Fly Fishing the Isle of Youth
Originally called the Isle of Pines (“Isla de Pinos”) until it was renamed in 1978, Isla de la Juventud (“Island of Youth”) is the second-largest Cuban island and the seventh-largest island in the West Indies (the main island of Cuba included). The capital and largest city are Nueva Gerona on the north side of the island. Most anglers head to Isla de la Juventud for the world-class tarpon fishing, which is without a doubt some of the finest found anywhere in the Caribbean. This area is home to great numbers of tarpon, and while the spring and summer months typically see the most consistent action and largest numbers of tarpon, there are fish here throughout the year. When the waters are calm and wind fairly low, then you can expect to pole the flats for shots at tarpon in the 30 to 80-pound range. Larger fish are in the area as well and can be found on a fairly regular basis during the late spring and early summer months. When the weather is tough and the visibility is affected by clouds or rain, you can expect to fish any number of deeper channels in areas where tarpon congregate and sit. This is a pretty effective way to hook fish and the tarpon are almost always there. The huge chain of keys and islands to the southeast of Nueva Gerona offers some of the most spectacular waters and pristine flats you have ever seen. This is an area that is home to not only tarpon of all sizes, but also some very large bonefish and decent numbers of permit.
For all Isla de la Juventud trips, we book the Avalon Fleet I mothership. This distinct vessel guarantees guests a pleasant, exciting, and exclusive voyage through the Canarreos Archipelago area. The atmosphere was conceived and executed to provide guests with the finest liveaboard experience in the Caribbean. The yacht is intimate, comfortable, and stylishly designed; each space is created to provide guests with maximum comfort and safety.
The maximum capacity is 18 passengers and eight crew members, although each week aboard the yacht is limited to eight to 10 anglers in order to provide comfort and privacy. Aboard the ship, there are eight (8) deluxe king cabins (all with queen-sized beds) with seven (7) private bathrooms. The staterooms accompanying each cabin feature air conditioning and heat controls, electricity plugs, and plenty of storage space. A panoramic window spans each room, allowing guests to enjoy the Caribbean view expanding endlessly before them. A spacious and comfortable lounge, dining room, and bar area on the upper deck offer space for relaxed socializing and dining. There is also a hot tub and an indoor lounge outfitted with excellent visual and audio equipment.
Food and Beverages
The galley aboard the Avalon Fleet I take great pride in serving amazing Cuban food, fresh seafood, and a variety of international dishes. Breakfasts are cooked-to-order each morning. Lunches can either be packed for a full day on the flats, or guests have the option to return to the ship mid-day to eat and relax. All dinners are served with international wines, local liquors, and desserts.
Typical Length of Stay
The structured package is seven (7) nights / six (6) fishing days. A normal week includes five full days of fishing and one or two half days, depending on your schedule and ground/air transfers on arrival and departure days. Additional days in Havana or on other parts of the island can easily be arranged and itineraries can be fully customized. Please contact Yellow Dog for more details.
Non-Angling Activities and Options
This is a remote, live-aboard operation located in the mangrove and saltwater wilderness of the Canarreos Archipelago area. Non-angling activities are very limited. Overall this destination is best suited for anglers.
Wi-Fi is not available aboard the Avalon Fleet I, which means that once you board the ship, you will be offline and totally unplugged (something that is getting hard to find these days). Check with your cell service provider to see if your U.S. cell phone will work in Cuba. “World Phones” can be used and are a very affordable option. Also, satellite phones are strictly prohibited in Cuba and will be confiscated at the airport on arrival.
How To Get There
The fisheries that are located in the Western half of Cuba (Cayo Largo, Isla de la Juventud, Zapata, Playa Larga/Las Salinas and Cannarreos) can all be best accessed with flights directly into Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV). There are many daily flights to Havana on US carriers such as American Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue and Southwest that can easily be booked to get to Havana. If you are traveling to Jardines de la Reina, Cayo Romano or Cayo Paredon, the best arrival city is Camaguey (CMW) which is served with daily flights from Miami (MIA) on American Airlines. There are a number of international flights that can be booked into Havana from international cities such as Milan, Madrid and Istanbul. Yellow Dog can help advise on the best days to travel to and from Havana based on the specific fishery that you are traveling to. We can also help with tour services and hotel arrangements for your trip.
Arrival and Departure Details / Times
For the grand majority of fisheries in Cuba, anglers typically fly into Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) on a Friday, where they overnight in the city. The next day (Saturday), you will be met for your transfer to Port where you will board your mothership for the week. Once everyone is aboard, you will transfer to the fishery where you will moor for the night. Your guides will meet you the next morning with the skiffs for your first day of fishing. On the following Friday, you will bid your guides goodbye and the boat will head back to port to prepare for your Saturday morning disembarkation. You can either schedule a late departure flight (after 4 PM at the earliest!) out of Havana on this day, or we can arrange a final hotel night in Havana prior to your departing flights. Many visitors choose to add an extra day or two in the city to explore Havana and the surrounding areas either before or after your week aboard. Yellow Dog can help arrange for additional time in Cuba and associated logistics.
A valid passport is required for all visitors to Cuba and must be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the duration of your stay. Citizens of the United States are also required to have a Cuban entrance visa that can be secured when checking in for your direct flight to Cuba. You will be asked to sign an affidavit for your trip to Cuba and determine which OFAC category your trip qualifies for and as an American traveler, you are obligated to maintain a record of your trip for five years – documentation is supplied to you by Yellow Dog.
Yellow Dog provides airline reservations ad ticketing assistance through etcTravel Group, and a full-service airline logistics agent that can help book airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, and more. You can click here to request a quote or contact Yellow Dog for more information at 406-585-8667. etcTravel Group offers dedicated support services for all Yellow Dog clients. Service fees may apply when booking or researching tickets, and etcTravel will discuss this with you before sending quotes.
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– Global Rescue Membership
General Fishing Information
Most anglers head to Isla de la Juventud for the world-class tarpon fishing, which is without a doubt some of the finest found anywhere in the Caribbean. This area is home to great numbers of tarpon, and while the spring and summer months typically see the most consistent action and largest numbers of tarpon, there are fish here throughout the year. When the waters are calm and wind fairly low, then you can expect to be polling the flats for a shot on tarpon in the 30 to 80-pound range. Larger fish are in the area as well and can be found on a fairly regular basis. When the weather is tough and the visibility is affected by clouds or rain, then you can expect to fish any number of deeper channels, where the guides know the tarpon congregate and sit. This is a pretty effective way to hook fish, and the tarpon are almost always there!
The huge chain of keys and islands to the southeast of Nueva Gerona offers some of the most spectacular waters and pristine flats you have ever seen. This is an area that is home to not only tarpon of all sizes, but also some very large bonefish and decent numbers of permit. The bonefish here are some of the largest in all of Cuba, and these fish can be found on a very regular basis in all types of conditions. The snook fishing in the area is also amazing – hands-down the best in all of Cuba. Expect multiple shots for all types of species, and come prepared with multiple rod set-ups for tarpon, bones, permit, snook, ‘cuda, and more.
Fly fishing in Cuba is far different from other destinations in the Caribbean. Only in recent years has this flats fishery been developed, and most of the areas fished by Avalon are areas that are protected as a part of the Cuban National Marine Parks system, where no commercial fishing is allowed other than for lobster. And since the fishing pressure is so light in these areas, flats species like tarpon, permit, bonefish, snook, mutton snapper, barracuda, and a variety of jacks are found in incredible numbers and (compared to many other destinations) can at times be relatively easy to catch. Despite heavy commercial fishing pressure before the ban, Cuba’s remote archipelagos have remained unspoiled because most of them are situated 50 to 100 miles off the mainland coast and are not easily reached, even by lobster fishermen.
The guides that work for Avalon – while fairly limited with their English – have become excellent guides and very good fly fishermen. Give them a fly rod and they’ll double-haul a 70-foot cast, or show you just how to work a fly to make a bonefish charge and inhale it. They spot fish as well as any of the Caribbean’s best guides, and they enjoy enthusiastic anglers that want to fish hard. They generally love to work long days, allowing you to fish as hard as you want. This can be a remarkable contrast to many other destinations or lodges where you are often limited to six or eight hours on the water, including your running time. In Avalon’s destinations, there is never any limitation on gas used or distances run in the day.
One misconception that many anglers have about Cuba is that it fishes like “Disneyland” when it comes to the numbers and sizes of fish. The fact of the matter is that this is simply not the case (at least not all the time). While the angling pressure is extremely light compared to all other Caribbean saltwater destinations, Cuba, in general, has been fished by many anglers from Europe, Canada, and even the U.S. for more than 15 years. Some people have the perception that it has been totally locked off and untouched for the past 60 years, and that a trip to Cuba will allow them to be the very first to ever fish these areas. That is simply not the case. That said, when it comes to fishing throughout Cuba, there is probably no place that is as untouched and lightly pressured by recreational anglers as the waters to the east of Nueva Gerona. The fish in this area receives very little pressure and as a result, are more likely to cooperate and eat a fly on any given day. That is what Cuba offers.
Boats and Equipment
Boats used by Avalon are Dolphin Super Skiffs with Yamaha 80 or 90HP motors. Radios and life jackets are carried aboard every skiff. Since fly fishing equipment is hard to come by on Juventad, it is recommended that anglers bring their own equipment. Flies, leaders, tippet, all terminal tackle, and all accessories should be packed as well, as very few items are available anywhere in Cuba!
Rates and Terms
Remember that Yellow Dog’s services are completely free! When you book a trip with Yellow Dog, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge or outfitter.
Please contact Yellow Dog for rates.
- Meet-and-greet reception upon arrival in Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV)
- Seven (7) nights accommodations aboard Avalon I
- Three meals per day (all-inclusive meal service)
- Six (6) full days of guided fishing (two anglers per skiff) from Avalon I
- Beverages while aboard Avalon I
- Taxes and GSTs
What’s Not Included:
- International flights to and from Havana (HAV)
- Cost of taxi transfers from Havana Airport to the hotel in Havana on arrival and departure days
- Meals, drinks, taxis, and any additional expenses while in Havana
- Fishing tackle, equipment, flies, and all terminal tackle
- Cuban entrance visa
- Gratuities for guides and staff
- Conservation Fee ($300)
Avalon Cuban Fishing Centers and Live-Aboards (Cuba)
TERMS AND CONDITIONS – CANCELLATIONS
Receipt of deposit and/or final payment is acknowledgment that registrant has read and accepts the deposit, cancellation, refund and responsibility clauses for these packages. For trips outside of 90 days, a 70% deposit is required at the time of confirmation to hold all reservations and trip dates. For all Cuba trips less than 90 days out, full payment is required to secure reservations. Passport number, date of birth and full name (as printed in passport) is required to confirm any Cuba reservation. Payment for all Cuba trip must be made in US dollars and can be made using check, money order or wire transfer only (no credit card payments for Cuba trips will be accepted). All trip cancellations must be received in writing, sent to Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, LLC. and cancellations will incur a $250.00 USD per person Yellow Dog handling fee, regardless of timing or reason. For cancellations outside of 180 days from start of trip, trip payments are refundable minus an 800 EUROS per person cancellation fee charged by operator and a $250.00 USD per person fee charged by Yellow Dog. Inside of 180 days from start of trip, deposits and/or final payments are non-refundable and no credits will be issued unless Avalon and/or Yellow Dog are able to resell the trip(s) (in which case there will also be an 800 EUROS per person cancellation fee charged by operator and a $250.00 USD per person fee charged by Yellow Dog.) No refunds will be issued for unused portions of packages. Because of the operator’s strict cancellation policies, we highly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance. In no event will Avalon be responsible for any cancellation of services or operations due to inclement weather, any event of force majeure, airline delays or flight cancellations, or any other reason beyond the control of the operator. Avalon Outdoors will not refund payments in the event of poor weather. If your flights are cancelled and connections are missed, Avalon is not responsible for alternative travel arrangements including flights, hotels, meals and any other expenses incurred. Please note that credit card payments cannot be accepted for any incidentals or expenses once in Cuba. Once again, Yellow Dog strongly recommends that anglers and guests purchase travel insurance these Cuban packages.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW YELLOW DOG GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND CANCELLATION POLICIES
Payment Terms For All Yellow Dog Trip Bookings
In order to lock in your trip reservation, we ask that you please remit payment at the time of receipt of invoice. For your convenience, Yellow Dog accepts on-line payments via a direct and secure ACH platform – a quick and easy way to complete your trip reservation. Note that all Yellow Dog invoices include a live link that takes you directly to the Yellow Dog ACH platform for fast and easy payment. For open and existing invoices with a remaining balance, payment reminders also include this easy link to the ACH page.
Other customary forms of payment that are accepted are checks or wire transfers. If you would like to pay in a different way or have any questions about alternate payment methods, please contact Yellow Dog at (888) 777-5060 or (406) 585-8667. We are available Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Beginning September 1st, 2020, Yellow Dog will apply a 3% convenience fee for all credit card transactions.
Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures Standard Forms For Payment
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*Please contact us if you prefer or require a different payment option. Convenience fees may apply for other payment methods.
**Please be aware that the ACH platform is only available for US financial institutions and bank accounts. International payments can be made via wire or with a credit card.