In retrospect, we were very lucky to be able to fit this Cuba trip in-between the Delta and Omicron variants.*
We were forced to reschedule this trip to the north coast of Cuba three times due to Covid and now, we finally decided to go for it on the 4th attempt. It wasn’t going to be easy. With no flights from the states to Cuba we had to go through Canada. Both Canada and Cuba require visitors to be fully vaccinated and have a Covid RT-PCR within 72 hours of arrival; plus the U.S. required a Covid RT test within 72 hours to re-enter the States (that may have changed in recent days).
More time (more flight time as we had to go through Toronto), more money (we overnighted in Canada) and more stress (Cuban requirements for heath insurance and tourist cards required some last minute headaches) were all in the cards for those willing to jump on board and make the journey. I must say our group, once committed, did it with grace and humor. We joked we were the survivors... wew were the ones who REALLY wanted/needed to go fishing.
Was it worth it? The short answer is “yes”… no make that “HELL YES”!
See us bomb through the mangroves here.
We had a great time: the guides were excellent, the fishing terrific, the flats beautiful and extensive, the rooms very comfortable with good A/C, the food good (if not great, especially lunches were lacking) and perhaps most importantly, our group very much enjoyed each other's company.
But back to the reason we had made the journey... the fishing! We had wonderful bonefishing (tan shrimp, often mantis shrimp patterns), caught more than a few tarpon (big Clousers), landed 5 permit all caught off the backs of rays (Alphlexo crabs), caught hefty mutton snapper on the flats (smallers Clousers), jack crevalle, big cubera, and mangrove snapper and blue runners near blue holes and in deeper channels (all on Clousers). We encountered 3 days of bad weather which consisted of 20-23 MPH winds, strong rain squalls with 40-50 MPH gusts and generally cloudy conditions and STILL we caught fish.
See guide Nelson catch a shallow water bonefish here.
Watch a squall barrel in here.
See a bonefish release on a perfect, very shallow, white sand flat here.
On the good weather days, one at the beginning and the two days at the end, we did very well. Mike Schwartz, Chuck Ash, Jim Woollett, John Higgins and Doug Jeffries caught permit. Congrats on that achievement guys!
Congrats to Mike and Chuck on this incredible day!
I'll have many great memories from this trip too!
I'll remember the big bones tailing in extremely shallow water their tails visible as well as over half their backs. A long cast and a quiet presentation could put a big bone on your fly like a bird dog on a scent. I'll remember the spotted rays and the anticipation as we poled closer to see if a peernit was on the ray's back. The excitement began if one or less often, two permit were seen. I'll remember hooked tarpon jumping in the soft morning light. One of my favorite events was seeing the huge red smear of a Cubera snapper violently engulf a smallish jack as it was pulled to the surface. This trade of a jack for a Cubera meant dinner for one of the guides. And I'll remember the good times I had with this group and the often hilarious conversations we had over cocktails at night.
Yes, I'll miss Cayo Romano and the beautiful white sand flats, the excellent fishing, the excitement of the guides, the fun I had with friends and the great fishing! Thanks to all that made this happen.
*Just to be clear, Omicron is not the next letter in the Greek alphabet after Delta. Omicron, the name of the new variant, is the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet. The first 12 letters have been used to name the previous strains of the virus. The WHO skipped 13th and 14th letters - Nu and Xi - when choosing a new name for the recently discovered variant. Xi sounds too much like the Chinese leader and Nu sounds like a “new” Covid so imagine the chaos that would create. Suffice it to say, Covid is inherently political.