A peek at Cuba fishing
Fishing and hunting
I DIDN'T CATCH any fish in Cuba, but brought back some fishy art by José Fuster, known as the “Picasso of the Caribbean.” Fuster grew up in a small fishing village and describes himself as a “ … man of the sea.” He is also one heck of a prolific and successful artist with a worldwide following. Most of his art sells for hundreds, even thousands of dollars. I got this little one for considerably less.
Dottie and I went to Cuba last week as part of Californians Building Bridges, a people-to-people nonprofit organization founded by Sonoman Darius Anderson, who has been a Cubanophile ever since he first visited the island nation when he was a student at George Washington.
We didn't go there to fish, although I would have liked to, but I did have an opportunity to meet and talk with Cuban fishing guide, Samuel Yeta, who works for a couple of state-run outfitters that run fishing trips off Cayo Santa Maria.
Darius and I met Samuel at the Las Brujas marina. He happened to be working on his boat. We didn't bring our fly-rods, but Samuel was eager to talk about fly-fishing in the area and even offered to take us out to test the local waters.
He had a couple of funky spinning rods, which we used with no success, but we did enjoy seeing the many shallow bays and narrow, mangrove-lined channels where, during the high season (April to September), anglers find world-record-size tarpon lurking.
Samuel was eager to hear about the interest that American anglers would have in fishing in Cuba. He guides a lot of anglers from Canada and Europe, but it is harder for Yanks to get in than the rest of the civilized world.
It is not that Cubans don't want us to come. In fact, they seem to like Americans. Our government is the roadblock. For reasons dating back more than 50 years (and seem to me no longer relevant), the United States has imposed an embargo on trade with Cuba and most travel there.
We saw first-hand the damage and hardships our embargo has imposed on the Cuban people. While Samuel and others who cater to visitors from other countries in the world are managing to stay afloat, many other parts of the Cuban economy are in ruins. Some would say Castro brought this ruination on his people, but all the U.S. has accomplished with its embargo is make it harder on the people, and given him us to blame instead of himself.
Samuel, like virtually every Cuban we met, was warm and friendly, and eager to talk about what Cuba has to offer Americans. Although the fishing isn't good this time of year, the rum is good any time. We enjoyed mojitos, daiquiris and piña coladas, and fine aged rum straight. We even tried the finest Cuban cigars, none of which can be imported into the U.S.
And speaking of fishing, rum and cigars, Ernest Hemingway's former home is near Havana, which I will cover in next week's column.
Fishing around Sonoma has been only for the hardy folk venturing forth between storms, but their efforts have been rewarded. Rick Powers, of Bodega Bay Sportfishing, took 19 anglers out Saturday and brought home full limits of dungeness crab and rock fish for all, plus they had a few nice ling cod to 20 pounds. Rick will run these combo trips through December, weather permitting. Call him at 875-3344.
Joel Sinkay, at Leonard's Bait Shop at Port Sonoma, said anglers are catching some nice stripers right off the bank near him, and he expects the Bay near the Pump House to be good this weekend.
Keith Fraser, at Loch Lomond Bait Shop, said that conditions are ideal for sturgeon fishing this weekend near the Pump House. He says the chocolate-colored fresh water stimulates the sturgeon to bite many times over. Call Keith at 415-456-0321 to book a Bay sturgeon party boat.
Very little action on lakes in our area, and streams are pretty much blown out.