What it's like to go fly-fishing in Cuba

Posted: 25-May-16 09:01

As Cuba opens its borders to more and more travellers from around the globe, an American visitor shares his experience embarking on one of the newest pre-planned trips open to U.S. citizens. After 18-months of legal and diplomatic wrangling, fly-fishing excursions to Cuba now compliment cultural experiences.

What it's like to go fly-fishing in Cuba

Once a forbidden destination, Cuba is now enticing American visitors to delve into its cultural heritage in record numbers. Cuba continues to attract travellers dreaming of uncovering new adventures in an area once off limits to most U.S. citizens.

As more charter flights to Cuba are added to the mix and the promise of commercial flights appears not far off, emerge some unique new options for travellers to choose from. One of these is guided fishing packages, sponsored by America’s largest fly-fishing company.

Orvis recently announced exploratory trips to Cuba. Writer and angler Kirk Deeter of Field & Stream Magazine recently penned his take on the program as part of the magazine’s fly-fishing blog, Fly Talk. Deeter explains that he’s been tempted by a fishing trip to Cuba for some time but until recently never took the opportunity.

He acknowledges well before the travel restrictions to Cuba began to ease there were ways for fishermen to enter the country. He points out other travellers had flown through Cancun and offered bribes to prevent their passports from being stamped. While Deeter admits he never tried this himself, he claims he held back in part because he didn’t want his name to end up on any Customs and Border Patrol lists preventing him from flying anywhere else in the world in the future.

These days, he continues, it’s much simpler to get to Cuba, as noted by all of the charter flights leaving Miami on a daily basis. The writer says that’s exactly what he did shortly after President Obama’s visit to Havana in March. Deeter took part in an Orvis exploratory trip. He calls it a “breakthrough” for fishermen who want to experience Cuba fully but also want to stay within the bounds of people-to-people trips.

The writer proclaims that he found Cuba, unlike many of the other places he has visited, exactly as he’d imagined. He points to things like the 1950s-era cars, the music and art and the El Commandante billboard murals. He writes about taking a two hour drive from Havana to the Bay of Pigs and spotting a road sign marking the location where a Castro-led Cuban defence halted a military invasion.

Deeter then describes fishing at Zapata National Park with scenery he equates to prior to the year 1492, with extremely limited human existence. The park, he notes, only allows four fishing boats per day. It was here, Deeter says, he was able to jump out of his boat and wade barefoot for a mile, surrounded by dozens of bonefish.

In comparing the Orvis package he took to other fishing programs that have been in existence for years, the writer points to stories he’s heard of seven-hour bus rides and four-hour boat rides with the latter. While he says that’s okay if all you want to do is fish he was more interested in the cultural immersion that Orvis offers, so much so that he wants to go again with his wife.

Deeter finishes with offering a few more antidotes about the Orvis-sponsored trip. He praised the knowledgeable, English speaking fishing guides. He goes on to write that the locals are friendly, too, and says he felt safer in Cuba than some other countries he has visited in the past. He also raves about the food, mostly the local dishes served from the paladares, followed by smoking a Cuban cigar.

The author adds that the tourism industry in Cuba is blossoming, so a trip isn’t necessarily cheap. However, he notes that American fishermen in Cuba are becoming more and more common, referencing a conversation he had with a fishing guide that U.S. anglers have now surpassed the number of Europeans and Canadians.

Deeter sums up his article recommending that travellers hoping to go to Cuba go soon and do so as part of a reputable program. He suggests experiencing the city life of Old Havana, strolling the famed Malecon and welcomes visitors to fish the pristine and untapped waters of Cuba. Form more information about fishing trips, click here.


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