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Americans Compete in Cuban Fishing Tournament for First Time in 35 Years

All photos via International Hemingway Tournament

There’s something new at the 65th annual Ernest Hemingway International Billfishing Tournament this year.

It’s not a new bait or boat or tackle. It’s something the tournament hasn’t seen in years—American anglers.

Improving relations between the United States and Cuba led the U.S. government to allow Americans to compete in the competition which runs through the end of May.

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Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich of Cuba’s International Nautical Club said the last time the U.S. issued the licenses for tournament was in the 1970s.

In order to travel by boat to Cuba, interested anglers had to be granted an export license from the Treasury Department. About 20 crews received licenses to head to the tournament.

Considered one of the oldest big-game saltwater tournaments in the world, The Ernest Hemingway International Billfishing Tournament began in 1950 with 36 top fishing boats heading out to the Gulf Stream. One of the boats was the “Pilar,” owned and operated by American author Ernest Hemingway.

Some of the anglers suggested naming the tournament after Hemingway because of his love of fishing. Hemingway agreed and won the first three tournaments.

Only Tuna World Cup in Nova Scotia and the Tarpon Tournament in Mexico are older than the Ernest Hemingway International Billfishing Tournament.

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Americans Compete in Cuban Fishing Tournament for First Time in 35 Years