Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Great info on Cuba from Doug Jeffries

To All Cuba 2018 Trip Members-
Here is some info from an e-mail train between Doug Jeffries and an experienced angler who has been to Cuba multiple times. I post this e-mail as is. Take from it what you can.

Hey Scott,
On a whim I asked on Kiene's board if anyone had been on the Tortuga recently.  I ended up trading some emails with a guy who has been twice, the most recent was last year.  He really went all out and sent some really good detail info.  I'm attaching his responses here.  He said we could share it with our group.


We took a bottle of rum with us, on our first trip.  The best place to buy it is at the airport in Camaguey.  They sell Havana Club 7 on the boat, and the prices are good, you do not really save much buying it in Camaguey, and then having to cart it around. That's what I would buy the guides a bottle of when you get to the boat.  They will mix you drinks at the bar, and put them on your tab and the prices are great compared to what we are used to in the states.  If you want a really good bottle then grab one at the airport.  The Havana Club 15 private reserve is incredible.

I made the mistake of buying a box of cigars in a back alley on my first trip, I paid what Tony can get you a real box for.  The back alley boxes are all rejects. 

The bugs were not bad on our first trip, but holy shit on the second one.  Take extra to be safe.  And take it on the boat.

There were a few spinners around but the reef sharks were by far most of what we saw.  I have just never seen large sharks so ready to eat.  I probably wouldn't want more than one of the big boys.

On Thu, Mar 8, 2018 at 1:02 PM, Doug's response
Wow, now that's an answer to my questions!  What a fantastic reply and intel.  Super helpful. The bug question is one that for sure I would have thought someone would have included.  Another guy in our group said he talked with someone who also said bring bug spray.
Regarding the sharks, did you see spinners?  Or just the typical reef species - black tips, lemons, small hammerheads?

Doug ~

Your in for quite a trip.  I have been there twice now.  Absolutely awesome.  Can't wait to get back.

The tarpon fishing was different than anything I have experienced.  I live in FL and do quite a bit of tarpon fishing.  I've never seen tarpon eat like they do in Cuba.  We fished a variety of Puglisi bait patterns.  Mostly size 2/0, and 3/0.  A lot of the 3/0 stuff I was trimming in the field.  They wanted the color, but slimmer.  I have a few versions of the Puglisi bait fish I tie for here in FL, that worked well, that are close to the light yellow pattern below.  We hooked so many fish on my first trip, I thought we were gonna run out of the black and purple.  It was dark in the am, lighter flies in the pm.  Fishing was slower on the second trip, but we still fed a few fish a day. 



I have also attached a couple of pictures of flies that worked well.  The purple fly is one that I tie, the brown and green fly, the guide had and it worked well.  We did not get our luggage on the second trip last year and had to rely on help from others and it was kinda a disaster.  Yellow and white, tan and brown, black and purple toads, were also popular.  I saw pilchards, and white bait, all over on the boat ride to the house boat.   

The bone fishing was just stupid.  Its like they haven't seen a meal in weeks.  Mainly shrimp style flies.  NO black hooks.  And the other main piece of advice is have several flies with no weight on them at all.  No weight, with a weed guard.  Many of the huge schools of bones we found were in inches of water, and the weighted flies were instantly hung up in the grass.  I would be clear with your guide, you do not want to fish the mud holes, you want them to find schools/tails in the grass, or schools on the sand.  They will stick you in a mud hole, for hours if you do not make them do something else.  Also when the tide changes and the fish disappear, make them go find other fish to catch.  

I could not get a permit to eat an Avalon crab for any reason.  I would fish a crab fly:

We caught a few snapper on the bait fish above, mostly in the 2/0.  They were not picky.  The guides will be happy to help you find and fish for them, and will kill and eat everyone you catch.

Take a few Cuda flies, and wire and a few swivels.  We had a Cuda rod set up at all times and man were they fun.

I will say the most under rated, not talked about species to catch in Cuba are the sharks.  I went back on my second trip ready to do some damage on the sharks.  When we lost our bags, I had not shark flies and no wire.  On my first trip, we had one shark fly and when the light fell out in the clouds we put the shark fly on and threw it to a 150lber and that shark ate it like a dry fly off the surface.  It was unbelievable, one of the coolest eats I have ever seen.  If your interested in that take a de-hooker with you.  I'm eager for a third trip, to focus on catching a huge share with are in good supply.

I took this fly and a 4/0 version and put larger hooks on them.  There is a red and white one you can find on the web as well.  

In two trips I did not see a single snook.  The locals kill everyone they see and eat it.  There is supposed to be a decent amount of snook near the main land, which you will not have access to.  If you did come across one, I'd assume he'd eat a bait fish pattern like everything else did.

I'd take a pepper grinder if you like pepper, some mini candy bars for the ships crew, definitely take lots of bug spray, I was gonna try to take a therma cell on my next trip.  Buy the guide staff a bottle of rum.  Watch what they put in your cooler, they charge you for everything.  We had them take the beer and soda out and stock it with just water.  I'd take a yeti 20oz cup, makes the ice and your drink last longer, at night on the boat.  They wash your clothes daily, and do a good job, so no need to over pack.  

I've stayed both up and down stairs on the boat, I preferred the down stairs, for no other reason than not having to deal with everyone on the stairs constantly.  The boat is solid, so either side upstairs is a non issue.  The AC on the boat is awesome, so I'd keep the windows shut, the bugs were really bad on my second trip last year.  

Give me a shout if you'd like to talk about any of this.

Good luck,

And then a few days ago, Doug received this additional info:
Doug says...
I received another email from that guy who has been sending me suggestions about Cuba.  He sends a couple other fly pattern suggestions (although, from what we've read, I don't think these fish are particularly picky abut flies so I wouldn't rush out to buy these unless you haven't already stocked your tarpon box).  He also sends the name and contact info of a guy who has tied flies for Cuba in case anyone is looking to purchase some flies.  Here's his latest:

Doug ~
I was at a fly shop earlier today and finally saw these three flies in person.  All of these would fish very well in Cuba.


The other resource I might have your crew reach out to is Drew Chicone.  I've known him for years as we happen to live in the same city here in FL.  He is a wealth of knowledge, and an excellent fly tier.  He ties flies for many who host trips, and anglers headed to Cuba.  If you follow him on Instagram, you can see packages he has posted for groups headed that way.  His cell phone number is 239-898-1236, and his web address is www.saltyflytying.com If any of your group wants to use him to tie them some flies, have them contact him right away, he is usually backed up.  If they use him, let him know the bonefish flies have to be light.  

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