Avalon’s New Destination, Cayo Cruz.
Located on the north shore of the eastern province of Camaguey, the Cayo Cruz fishery is an enormous system of flats, lagoons and pristine estuaries. Located in Jardines del Rey, commercial fishing within this designated area is strictly forbidden and rigorously enforced. The sportfish- only area is 366 square kilometers in size, meaning that on the average day, each skiff has over 50 square kilometers to itself. The fishing area is virtually untouched and represents one of the cleanest and most biologically diverse ecosystems we’ve ever fished. This is one of the other reasons we have chosen this destination. It is still pretty much untouched and has only seen anglers for three seasons! The fish are plentiful and aggressive. Most other destinations are now heavily fished and have been fished that way for over 15 years.
Also, those concerned by the occasional cold fronts from the north during January to March can be assured that Cayo Cruz is privileged in having an extensive string of cays on its northern border which protects it from all but the most violent of weather patterns.
Cayo Cruz has only been in operation for three years and has not seen many clients, particularly when compared to other locations in the Caribbean that offer this quality of fishing. Guides did not work under Avalon management in past years. One of the challenges of this fantastic location was to improve guides’ language and guiding skills. Our plan is to have them work with Cayo Largo guides and bring them up to those same standards. In addition, Avalon veteran guides with decades of experience are constantly helping new guides to improve. If one is prepared to be patient while the guides develop, you will find a virtually untouched flats oasis, absolutely teeming with fish and wildlife. What these guides lack in experience, they more than make up for in hard work and enthusiasm.
The skiffs depart from Cayo Cruz each morning and depending on the guide rotation that day, you may be heading to any number of areas to spend the day. From Cayo Paredon Grande in the north to Cayo Guanaja in the south, there are countless islands, lagoons and bays that will keep anglers happy and into fish. Much of the fishing takes place back towards the mainland, in and around the massive island of Cayo Cruz. The average boat run to the fishing areas is about 20 minutes in length and in some areas, you can be into fish within 5 minutes of leaving the boat docks. It just depends on where your guide wants to take you that day and what you are interested in targeting. With 50 square kilometers per boat, the options are just about limitless. There are so many great aspects to this fishery that it can truly be a sensory overload at times.
The first thing that guests need to know about when considering this location, aside from the exceptional flats fishing that is found here is that this new fishery is still very much in its infancy.
The flats are an inviting combination of hard packed white sand and a semi-firm mottled bottom that still provides good wading. And what a place this is for those who like to wade! It’s very similar to Los Roques in terms of the amount of area that’s wadable and there are places here where you can wade for 4 straight hours without heading back to the boat.
Cayo Cruz demonstrates all the characteristics of a recently discovered, virgin fishing territory – large numbers of fish, good sizes and their evident lack of exposure to flies and leaders. Add to this the natural beauty of the cays and of the water and you have a truly memorable place to fish.
The average sized bonefish is a healthy 4 pounds and during the course of the week it is not unheard of for guests to land a fish or two in the 10 pound range. Tailing bonefish are common and guests can expect to see bonefish in singles and doubles, all the way up to schools of several hundred fish. What really sets this location apart from so many other fisheries is that guests can expect to encounter and get shots at good numbers of permit each day. There are very few places on earth where guests can fish for big bonefish each day and also get shots at tailing permit. This combination may take place in other locations but not with the consistency that is virtually guaranteed at Cayo Cruz. It is a rare day when you don’t encounter and get shots at permit. The permit will range in size between about 8 and 30 pounds.
The flats at Cayo Cruz/Cruz are a little deeper than those found in other areas of Cuba, which means that the bonefish and permit are still found in excellent numbers throughout the year.
There are two locations within the Cayo Cruz that offer very good tarpon fishing. Guides tend to save these areas for when an angler has already boated a permit and is looking for a Grand Slam. These fish will range from 30 to 90 pounds. Besides the fishing for permit, bonefish and tarpon, you will also cast for other challenging species as mutton snapper, snook, cubera snapper, jack crevalle, barracuda, etc.
Guests fishing Cayo Cruz/Cruz will stay at the Hotel Casona de Romano, which is located in the town of Brasil. The Casona is quite likely the most unusual fishing lodge we’ve ever had the good fortune of fishing from. This stately house was build in 1919 for the owner of the town’s sugar cane factory and was fully renovated 2 years ago to accommodate the needs of today’s traveling anglers. The house has 8 double (twin bed) rooms and we are planning to build a new room for the 2014 season. Two of these rooms have balconies overlooking the courtyard and church. The beds in each room are new and very comfortable. Each room is fully equipped with a private bath with lots of hot water, along with plenty of lights for reading at night and a small fridge for cold drinks. Each room also has an excellent A/C unit, along with a TV, just in case you feel the need to watch some absolutely dreadful Cuban television. The dining room is located on the first floor and it typically produces a variety of traditional Cuban food, with dinners ranging from fish and seafood to roast pork and chicken. Breakfast is simple yet delicious, with a heavy emphasis on eggs fruit and toast. The bar area is located just inside the main entrance to the house. It is well stocked with rum, vodka, scotch, red and white wines from Spain, as well as both of Cuba’s domestic beer brands. The bar is quite possibly the source for the least expensive beer in all of Cuba. 1 CUC per beer is a true bargain, even by Cuban standards!
The skiffs operating at Cayo Cruz are Mitzi brand skiffs. Each skiff has a poling platform for the guide along with rod holders and very generous storage space, located at both the front and back of the boat. The casting platform is large and offers lots of space for those anglers who like to move around a bit while standing on the bow of the boat. Constructed from a very light fiberglass mold, these skiffs are ideal for the miles and miles of shallow water flats that anglers will find here. Drawing less than 6 inches of water, the skiffs are powered by very reliable 40 HP Yamaha two -stroke engines.
The period January to March brings with it the risk of cold fronts from the north-east. However, as explained above, Cayo Cruz is well protected by the string of cays that shelter most of the fishing spots. The fishing at this time is good; particularly for good-sized bonefish, small and medium tarpon (20-30 lbs), and from mid-January the permit begin to appear.
The period from April to June is perhaps the best time both for weather and for the appearance of large quantities of huge tarpon – in addition to the bonefish and permit.
In July and August, the fishing is the same, but hotter sometimes.
September to December is a good period for bonefish and for smaller quantities of large and medium tarpon.
Guests can fly into Havana city (mostly for European citizens) or to Cayo Coco (to Canadian and South American anglers in some cases), in both arrival points, you will be met by an Avalon representative as soon as you clear customs.
Programs at Avalon Cayo Cruz are weekly. Starting on Saturdays and ending the following Saturday, fishing is from Sunday to Friday (6 fishing days).
In Low Season months (November / March and July / August) we can offer shorter programs, between 3 and 5 fishing days.
Upon arrival, guests will board a waiting taxi for the 90 minute drive through the countryside to the town of Brasil, in Camaguey province (if arriving in Cayo Coco) or a 20 minute taxi ride to their accommodation if flying into Havana (note that the arrival night is not regularly included in AVALON CAYO CRUZ packages, this gives our guests the flexibility of choosing their arrival time and accommodation).
A deposit of 20% is required to secure your booking. A further 40% is payable 6 months before departure and the balance of 40% is payable 60 days before commencement of the program.