Last modified May 14, 2010 by

Shore Fishing Varadero, Cuba

I’ve been pretty spoiled as far as beautiful island beaches go. I was born on an island called Tortola, located in the British Virgin islands. I expected a lot from Cuba, particularly good fishing, despite what others have told me. Unfortunately, this time of year good size tarpon are not found in Cuban waters.

It has been a couple of years since I’ve been to the Caribbean. I wanted desperately to go back to Tortola, but after checking out prices throughout the islands, Cuba was our best option. We left from Halifax airport and flew to Toronto where we spent the night before connecting with our final flight to Cuba. The trip was fairly quick, but with a 14 month old in tow we had to keep awake and keep him entertained.

The view shortly before landing

Cuba is a big island. The resort we stayed at is located on the north side of the island in Varadero. The area is known as a tourist area and where we stayed is comprised of mostly hotels, resorts, bars, restaurants and a golf course.

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As a fisherman, this area seemed to be perfect, surrounded by water on both sides. On the north side, a few sparse reefs could bee seen not far off shore. Thanks to a cold front, this area was unfishable due to waves bringing in heavy clumps of seaweed. My first cast at the beach was pretty disastrous. I was immediately tangled in seaweed, and as I struggled to remove it, my line kept tangling in more. I got my lure in after several minutes, and then noticed a fishermans worst nightmare, a broken rod-tip.

Luckily I was prepared. Using some superglue and fishing line, I repaired the rod as best I could. Later that day I headed to the opposite shore in search of calmer water. It isn’t far away, but thanks to the fenced off golf course, I had to walk about 30 minutes to get to the area I wanted to fish. The water on the opposite side was perfectly calm, just as I had hoped. As soon as I started casting I saw lots of small fish in the area, which is always good news. Well out of casting distance I could occasionally see larger fish jumping and I figure it was only a matter of time until they made their way into shallow water. I stated casting my trusty silver spoon, and then switched it up to a white Fluke, rigged as I would while fishing for bass.

The first stop, and the favorite lure.

Shortly after switching to the Fluke, I had a solid hit, and line went screaming off my reel. I was a little concerned about the rod tip, but after a short battle I landed my self a solid 4-5 pound snapper. I pulled out the camera to snap a photo, and my old Canon G5 refused to co-operate. Despite charging the battery the night before, it was now completely dead. No worries, I figured I’d be catching more of these guys the next day, and I’d be ready with my new camera, the Canon Rebel XTi.

Each day I returned I fished the same area and gradually made my way further and further down the shore. I had planned to use some shrimp from the buffet as bait, but there was no shrimp at our buffet. I stuck with silver and white colour baits and had several hits, but the fish were small, and the hooks were too big. One day I saw two fishermen using hand lines, so I went to check things out.

It was immediately clear that there was a language barrier preventing any real communication, but I had brought some line, hooks and weights and gave them to the fishermen. They seemed very pleased, and one for them took a look at my lure (the one that had caught the fish days before) and just shook his head. He pulled out his knife and cut it off, then pulled out a hook and weight and tied them on my line. He pulled out a small jar full of black warms and put one on my hook, then signaled for me to cast. I did, and felt slight nibble right away. We fished together for about 20 minutes, and none of us caught a fish despite several more hits. They packed up to leave and gave me a handful of worms. I made my way back down the shore using the bait and caught several small fish (grunts perhaps?) before heading back to the hotel.

On my last day in Cuba I decided to fish the small lake in the golf course. I wasn’t sure if it was freshwater or saltwater, and I figured there could potentially be bass in it. When I got to the lake I tried out a variety of lures and had a light hit on the Fluke. After spending a hour at the lake, I can safely say there were no bass in it, I’m almost certain it was saltwater.

Golf course lake and fishermen fishing from a cliff on the 18th hole

Overall, I’m sure Cuba has some great fishing, I only had the chance to fish one small area and didn’t see to much action. Cuba is MUCH bigger then any other island I’ve fished, and the hardest thing about fishing a large area, is finding the best spots. With more time, I’m confident some big fish can be found from shore.

Varadero sunset
The view from our hotel

Vehicles of Cuba