Los Roques February 2013

This February I went 2 weeks to Los Roques in Venezuela to get away from the cold Danish weather. I have done so many times before and contrary to many others I do not mind going back to where I have been before. It gives you advantages to know where to find sleep, where to fish etc. and it also nice to see some of the people you have met before again. So for the umphth time I went to Los Roques. this time I went with Gunnar and Ib. Ib is not a fly-fisher so his agenda was to relax, read, swim, drink rum and have a nice time and as he nicely puts it: be with passionate people.

This time I fished a lot on my own which is Ok but when you release the fish and want to do that quite fast it does not give many photo opportunities and therefore the quality of the photos this time is even worse than normally.

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This classic sight from the airplane before landing can always make long for the coming days

 

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The first day we went to Madrisqui and Pirata and here Gunnar amongst other caught this bonefish.

 

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Around Los Roques many of the bonefish primarily feed on small baitfish at many occasions the gummi minnow is the preferred pattern despite they in the wind are quite annoying to cast.

 

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The black market exchange rate has skyrocketed the last months so everything was more or less half price compared to last year and we had a very inexpensive trip. Here I am with my lunch one day, a lobster prepared with side dish and dessert – app. 20 USD. Actually we sometimes had fish for lunch as we were tired of lobster, that is luxury.

 

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I the morning I often fished from the main island Gran Roque before breakfast. I hoped to catch some of the few baby tarpon or some of the schools of jacks making attacks at the minnows close to land. One morning I got the smallest bonefish (app. 2 lbs.) on the whole trip on a black and red tarpon fly – the Black Death.

 

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We fished a few days with guide and here Gunnar is on a pancake flat with our guide Antonio. Gunnar has hooked a bonefish which is hard to see at this distance but unfortunately he later lost it. It was not that easy to get a guide as there were many customers and due to the exchange rate their salary had  more or less doubled as they are paid in USD so they did not feel the need to work that much.

 

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I found many times tailing fish but as I am more a fly-fisher than a photographer I did not get nice shots of one of most thrilling sights I can think of. But here you can see a single tail near the mangrove to the right.

 

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All fish were released here a bonefish from one of the flats start its return.

 

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and way it goes.

 

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After a day on the beach or on the flats we went to the beach bar drinking mojitos and piña coladas in the bean bag chairs. Here Poul a Danish flyfisher on is own has joined us.

 

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The sunset from our bean bag chairs – not the worst option in February seen from a Danish point of view.

Bonefish was our main target but whenever we got the chance for something else we tried to grab it and sometime other species just grab our fly.

 

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a small grouper

 

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a blue runner – many of the schools of fish that attacked the minnows near the beaches this year were blue runners

 

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but there were also some horse eyed jacks at times.

 

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and sometimes yellow tail snappers

 

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There are some big fish in the waters around Los Roques – here Ib pose with a ray the local fishermen had caught

 

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The last day I did not want to fish much but as there was a school of blue runners chasing in front of us I had to grab the fly rod.

 

All in all this trip was business as usual but the fishing was a bit worse than normally as it was extremely windy and therefore the waters were a bit more murky than normally and there were more clouds than normally which also makes it harder to sight fish and finally the water was cooler than normally. The good thing was the exchange rate that made this trip the cheapest in many years.

 

 

 

 

Los Roques february 2012

As the temperatures in Denmark was well below the freezing point (actually down to -20 degrees below) it was nice to go back to Los Roques once again with warm weather, sun and plenty of fast swimming fish.

The Danish Los Roques team was Rene, Ib, Eigil, Niels, Niels and myself. Christian and Berit that lived in a posada a few blocks away from the Plaza was also present but not at the moment of this photo. Eigil and Niels travelled by themselves but were at LR in the same period as the rest.

We stayed at posada Doña Magalys which is in the budget end but we were very satisfied with the hospitality and the food. Magalys is apparently a big fan of Hugo Chavez – why I don´t know.

Lorenzo is the name of the posadas pet parrot which was very fond of Rene.

Our primary target fish was the bonefish which can be caught blindfishing with minnow patterns in deeper waters or sight fished on the flats. I definitely prefer the sight fishing despite that it often not is a productive, but it is better fun.

When unhooking a bonefish it often makes the fish much calmer if you put it upside down.

Rene with a nice bonefish. The average size on Los Roques is quite good app. 4 lbs. This year I did not catch any big ones but even fish in the 4 -6 lbs. range can produce spectacular runs when hooked. Actually all kinds of fish down here are much stronger and faster than what we are used to back home.

We fished some days on our own and other days with guides. With our first guide Jesus we had several double hookups on the flats but every time one of us lost a fish during the fight. This was the first time we succeeded landing two fish at a time but from the boat. We did it later again with our other guide Alet.

One day fishing with Alet we fished for fish hunting at the surface. This is always very intense and I really like the action of this fishing. We kept the fish so we could have it for lunch as Alet promised to cook it. As you can see we got to lobsters not by fishing but by exchanging some of our fish.

Here Alet prepares our lobster and fish lunch on some Venezuelan design furniture including both chair and table in one.

A bonefish in its right element just before landing. It was hooked at this depth as well so one of my favourite hookups on the trip.

We caught also other species than bonefish – here a snapper

And a carite – a spanish mackerel. You need luck or a wire leader to land this fish and a plier to unhook it. They have incredible sharp teeth.

a small tuna

a blue runner

a pompano looks like a permit but never grows big. An austrian flyfisher got a 14 kg permit one of the days, a very impressive fish.

Eigil with a false albacore

Rene with a yellow tail snapper

A lady fish. Also called poor mans tarpon. They jump like tarpon but don´t grow big. I caught 3 ladyfish in 3 casts and then Rene tried for 20 20 minutes without any luck – I could not get my arms down 😉

Rene he caught a tarpon on the main island. That is really an achievement as we almost did not see any and even when you see many it can be very hard to catch one. Rene fished most af the time with a head cam and he got all of his tarpon fight on video. I hope and expect that I later can put some of his video on the blog.

Los roques, february 2010

A trip to Los Roques for app. 2 weeks with Knud, Lasse and Thomas. Lasse and Thomas were rookies while Knud has been here five times before. The trip was good with some minuses. Like always on Los Roques you get plenty of bonefish and they are well-sized, so you get to see your backing on a regular basis and combining that with sun and warm waters you can never go wrong – especially in the winter time when there is ice on the Danish waters.

Lasse´s camera did not work so he borrowed mine and Knuds cell phone did not work so he borrowed mine, I had a vacation without any electronics 🙂

If I have to sum things up we had more problems than ever before with lack of water and lack of electricity. Two days and nights in a row with no electricity means hot rooms at night and warm beers. Furthermore the shops were several times out of goods and restaurants had to close due to no gas or no food to sell. Hugo is really catching up with his idol Fidel, Venezuela more and more looks like Cuba.

Furthermore the number of fishermen were larger than ever end also the number of other tourist and this increased the pressure on the beaches and flats available for the guideless flyfishers – the cheapskates  i.e. us most of the time. For example kite surfers can really destroy a flat when they cross it at 50 km/h.

My most memorable moment was when I caught a kind of garfish (the local garfish has a lot of teeth up to 6-7 mm) after I released it into the water it opened its mouth and bit me in the knee, then it backed and swam to the guide and bit him in the leg. After this incident with a 1½ pound fish towards two 200 pound humans both humans were bleeding. It was clear who won that battle.

Thomas with a bonefish, this is classic Los Roques

Lasse with a very nice sized bonefish from the main island Gran Roque.

Los Roques and diving pelicans is a classic. This year the pelicans were diving quite close to the fishermen given them great opportunities for catching bonefish that approaches the pelicans when diving – but sometimes you also catch a pelican. This type of fishing is not my way of fishing bonefish but it is very efficient.

Thomas with a bluerunner. He spotted a school attacking very close to the beach while we were waiting for our lobster at a restaurant on Craskey and he ran down and got this nice fish. We were hesitating a bit and got nothing, determination pays. Normally there is many opportunities like this but this year we did not see many attacks and that is a pity as I find this type of fishing very intense and entertaining.

The lobster Thomas ran away from. It is not the cheapest lunch but it is one of the best. 

Our guide Chapin on a pancake flat. We had some very interesting fishing on these pancakes and I would recommend Chapin as guide, he really knew his stuff.

I also managed to be in a picture – even with a hookup

And then a quick release and a bad photo – that is life

While moving around with the guide Lasse had a handline out and got this barracuda. A nice fish that really woke him from his sleep, but as chairman of the bombayfly he will have a hard time explaining that he is fishing with a handline.

The local fishermen lands many different species like Wahoo, sailfish, barracuda etc.

Los Rouqes is not just bonefish, you may catch many species a lot them we do not know the name of but it is always fun to catch something you don ´t see back home. 

A carite – a small spanish mackerel.

A small jack.

A pompano – looks like a small permit

A yellow tail snapper

Los Roques january 2009

This January I went with Knud and Thomas to Los Roques in Venezuela to do some fly-fishing in the tropics while the temperature here in Denmark went below zero. Fishing in the tropics is always exciting but at winter time you get an extra bonus because then you really need the warmth and the sun light (vitamin D here we come). Los Roques isfirst of all known for fly fishing for bonefish but you may catch something extra like tarpon or at least some jacks or bonitos. We have all been to Los Roques before and knew more or less what to expect, but when fishing there will always be surprises.

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I think the heart of all saltwater fly-fishers will start pounding at a fast pace when looking down at this just before landing.

The bonefish on Los Roques is known for a good average size and for fish that primarily eats small bait fish and also very important when you come from the country with the heaviest taxes in the world, you can fly fish without the need for a guide.

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Around the islands is an abundance of small baitfish which everyone feeds on: bonefish, pelicans, sea gulls, jacks, bonitos, tarpon. So a fly that imitates these baitfish will do good in most cases. We used a simple minnow imitation made of siliskin(some adhesive silicone material).

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Here you can see a pelican just after diving when the bonefish follows the pelican to get the injured or lost baitfish. Sometimes the bonefish even tries to grab the baitfish directly from the beak of the pelican. If you can place your baitfish imitation right next to the pelican, you have very good chances of a bonefish hookup. But you also have a good chance of hooking a pelican, so I do not like this kind of fishing though it can be very productive. If you hook a   bonefish close to boats like here, you will most likely loose the fish or at least you will have to swim to get it because in the first run it will tangle your fly line with the ropes of several boats.

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Instead of fishing “pelican style” you can go along the beach either blind fishing or fishing for the fish you spot. Often you end up doing both some blind fishing and some sight fishing depending on the circumstances. This can also be rewarding and compared to bonesfishing other places here the fish grab the fly (when it is a baitfishimitation) in the most brutal manner. I have not hooked any other fish that grabs the fly this way nor have I tried it with bonefish anywhere else and I have to say it is very addictive.

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The beaches are perfect for landing the fish.

 

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My favourite way of fishing is the more classic approach where you fish in very shallow water and only cast to fish you have seen. For this kind of fishing the flies are also more classic like Crazy Charlie, Gotcha etc. I had success with a brown Crazy Charlie with rubber leg wing. The weight of the fly naturally have to be adjusted to the depth and the type of bottom.

 

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Lars hooked up in the lagoon on Crasqui – classic sight fishing territory.

 

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In the lagoon the bottom is very bumpy but without too much vegetation, an excellent place for casting your fly well ahead of a cruising bonefish and the start stripping when the fish is close to the fly.

 

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The result.

 

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A bonefish on its way back after release.

 

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Two times a tarpon grabbed Thomas fly in the lagoon but he never hooked them properly. Later we found out why. The hook on his very nicely tied fly was broken off at the bend. A new standard for ecological fly fishing was set 😉

 

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Another of my favourite places were the windy side of the islands where there are often very shallow flats. These can best be fished at high or medium sea level as they simply are dry at low sea level. The good thing is that these areas are not fished much as the wind normally is quite strong and the best is to fish against the wind. On top of this many of the casts have to be made over the wrong shoulder. But when it is at its best you have fish cruising in 10-20 cm of water and as there are waves coming in all the time the fish does not get spooked until very close range if you go down to minimize your profile and often the fish grab the fly 5-7 meters away. Extremely exciting fishing – I love it.

 

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Thomas with bonefish from very shallow water.

 

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We had several mornings and whole days where we chased schools of fish feeding in a frenzy on the baitfish close to the beach (see the photo above). The schools are often a mixture of  more than one species. The schools may consist of bonitos, bar jacks, blue runners, snappers or spanish mackerels. The schools literally attack the baitfish and they move around at a fast pace  and sometimes they are only attacking for a few seconds. So to fish these schools, you have to follow the fish all the time and when they approach the beach you better be ready. This is very exciting and stress-full as you often need to get your line out in a hurry and also often have to run along the beach – a very intense way of flyfishing with many things that may go wrong. We found it very useful to use stripping basket these days as we did not have to spend valuable time retrieving the line from the reel.

 

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Lars (me) with a blue runner. When fishing these feeding schools there is only one rule: retrieve as fast as possible.

 

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The other Lars with a bar jack. As you may see the bar jacks are in the 1½-2 pounds range and the blue runners are larger, typically in the 4-6 pounds range. Like most tropical species they are very tough fighters, apparently tropical fish run on another type of fuel than the fish we have in the nordic countries.

 

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An almost black bar jack from the beach.

 

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A bonito from Madrisqui.

 

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When releasing bonitos and jacks the best way is to throw them head first into the water. In this way they get a lot of oxygen passing the gills and they literally get a head start.

 

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Both Thomas and I experienced a big barracuda taking a hooked bonefish. My bonefish was simply taken late in the fight and we could both see the barracuda in the shallow water with the bonefish between its jaws – it looked just like a pike with a roach. My leader was immediately cut. Thomas bonefish was attacked earlier in the fight so it managed to escape but the barracuda came after it and got it but miraculously it escaped once more and finally Thomas actually caught it. As you can see the bonefish got some  cuts but it looked OK when released, though we are not certain on its future. Both bonefish were in the 4-5 pounds range and the cudas were 15-20 pounds. As all this took place in 30-50 cm of water it was very visual and exciting. We tried several times to cast a fly to barracudas but without any luck.

 

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Two days we hired a guide and a boatman because it would enable us to fish in other places and ways. The guide was Eric (right) and the boatman Alexis (left). They are very nice guys and despite the fishing was not as good as we had hoped for we had some good days with them and they gave us some long days as well. We started the day tarpon-fishing, but we did not produce many chances. Both Thomas and I had a tarpon looking at the fly but that was it. Later we went to the pancake flats to look for bonefish. The first day we got several each though conditions were not good. The water was too high and cold and there were many clouds which made it hard to spot the fish. The high water improve the barracudas chance to get a bonefish so they tend to be very spooky under these circumstances.

 

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Thomas has hooked a bonefish on a pancake flat.

We thought that we were quite good at spotting the fish after 1½ weeks of practise, but Eric he was in an entirely different league. He spotted the fish and explained how they behaved, how many there were etc. when we had problems seeing anything. And every time we were able to control him, he was correct. Big applause from us he was the champ in fish spotting.

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Some times the bonefish are easy to spot.

 

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Both days we ended up hunting schools of feeding fish. In a boat you naturally are able to follow the fish much better than from the beach but you still have to cast and retrieve quickly and it still is a very intense and hectic type of fly fishing. The bonito Thomas shows on the photo was memorable as it chased Thomas fly over a long distance and jumped out water in its hunt for the fly so everyone could follow the fish. Furthermore are bonitos very fast and strong fighters so even smaller fish are good fun with light tackle. The last days with the guides we caught more than 10 fish (bar jacks, blue runners and bonitos) while a competing boat got nothing. We were happy and so were our guides but we were even happier when it later turned out that the fisherman in the competing boat was the french flyfishing champion 🙂

 

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One day when passing some fishermen huts we saw a nurse shark close to the beach. It had a rope around its tail so it was hitched – another way of keeping the food fresh in a hot climate.

 

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Whenfishing in Los Roques you catch many smaller fish of all kinds, here Thomas is with a pompano. It looks like a permit but do not grow to much more than a pound, but for their size they are tremendous fighters.

 

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Thomas with a snapper, Thomas got a lot of snappers so he appointed himself to “the snapper expert”

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The last day Knud wanted to catch two bonefish as he then would get an average of three bonefish a day for the two weeks we had. He got one in the morning but in the afternoon he actually had almost given up as we should be picked up the last day at 5 PM. But 5 minutes before pickup this bonefish grabbed his fly and his goal was achieved. This explains his happy smile for this moderate sized fish.

 

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When fishing with light gear it is easy to use both hands – you just place the gear on top of the water.

 

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The pelicans are the dominant bird on the island and they are very active diving most of the day except they also has a siesta after noon.

 

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The frigate bird is probably the most elegant bird and though outnumbered by the pelicans they are always around.

 

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Herons of different colours and sizes are also watched frequently.

 

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 The last week  three Italians (2 fly fishers and one with spinning gear) arrived with a movie crew. Some said it was for Sky channel. They naturally got some fish and at one time a guy had to swim out with the caught fish to reattach it to the hook, but that is probably the way to make a fishing movie 😉

 

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When you are at Los Roques you got to eat lobster several times. It is as fresh as it comes,  it tastes fantastic and the price is very fair.

To summarize the trip: we had a very nice trip with plenty of bonefish, both caught in very shallow water the classic way (the most interesting way to fish and the best fights) and with baitfish imitation(the best hookups). The average size seemed to have diminished and at times they were hard to hook acted as they have seen a lot of flies. We had a lot of fishing to attacking schools of jacks and bonitos, which I missed on my last trip to Los Roques. The tarpon fishing on the main island were sporadic as it often is. All this at a price affordable to everyone, would I do again? Yes, any time.