19
Dec 14

Cuba and Three Reactions

This, of course, is putting the cart before the horse… but carts and horses are appropriate for a discussion of Cuba, as that is what you find out in the countryside.

Cuba

Cuba

The recently announced thaw in relations with Cuba does not translate directly into the ability for you to go fish Cuba (if you are a Yank, like myself). It does make that more likely, but there is still a long way to go on that front and you have to get an end to the embargo through congress, a place still in fear of communism as if it were the 50’s. Congress has shown very little interest in actually legislating, so I’m not holding my breath.

Even the prospect of a lifting of the travel ban has already stirred up debate about the potential impacts. I see three camps of thought.

  1. The “Worst Thing Ever” Camp – This group fishes Cuba already. They are either sneaking in (not exactly hard, but still something most anglers won’t do) or they are not US Citizens and so can travel to Cuba when they damn well feel like it. The fear is that Americans are basically going to screw it all up. Prices are going to soar. The unique character of Cuba is going to be Starbuck-ized, overrun with Spring Breakers and exclusive resorts. Havana will become Miami’s South Beach, maybe even with a Kardashian or reality TV show. These folks tend to love the Cuba they know, the people, the places and the culture, and don’t really want it to be changed for fear that change will mean destruction.
  2. The “This is Awesome” Camp – This group is just waiting to head down once they don’t have to lie to Customs. They want to smoke a Cuban Cigar, have some Cuban rum and fish the waters they’ve read and dreamed about. They are ready to book, to fly, to fish and frolic in a new wonderland. They are excited and they are often excited for the Cuban people, who don’t exactly live in the lap of luxury. They may even point to the potential impact an influx of dollars has had on other “Communist” regimes… when markets start to open, political change is often close behind.
  3. The “We’ll See” Camp – This group will point out that tourism is still banned and Cuba’s rules on property ownership have not changed, making it hard for a Four Seasons or Disney Resort to drop a few hundred million on something spiffy. This group might point out the massive infrastructure improvements needed to convert largely rural Cuba into South Beach South and that such improvements would require billions of dollars, money the Cuban government doesn’t have. This group might also point out that Most of the Caribbean is not exactly South Beach, despite more favorable ownership laws and existing infrastructure. It doesn’t seem likely from this perspective that the place will be overrun or will even be likely to change much in the coming decade. (I fall into this camp, so I’m bias).

While I may fall into the “We’ll See” camp, I could be wrong and here is why. The Bahamas has about 300K people spread out on 5K square miles of land, most of that being fairly remote and hard to get to.  Cuba, on the other hand, has 11,000,000 people and 42,000 square miles of land. It is a big country, both in terms of size and in numbers and so has a potential much greater than that of the Bahamas. Cuba’s GDP was $212,000,000,000, vs. the Bahamas $8,000,000,000. Cuba may be an island, but it is a BIG island with room to explore and grow.

How an opened up Cuba would impact the rest of the Caribbean is yet to be seen. I think there is a lot of fear if you are in Abaco or Andros or Nassau about what it could mean. Those places really do ride the waves of American consumer confidence and adding in a competitor the size and potential strength of Cuba could have some serious impacts, and not for the better.

It is easy to go some places and feel like the Caribbean is being overrun, but then you talk to some guides who go months without bookings, lodges that exist constantly teetering on the edge of going under, and you do wonder what the carrying capacity is, what the actual market is. How many lodges or guides can the industry support?

Cuba may (or might not) be opening up soon and I don’t think anyone knows what that will mean.


17
Dec 14

Making Nice with Cuba

The Prez. announced that the US would normalize relations with Cuba. This was greeted by applause, condemnation and, probably, a general lack of awareness in the US of where Cuba is.

This new opening doesn’t translate to you being immediately able to take that Cuban fishing trip worry free, tourism is still not “OK,” but it is a step in the right direction. And… let’s be honest, if you want to fish Cuba, you can. You just have to be a bit creative and be OK with a bit of risk, even though it really is a very small risk.

Some are very opposed to normalizing relations with Cuba, but in a day and age when we trade with China, Vietnam and Russia, having no ties with Cuba seems silly. I mean, if we haven’t changed Cuba in the last 50 years with these policies, why do we keep trying using the same techniques?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein

So, Cuba is slowly opening up. Soon, it could be fully open and us Americans can finally rush in to destroy Cuba… right?

I doubt that narrative. First, Cuba is still Cuba and it has exclusive concessions for a lot of the really good fishing and it still has very complicated ownership rules and regulations. Secondly, I don’t know how much tolerance Americans will have for the state of the infrastructure over there. Third, how exactly have we destroyed the other Caribbean economies? The places are not overflowing with American resorts. Sure, there are some, but outside of Nassau, it is really on a pretty modest scale (or so it seems to me).

I welcome closer ties with Cuba. It is a really interesting place and the people deserve better than what they have.

Awesome shot by Jim Klug.

Awesome shot by Jim Klug.

Cuba 2012

Bonefish... I like bonefish.

Bonefish… I like bonefish.

Photo by Matt Hansen... me, seconds after losing a really, really nice fish.

Photo by Matt Hansen… me, seconds after losing a really, really nice fish.

Mmmmm... beer.

Mmmmm… beer.

 


15
Dec 14

The Bahamas are about to get 7.5% more expensive

If you are headed to the Bahamas, you may want to know about the soon-to-be-implemented Value Added Tax (VAT).

What is a VAT? Here ya go… answers here.

The tax is basically a way to broaden the tax base to get more revenue for the Bahamian government. This tax includes services, like guide services, which means your trip just got a little bit more expensive. The tax does replace a hotel tax of 10%, which you were likely paying.

Hopefully the tax will help pay for better services for the Bahamian people.


14
Dec 14

Getting in the Spirit

Because, bonefish.

Because, bonefish.

Anyone else silently and persistently turning their xmas tree into a fly fishing tree?

Yeah, me either.


10
Dec 14

Thinking about lens color

When I was down in the Keys we had a pretty cool thing happen when some dolphin started riding our wake. It was memorable, but I was surprised when Dan showed me video and I could see the dolphin right next to the boat. I hadn’t seen them clearly in the glare of the water when they were just 4 feet away. Got me thinking my polarized lenses might not be so awesome (I was wearing Revos, not COSTAs, as my COSTAs are both broken at the moment).

Revo shades on our handsome model.

Revo shades on our handsome model.

I also was thinking the lens color I have, kind of gray, might not be the best. I mentioned this to my wife, especially that I might want a lighter color for what I hope is my next trip, to Water Cay, in February.

My wife is a good listener and I will not say I didn’t notice a small-ish box get delivered to the house from COSTA. Yes… she listens very well.

I found this lens color selector on the COSTA site.

It seems not everyone is on board with the multiple lens theory.

What say you? Get different lenses/glasses for different conditions, or get something that works, more or less, everywhere?

 

I still need, and need is really the key word here, 5 intrepid souls who want to go look for big bones Feb. 7-14 on Water Cay. If you are interested, email me at “bonefishonthebrain @ gmail.com.”

 


04
Dec 14

Nothing left to get

At a certain point, you get all the gear you really are going to need. I’m approaching 100% geared up status. Trying to give my wife gift idea for Christmas is getting harder. I’m starting to fill out on the stuff that is on the margins… the boat bag, the line scale, the pants and shirts and sun protection. I’m squared away on rods and reels and lines. I’m fairly set and could go out to the garage and grab the right gear to head 8/10 places in the world to go fishing.

The quiver for Spring Break 2013

The quiver for Spring Break 2013

It can only mean one thing.

I’m damn lucky.

What’s on your wishlist for Christmas?

 

(PS – I do think there might be a new pair of Costas under the tree though, as soon as we get the tree)

(PPS – Feb. 7-14, Water Cay Hosted Trip, with MOI as your host. Sounds good, no?)


02
Dec 14

Queen Conch in the Bahamas in Danger

Cracked

Cracked

If you’ve been down to Florida in the past many years and enjoyed some Conch Fritters, you’ve likely been enjoying Queen Conch from the Bahamas (or some other Caribbean nation). The Conch in Florida are off limits since the fishery collapsed in the 80’s.

The Bahamas seems a world apart from the massive population of Florida. There are, after all, only about 320,000, as compared to 19,500,000 over in Florida. It seems hard to imagine the conch fishery in the Bahamas could face a similar fate as that suffered by Florida. The Bahamas, in places, seems like endless habitat for conch (and bonefish).

Well… where is there is demand there is money and where there is money, people will chase it down, bulldozing anything in their way, even their own futures. It turns out there are some real concerns about the fate of Conch in the Bahamas.

The group Community Conch is hoping to address this issue.


28
Nov 14

Stuffed

Yup, Thanksgiving was great and even now, I’m a bit stuffed (and yet still kind of eyeing the pumpkin pie). I did the whole thing… turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, dressing, raspberry jello salad. Turned out great and was happy to share it with family.

I made that.

I made that.

Thoughts are turning toward 2015 and what should be a pretty fantastic year.

First, I need to get 5 folks signed up for Grand Bahama. This trip doesn’t happen without the group, whoever that group turns out to be.

A Grand Bahama Bone

A Grand Bahama Bone

I’m starting to think about the patterns I really need for Water Cay, the things that have worked in Grand Bahama for me in the past, the things I’ve hears Scott talk about in terms of what has worked for him.

I’m thinking about gear and wondering how those knots would hold up against something truly large.

I’m making a list of gear that included my rain jacket and maybe getting hold some sunglasses more suited for low light situations.

2015… it’s going to be a good time.

Feb. 7-14, Water Cay Lodge – Hosted trip with Bonefish on the Brain through Angling Destinations. If you are interested, contact me at bjornorama@yahoo.com.


27
Nov 14

Happy Thanksgiving

Turkey Day is here and it is time to look at all that we have to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my beautiful wife and my two kids.

I’m thankful for my job, a job I love and found exactly when I needed it.

I’m thankful for a trip to Long Island last year and to an upcoming trip to Grand Bahama.

I’m thankful for the many great people I’ve met through this blog.

I’m thankful for the life I’ve been fortunate to live.

Casting... work on it.

Casting… work on it.


23
Nov 14

5 Reasons I’m Looking Forward to Water Cay

I’m hosting a trip through Angling Destinations to Water Cay on Feb. 7-14. There are five open spots and here are five reasons I’m looking forward to this trip.

A good sign.

  1. I love Grand Bahama. I’ve been to this island more than any other and I have some fantastic memories there. It is easy to get to and has some of the best bonefishing anywhere.
  2. February is a big fish time of year. Grand Bahama coughs up some really big fish and February is a big fish time on the calendar. This could be where my 10 pounder comes from. While no one can guarantee something like that, I can almost guarantee I’ll get a shot. What I do with the shot is up to me.
  3. The guides. I’ve heard so many really fantastic things about the guides out of Water Cay. It is always good being on the water with a guide who is infused with their local water.
  4. The AD Crowd. I hosted a trip this last year for Angling Destinations and had a grand time of it. We were down in Long Island in 2014 and the group was a lot of fun. I expect the same for Water Cay.
  5. Green Pastures. In February, while the weather might be tricky, the fish should have been rested for a couple months. That means that 10 pounder might be just a slight bit less spooky. That 9 pounder might be a little more forgiving.

If you are interested, contact me at bjornorama@yahoo.com.

Let’s go fishing.

#6 – Bonus Reason:

And all is well with the world.