It’s amazing the way that something’s fall into place. A chance encounter, one phone call to a friend and before you know it you find you have booked a flight and are headed to Venezuela. I speak to a fair few guys that have made the pilgrimage to Los Roques and I have quite fancied a trip to its flats for a long time. Everyone who has been has been has great things to say about the Island its friendly inhabitants and the fishing.
In comparison the landing on the small airstrip on Los Roques was smooth and uneventful. We were greeted by Raphael our guide for the next week. No need for a taxi from the airport, we made our way to the lodge on foot through the sand, The lodge is owned by an artist the creative attention to detail of the rooms and living areas combined fine Italian food would impress any visitor
One thing that my fishing partner had told me about on los Roques was the variety of species you can target. Our second day was an odd one or at least it was for me. Over the course of the day I landed , Baby Tarpon , Bonefish , Yellowtail snapper, Spanish Mackerel ,Bonito ,and Pompano, One of each , no more ,no less. Once again we were shrouded by thick storm clouds and at one point we were forced to sit out a Tropical downpour. Fatigue is as much the enemy as any Tropical Low and the long journey the change of time zone and the heat did get to me. The famous pancake flats were quite deep ,as we waded and the sun was interspersed with cloud. I really struggled to spot the bonefish over the darker patches as sweat and suntan lotion leached into my eyes. It always takes a couple of days to settle in and find your feet. Excitement will only get you so far before the fatigue due to the long journey, a change of time zone and heat catches up with you
A decent night’s sleep can make all the difference. Refreshed and somewhat more adjusted to the time zone I felt ready to fish . We headed across to Crasqui, a favourite spot of Peters. This white sand beach offers great sight casting for Bonefish cruising the margins in search of a meal. Pelicans were diving and Bonefish were hassling the Birds to release their catch. Peter fished the Floating Gummy while at this point I stuck with the Christmas Island special. We were both hooking the bonefish via diferent methods. The floating gummy is a great fly to fish, you may not catch quite as many as you would do with a traditional gummy but the thrill of watching the Bones circle, target and attack your fly takes some beating. A change of location was called for so we headed off to another one of the many quays with wade able flats. Our arrival was well timed as a large shoal of Bonefish were cruising quite deep down . A long and accurate cast would always result in a hook up. At this range we were very prone to dropping fish, several fish were landed and plenty managed to shake free, the fly of choice was a Christmas Island Special size 6. We decided to have a rest and hoped back onto our boat we enjoyed our Tuna Burritos in the shade of the Bimini. It’s hard to eat when you have a shoal of Bonefish within casting range. I decided to experiment and tied on a very large and very heavy Permit Crab Pattern. A long cast found the shoal and the fly was allowed plenty of time to get down deep. While the fly made its way into the depths it was taken on the drop. It was obvious that this was a decent fish as I stripped line from the reel and felt heavy. Today the fishing Gods were smiling upon me. At one point the fish went straight through a loop in a mooring rope. With aggressive persuasion and a great deal of luck I managed to steer the fish back through the ropes. We landed and decided to weigh the fish and she hit the scales at 7 1 /2 Lb. That’s my best bonefish to date. The rest of the day has been forgotten, eclipsed by landing such a fine fish.
If the fishing Gods had smiled upon us the previous day then I would have to guess that somehow we had offended them, with a red wine hangover I boarded the boat. The weather looked fine, several hours later and zero fish later we were sheltering from the torrential rain. This was followed soon after by the attack of the Kamakazi Mosquito squadron. These bugs took no prisoners, Clothes were no match for these elite troops, and they simply sucked the juice through your clothing. We ran for the sanctuary of the open sea. Mosquitoes clung to our clothes and faces in the breeze. I had been warned about the mosquitoes and apparently this was worse than ever due to the rains. Clouds seemed to hug each quay and flat hampering our chances of sight fishing, you just get days where every direction you go you seem to hit a brick wall. We were heading towers a total blank. Blitzing Bonito rescued Peter and I was forced to hit the spinning rod with a surface popper. One Horse Eyed Jack was landed and one was released at long range we finally made our way back to Grand Roque, Not the greatest of days but that’s fishing. The resident Bonefish of Grande Roque are always awaiting you and a few bonefish at dusk rescued an otherwise slow days fishing.
We headed out full of hopes for the day. Our plan was to hit the Pancake Flats , once again the forces conspired against us , thick clouds hugged the flats , the lights were switched off, sight fishing over turtle grass with cloud cover is tough going at the best of times, had the water been shallower we would have been able to spot the tailing bonefish. A change was called for we followed the sunshine and the Birds. Jacks, Bonito and blue runners were chasing bait in shallow water .We encountered bones on remote sand flats close to deeper electric blue coral filled holes. Birds were resting on the sandbanks, Bonefish cruised within inches of the shore line, and we cast too and landed a couple of nice fish prior to spooking the shoal. The variety of flats you encounter on Los Roques has amazed me, The Pancake turtle grass flats, Sand flats in the middle of the sea, and Beach flats where bikini clad Venezuelan women watch you cast at the bonefish within a few yards of the shore. The day had turned out to be a tough one, half a dozen bonefish each and a couple of pelagic, We encountered a Permit around the coral flats and Tarpon on the Town beach, The cloud cover had risrcteds our movements as we followed the sun
The last day always comes around too fast. Once again the remains, waiting for the town bonefish and pelicans to clock in for the early shift . In the distance forked lightening pierced through the clouds spiking the sea. Not the best omen you would say, soon after the heavens opened up, one or two casts too many resulted in a soaking as I ran back to the Posada. Like a fool I had locked myself out so was forced to sit the storm out. A young boy with a spinning rod followed me into the shelter, we sat there for half an hour, we had a great chat, he in Spanish and myself in English. He asked me for my Costa sunglasses I smiled and said nice try
Once again our options were going to limited by the blankets of clouds. Our home Island was bathed in sunshine so we opted to drift along the down beach, Bonefish were harassing pelicans close to shore, the decision to hop out and wade the town beach resulted in a few Bonefish
Tackle and Flies
Bonefish and Gummy minnows are synonymous with the location, but what did surprise me was the diversity of species that you can target . Be prepared to chase the blitzing fish and Birds. Gummy’s will catch just about everything that swims around these waters. For some reason I did not pack any Clouser minnows, that was definitely an oversight. Next time I will pack a few size 4 with heavy eyes and tied very sparsely. The reason being that when the birds are blitzing and you strip your fly like crazy to stimulate the Bonito and Jacks into a hit , your fly will ride straight across the surface , the Birds will pick up your fly , this can become highly frustrating . One morning Peter managed to land three terns and a Pelican .At least I saw the funny side
I laughed when Peter boarded the boat with two eight weights rigged, one with a Gummy and the other attached to a Christmas Island. This turned out to be a great idea as you end up switching between those two flies all day every day. I will do the same next year. A sturdy Ten weight should do for the Tarpon . Always leave a rod rigged and ready for that Permit.
January through to June can have the best Bonefishing . This is apparently the busy season for visiting anglers. For Tarpon then visit during October and November. Personally there’s a limit to how many bonefish I want to land in a day . Variety is the spice of life for me so I would elect to sacrifice the best bonefishing in favour of a shot at Tarpon. I guarantee that you will still catch plenty of bonefish, they are everywhere. And then there’s the Barracuda I never got around to telling you about those did I !
I will be hosting 2 trips to Los Roques in 2009. If you would to join us or have any further questions then please contact us. http://www.uksaltwaterflies.com/ 0044 1326562753