Flyfishing in Cuba

Introduction
By Pete McDonald
Page 1 of 4   |  

The downpour had stopped, but the water along the mangrove banks continued to percolate with raindrop-like ripples. The ripples subtly increased to the size of manhole covers, and then, without warning, became full-out explosions.

"The time is now, my friend," whispered Osmany Gonzalez, my guide. Along both banks of the river, hundreds of baby sabalo (tarpon)—all about 10 to 20 pounds—started barreling downstream. My jaw hit my sternum.

"Cast, cast!" Osmany yelled, and I shot a yellow-and-white tarpon fly in front of a small cluster and stripped. One darted from the pack and inhaled it. I set the hook and the fish began its airborne escape tactics, leaping out of the water six times. Each time, it crashed to the surface like a cinder block and darted in a new direction until I subdued it.

In the skiff next to ours, another angler caught one that jumped only once, right into his skiff. Senor, his guide, passed around a bottle of rum.

So began my fishing adventure on the Rio Hatiguanico, in the remote backcountry of the Zapata Peninsula, not far from where the Bay of Pigs invasion failed to liberate the island we had come to explore: Cuba.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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