“He’s coming, he’s coming! At your 11 o’clock … at your 12 o’clock. Cast now!” My normally taciturn guide turned suddenly animated as he spotted the dark shadow of a bonefish cruising toward us in the clear, shallow water.
I cast the fly as close as I could and slowly but steadily brought the line in by hand. I saw the fish turn toward my fly; suddenly I felt a sharp tug on the line and saw the fish racing off like a torpedo, my reel whizzing as it peeled off line.
This is fly-fishing in Cuba — a spot long off-limits to American anglers, but one that’s on many a fisherman’s radar. On my recent trip I was after the hard-fighting bonefish, but Cuba also boasts healthy populations of tarpon, permit and other game fish. Guide companies say that because of the relatively few fishermen who have visited the island in recent decades compared with popular destinations like the Bahamas and the Florida Keys, the fish in Cuba are more willing to take a fly lure and aren’t as easily spooked.
According to Aaron Adams, director of science and conservation at the Florida-based Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, there’s good reason for U.S. anglers to be excited about fishing in Cuba.
“The two biggest attractions to fishing in Cuba are the novelty of it and the healthy habitat,” Adams said. “The habitat quality is as good as you’ll find it anywhere. It makes the flats fishing experience very good and helps keep fish…