Jardines de la Reina – Cuba Hosted Trip Report 2018: Cuba is one of those countries and angling locations that is interesting to many anglers. With the vast majority of the country of Cuba being “off-limits” for most Americans since 1962, the country of Cuba spurs the curiosity and dreams of anglers from all parts of the world. Stories from Canadian and European anglers always painted the image of Cuban fishing flats free of angling pressure and pristine in nature. Most commonly, anglers felt like they journeyed back in time to the “early days” of saltwater flats of the Bahamas, Mexico, Florida Keys and more.
Imagine a land-mass the size of the Florida Keys. Now imagine the angling opportunities of the Florida Keys limited to one commercial operator. No crowded boat line-ups or races to fishing spots; just expansive flats for as long as you can see. That is the best way to describe Jardines de la Reina. Our friends at Avalon – Cuban Fishing Centers and their guides know the area like the back of their hands. In fact, the diving and fishing is so good there that is was Fidel Castro’s private diving and fishing playground!
Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) is a pristine, untouched, archipelago of islands, 50 miles off of the southern coast of Cuba. In this protected marine area; access is limited to a certain number of fishermen, divers, and eco-tourists per year. Co-hosted with WorldCast Anglers Head Guide Vance Freed, our home for the week was the Avalon II, a 120 foot yacht – live aboard. The Avalon II served as a mobile fishing station that created the perfect balance of exploration and comfort. Fishing hours are long as you are truly living on the fishing grounds.
WIND was the name of the game for the WorldCast Anglers week at Jardines de la Reina. And while that kept many of the skiffs and anglers off the outside fishing grounds looking for larger tarpon and permit, plenty of fun was had in the backcountry putting baby tarpon in the air and wading leeward flats in search of large bonefish and even some mutton snapper. Everyday, smiles adorned all of our anglers coming back to the boat with tired hands and stories to share during cocktail hour and dinner.
From my experiences in Cuba, the feeling of “stepping back in time” always lingers and hangs on my shoulder. From the vintage and old cars that dominate downtown Havana to the large bonefish that patrol the flats to the vast and expansive flats void of other anglers; Cuba is full of a surprisingly eerie and exciting experiences that meet you around ever Cuban cultural or fishing corner. Cuba does come with its frustrations. As a still developing country, many developed nation’s comforts found visiting Cuba’s neighbors don’t exist or are hard to come by. Transfers can be time consuming, travel can be difficult and the food can be simple; however, once you get there and experience what Cuba offers destination anglers of today – you won’t want to go anywhere else! I didn’t even mention the Mojitos and Cohibas!
WorldCast Anglers Vice President
February 17th – 24, 2018