The saltwater fly-fishing in Cuba has long been revered as being some of the best anywhere in the world. Sighted fishing for migratory Tarpon combined with superb fishing for Bonefish & Permit and a huge multitude of other species has secured Jardines de la Reina as one of the most exciting and varied saltwater fisheries on offer.
Named the Queen's Gardens by Christopher Columbus, the Jardines de la Reina ("JDR") is a pristine chain of islands, very similar in nature to the Florida Keys in the USA. The island system runs for more than one hundred miles back to the northwest, from Cuba's southeastern coast. Most of the area fished is forty to fifty miles offshore and has been designated as a Cuban National Park. As such it has been protected from any commercial fishing for decades. With no human habitation Jardines de la Reina is just a huge expanse of saltwater wilderness, offering some of the best-protected and varied saltwater fishing available.
Alongside the superb migratory Tarpon fishing in the 80lb+ range you can expect Bonefish, Permit and just about every other species of fish that one might expect to catch in the Caribbean - Snapper, Jacks, Shark, Barracudas alongside blue-water species that patrol the reef.
The JDR offers some of the best and most varied fishing in Cuba. For mixed species fishing there is little to better it. Migratory Tarpon for many of the biggest draw and over the prime months from mid-March-the end of June you can expect to se huge numbers of Tarpon. Good-sized Permit are available all year round and there are any number of Bonefish Flats.
The fishing area is divided into three zones, A,B and C. On any given week your yacht will be allocated a specific zone which both ensures individual areas do not get over-fished but you also can be guaranteed exclusivity within that area. All the zones have a wide range of fishable water ranging from shallow lagoons for Bonefish, mangrove channels for juvenile Tarpon, and open flats for hunting Permit and migratory Tarpon.
To the South a natural coral barrier reef protects white sandy beaches and shelters firm bottomed flats that are ideal for both wading as well as fishing from a skiff.
All the fishing on the JDR is now fly-only, part of even stricter conservation measures put in place to ensure that the areas continues to thrive as amarine sanctuary.
Tarpon – Tarpon are unquestionably one of the most exciting and challenging of all the game fish that you might catch on a fly rod and the Jardines de la Reina has some of the best sighted flats Tarpon fishing available. Phenomenally strong and acrobatic Tarpon will launch themselves vertically out of the air as soon as they are hooked in an initial bid to shake the hook. Survive the first 5 seconds and you can expect much more of the same combined with powerful runs in the 20 minutes to 1+ hours it can take to tame these fish. Migratory Tarpon will increase in numbers from February onwards with May being the peak month and can weigh anything up to and beyond 120lbs.
Bonefish (Bones) - The ghosts of the flats, Bonefish are the most numerous and popular of all the flats species and offer fantastic sport on a fly rod. Although some saltwater fly-fishermen may consider Bonefish the ‘starter’ species they are at the same time one of the most refined. When hooked in shallow water they will run with a force and vigour that will challenge your confidence in your fishing gear!
Permit - These are one of the most fickle yet rewarding of all saltwater game fish. Typically identified by their protruding coal black forked tails, good-sized Permit in the 15-45lb range are resident at the Jardines de la Reina in decent numbers. Grand Slams consisting of a Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit in one day are a possibility every week.
Barracuda, Jack Crevalle & Other Species - Whilst the species above are considered the primary saltwater game fish the flats, creeks, channels and reefs have any number of sporting fish that will compliment any anglers fishing day. Keeping ones nerve and not striking too early as a Barracuda launches from 10-20ft at a surface popper is quite a test. Equally to encounter the brute strength of Jack Crevalle during a feeding spree or sight-fishing for them on the flats is excellent sport.
Located 3-6 hrs boat journey off the southern coast of the Cuban mainland, it is only possible to fish the JDR staying on eirther one of the live-aboard yachts or on the permanently moored house-boat, the Tortuga. Being 'on' the water will allow you to maximise your fishing time, cutting out unnecessary transit to the fishing. As such you will be able to fish longer hours, should you wish to do so, than would be possible if you were based on the mainland.
The yachts that are based at the JDR do rotate from season to season. Sleeping capacity ranges from 4-16 anglers depending on the boat. Although it is possible to get individual births, for the most part, the yachts are booked in exclusivity although on the bigger yachts smaller groups can be joined.
25 MAY - 1 JUNE 2019 -LA REINA YACHT - JARDINES DE LA REINA
La Reina is one of the smaller and more intimate yachts, accommodatiing 6 anglers in 4 separate births. This is an absolute prime Tarpon week where one should expect 5-20 good shots at large migratory Tarpon each day, with fish typically in the 40-100lb range.
La Tortuga is the original boat operated by Avalon at the Jardines de la Reina - a large, 110 foot long, double decker floating hotel with seven cabins for guests. It is permanently anchored in a protected channel so that there is no movement, the threat of getting seasick is non-existent. Each cabin has its own shower with hot water, toilet and individually adjustable air-conditioning system. A large air conditioned dining room downstairs with both a foredeck and afterdeck make this a very comfortable home away from home and plenty of space on both the fore and aft decks on which to relax after a days fishing.
The Tortuga accommodates up to 14 anglers, two per room. It is the ideal option for anglers fising as individuals or pairs. You will be fishing Zone B which is the central part of the JDR.
Group Accommodation-Halcon, La Reina & Caballones Private Hire Yachts
If you are a group of 4 or more than then there are a number of yachts which are available for private bookings. These form the bulk of the accomoodation options available at the JDR
The cuisine provided on all of the boats is considered by past guests as being outstanding. Menus are wide ranging however of particular note is the delicious fresh fish and lobster. A quota of soft drinks and beers is included with the package and house wine is served with your evening meal. You can of course bring your own spiurits to drink however the staff will be very happy to provide you with great rum cocktails.
The Cuban guides fishing the JDR undergo extensive training. Prior to taking anglers out they will typically have spent up to 2 years working in the JDR or elsewhere, honing skills and getting to know the water. All guides speak reasonable English although some will be more fluent than others. You should not have a problem covering the fishing basics.
Skiffs have guide poling platforms and are equipped with 70-80HP engines to allow you to allow you to cover the water fast. All boats are equipped with radios to allow contact both with the other guides and with the motherboat.
US Citizens / Passport Holders
An increasing number of US citizens are enjoying the fishing in Cuba. Although the rules are always in flux, dispensations have been made for anglers. Travelling to Cuba, with the correct documentation, using a US passport, is now both legal and easy to arrange. If you are interested please get in touch.
Arrive in Havana or alternate international airport (Santa Clara or Cayo Coco)
Overnight in a hotel
Early AM transfer to Jucaro Port
Board yacht for transfer to JDR
Fishing PM if time allows
6 Full days fishing
(Possible departure to Jucaro Fri PM depending on weather)
Am Depart Yacht
Bus transfer to Havana or alternate airport
International Flight from Havana
It is possible to fly into both Sanat Clara airport as well as Cayo Coco. The journey time to Jucaro Port is considerably shorter than travelling via Havana and you shoud be able to depart Cuba on the final day of your trip should you wish to do so.
Jardines de la Reina is a year round fishery.
Prices vary depending on accommodation and time of year. Prices shown below are for La Tortuga and are comparable with those of the yachts.
- Low Season: Sept - end of Jan Euro 3,990
- High Season: Feb - end of Jun Euro 4,990
- Peak Season: Late Mar - early Jun Euro 5,750
Special offers are available. Please enquire for availability. Rates are the same as those quoted directly by Avalon Fishing Centers.
- Seven nights on floating hotel La Tortuga/Halcon or La Reina on double occupancy.
- Six (x6) days fishing
- All transport from Havana city to La Tortuga. (Bus & boat journey).
- Beverages on board La Tortuga. (with restrictions).
- Marine Park license.
We are happy to arrange your travel to Cuba should you so require.
The best fishing for migratory Tarpon is from March to Late June. Good varied species fishing can be had throughout the year. The months with traditionally the most stable weather being from November to August.
Justin will be hosting the trip to The Jardines de la Reina, staying on La Reina yacht over the specific week above. This is considered one of the absolute prime periods to fish for migratory Tarpon with many opportunities at fish in the 30-100lb range each day. The group size will be limited to six anglers.
The multitude of saltwater species can mean a rather hefty additional gear bill for saltwater novices or those who just want to be equipped for all species. As a loop hosted travel trip there will be a good range of Loop rods and reels to borrow as well as a 30% saving on RRP on pre-ordered kit. Whether you feel like an extra 11 wt Tarpon rod is required to allow each boat to have 2 ready rigged rods with floating and intermediate lines or a spare 10 wt dedicated for Permit then this is an excellent opportunity to ensure you have all the gear you need for the trip.
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Preceding a saltwater fishing trip, there is nothing like some fairly ferocious winter weather to help maximise the enjoyment of the holiday. This was certainly true of the March 2018 WhereWiseMenFish trip to the Jardines de la Reina (JDR). There was a palpable sense of relief and escape amongst our team of ...
The location of the Jardines de la Reina, 3 hrs sail from the port of Jucaro on the Southern coast of Cuba meant that access to the huge expanse of flats and mangrove islands was out of necessity by boat. The Tortuga was the original floating motherboat, centrally located and fixed on permanent moorings it has been the base of ...
I cannot say that I will ever not be caught completely unsurprised by the quirks that Cuba can throw at anglers. With 9 years of Cuban travel under my belt I am accustomed to the varying levels of deviation from what might be anticipated from any given itinerary. To the average and inquisitive tourist Cuba delivers a wonderful ...
Expectations are the hardest thing to control on any trip, whether it be to a tried and tested favourite location or somewhere completely new. Amazing ‘lodge libraries’ of pictures with huge fish from past trips, inflated tales of success or previous ‘selective’ memories can play a wonderful role in ...
ANTICIPATION. I hope everyone who is reading this, keen anglers or passionate travellers alike is suitably afflicted to some degree. It of course all starts with The Idea Commitment The wait Preparation Departure Some are able to mask the surge of excitement until they board the plane or even arrive at the ...
For the last decade almost all saltwater fishing in Cuba has been focused along the south coast, the fabulous Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen), Cayo Largo (arguably where it all started) and Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth). This is not to say that fishing has not been conducted elsewhere or indeed that there is ...