Tag Archives: saltwater

Destination Travel: Deneki Andros South Lodge

I have been lucky enough to find this wonderful sport of fly fishing and I have had the chance to check out some really neat destinations both locally, regionally, and abroad in pursuit of the ultimate fly fishing adventure. Today I want to take a moment and talk about one of my favorite places I have had a chance to go, The Andros South Lodge run by the great folks Deneki Outdoors. Andros South

Getting to the Island:

The Andros South Lodge is located on the eastern side of the Island of South Andros in the Bahamas. Getting to South Andros is a relatively easy endeavor and can be accomplished one of two ways that I have experienced.

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Andros From The Sky

The first (and my preferred method) is to take a plane into Fort Lauderdale FL and then take a charter plane from a company called Watermaker Air direct to the Congo Town International Airport on South Andros.The second (and more difficult) option entails a flight to the Capitol city of the Bahamas, Nassau.  From Nassau it is a short flight to Andros via a Western Air flight. The thing that makes this difficult especially for anglers like us coming from the west is that this results in having to spend a night in Nassau.  Accommodations in Nassau can range from staying at the luxurious Atlantis Casino to the beach front Orange Hill Inn for the evening. This is not bad however I would not recommend a Bahamian taxi ride. That was an eye opening experience for sure.

I for one would much rather take the more direct route via Fort Lauderdale and the charter flight. Customs in Congo Town are much easier than the counterparts in Nassau.  Traveling, Airports, and Security checkpoints are not my favorite things in the world therefore I would opt for the path of least resistance.IMG_0108

Lodge Accommodations:

Upon arrival at the Congotown you are greeted by the Deneki bus and Kermit the lodge bus driver.  After handing you a cold Kalik (National Beer of the Bahamas) or a bottle of water, Kermit proceeds to take you on the short journey down the one road on the island to Kemps Bay. Within 15 minutes you have arrived at the lodge.

IMG_0159I would describe the accommodations at the Andros South Lodge to be “Rustically Comfortable”. Each angler or anglers is assigned a room aptly named something fishy (Bonefish, Permit, Cuda ect). The rooms are quite comfortable, clean and simple.  The rooms consist of an extremely comfortable double bed, a dresser and a small bathroom.

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The Slack Tide Bar

One of the nicest parts of the lodge grounds has to be the “Slack Tide Bar”. This small palapa of beachfront paradise is located just steps from both the dining room and “hotel” rooms at the lodge.  Each night after fishing appetizers are served and tales of the days fishing conquests are shared before dinner. The “Slack Tide” is also stocked head to toe with just about any beverage somebody could want ranging from a great selection of beer to liquors and everything in between.  Everyone seems to convene at the bar after dinner to continue the party.IMG_0166

Meals are served twice a day (In the dining room that is). Breakfast is served starting at 6am. Breakfast usually consists of some variation of the following. Eggs served with some type of breakfast meat with Toast, Grits, or pancakes. Lunch is served on the boat while fishing and it consists of filling out a deli style menu which involves sandwiches, chips, fruit, and beverages.  Dinners at the lodge are served family style and highlight local cuisine. Meals are exceptional and may include dishes like cracked (fried) conch, grouper served with cassava root boiled in coconut milk or my personal favorite… Wait for it Lobster tails.  These meals are arguably the greatest part of the stay at the Andros Lodge apart from the fishing of course.

One more thing about the accommodations of the lodge, this is not a five star resort by any means. If you are looking for white tablecloths and something of that nature please look elsewhere.  If you want somewhere to consider home while experiencing the ultimate bonefishing adventure please look no further.

The lodge staff at Andros South is some of nicest people you will ever meet in your entire life. All of the folks are extremely friendly and treat you like you are part of the Deneki family.  From Gloria and the kitchen staff, to the self proclaimed “director of security”, Mr. Gerrard and everybody that I forgot will do everything that they can in order to make your stay awesome.

The Guides & Fishing:

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Let’s just say I saved the best for last. Any saltwater fly fisherman knows that the Bahamas is considered the arguable Mecca of Bonefishing.  I would argue that the flats around South Andros are the crown jewel of Bahamian bonefishing.  The network of flats and number of bonefish alone found within a 15 minute boat ride of the dock at deep creek is simply astronomical.  This is the perfect place for all different types of anglers from rookies to salty vets due to all the different situations and types of fishing one may experience with the Deneki guides.

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All the guides at the Andros South lodge are top notch. Bottom line is that these guys know their stuff.  These guys are some of the best guides and teachers I have ever had the opportunity to fish with hands down.  They will both challenge you as an angler but give you all the tools and instruction in order to be successful and also leave the Bahamas as a better angler. I have had a chance to fish with all of the guides except for two over the last couple of years and I have to say each one of them has there own distinct personalities. Take Freddie for example, He will sing all day from the poling platform while pointing out fish. Or Josie, who is all business, who expects the best from his anglers but will put you in prime spots to catch what he calls “bonezilla” or better yet “wife of bonezilla”.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can expect to see all sorts of fish throughout the fishing grounds near the lodge.  From shots at single and pairs of bonefish to schools of ten to twenty or even hundreds at certain places one thing is for sure. You are bound to get casts at happy bonefish. The bonefish generally range anywhere from 2 to 10 pounds with the average fish tipping the scale around 3 or 4. These fish will be seen either on flats throughout the island or while exploring an extensive network of mangrove creeks. These fish usually are found feeding or cruising in 1 to 2 feet of water and can be stalked either via poling the boat or on foot. If the bonefishing ever gets boring (which it wont) make sure you have a 10 weight or spinning rod on hand in order to throw to some rather angry barracuda or Jacks. No matter how you slice it the fishing on the island is spectacular.  Don’t fret over missed shots… You will get plenty.1618418_10152328492692845_158668094_n

I hold this place with such reverence because this is where I tasted my first success as a saltwater fly fisherman. Everything that is aforementioned makes this place amazing. The staff and guides will do all they can in order to make your stay and angling the ultimate adventure. However don’t take my word for it. Pack up an 8 weight, some mantis shrimp and gotchas and check it out for yourself.

Fishwest runs a yearly trip(s) to the Andros South Lodge. For all those who are interested you can check out the details HERE. Spots are still available for our March 2015 trips.

 

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New For 2015: Introducing The Winston Nexus

This time of year is is pretty exciting for us! With the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show coming up next week, retailers are starting to show of their new offerings. The best part is that we can pass them on to you!!

An all graphite Winston rod with all the bells and whistles.  It will be interesting to see how these compare to my trusty BIIIx. One of the nicest things about this rod is the price tag. $475 is far cry from the $795 that one would pay for a premium rod these days. It will be interesting to see how these rods stack up to their boron infused counterparts. I for one am pretty excited to check it out.

The WINSTON NEXUS is Winston’s revolutionary new light all-graphite smooth action, premium rod series. These fantastic new high performance deep-black fly rods redefine the high modulus all-graphite rod category with an innovative new fast action combining Winston’s legendary ultra-smooth ‘Winston Action’ with more modern, faster tapers.

See what the staff of Winston has to say about the “NEXUS”  below:

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The new Winston Nexus is a full series (3-weight through 12-weight) of exceptionally beautiful, smooth-casting “all-around” fly rods utilizing a new design to handle a range of conditions with faster tapers, especially through the lower half of the rod. They are a joy to cast, can generate added power when needed, and are made to Winston’s extremely high standards of beauty and craftsmanship in Twin Bridges, Montana.

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Because they are made with 100% graphite, without the significant added expense of Boron III, we can offer anglers the opportunity to own these incredible, smooth-casting fast-action premium Winston fly rods at an attractive savings from our top-of-the-line high performance Boron III rods.

Accel

New For 2015: Introducing The Sage Accel

The folks in Bainbridge are at it again. This time with the new Sage Accel. This rod replaces the VXP and VXP spey rods in the Sage lineup. These rods feature the ever popular Generation 5 technology. I for one am quite excited to get my hands on one to see what they are all about. Stay tuned for my thoughts on this rod in the future. In the meantime see what the folks over at Sage have to say about one of their latest rods.

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One of the greatest benefits currently pushing the limits of rod technology is that it gives us vital insights to rod design using previous technologies. Case in point: our new fast action ACCEL family of single and two-handed rods. Created using our responsive Generation 5 technology, our all-new ACCEL benefits from key insights garnered through the development of Konnetic Technology. It’s like going back in time to bet on your favorite sports team with the score in hand—you’ve got a winner and you know it.

The already responsive Generation 5 technology was made more so with improvements to the carbon fiber alignment and resin application that help give the ACCEL its impressive loading and recovery qualities. Combining power and finesse with elegance, the ACCEL is a finely crafted fishing tool with innovative features that belie its more value conscious origins. From its bright and alluring Emerald blank to its newly-designed rod seat featuring subtle details like a matt black Stealth finish and laser engraved logo, the ACCEL is a classic representation of the Sage DNA that it embodies. The ACCEL is true casting performance and value without compromise.

Accel2Features:

  • All Water
  • Generation 5 Technology
  • Medium-Fast Action
  • Emerald blank color
  • Olive Green thread wraps with Garnet and Black trim wraps
  • Fuji ceramic stripper guides
  • Hard chromed snake guides and tip-top
  • Freshwater 3-6 weights: ( Rosewood Insert & Stealth Black Aluminum Uplocking Reel Seat + Snub-nose, Half-Wells cork handle)
  • Saltwater 6-9 weights (Stealth Black anodized up-locking reel seat + Snub-nose, half-wells cork handle)
  • Black rod bag with Emerald colored logo
  • Leaf Green ballistic nylon  tube with divided liner
WInston BIIIx

Fishwest 5wt ”Showdown” – Part Three: The Winston BIIIx

FWF05FWDCFW_lgRL Winston out of the bustling metropolis of Twin Bridges, Montana has been producing exceptional fly rods since the 1930’s. The great minds at Winston are known for many technological innovations within the fly fishing industry. One of the most important technological innovations to come out of the Winston factory is the in the last 20 years is the introduction of Boron/Graphite composite blanks. Winston introduced the first series of Boron rods in 1998 and have continued to improve on that design ever since. The Boron III or B3X for short is the latest in a long line of rods to feature this technology and this is the rod we are going to talk about today.

unnamed (3)Morgan: Out of all the rods we tested, the Winston Boron IIIX is definitely the softest which was a nice change from some of the stiffer rods we tested. Although the B3X was the softest, it is by no means a slower action rod. With the continued use of Winston’s Boron technology, the rod has the backbone to cast a wide variety of flies. Even with the use of Boron in the butt section of this rod, it’s still more of a medium-fast action rod which is why this rod did so well at close range. Aesthetically, the B3X is very pleasing. I think this is a classy looking rod with deep red accents throughout the emerald green blank. There are a couple different reel seat options; and anodized aluminum and a burled elder reel are both available depending on what weight rod you go with.

30ft- At 30ft this rod had the most delicate presentations out of all the rods we’ve tested. This rod loads well at close range and delivers flies with a smooth and delicate action. You can visibly see how smoothly and how deep the rod loads as you cast. At this casting distance, the rod does the work. It’s not necessary to force anything or quickly or aggressively cast. This rod is lively on its own, you just have to point it in the right direction.

unnamed (1)50ft- Casting the B3X at 50ft was a blast. Feeling the rod load deeper into the lower sections and then having my cast complimented by the stiffer Boron section was great. The stiffer sections also allowed 40 or 50ft of line to be picked up and re-cast without a ton of false casts but the presentations are still deadly accurate and delicate at greater distances. This rod really shined at this distance.

70ft- This rod doesn’t have the backbone for huge hero casts but it still managed casting 70ft pretty well. The action of this rod isn’t nearly as fast as the others in our test but the stiffer butt section with the Boron technology still allowed for 70ft casts, just not when the wind picked up. How often are we casting dry flies 70ft anyway in the Rocky Mountain west? Even at these long distances the casts were straight and accurate.

unnamedEditors Note: I (JC) own this rod and fish it rigorously. Therefore I go into this review with a little personal bias associated with this rod line due to all the great memories and awesome fish I have caught while throwing the B3X. However I try to remain as objective and unbiased as I possibly can be while writing this. As with any review take what I have to say with a grain of salt and check each of these rods out for yourself.

Out of the gate you will notice one thing about this rod. This rod is brimming with style all to itself. The deep “Winston” emerald green blank coupled with hand inscribed lettering and red accent wraps give this rod a touch of elegance that is hard to beat. This rod is available in both a four piece configuration as well as a five piece for the traveling angler.

unnamed (4)Casting this rod is a pleasure. At 30 feet and in this rod is excellent. The rod itself loads extremely smoothly and well at this distance.  Even though this rod lays casts down smoothly at this distance you can tell this rod has plenty in the tank in order to manage longer casts, more adverse conditions, or heavier flies.

This rod casting around 50 feet is a breeze! Even in a stiff breeze! Delivering dries at these distances is quite easy with tight accurate loops. The stiffer butt section allows anglers to cast at greater distances with minimal effort with just about any fly selection. The stiffer butt section also gives anglers the opportunity to pick up larger amounts of line and with one false cast be right back into the fray.  Bottom line is that this rod also performs quite well out of a boat in just about any conditions.

unnamed (5)At 70 + feet is where this rod struggled. This rod doesn’t have nearly the backbone that some of the other rods in our test do. That isn’t to say that this rod cannot deliver flies at this distance, it most certainly can however just like the Radian the fly selection will be limited. Also if the wind picks up you can do one thing…. Just forget about it. What this rod lacks in back bone for hero casts it certainly makes up for in other qualities necessary to performing well in situations for trout. We have to remember that we are fishing for trout. A 70ft cast while trout fishing is unheard of in my mind, However I could be wrong…

Overall this rod does it all! If you would like to throw a nymph rig in the morning, go ahead! If you find yourself in the middle of an afternoon hatch by all means fish that hatch!  Lastly if you want to hit the brush filled banks with terrestrials hoping for a couple fish to explode on that poor twitching fly please feel free. What I am trying to get at is quite simple. This rod is a great all around choice for western trout. This rod series is hard to beat and definitely has become my go to 5 weight trout rod.

Stay tuned for our next installment to our “Fishwest 5wt Showdown” where we take a look at the Helios series of rods by The Orvis Company.

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Orvis Superfine Glass

Glass is Not Dead: The Orvis Superfine Glass

SLOW DOWN! That is what fiberglass rods are all about. Fiberglass rods are making a resurgence within the industry for a good reason. They are great tools for beginner anglers but most of all they are just a lot of fun to fish. This video highlights the latest glass offering from The Orvis Company. The Superfine Glass is a contemporary view on a classic design. When the industry standard is  high modulus graphite rods, companies like Orvis, Echo, & Redington are bringing back rods that will suit the needs of anglers looking for something different. If you haven’t already…Check it out!

Neah Bay

Northwest Black Bass – A Welcome Diversion from Salmon Fishing

Each year I have the opportunity to spend several days chasing Coho with my parents in the Strait of Juan de Fuca adjacent to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.  While the primary purpose of this annual trip is to keep salmon on my grill the rest of the year, a few years ago we began to pursue another species as well.  It is a well known fact that real men arise at the crack of ten, sometimes the Coho are only feeding closer to dawn.  When this happens you had better be up and underway when running lights are required.  Pre-dawn marina departures of vessels of all shapes and sizes contributes to the charm of small fishing towns and Sekiu is no exception.  If the bite is early and the  typical limit on Coho is two fish per angler per day,  you may very well find yourself back at the dock before breakfast.  The Olympic Peninsula  is full of things to do once the salmon are caught, filleted out, vacuum sealed,  and frozen. One could venture out to Cape Flattery, the most Northwest point in the continental United States. Visit the crystal blue water of Lake Crescent, or just hike around in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Once these things are done, as most anglers are apt to do, it usually returns to some kind of fishing.

PENTAX ImageNear Neah Bay  there are hours of entertainment to be had catching strong fighting and great tasting fish.  Using an ultralight spinning  rod and a small plastic tail jig a person can burn an entire day catching Black Sea Bass near the kelp beds.  These fish typically range from 2-4 pounds, put up a great fight, and are simply a blast to catch.  The catch limit  is pretty high (check the regulations if you go) and they taste great.  We would position the boat near the kelp bed and allow the boat to drift with the wind and/or tide along side of the bed casting into the channels between the branches of the kelp.  These fish tend to school so when you catch one, there are sure to be more. Anyone that has spent a couple of hours filleting out a mess of crappie knows that it takes about the same amount of time to clean a small fish as it does a larger fish so it is definitely worthwhile to put the smaller fish back to grow up a bit and keep the larger fish.  However, if you want to take it to the next level, you can keep a few smaller bass to be used as live bait for Ling Cod, a bottom dwelling beast from another age.  Ling is a great eating fish and they fight really hard as well.

black_sea_bassOne year as I was packing for this trip, it occurred to me how much fun it might be to catch black bass on a fly rod.  My four piece five weight was summarily tossed into my bag along with a couple of Clouser minnows.  When we arrived at the kelp beds I went forward to fish off the bow since fly casting from the rear of a Grady White would preclude anyone else being able to fish.  Being on the bow, I was higher than I was in the stern and could clearly see deeper into the water.  This also allowed me to more accurately place my fly between the branches of the kelp and see its descent into the darkness below.   I was using a sinking line to get the relatively weightless fly into the fishes realm.  No sooner had the fly dropped below the first kelp petals than a strong two pound bass darted from the cover of the kelp and took the fly with an aggressiveness that shocked me.  I set the hook and the fight was on.  Since I am unaware of a method to quantify laughter, suffice it to say that I laughed a lot while catching these fish.

After a good fight the fish tired and I was able to bring it closer to the boat.  The smaller fish I was able to hoist from the water using the line, but the bigger fish presented a problem.  Since I was balancing on the bow of the boat and the net was at the stern, I had to lead the larger fish along side of the boat to be netted by Captain Jeff.  I soon found that the deeper my fly went, the bigger the fish that ate it.  Several times while the fly was sinking, a smaller bass would dart out from the kelp and follow the fly only to be chased off by a much larger fish from the depths below.  It is a good day when fish are literally fighting over your fly.  This type of fishing allows for one of the things that makes fly fishing so great, the ability to see the fish take your fly.  Allowing this revelation to sink in, I decided to fish with streamers more often on my home waters.

While all four of us were catching fish,  the fly rod was consistently taking the larger fish.  Hooking and landing a four pound Black Sea bass on a five weight fly rod makes an impression on one’s soul and brings a smile to my face even years later.

Florida Keys

Great Days 5: Florida Keys Flats Fishing by Smith Optics

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If you don’t know already own a pair of polarized glasses is worth it’s weight in gold when fishing. I would argue a nice pair of sunnies is probably the most important fishing accessory.  Since the days of Action Optics the staff over at Smith has been committed to bringing some of the best technical eye wear to the fly fishing industry. Smith glasses are a favorite of the shop staff here at Fishwest. From Jake with his Frontman’s to Richard with the Backdrops they can be seen time and time again.   If you haven’t had a chance to checkout the offerings from Smith Optics I would urge you to do so.

Without further adieu, check out this awesome video put together by Smith highlighting the excellent Florida Keys fisheries.

Rio Products

How To Video: Attaching a Braided Loop

People constantly come into the shop and ask us for instructions on how to attach braided loops, well the fine folks over at Rio have decided to make this sweet little video with instructions on how to do just that. Welded and braided loops are becoming an industry standard due to the ease of use associated with them. From Spey to Stillwater and everything in between these little  Braided Loops have a use in just about every form of fly fishing.

The Return of a Classic: The Ross Reels Heritage Series

I have to say I was quite intrigued when I heard that Ross Reels decided to bring back the Gunnison as part of the new Heritage Series of reels. I remember learning to fly fish with  these reels as a kid on all my dads gear. Some of my greatest early fishing memories are associated with those reels. He continues to use those same reels to this day. He swears that those are the “best reels ever made” and trust me he was very quick to tell me Ross “knows what good is” when they decided to bring them back.

That’s enough reminiscing from me about the Ross Gunnison for the time being. For all those who didn’t know that these reels were coming back check out the info below! These will be available mid June 14′

rossusa_logoREINTRODUCING THE GUNNISON:

RRF25GUNRBK1_lg_250x250The Ross Reels Gunnison is one of the most famous fly reels ever produced and 28 years after its debut, many still see daily service in the hands of guides, lodges, and individual fly-fishers everywhere. The Gunnison offered form, fit, function and durability combined into a package that still comes to mind whenever anyone thinks of “Ross Reels.” Having tamed both freshwater and the salt, the Gunnison is back and available once again as this year’s featured Heritage Series product.

The Ross Reels Heritage Series is about getting back to our Colorado roots – specifically those products that made us the premier fly reel manufacturer in the world. The Ross commitment to manufacturing USA made quality fly fishing products has not wavered since we began crafting fly reels over four decades ago. To honor this legacy we are reintroducing the Heritage Series, showcasing our famous products that have been and still are the favorite on-water tools of fly fishers across the country and around the world.

RRF25GUNRBK_lg_250x250First in that line is the timeless Gunnison; a true workhorse reel made available to an always adventurous public, it gained its reputation for indestructibility and reliability on water ranging from the salt flats of Christmas Island to the remote wilderness rivers of Alaska. One of the first reels available with an advanced composite drag system, in 2014 Ross has taken the design one step further and re-engineered the bearing housing to improve performance; all while allowing post-1998 frames to fit on the 2014 edition. The Gunnison has once again set the standard for what a fly reel should be – smooth, powerful, lightweight and durable.

ross-reels-heritage-series-blackThe Heritage Series Gunnison will be available in sizes G1 , G2, and G3, individually numbered from 1 to 500, 1 to 1000, and 1 to 500 respectively, and laser engraved with the Colorado state flag. Not just a collector’s piece, these are fly fishing tools, designed for years of productive service out on the water. Place your order today, and own a piece of fly fishing history.

Check them Out by clicking HERE

Crab

’55 Chevys, Mojitos, and Bonefish – A Cuban Adventure

From the title, you can probably guess that this article is about fly fishing in Cuba. Cuba is an amazing place and its fly fishing is definitely one of the reasons why.

To be honest I only fished two days in Cuba. And one of those days wasn’t even a good one. Nevertheless, from what I saw, I would recommend fishing in Cuba to anyone…

Typical flat
Typical Cuban Flat

A quick web search will reveal that most Cuban flats fishing are controlled by an Italian outfit named Avalon. Any monopoly has drawbacks but in this case I think it has been very healthy in preserving the fishery and the environment.

Avalon has fishing operations throughout Cuba, including Cayo Largo, a beautiful island south of the mainland with a handful of all–inclusive resorts. So when my girlfriend Deb and I booked into one of these resorts, it took about 5 minutes for me to send an email off to Avalon. I was hoping to book a day trip and chase some bonefish.

Here’s one of the drawbacks to a monopoly… “Not possible,” they replied. “We only do full weeks. Contact us closer to the date of your trip and we’ll see what we can do.”

I had previously devoured the Avalon website and really wanted to experience their fishery so it was an agonizing wait. Finally, a few weeks before we departed, I begged and pleaded with the Avalon representative and managed to book two day trips. I won’t mention the price – that’s another drawback of a monopoly!

Havana
Havana

Our very first night in Cuba was in Havana. It was actually New Year’s Eve and we saw a grand Cuban tradition – hurling a bucket of water into the street from the front door. Luckily, we saw it from a distance…

The flight from Havana to Cayo Largo was on board a big dual-prop plane that looked like it dated from the 1960’s. It was terribly noisy but it still gave us a good view of the immense flats that spread out from Cayo Largo.   The landing – on a modern airstrip – was surprisingly smooth.

Cayo Largo is an idyllic Carribbean island with only a handful of resorts. A white sand beach? Scenic, rocky coastline? Palm trees? Scub pines? Starfish in pristine water? You can take your pick and with a little effort, you won’t have to share with anyone.

On our first day of fishing, we taxied to the Avalon fishing center and were met by the fishing director and three guides. Yup, our guide and two others. It was a bit like a NASCAR pit stop; we had five outfits with us, and they had them all completely rigged in about 2 minutes. Another minute passed and we were in a state-of-the art skiff, planing towards the flats.   I had in my hands a fly box that the fishing director gave me; it held a dozen proven local patterns.

Deb's fish
Deb’s fish

I have to admit, however, our first day fishing was not too remarkable. Deb is not a fan of long boat rides so we fished the closest spots to the dock – a few large flats that were fairly deep and often held permit.   However, a cold front had blown through a couple days before. Unlucky for us, the temperatures were still down and the winds were still up.

I think I spotted three fish that day; most of the time the guide was directing my casts across wave-rippled water.   Regardless, he was excellent, with eagle eyes and a very patient manner. By the time we pulled up to the dock, both Deb and I had landed a couple bonefish.

We spent the next couple days exploring the island and sampling the excellent mojitos at the resort.   When the cold front had thoroughly passed – and the winds lay down – I showed up for a second day of fishing. Deb had elected to spend the day at the resort.

I was paired with a different guide – although his patient, professional demeanor was very much the same as the first. Our plan, he said, would be to fish along a string of small cays that stretched outward from one end of Cayo Largo.

The first spot we pulled up to held an immense school of bonefish. They circled away from us and then towards us. I had absolutely no problem spotting them.   It was about as easy as it gets in flats fishing – cast your fly about ten feet in front of the wriggling, cruising mass. Wait ‘til it gets close… A couple strips… Watch five or six fish peel after your fly… Fish on!

With my reel buzzing, the guide would pole like crazy away from the school. We’d land the fish. And then repeat. These were solid 4 pounders. Every one of them went well into the backing. I’d wish I could say that after five fish I was ready for more of a challenge but to be honest – it my personal bonefish paradise. Lots of good-sized, eager, easy-to-see fish!

Bigger fish
Dale’s Bigger Fish

Nevertheless, the guide didn’t want to educate too many fish and he suggested we push on. And so it went for the rest of the day – from one tiny little cay with a gorgeous flat to the next… It was perhaps the most perfect day of bonefishing I’ve ever experienced.   There were no more huge schools, but plenty of singles and doubles and small groups. The water was gin clear, perfectly calm, and never more than knee deep. The bottom was a magical white sand that didn’t hide fish very well. I landed 10 or 11 bonefish that day with a couple going 5 or 6 pounds. I could have landed more but the guide talked me into so many other things…

Like checking out a tiny cut through some mangroves for tarpon. They were in there – four or five good-sized juveniles! They finned lazily, wickedly obvious in the clear water.   And just kept on finning lazily as my fly swam past. After a few casts, they melted back into the mangroves.

I also chugged a popper across a couple deep channels for barracuda. One showed himself but turned away. In disdain? I really think that barracuda are way smarter than most anglers think.

The guide even had me tossing a jig on a spinning rod into a couple more channels. He wanted me to sample some of the snapper fishing. Success! A four or five pound mutton snapper grabbed the jig and pulled like only snapper can.

Actually, that mutton snapper was quite an inspiration. Because shortly thereafter, we were about a mile offshore, and my tarpon rod was rigged with a sinking line. I was working a Clouser down among the patch reefs. To no avail, unfortunately. But just the anticipation of a big snapper on a fly rod made it worthwhile.

Before we headed back in, we checked out a couple deeper flats for permit. Truth be known, Cayo Largo actually has quite a reputation for permit. Maybe it’s a good thing that none showed themselves that day; I was riding a bit of an adrenaline high after all the action and a permit might have pushed me over the edge.

Back at the dock, in the comfort of the Avalon fishing center’s couch, I had a couple beers and a slice of pizza and gradually came down. If you ever decide to come to Cuba, bring a lot of gear. It seems the possibilities are endless…

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Here are a few additional notes if you every make it to Cuba…

It might be a tad inflexible, but Avalon runs a first class operation. They rotate anglers through well-defined zones to spread out the pressure. Both guides and boats are top notch.

A day or two in Havana is mandatory! Catch a jazz club, stroll the Malecon, admire the architecture, get a cab ride from a ’55 Chevy (or maybe a bicycle) – it’s gritty and grand at the same time.

The countryside near Vinales – about an hour from Havana – is incredibly exotic.   Lush green farms with red soil are butted up against huge domes of vegetation and limestone.

Did I mention the great fishing?

**Editors Note: Being that Dale hails from Canada, It is very easy for him to be able to travel to Cuba for excellent adventures like this one. On the other hand us Americans are not so lucky…