Los Roques Fishing 2017
The search for a new destination began on our way home from our 2016 trip to Roatan. My wife and I take a trip to someplace tropical every spring and we are always looking for something new or “off the beaten path.” She is a SCUBA diver and I, obviously, am in it for the fishing opportunities. We have had some wonderful trips to Mexico, Belize and Honduras in the last 10 years, so we tend to be picky when trying to find someplace new. Los Roques, in Venezuela came up repeatedly as we researched our options.
Los Roques is an archipelago about 70 miles off the coast of Venezuela’s’ mainland. There has been tons and tons written about the natural beauty, fishing opportunities, and tourist activities as this was one of the more popular destinations for many, many years. A quick web search of Los Roques will yield about all the information you could ever want and is worth the read if a Caribbean holiday is in your cards.
As soon as I would mention Venezuela, however, I would be treated to that “are you crazy look” from friends and family. We did our homework, picked the operation that we were familiar with, and carefully planned flights to minimize our time in Caracas.
SIghtcast Outfitters has been operating on Los Roques since 2001 and have hosted hundreds and hundreds of fly-fishers from around the world. Their partnership with the local guides and hotel operators gave us the confidence that our vacation would go smoothly and be an awesome adventure. As with most of our travel, we arranged everything through our good friends at Yellow Dog Fly Fishing. Both Yellow Dog and SIghtcast were helpful with our securing the required Visa documents as well.
We chose to overnight in Miami on both legs of our trip so that we could avoid overnighting in Caracas, assuming we had no flight delays (which we did not).
The most stressful part of the trip was the few days prior to our departure as we began to get nervous as the reality began to set in that we were traveling to Venezuela despite the news and political unrest! The guys at SIghtcast were great during this phase of our trip and made sur that we were in direct contact with the ground transfer company prior to our departure. We were in text communication once our flight landed in Caracas and had confirmation that they would be waiting for us outside immigration as described. SIghtcast includes comprehensive travel directions with the booking so we had lots of information and contact numbers if things did not go smoothly. Everything went smoothly and was truly hassle-free.
The fishing in Los Roques was as advertised or better. We had sustained winds in the 20-30 mph range for our entire week with high clouds. Still, we managed to get a lot of Bonefish, hooked a Tarpon or two, saw a few Permit, and felt like we were pretty much the only people fishing the entire flats system in Venezuela that week. The rumors of surface feeding Bonefish eating Gummy Minnows are true! Watching Tarpon roll through millions and millions of Sardines is a sight unlike any other in my book as well.
Bonefishing is the main draw to Los Roques for the fly-fisher and for good reason. The diversity of fishing situations makes each day interesting and challenging as you can be fishing small, pancake flats in the morning and walking along a beach looking for cruising fish in the surf an hour later. The flats have contrasting bottoms which makes for relatively easy fish spotting, even for the novice saltwater angler. For the most part, the flats are easy to wade in less than knee depth water with firm bottoms being the norm. Bonefish are typically in the 4-6 pound range here with plenty of larger fish around. Honestly, I have Bonefished in the Bahamas, Honduras, Mexico, Belize, and Cuba and none of these compares to the quality of fishing and experience that I had at Los Roques.
I am always on the lookout for Permit and they are probably my most favorite species to target in the salt. We had less than ideal conditions for Permit fishing during our week, but still managed to bump into a few groups although we didn’t really get good shots at them. The Permit fishing here is as difficult as everywhere else in the world but they tend to be on the larger size. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to focus on Permit fishing for a day or two, but the weather and conditions just weren’t ideal.
The Tarpon fishing was interesting to say the least. The schools of Sardines just off the beach at Grand Roques (the main island in the archipelago) were staggering to witness. At first glance, I thought I was looking at contrasting bottom structure, but eventually I came to realize that the dark bottom was acres and acres of fish. As the Tarpon move through the baitfish, light sports open and close around the cruising Tarpon. Rolling fish and underwater explosions of silver made it difficult to walk away from after an hour or two of wildly casting a gummy minnow around with hopes of getting it in front of one that just happened to eat at the exact, right moment. I managed t0 stick one, my buddy stuck a few and landed one during our week of fishing.
Los Roques is really a remarkable fishery and is one of the more well regarded flats destinations in the world. The political tensions on the mainland is really at the heart of what is keeping this place relatively quiet at the time. From our experience, those tensions and report of crime might as well be on the moon as we saw nothing and felt nothing out of the ordinary in our travels. I would do it again next week if I could get away with it!
In addition to the fishing, SIghtcast Outfitters works with one of the premier lodges, known as Posadas on Grand Roques. Posada Acuarela was a wonderful place to spend our non-angling hours. The food was amazing with a made to order breakfast and 4 course dinners. Seafood, homemade pastas, ceviche, and various deserts are expertly prepared in the open-air kitchen and flawlessly presented. The rooms at the Posada were well appointed, comfortable, and each have air-conditioning that worked well! The staff, and everyone we met on Grand Roques for that matter, were gracious and helpful yet gave us room to do our own thing and have our own conversations.
I have traveled extensively to fishing destinations around the world and Los Roques, with SIghtcast Outfitters is right at the top of my all-time favorites. Their organization, knowledge of the fishery, quality of guides, and lodging options are all well-oiled machines that cater to anglers at a very personal level. I can’t say enough about our experience and would be happy to discuss the trip in more detail over the phone or via email.
As a sidenote…there is hardly anyone traveling to Los Roques right now, so the fishing is pretty much unpressured. They have some great deals available through Yellow Dog fly fishing for the remainder of 2017. If you can get over the nervousness of traveling through Caracas…this is the time to visit Los Roques. The SCUBA diving was great too!