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Our Story

Our story begins where all good stories do — between childhood friends, family and the outdoors. More specifically, chasing fish in backyard ponds, lakes, and salty shorelines.
Looking back at it, not all that much has changed since then. Sure, the scale has grown, but so have we. We still cherish the moments spent together, both on and off the water, and still find ourselves gathering around a crackling fire after a long day, tossing out ideas as to where we’ll go next. There’s always another dream, another destination, and out of those dreams came Cubalaya Outfitters. While fishing is never far from the front of our minds, we also have families, kids, babies, dogs, and other jobs. But Cubalaya didn’t come to fruition solely to fulfill our own passions, it’s about being part of the greater fishing community’s story, your story, and inspiring the dream of that next destination.

Who We Are

Mike Widdes

Born and raised in the Midwest, Mike spent his youth building and racing late-model dirt cars, playing hockey, and, of course, fishing. Having been in the water ever since he was old enough to hold a rod, Mike’s passion for fishing, boating, and travel has never wavered. Still to this day he subscribes to a belief that his late father instilled in him from a young age – the secret to fishing success is to “think good things.” Now a recent first-time father to a baby girl of his own, already earmarked as his future fishing buddy, Mike finds himself firmly planted in the vibrant city of Chicago with his beloved wife Holly, a fellow fly fishing angler and lover of the outdoors. Over the course of the last decade Mike has founded and operated Chicago Car Club, a classic and collectible vehicle trading company. His inherent passion and aptitude for anything mechanical can be traced back generations, and keeps the gears in his head turning and the chips flying in the machine shop.

Holly Widdes

Hailing from the lakefront town of South Haven, Michigan, Holly grew up in grass-stained jeans and with a fishing pole in hand. Her family often jokes, “Back when you were a young man…”, recounting stories of frogs left in jacket pockets going through the laundry, and entire days spent collecting crawdads. Holly and Mike met through mutual friends, a result of Mike’s Chicago-based family’s frequent summer visits to South Haven, and the two eventually bonded over days on the water and rain- or-shine “friendly” bass fishing competitions. They were married in 2018, and the following December welcomed their first child, Kennedy, who they are eager to begin sharing their travels, love of the
outdoors, and their fly rods with.

So, what the hell is a Cubalaya?

We thought you’d never ask. It’s our spirit animal. And it’s a chicken. Specifically, a rare chicken with a fancy-ass tail. It’s versatile. Tough. Fearless. And in some ways, we can relate. We’re new to the game, but we have no plans to blend in with the flock. We plan to be roaming free, looking for our next adventure. #RuleTheRoost
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