14
Apr 17

Win a frigging trip to Cuba, via Yellow Dog

Awesome shot by Jim Klug.

I got to go once… and it was amazing. That’s where I got my first adult tarpon. It was a very special trip. You could get to feel that same feeling. Yellow Dog Fly Fishing is giving away THREE free trips to fish Cuba. What an opportunity.

“This could be you! Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures will be giving away THREE (3) all-inclusive fly fishing trips to Cuba for THIS SPRING. There is no purchase required, and no strings attached.

Tune in Monday, April 17th at 9:30am MTS / 11:30am EST to hear Yellow Dog’s Director of Operations, Jim Klug, announce the start to the Cuba Fly Fishing Giveaway via Facebook Live.”

Go on… win yourself a trip to frigging Cuba!

 


07
Mar 17

Awesome in trip form – Openings for Cuba

I was really, really fortunate to get to fish Cuba with Yellow Dog back in 2012 (was it really that long ago?). It was an amazing experience. I caught my first adult tarpon there, jumped and lost others, caught plenty of bones, some nice jacks and cudas and generally had the time of my life.

You want in on this? Well, there is a trip April 22-29 going to the Garden of the Queens with the Fieldworkers Club and they have openings.

Check it out.

How’s that for a trip?

Dr. Jerry Ault is on the trip to lead the science efforts and as one of the world’s foremost experts on tarpon, that should be a pretty educational part of the trip.


27
Apr 15

Forbes and Cuba

Well… Forbes ran a story about fishing Cuba and that means I need to point you there. Could the bonefish decline in the Keys be partly put on Cuba?

While the scientific research is ongoing, there is much speculation that the Keys bonefish decline may be in part due to the overharvesting of the species in Cuba. Tagging by the BTT shows no evidence of adult migrations between the Keys and Cuba. “But once bonefish hatch from eggs after spawning, the bonefish larvae are certainly capable of flowing with ocean currents from Cuba to the Keys during their 53 day open-ocean phase,” says the BTT’s Director of Operations, Dr. Aaron Adams. “So netting of spawning bonefish in Cuba could have significant impacts on how many larvae are able to drift from Cuba bonefish spawning sites to the Florida Keys.” And that could very well be the problem.

 

Cuba

Cuba


23
Jan 15

Prospects

Well, the prospects of a hosted trip appear a bit thin this year and that has me thinking about maybe doing a little DIY somewhere or maybe heading back to the Keys to get spanked again.

This has been a crazy few weeks with the move up to Alameda, my daughter turning 8, a bunch of work and a near miss with the flu. So, the blog has been more-silent-than-normal. I’m still THINKING of bonefish all the time… just not posting as much.

In terms of hosting another trip… who would be in for a trip to, oh, I don’t know… let’s say Cuba, in 2016?

If there is the interest, I can put it together. Just say’n.

Cuba 2012


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.

 


16
Jul 14

Nets all around

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.

Well… want to get a little depressed?

Here’s a story about netting in Long Island… that’s bonefish netting. This makes me grumpy. I have to say, I didn’t see any netting there when I was there, but, Courntey did.

One of Mr Knowles’s recent guests, Courtney-Marie Martin, writing in the Internet-based fishing blog, skinnywaterculture.com, said of her Long Island experience: “I witnessed first-hand one of the major conservation issues currently going on in the area, with gill netters present not far from the flat we just fished.

“My heart broke. If we don’t preserve what little we have left, this will all be gone, and there will be no future generation to follow in our footsteps. This is apparently an on-going, don’t ask don’t tell, problem on the island. With a heavy heart, and the thought of bonefish being gill netted, along with other innocents by catch, we headed in.”

If that’s not enough, there are some who think the decline in bonefish in the Keys may have something to do with commercial netting in Cuba. That’s what this article puts forward.

We do not know the exact correlation between the bonefish in the Keys and the fish in Cuba, but we do know that about fifteen years ago, there was massive netting projects going on in the north part of Cuba, gill nets that stretched miles across the flats and channels.  From  reports the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust has heard, thousands and thousand of bonefish, along with countless other species were netted and sold at market.  At about this same time, the bonefish population suddenly plummeted in the Florida Keys.  

And why do I keep bringing stuff like this up?

“We have reached the time in the life of the planet and humanities demands upon it when every fisherman will have to be a river keeper, a steward of marine shallows and a watchman on the high seas. We are beyond having to put back what we have taken out. We must put back more than we take out. We must make holy war on the enemies of aquatic life as we have gillnetters, polluters and drainers of wetlands. Otherwise, as you have already learned, these creatures will continue to disappear at an alarming rate. We will lose as much as we have already lost already and there will be next to nothing, remnant populations, put-and-take, dim bulbs following the tank truck.”  –Tom McGuane writing in the Some Remarks section of his outstanding book The Longest Silence.


17
Jun 14

A boney day in Cuba

From my Cuba trip, 2012.

Today I told the guide I didn’t want to pick up my tarpon rod and I ended up not doing that at all. What was in store was a really fun day of bonefishing with Chris Santella and guide TiTi. We also managed to tangle with a few jacks and cudas.

The bones first.  They were larger today than I had expected with the average bumping up toward 4 pounds. On one flat I spotted a dorsal and asked the guide if it was a bonefish. He said “No, shark……………… BONEFISH! BONEFISH! BONEFISH!” Had to be 10 pounds, plus. Didn’t get a cast in to it, but it was very exciting nonetheless.

The guide has two ways of finding bonefish. Looking for them and not looking for them. We went in search of Jacks a few times and almost every time we found bonefish. I didn’t mind at all.

That said… sometimes we weren’t the only ones to find the bones.

One bone got munched in half by a cuda.  First time that has happened to me. Odd experience to reel in half a bonefish.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn't work out.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn’t work out.

Those cudas… man… they are devious. Hooked up on a cuda and a second cuda bit the line, freeing his brother.  BASTARDS!

All said a good day.  Saw some really great and beautiful country today and had a very good time. Pics to follow when the frigging internet is fast enough!

Now, on to drinks on my last night on the Tortuga.


01
Sep 13

From the Archives – My -2″ Cuban Grand Slam

(originally published May 9, 2012)

The tarpon was first and that was clearly the pig of the trip.  After we finally released that fish we went looking for some bonefish.

We found them.

Really, I think the guides could likely produce bones pretty much all day, but they like chasing the tarpon when they are in, since they don’t stick around all year and the window is about three months long.

The bones weren’t big, maybe 3 pounds, but they fought well and we even had one little cluster Fuque where I got a knot in my running line that went through the guides.  Jim worked on getting the knot undone and I hand lined the fish, which meant it had PLENTY of slack.  The thing turned around and started swimming leisurely back toward us. The thing came so close to the boat that I just figured I’d wait and pull it’s head out of the water. That’s exactly what happened and we managed to land the bonefish pretty much without the rod.

The next flat we went to was ocean-side and as I got up on deck Jim asked the guide “you ever see any permit here?”

“Sometimes” was the reply, although it should have been “Sure, in about a minute.”

There was Mr. Permit cruising right toward us.  No time to switch rods, the bonefish fly would have to do (a Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp). The fish lit up on the fly, started chasing it down doing a little erratic dance behind it. I SWEAR it ate, as did Jim, but I was tight to the fly and there was never any sort of resistance on the line. Just like that it bugged off and I was left, about 2″ from a Cuban Grand Slam.

Kind of cool to come so close.  I know it is mostly luck and “right time/right place” that gets you those Grand Slams and I was pretty damn close to getting it right.

That’s why we keep fishing.

Photo by Jim Klug, Tarpon by Cuba

Really… I can’t complain at all.

 

 


28
Dec 12

Obligitory – A look back at 2012

I was reminded by Troutrageous that it was time for me to look back at 2012.

What a year, eh? I had highlights in my personal and fishing lives. It will be a hard year to surpass, really. So many wonderful things happened. I can’t help but feel like a very lucky guy.

Here is what 2012 held for me.

I welcomed 2012 in at the Yaak Tavern in MT where I had the very strong suspicion I had met my future wife.

I got a chance to go to Cuba with Jim Klug and a bunch of writers. Amazing experience that included my magazine worthy Tarpon shot.

Photo by Jim Klug, Tarpon by Cuba

Photo by Jim Klug, Tarpon by Cuba

My divorce got finalized.

I got engaged.

I discovered the joys of pier fishing with my girl who loves sharks and loves being my fishing buddy.

The girl and her shark.

The girl and her shark.

I got married.

A good day.

A good day.

The honeymoon brought me back to El Pescador in Belize.

renee and bjorn El Pescador
I got two saltwater trips in, which for me, being fully employed and having split custody of a 5 year old, is a pretty good trick. Cuba and Belize are kind of choice locations and I feel very fortunate to have been able to visit both in 2012.

It has been a very, very good year.  I’m looking forward to what 2013 will bring.

I have one trip lined up already. This is to Grand Bahama for Spring Break. It will be my intro to the Bahamas for my little girl and my new wife. I’m thinking this could be a good thing.

All the best to you in 2013 and thanks for reading and taking part in the blog.