May 31st, 2007
As the only member of the Fly Water staff who hadn’t fished the fabled flats of Los Roques, I had long been looking for an excuse to visit.
When our close friend and owner of Sight Cast, Chris Yrazabal, announced that they had recently upgraded their accommodations to the much touted Acuarela Lodge, I saw my opportunity.
I also had the good fortune to be joined by my wife Mia, a first time salt water fly-fisher. So in late June we ditched the kids with grandma and boarded a plane for Caracas. After a quick overnight at a hotel near the airport, we made the 80 mile flight to El Grand Roque, the hub of the 22 mile long Los Roques archipelago. With 1500 inhabitants this place is tidy, peaceful and quaint. With the exception of two water trucks, there are no cars on the island, allowing happy locals and tourists to walk barefoot on sandy streets between brightly painted buildings.
All and all the trip was fantastic and one of the most pleasant and productive salt water trips I have ever taken. The very first afternoon Mia was into fish on the famous Pancake flats. Needless to say, she broke off a few getting the hang of clearing her line but by the end of the afternoon she was 3 for 6 with several fish to five pounds. Not bad for her first ever afternoon on the flats!
What made the day even better was returning to Acuarela Lodge for cold Mohitos and appetizers. The lodge is extremely tasteful, has exceptional food and is very appropriate for non angling companions. All dinners featured four courses and showcased delicately prepared fresh seafoods. Irrespective of where you live, you would be hard pressed to drive to a finer restaurant.
Each day we fished a different region and a wide variety of flats. Runs in the custom, soft top, super panga type boat varied from 20 to 55 minutes. While the seas were at time rather rough and we got soaked a few times, the boat was comfortable and safe. Once the flats were reached, all fishing was done on foot. Bottom types ranged from dense turtle grass to light marl, to white sands. We also walked some remarkable beaches where big bones were chasing minnows as though they were jacks.
The fish averaged about four pounds and it was rare to go an hour without taking a shot. At times we would take dozens of shots an hour. There were large schools of small fish; small schools of large fish; singles, doubles and every other type of grouping imaginable. We cast to a fair number of fish in the 10 pound class and our largest landed fish was just shy of eight pounds.
The best part of the trip for me was the fact that there were lots of tailing fish and they were definitely big enough and challenging enough to keep my interest. At times fat bonefish would be slithering around on their bellies in just a couple of inches of water. The sight of their lean angular fins glinting in the sun and long tails spraying water over the shallow grassy flats was so exciting that it almost assured a tangle in my running line!
All and all, this trip is a real winner with a hard to beat combination of big fish, varied wade fishing venues, exceptional meals and accommodations, and a long season. Stays of varying length are welcomed.