

The voiceover by Ben at the start of the programme gave a brief introduction of Cuba as a fishing destination:

"Between the mighty Atlantic Ocean and the tropical Caribbean lies the island of Cuba. It might be most famous for its bustling capital: Havana, with its classic cars, cigars and music, but that’s not what the anglers are here for. It’s one of the best places in the world to fish."

As fishing expert Matt Hayes put it;

"This might be one of the best sport fishing destinations in the world but let me tell you, these fish take some catching."

The first destination was two-hours south drive of Havana, in the salt flats Las Salinas, in the protected Biosphere Reserve of Cienaga de Zapata where the competitors tried their hand at catching bonefish, a massive challenge not only because of the elusive and fighting nature of the fish itself but because the crystalline, calm waters mean that the fish can see everything and are extremely sensitive to sound and movement.

Stealth, caution and accuracy are at the backbone for fishing in this part of Cuba and these are the essential qualities a fisherman should have to succeed in these waters. Contestants here had to test how good their skills were at finding not scaring fish and it indeed proved a daunting challenge for some, with one of the competitors not able to successfully secure a single catch.

Contestants moved on to Bay of Pigs next and there another completely different marine environment awaited them, one that’s home to incredible ancient caves, coral reefs and hundreds fish species. There they had to fish exactly like the locals would using improvised vessels like the inner tube of a tyre, rustic wooden paddles and a wooden reel or handline, locally called Cuban yoyo. Before they embarked on Playa Larga’s waters and started on their quest to catch yellowtail snapper, red snapper and bonito they had to attach the net to their tyres and assemble their own makeshift rafts.

Their final stop was the Jardines del Rey archipelago in Cayo Santa Maria, on Cuba’s northern Atlantic shores; where they had to face treacherous conditions with a drastic change in weather due to a cold front that saw temperatures plummet and a stormy rainfall to unfold. This is the place where anglers from all over the world come during May to fish in deeper waters and try their luck at catching some of the most impressive and spectacular game fish in the world, especially the tarpon, also known as the Silver King, which in Cuba can grow to lengths of two-and-a-half metres.

Here fishing amateurs had just one day to catch one if the most sought-after fish in the world. One of the contestants said of the anticipation build-up before attempting to catch big fish:

"I’m not going to say I’m as nervous as they day I got married but it is pretty close to the nervous excitement I was that day."

The biggest challenge for all of them yet, here contestants had to employ a different fishing technique called spinning, in which big fish are lured by a fake smaller fish with hooks placed at the end of the line to resemble a real moving target in the water and attract its predator. The knots have to be strong enough to withstand the pull of this colossal specimen, so all contestants had to make sure theirs were sturdy and secure enough.

The weather at this point got really temperamental and a thunderstorm forced them to hold and wait for an hour before getting back in the game.

In the end only one of the contestants managed to catch one tarpon on the first day, but the day’s challenging weather proved too much for everyone. Presenter Fogler concluded:

"We wanted the angler who caught the larges tarpon. But I think for this task you’ll all agree; the proof was in the pudding. We bow to the king of the silver king Sam."

Matt Hayes further summarised the experience:

"For the first time in your lives you’re up against a fish that can not only beat you, but it can humble you, and that guys is what sports fishing is all about."

Amy Blur from The Independent also documented this exciting latest episode of “Earth’s Wildest Waters: The Big Fish” with an article reviewing the series. She summed up Cuba by saying;

"From blazing sunshine to electric storms and full-on downpours, Cuba had it all. It also had spectacular landscapes, crystal clear waters and a plethora of exotic fish."



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