Christopher Robinson reports from Los Roques - Venezuela
By Christopher Robinson
I have been fortunate to have fished many salt water destinations over the years but the Los Roques archipelago in the Southern Caribbean remained a gap in my knowledge until we escaped the grey shores of the UK this February to visit this much talked about destination....
Travel to Los Roques is pretty easy, via Madrid for a brief overnight stay in the Marriott airport hotel at Caracas and then a 30 minute flight out to the islands at dawn. We had breakfast, a chat with the guides and by 10 a.m. we were setting off across the turquoise sea for the bone fish flats. Not a bad start.
Arrival at Los Roques sets the scene very nicely as an introduction to the small town. Other than the air strip there is no tarmac, just sandy streets and lanes. There are no cars either, the guides met us, our luggage was loaded onto hand carts and we walked five minutes, passing clean looking bars and restaurants overlooking the beach and bay, to the cool and calm of Posada Acuarela. At the Posada, Italian head-chef and manager Mimo, along with his welcoming team looked after us wonderfully during our stay. The food was a revelation and quite superb, based largely on delicious local fish, salads and pasta.
Tiffy, by experience a salmon angler, was new to saltwater fly fishing and was pretty nervous. She had heard stories of tough ‘Latino’ guides who shouted a lot when you got things wrong and that you need to cast two miles to have a chance of hooking a bone fish. Darwin was our guide and on arrival at the first flat it was clear that Tiffy was in highly competent hands. Darwin proved very quickly that the best guides are calm, measured and guide within their pupils capabilities.
Tiffy soon started catching bonefish and to her relief, without needing massive double-haul casting. Not remembering to strike with the left hand rather than raising the rod tip was a frequent early mistake, but no screaming from Darwin, just a broad smile and ‘Tiffy these are not salmon!’. Over six days we waded an enormous variety of flats, from the unique ‘pancake’ flats to hard, white sand flats and beaches that went on for miles. Bone fish highlights were Tiffy getting 10 before lunch, up to 6lbs and a wonderful morning for me on the beach at Carenero landing four really chunky fish the best of which was close to 8lbs.
We had our chances, good chances at tarpon, both the smaller ones along the mangroves and the much larger ones in the bay at Los Roques – my conversion rate was not brilliant to say the least and there was a stunned silence in the boat as I contrived to whip the fly straight out of the mouth of a 50lber. But we landed one and we had a good shot at a large permit which made a heart stopping follow on the fly before turning away.
I was mighty impressed by the bonefish fishing – it is clearly world class and the fact that we could wade and both fish at the same time was a bonus. The 26ft boats come with both guide and a boatman, ours was Alex. As we waded, Alex tracked behind in the deeper water and picked us up when we were ready, so none of the usual long trek back to the boat which one usually has to endure.
The large canopies on the boats work really well and make the whole day out much more comfortable. If we wanted a break, or at lunch time, having the shade was a blessing, all too often I have roasted under constant exposure to the sun all day.
Overall our fishing experience was excellent and I cannot say enough about the guides; highly professional and above all calm – they made it real fun. Combine that with the calm oasis of Posada Acuarela, Mimo’s outstanding food and excellent Mojitos whilst watching the sun go down – heaven. Highly recommended.
To look at the photos of this trip please click on this link - Los Roques 1 - 8 Feb 2013