Let’s Get Lost: Chico Fernandez, Birth of the Cool

Words: Steve Duda

Chico Fernandez is launching another story. The way his tales take sail is effortless, graceful. “You know,” he begins, “this one is really good…” His eyebrows raise, the sides of his salt-and-pepper moustache twitch and within moments he’s guiding you both into Biscayne Bay for an anecdote about Hemingway and Havana in the 1950s. “It really was the place, man. My parents knew Hemingway and he would always say, ‘You had to be in Paris in the ’30s and Havana in the ’50s’.… The music, the people, food… Oh, it was wonderful. This was a unique time.”

When Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista-led government in 1959, the Cuba Chico Fernandez knew came to an abrupt end. Along with his family, he fled to Miami, where he’s lived ever since. In the interim, all he’s managed to do is revolutionize the sport of saltwater flyfishing. Along with the likes of Flip Pallot, Lefty Kreh, Bill Curtis, Stu Apte, Nat Ragland and others, Chico blazed a trail that’s led generations of anglers onto the flats, around the mangroves and into the Keys in search of bonefish, tarpon and everything else that swims in warm, salty water.

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