Cuba is one of the most unspoiled areas in the Caribbean region for spectacular fishing. This is also helped by the huge variety of water types, river mouths and lagoons, endless salt water flats, channels between islands all perfect for fly fishing, popping and trawling, and deep blue sea beyond the coral reefs for big game fish. Toby Brocklehurst has researched all of Cuba to find the best fishing available. We have a number of set itineraries on our website, or can put together a bespoke tour for you, whether you are a couple or a group of friends. Many of the best areas for fishing have masses of other activities and smart hotels that cater for non-fishing partners too, so we can make sure that partners are kept entertained while you enjoy your fishing.
Fly Fishing: Salt-water fly fishing has become more and more popular in the last few years. As many people take up this exciting sport, it is necessary to find more challenging places to fish. Cuba is perfect as there are many different types of fish, in different fishing areas making a trip extremely variable and exciting. Cuba has an abundance of Bonefish, Tarpon, Permit, Snook, Jack Crevelle, Barracuda, snapper and many other local fish that will take a fly. Permit are probably among the most difficult fish to catch due to the complicated presentation of the fly (crab) and how easily spooked they are.
Bonefishing is one of the most fun types of salt water fly fishing. In Cuba there are many places where you will find huge schools of small to medium size bonefish, allowing even a novice to really practice well and catch many fish. There are also many much larger fish that tend to swim alone; these are often spotted stalking the flats.
Tarpon are one of the kings of the flats, lagoons and channels in Cuba. These fish range from smaller juvenile fish between 20 and 80 pounds, larger fish of well over 100 pounds can also be caught in these waters from the spring through to autumn.
Permit are most fly fishermen's ultimate goal, being one of the most difficult fish to catch. A tropical water fly fisherman could go five years and not catch a Permit. Due to the abundance in Cuba and the expertise of our local fishing guides we can improve your odds.
Jack Crevelle are common in Cuba as are numerous other species of jacks, including the horse eyed jack, the blue runner, and the yellow tail jack. They can be found in the deeper water off the reefs as well as patrolling the edges of flats in search of an easy meal. These will often take a hooked fish, even a fairly large bonefish is considered prey.
Barracuda are common in most waters of Cuba. They are fiercely predatory and will often attack another fish that is already hooked. It is very common to wind in a head, which is all that remains after a Barracuda attack. These can be caught by various means, spinning with pretty well any bright lure, trawling with bright or vibrating lures, popping and most fun of all on a fly. It is important, however, to remember to use metal traces, and that you will normally ruin any non-metallic lures that a Barracuda takes.
Snook: Cuba has some pretty big snook particularly in some of the river mouths. These very aggressive predators generally hide in mangroves or other shaded areas waiting for bait to pass. Snook in Cuba tend to be pretty large, once the fish strikes they tend to run for cover and will normally have to be prized out patiently.
Blue water fly fishing is an exciting new frontier in fly fishing. Advances in equipment technology have allowed fly fisherfolk to chase larger game fish that would have broken older rods and reels. The evolution of rods from fibreglass to graphite has made a huge difference in the blue water game, as have the development of reels with reliable and powerful drag systems. Without these innovations, large tuna, sailfish, and other pelagic species would still be just a dream. Generally the fish are teased up with hookless lure and once the fish are spotted the fisherman presents the fly. Due to the fact that the fly is presented once the fish is spotted accuracy is essential. In Cuba there are a huge number of game fish that can be tackled on a fly, these include Dorado (Mahi Mahi, Dolphin), Wahoo, Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, Sailfish and even Marlin. Due to the variety of fish you will be using 9 to 12 weight rods, it is also recommended that you use a anti-reverse reel as this will allow the you to continue winding in while the fish is on the run and avoid stripping your knuckles when the fish is on the run.
Deep Sea fishing is extremely good beyond the barrier reef which follows Cuba's shore line from north to south. Due to the huge feeding grounds of the reef and the three spectacular atolls not far beyond the reef there is an abundance of tropical water game fish. Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, King Mackerel, Kingfish, Bonito, Tuna are all regularly caught, many of these within a few hundred metres of the shore, due to the sharp drop offs in front of the reefs. It is possible to catch these by standard trawling methods, or tease them up and catch them on a fly.
Ideal Bases for fishing trips:
Cayo Largo is an island about half an hour's flight from Havana south in the warm clear waters of the Caribbean. Cayo Largo has 25 kms of stunning white sandy beach and is part of an archipelago of islands stretching over one hundred kilometres, all of which have salt water flats on the mainland side, coral reefs to the south with huge drop offs into the deep waters of the Cayman Trench, some of the best deep sea fishing in the region.
An ex Italian formula 1 driver runs a very slick fly fishing lodge on Cayo Largo with six flats fishing boats with excellent guides. This is the only fly-fishing operation in the archipelago, so the waters are barely disturbed. This operation only works in six-day blocks, Sunday to Friday inclusive. The boats can be taken by one or two fisherfolk with one very good guide.
This is place where you can definitely go for a Grand Slam, bonefish, tarpon and a permit. It is also possible to mix and match fishing, so you could fish on the flats in the morning, then on the reef later and finish on with some deep sea trawling outside the reef.
If you do not want to go for the fishing boats you can fish from the shore in many parts of Cayo Largo, but is it pretty tricky to access the flats through the thick mangroves.
Deep sea fishing off Cayo Largo is very good and two or three fishing boats can be rented from the Marina. If you are going there specifically for the fishing it is essential that you pre book as you may well be beaten to it.
In fact the fishing is so good in Cayo Largo that I have even caught 60 to 80lbd fish trawling behind a Hobey Cat! Great fun! A tip I learned from a Cuban was, always take a bottle of rum with you when in / on a small boat fishing, not for you to drink, but to pour over the fishes gills when you pull them in. This knocks them out instantly and stops then thrashing around and potentially biting or cutting you.
The Sol Club Cayo Largo is a Spanish run, luxury, all inclusive beach hotel. During your stay all of your food and ALL drinks are included while in the Sol Club Hotel property. Non-motorised water-sports such as Hobie Cats, dinghy sailing, canoes, and windsurfers are also included. The hotel has a gym with massage facilities (Extra cost), either in air-conditioned rooms or in thatched cabanas on the beach, and an amazing freshwater swimming pool. Free buses and paid taxis operate between the hotel and other parts of the island, the marina, the airport and various beaches.
Cayo Santa Maria is the most westerly of the Jardin del Rey archipelago, which runs for three hundred kilometres just off the north coast of Cuba. The island is connected via Cayo Las Brujas, to the mainland by a 40 km causeway, similar to the Florida Keys. Cayo Santa Maria boasts some of the best beaches in Cuba with wonderful fine whiter than white sand. The island is covered with natural unspoiled coastal low-lying forest full of wildlife, especially where there is surface water.
Sol Cayo Santa Maria Hotel is an All-Inclusive property with 300 rooms spread out in lush tropical gardens around an enormous central swimming pool and next to a stunning beach. Krister (Who incidentally is a very keen fisherman!) the half Swedish, half Spanish manager has always focussed on a very personal service, and has a very good team of staff who really make your stay a pleasure.
Another area that Krister has focussed on is food, which is a pleasant surprise in Cuba and another highlight of this hotel. The four restaurants all offer very different cuisines. In the buffet restaurant the chefs are actually preparing the food in front of you as the meals are being served so this ensures that the food is always fresh and tasty. His pastry chef personally prepares food for the Pope during his visits to the Americas, so needless to say these dishes are spectacular to. The Creole restaurant offers Cuban specialities such as spit roasted pig, grilled lobster and fresh red snapper. The Italian offers all the dishes you would expect, but all made from homemade pasta and freshly grown vegetables. The "gourmet" restaurant is stylish and offers a very high grade of international dishes and an impressive wine list. Although many of the wines, even pretty serious stuff, is included in your "all inclusive" package, there are also some very serious wines if you feel like pushing out the boat. During the day the thatched beach grill and bar cooks up fresh red snapper, chicken and other meats, and offers a great salad bar for the perfect lunch on the beach.
The spacious bedrooms are bright and comfortable. All the rooms have ensuite bathrooms, cable TV, fridges and a balcony overlooking the sea or tropical gardens. Suites are available on request subject to availability at a fairly small premium.
One of the great advantages of Cayo Santa Maria is that although you are on a stunning unspoiled island with fabulous beaches and nature, you are also connected to the mainland by a 40km causeway. This means that you can rent a car and explore the stunning mainland near by. Not far from Cayo Santa Maria there are a number of lakes on the mainland offering freshwater fishing, mainly for various types of bass. Hanabanilla is about one and a half hours south in the Escambray Mountains, and could be an ideal day trip.
Cayo Santa Maria Saltwater Fly fishing and deep sea fishing: Due to the mass of small islands, lagoons and channels in and around Cayo Santa Maria there is some spectacular salt water fly fishing. There are some flats where you can catch bonefish, snook, permit and other shallow water predatory fish on a fly. In the channels and lagoons on the inland side of the island there is an abundance of very big Tarpon, especially large in the summer months, May to October. These can be caught on a fly or spinning using poppers and other "noisy" or "irritating" lures. Not far from the Sol Club on Cayo Las Brujas, the next island, is a fishing marina where you can rent flat bottom boats with a guide for fly fishing, or a deep sea fishing boat for going out to the deeper waters after big game fish. If you are intending to visit this island specifically for fishing it is definitely a good important that we pre-book fishing boats and guides as the word is now out on how good this place is.
The Zapata (Shoe) Peninsula is a huge marshy area to the south of Cuba in between Havana and Cienfuegos. The Zapata is also interwoven with rivers, some extremely big such as the stunning Rio Negro (Black River), which is navigable for many miles in land, offering some stunning fishing. The Rio Negro is stuffed with Tarpon, Snook, Snapper and other some other breeds of fish nearer the sea. Much of this area is a protected national park where fishing has been banned for many years, not to mention the fact that most Cubans do not even have fishing equipment, as it has only recently been made available with the influx of tourism. Las Salinas, which is the area immediately west of the famous Bay of Pigs, is a wonderful area of saltwater flats bristling with wildlife, and masses of bonefish. At certain times of the year there are so many flamingos in Las Salinas that the clouds above are pink from the reflection.
As this area has not really been commercialised yet there are fairly few facilities and guides, boats and fishing permission must be arranged in advance. The only places to stay which are fairly convenient for Las Salina and Rio Negro are a very basic wooden Cabana hotel called Fiesta Camposina, or a "sovietesk" hotel at Playa Giron which is right on the bay of pigs. This means that this is really a place for dedicated fishermen. There are little or no facilities for non-fishing partners, unless they enjoy bird watching and generally taking in the scenery and don't mind being eaten alive by mosquitoes. It is however a stunning spot for fishing or bird watching.
Private yachts: One of the best ways to fish completely unfished areas, such as the spectacularly beautiful Jardin de la Reina (Queens Garden Islands), is by chartering a private yacht. There are now a number of yacht charter companies in Cuba, with or without crew. If this is done with a small group of four to eight people the cost is very reasonable, and not far from the cost of basing yourself in a hotel and using flats boats and guides. As a lot of the areas near the Cayos are very shallow it is probably better to charter a catamaran, which draws less than a monohull, and has more internal space for your comfort.
Jardin de La Reina is an archipelago of island south of Cuba towards the east. This completely uninhabited group of islands is teaming with fish and wildlife. At present there is only one fly-fishing operation in the islands run by Italians on a house boat called Tortuga. This is definitely for serious fishermen and not really suitable for non fisherfolk unless you really do want or read a book as there are no other facilities there at all. The fishing in the islands is absolutely fantast, and much like Cayo Largo there are many different types of fishing, fly fishing on the flats or in the channels, reef fishing or deep sea fishing. The transfer from Havana takes quite some time, a one and a half hour flight from Havana to Ciego De Avila, then an hour in a car or minibus, then about four hours in a boat across to Tortuga.