Meet Your Host: Brian Oakland

Brian is the owner here at Got Fishing, and he’s looking forward to experiencing this Cuban adventure with fellow anglers!

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We are thrilled to introduce our latest addition to the array of trips we offer – a remarkable fusion of experiences brought to you by Avalon, operating in the Canarreos archipelago since the early 2000s.

In the year 2022, Avalon crafted a distinctive program that seamlessly blends the best of both the Isla de Juventud and Cayo Largo fisheries aboard a single live-aboard yacht. This innovative venture is to curate a true angler’s paradise, providing a diverse range of fishing opportunities tailored to satisfy even the most discerning interests.

Embark on an unforgettable journey around the Cayo Largo area, where abundant populations of bonefish and permit await amidst endless white sand and turtle grass flats. Venture to the west, exploring the various cayos of Isla de Juventud, revealing an expansive mangrove and reef system teeming with tarpon and snook. The flexibility to navigate seamlessly between these distinct areas ensures that each fishing experience is consistently fresh and exciting.

Immerse yourself in a day of fishing and unwind as you witness breathtaking sunsets in style and comfort, surrounded by one of the most beautiful and pristine natural environments in the world. Combine this stunning ecosystem with Avalon’s renowned personal touch and excellent service, backed by 30 years of expertise in providing top-notch fly fishing trips, and you are guaranteed an unparalleled experience.

Blue Sanctuary & Canarreos

For over 27 years, Blue Sanctuary has been dedicated to collaborating with partners in the Canarreos Archipelago, fostering the development of a massive no-take marine preserve in the Caribbean. Their focus extends beyond mere conservation to encompass comprehensive research, management, and economic considerations related to what are widely recognized as the healthiest and most extensive coral reefs in the Caribbean region.

In close partnership with the Cuban Center for Coastal Ecosystems and the Marine Research Center of Cuba, Blue Sanctuary is actively engaged in studying the natural resources of the region. Simultaneously, they assess their economic and social values, striving to strike a harmonious balance between environmental preservation and sustainable development.

Project Blue Sanctuary represents a robust, proactive initiative aimed at researching and safeguarding the unique and pristine ecosystems of the Canarreos Archipelago. Their commitment to ongoing research ensures that these protections will endure indefinitely, setting a compelling model for marine protected areas worldwide. This ambitious endeavor not only significantly advances human understanding of the intricate functioning of healthy coral reef ecosystems but also provides critical insights to inform global management decisions for protecting coral reefs.

Beyond environmental conservation, our ecosystem and educational research model is fostering stronger ties between Americans and Cubans. Former fishermen and their families, now employed in diving and fly fishing operations, play a vital role in connecting with ecotourists. Through this engagement, they impart valuable knowledge and contribute to creating a sustainable way of life. This, in turn, nurtures future generations of stewards within this marine park, promoting a shared commitment to environmental stewardship and creating lasting connections.

Stay aboard the Jardines Avalon I, a luxurious 110-foot live-aboard yacht designed for an exceptional fishing experience. Boasting impressive cruising capabilities, this yacht allows you to explore even the most remote areas of the Canarreos Archipelago during your fishing week.

Accommodating a total of 10 rooms, the Jardines Avalon I offers 2 convertible queen-size cabins with side-by-side beds and 8 deluxe state rooms, each featuring single side-by-side beds. Every state room is equipped with its own private bathroom, toilet, shower, individual climate controls, and a safe for your convenience.

The yacht features an air-conditioned lounge with a large-screen TV, DVD system, and a complete digital and photo editing computer. For relaxation, indulge in the jacuzzi – the perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing mojito after a fulfilling day of fishing.

Culinary delights await aboard the Jardines Avalon I, offering a delectable selection of Cuban cuisine, grilled fresh seafood, vegetables, and international delights. The full bar complements your experience with a range of Cuban beers, rum, international wines, and various spirits. Our attentive crew is dedicated to ensuring your every need is met, guaranteeing a wonderful and memorable trip.

Fly fishing in Cuba offers a unique and unparalleled experience compared to other Caribbean destinations. This flats fishery has only recently been developed, providing anglers with the opportunity to explore waters untouched by sport fishing for nearly fifty years. Cuba has designated these pristine areas as Cuban National Marine Parks, affording them protection with a strict prohibition on commercial fishing, except for lobster.

In these exclusive waters, you’ll find an abundance of flats fish, including Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, Snook, Mutton Snapper, Barracuda, and various Jacks. Due to the minimal fishing pressure in these areas, the fish are not accustomed to encountering sport fishermen, making them remarkably easy to catch.

Imagine a place where you can traverse more than 100 miles of flats without encountering another fisherman. Picture a fishing haven where you can catch seven different species of fish in a single day. Envision a location where big Bonefish eagerly approach your fly, even if it hits the water with some force, rather than darting away. This is a place where you have a genuine chance for a Grand Slam every day of the year. In this extraordinary setting, big Permit are as abundant as they were in the Florida Keys three decades ago, delighting in taking your fly with enthusiasm.

Jardines de la Reina stands out as an incomparable destination with vast, barefoot-wadeable white sand flats. Here, you’ll encounter an abundance of big Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon, Jacks, Cudas, and Sharks on the flats, offering a lifetime’s worth of fishing adventures in a single location.

FRIDAY: Guests may arrive on Friday in Havana and overnight at their choice of accommodation (not included in package).

SATURDAY: Arrive on a flight to Havana landing earlier than 12pm

  • Morning Transfer to Zapesca port
  • Lunch and accommodation on board
  • Dinner and overnight in JA1

SUNDAY – FRIDAY: Aboard the Jardines Avalon 1

  • 7:00 AM. Wake-up call
  • 7:30 AM. Breakfast
  • 8:00 AM. Fishing
  • Return in the afternoon
  • Appetizer and dinner
  • Overnight in JA1

Note: Schedule can be changed according to your preferences and your
guide’s suggestions.

SATURDAY

  • Disembark yacht at Zapesca port
  • Transfer to Havana Accommodation or Havana airport for a flight
    departing after 4pm

The list below is to give you a snapshot of the gear you’ll need to bring on this adventure. A comprehensive and complete gear list will be provided upon booking.

You must bring ALL of your fly fishing equipment with you for your trip. This includes all rods, reels, lines, flies and terminal tackle.

Rod / Reel / Line outfits are available for rent for $350 per outfit per week and they must be reserved and paid for in advance.

While traveling to Cuba you can usually carry your fishing equipment in your carry on luggage. HOWEVER, when departing Cuba it is strongly advised to check all of your equipment in your checked luggage. This is a Cuban Aviation Administration guideline and all guests should be prepared to travel in this manner.

Conventional tackle equipment is not allowed in any of the marine parks of Cuba.

Fishing Gear

We strongly recommend not to bring rods longer than 9 feet as they can be damaged inside the skiff.

One Bonefish rod, a 9-foot rod for #8 or 9 weight line. An 8-weight rod is perfect as many of the bones are in the 3-6 lb class and there is often wind to contend with. On this rod you will want a good bonefish reel with enough capacity for the line and 200 yards of 20 lb backing. You need a saltwater specific, tropical temperature rated, weight forward floating line. All of the main fly line manufacturers make a saltwater bonefish line. Be sure to bring a back up floating line for bonefish. There is some coral on the ocean side flats, and many flats have small mangrove roots and shoots that the bonefish run through and around and this can shred a fly line. Bring one back up rod for bonefish in case of breakage.

We suggest two – 9’ #10 Rods or one 9’ #9 and one 9’ #10 rod- since there are so many species of fish in Canarreos, it helps to bring two 9 or 10 weight rods. Then you can set one up specifically for permit, and have another set up for baby tarpon, snook or barracuda. Have individual reels for both these rods. You will want weight forward, tropical saltwater lines for both rods, but it is a good idea to bring one slow sinking line for the ten weight as well. Attach your lines to backing with loop-to-loop connections making it easy to change lines out on the flats. Your reels should have capacity for the line plus 150-200 yd. of 30 lb. backing. All reels should be large arbor and feature a fully sealed drag system.

For reels, pick a good tarpon reel with enough capacity for a 10 line and 150 200 yards of 30 lb. backing. A strong, smooth drag is necessary. All reels should be large arbor and feature a fully sealed drag system.

TACKLE

You will need a maximum of three lines for your large tarpon rod. A floating line, an intermediate (slow sink), and a full fast sinking 400-500 grain for the big channels which are up to 15 feet deep with strong tidal currents (less common usage, but not bad to have). All should have loop-to- loop connections to your backing. Less experienced casters will often do better with a floating line but the intermediate is perhaps the best all around line to use in the deeper channels. Out on the shallower flats, a floating line is a much better choice. You will be fishing with a floating line the majority of the time. Come prepared for whatever situation you may encounter.

6 Bonefish leaders – 9-12 foot 12-16lb 2 Spools of bonefish tippet, 12lb and 16lb Fluorocarbon. Most of the time the bonefish are not at all leader shy so it is an advantage to use heavier tippet. Also, in Canarreos it is always possible to see and hook really big bones in the 9-12 lb. class. The heavier tippets will allow you to land many more fish and handle them more easily when releasing them.

6 – Permit Leaders 9-12 foot, 16-20 lb Fluorocarbon 1 – Spool 16lb and 20lb Fluorocarbon tippet for permit

6-8 – Quick Change Tarpon leaders. OUR GUIDES ALWAYS RECOMMEND TO MAKE YOUR LEADERS WITH A 60 LB FLUOROCARBON SHOCK TIPPET AND THEN A SECTION OF 80 LB FLUOROCARBON TIPPET, WHERE YOU WILL TIE THE FLY.

Some anglers prefer to use 3 feet of shock tippet so that you can use each leader for several fish or re-tie on several different flies.

Bring spools of 40lb, 60lb, and 80lb Fluorocarbon for Tarpon. Leaders can be built as needed out of this material.

*If you are looking a Tarpon record, bimini leaders must be used, this starts with a 60lb section, then a 20lb fluorocarbon tippet, finally an 80lb.

FLIES

BONEFISH FLIES

These are the most abundant and popular of the flat species. The average weight is about 4-6 pounds but bigger specimens are caught, especially in the winter months.

Fishing is either from the skiff or by wading. Bring two to three dozen bonefish flies in various patterns for a week of fishing. You need a mix of very light flies and medium weight flies (with bead chain eyes) to fish in water depths from six inches to two feet.

You’ll also need at least a half dozen flies with heavy lead eyes for fishing bones in muds where the water can be 3-4 feet deep. Some of the best patterns are the Tan and Pearl Gotcha Shrimp, White or tan Squimp, Bonefish Scampi, Mantis Shrimp/Spawning Shrimp patterns, and of course the Crazy Charlie style flies. Sizes should be mostly #4’s with a few #6’s and a few smaller #8’s. The bonefish can be selective, so be sure to experiment with various patterns. Most flies should be darker patterns – tan and brown but you also need some very light or white patterns for white sand flats.

PERMIT FLIES

Quite abundant indeed in Canarreos where they are up to their reputation of being the most frustrating fish of the flats. Lots of skills and patience are required but a fair number of “grand slams“ have been achieved by anglers when they catch a permit, bonefish and tarpon in the same day. Bring 6-12 flies for permit. AVALON FLY IS THE MOST ADVISABLE CHOICE – variations with dumbbell or bead chain eyes and small beads on the keel for shallow water.

Other spawning shrimp and crab patterns in size 2-4 can be great options to have as well. In addition here are some other productive patterns used: Perez Crabs Sideswiper Crab in tan or white, Flexo Crab, Strong Arm Merkin Crab, Raghead Crabs in tan or white, Ep Permit Crabs in olive or tan, and Mantis Shrimp style patterns. It is important to have some lightweight flies with bead chain eyes and some slightly heavier with lead or brass dumbbells to cover the variety of water depths that you may find.

TARPON FLIES

Large number of tarpon are resident year round in Canarreos’ tidal channels, flats and mangroves. Their average weight is from 15 to 30 pounds, but fish up to 60 pounds maybe encountered and, indeed, some large fish have been caught over the past seasons. They are in the area all year long but tarpons over 50lbs are more usually found from March to August.

Keys style patterns in size 2/0 and 3/0 are very good on the flats for tarpon in the 15-50 lb. class. The best keys style patterns are the Orange/Yellow/Grizzly, Brown Cockroach, Black Death and a White/Grizzly Cockroach Deceiver. Some of the Enrico Puglisi patterns have proven to be deadly too, especially the Black and Purple or Black and Red “Peanut butter” in both 3/0 and 4/0. Other good Enrico patterns are his White/Yellow, and the Backcountry brown as well as the brown and orange and olive over white sardine style patterns. Classic black and purple or red and yellow toads will round out your tarpon fly selections. If you are tying your own, tie all these tarpon flies on the Gamakatsu SC-15 hooks, in either 3/0-4/0.

SNOOK FLIES

Some of the 2/0-3/0 tarpon flies above will also double as good flies for snook but the best are the Enrico Puglisi patterns like the Mullet streamer, mangrove baitfish, baby mutton snapper, all in 2/0-3/0. For big snook in slightly discolored water you’ll find at times near the channels, a 3/0-4/0 Black and Purple tarpon fly is hard to beat. For really big snook, between 30 and 40 inches, a 4/0 size fly is a better choice. White and red can be a great combination for snook along with tans and olive over white. Have a few heavy lead eye flies like Clouser/Deceivers in both white and yellow/ olive. Sizes for these should be 1/0 or 2/0.

FLIES FOR OTHER SPECIES

In Canarreos there is terrific fishing for a variety of other flats fish like Mutton Snappers, Jack Crevalle, Barracuda and sharks. Here are the flies you’ll need:

MUTTONS

Tarpon flies and snook flies in size 2/0 and will work best. Best colors seem to be Brown/ Orange, Mullet (green/black gray back and white underside) and the Yellow/ Orange/Grizzly tarpon fly.

JACK CREVALLE

Larger tarpon flies are best, but any big crab pattern will work great too. You often are fishing for other fish and don’t have time to switch, but if you can put on a brown or black/purple Enrico in 3/0. Also, any popper will crush big Jacks. The key is to cast close to these fast moving fish and strip the fly as fast as you can.

CUDAS AND LEMON SHARKS

You should bring large flies for these species. Often sharks prefer a large sardine style olive over white or EP mullet streamer that imitate a small bonefish. The best patterns for barracuda are tied with mylar flashabou tubing, with a green thread head to look like a needlefish. These should be 2/0-3/0 and tied 8 inches long with a stinger hook. You also need to carry knottable stainless steel wire in 30-50lb. Cudas will take poppers as well. The red and white popper is a classic and is a must for Cudas and sharks.

MISC. GEAR

  • Pair – Sun gloves and stripping guards
  • Large tube Waterproof Sunscreen 50 SPF
  • Clippers and retractor
  • Insect repellant – spray or lotion
  • Reel lube, drag lubricants
  • 2 Morrell Saltwater foam fly boxes – 4.5” and 6”. (They float)
  • Large 6-8 inch forceps for releasing bonefish
  • Saltwater fishing pliers
  • Fly box for larger flies
  • Fine tooth hook file
  • Simms back saver belt – good support for a long day on the flats
  • LED Head lamp
  • 6” Vise Grip Pliers – perfect for holding your tarpon flies
    while you tie your Homer Rhode knots or sharpen them
  • 2 Pairs of Polarized Sunglasses – high quality Tan or brown lenses
  • Repair kit for glasses – screws, small screwdriver etc.
  • Spray bottle lens cleaning solution, lens tissues
  • Pair Less expensive Polarized sunglasses for your guide!
  • Fly Line cleaner and line pad cleaner box
  • Fanny Pack for wade fishing
  • Rod/Reel repair kit with extra tip top guides, snake guides, ferrule
    cement, rod winding thread, bobbin, small screwdrivers (not
    necessary, but can come in handy in a pinch)
  • Reusable Water Bottle (the boat has a water maker on board)

CLOTHING

  • 4 – 6 Fishing Shirts – quick drying style. At least 2 Long sleeve
  • 4 – 6 Cotton T-shirts if you use these
  • 6 – 8 pr. Boxers or briefs
  • 2 – 4 Pr. Light Weight, quick dry wading pants
  • 2 – 4 Pr. Shorts, quick dry
  • 6 Pr. Socks
  • 2 Pr. Thin wet wading socks for your flats wading shoes
  • 2 Flats Hats or caps
  • Breathable Light Weight Rain Jacket with hood
  • Breathable Light Weight Rain Pants
  • 2 Belts for your shorts or pants. 1 should be waterproof
  • Boat Shoes with non-marking soles for wear in the flats skiffs
  • Flats Wading Boots (if you plan to wade much you will need sturdy boots) if you only plan to wade a little, lightweight wading shoes will do.
  • Pr. Sandals, flip-flops if you like these for wear on the boat

TRIP INCLUDES

  • 7 Nights Lodging
  • 6 Days Guided Fishing in multiple locations
  • Chef-prepared meals
  • Filtered water, coffee, tea, Cuban cola, and local juices
  • Alcoholic Beverages: Beer, Wine, and Rum (Mixers are limited, so please bring your own if you’d like something specific – you’re also welcome to bring your own beverages if desired)
  • Transfer to and from the Jardines Avalon 1
  • Humanitarian & Environmental Project Certificate
  • OFAC Travel Affidavit
  • Laundry Service
  • Complimentary shampoo, body soap, hairdryers and linens

DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • Airfare
  • Minimum Level Health Insurance Coverage (typically included with airfare, but not always)
  • Gratuity (Guides: $600 USD per skiff, Yacht Staff: $150 per guest)
  • Fishing Equipment
  • Cuban Visa/Tourist Card

$6,469 + $350 Conservation Fee per person

ADVENTURE AWAITS

If you’re interested in talking to a consultant or booking this adventure, please complete this form.