Cuba Destination Trip - March 2024

MARCH 2024

We could not have asked for a better week of weather. Mostly sunny skies throughout the days, only a few drops of rain one day, and a gentle breeze most of the time. It was ideal weather for flats fishing. Several of the long-time flats fishermen in the group said they couldn’t remember a better week of weather on a flats trip.

Most of our group flew into Miami on Friday March 1st where we overnighted prior to the flight over to Camaguey on the afternoon of the 2nd. After landing, we breezed through immigration and onto a waiting motor coach for a three-hour journey through the Cuban countryside to our waiting mothership, the Avalon JAF2. 

As soon as we were all aboard, the ship left the dock headed to the Gardens of the Queen where we would spend the next week primarily chasing tarpon and bonefish in and around never-ending uninhabited islands, mangroves and attached flats. 

If there is a better fishery for resident tarpon, I am not aware of it. Our group of 12 conservatively hooked upwards of 250 tarpon during our 5 ½ days of fishing and successfully landed more than 60. Most fish were in the 10-25 pound range with a few fish pushing the 50-pound mark. 

The bonefishing was equally good though we didn’t spend a lot of time fishing for bones. The average bonefish was 3-5 pounds with a couple fish landed up to 7 pounds. 

The staff on the mothership were great, the food was plentiful, fresh, and good. The accommodations were not fancy or spacious but clean and air conditioned. Actually, quite remarkable considering the logistics they have to deal with operating in Cuba. 

To that point, it was sad to see the living conditions of the Cuban people. The Cuban economy seems to be non-existent. The infrastructure is old and subpar at best. Their main cross-country highway is an unlined, rough, two-lane ribbon of blacktop equivalent in width to the road along the river upstream of Spruce Creek. We were told there are rolling blackouts as a fact of daily life through all areas of the country, except Havana, because they cannot make enough electricity. Most of the population live on less than a dollar a day and cannot afford vehicles. The ones that do have motorized transportation have a hard time finding a gas station with gas, which is approximately $6.50 a gallon. You can’t help but appreciate our freedoms and standard of living after seeing what the average Cuban citizen must endure.

Jim Gardiner, one of the members on the trip may have summed it up best saying “I told my family it seemed more like an adventure than a trip”. 

We hope you enjoy some of the photos of our group and the fish they caught.