Sight Cast Outfitters David Leake
Sight Cast Outfitters//Los Roques, Venezuela
SIGHT CAST OVERVIEW
Tailwaters has been visiting and sending anglers to Los Roques since 2004. We stand by the destination as safe to visit, and one of the most rewarding saltwater flats fisheries on the planet. Los Roques is a series of 40-50 major islands located approximately eighty miles north of Caracas, Venezuela. Sight Cast and their charming Posada Acuarela are located on the main island of Gran Roque – the center of the Parque Nacional Archipelago de Los Roques.
Los Roques is a bonefisherman’s dream! The clarity of the water is simply amazing, the average size bonefish is a solid 4-5 pounds, all of the fishing is done wading, tailing fish are a daily occurrence, and there is very little fishing pressure. Traditional mangrove lined sandy flats, skinny water turtle grass flats that made the fishery famous, a unique beach fishery, and a 1:1 guide to angler ratio all combine to offer perhaps the most consistent bonefish fishing in the Caribbean. Los Roques also yields frequent opportunities for trophy-sized permit and a reliable year-round tarpon fishery. Anglers also enjoy encounters with barracudas, several species of jacks, parrotfish, and other reef species.
Gran Roque is vibrant with numerous shops, restaurants and bars. The beaches of Gran Roque rival the best Bahamian beaches in beauty with powdery, white sand and crystal blue water – a truly idyllic tropical paradise to combine as a couple’s vacation or complete angling holiday.
The Los Roques archipelago is located approximately eighty miles north of the Venezuelan mainland in the southern Caribbean Sea.
Anglers travel to Caracas International Airport (CCS) from several USA portals such as Houston, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Newark, and more. After an overnight on the mainland, guests then fly on board a local commercial flight approximately 45 minutes to Gran Roque Island and immediately start the first fishing day (See SAMPLE ITINERARY for more details).
Los Roques is considered one of the most consistent and spectacular bonefish fisheries on the planet.
Los Roques has been made famous by their skinny water turtlegrass pancake flats targeting tailing and Bahamian sized bonefish in the 4-6 pound range. Los Roques is a wade fisherman’s dream come true – both on the pancakes as well as the beaches and traditional sandy flats that are around nearly every turn. While this is a bonefish trip first, legitimate opportunities for permit are a frequent occurrence, and the tarpon fishing can be extremely reliable as well. Other gamefish such as barracuda, yellowtail, jack crevalle, sharks and parrotfish are also very much a part of a typical week in Los Roques.
Unlike many Caribbean or Atlantic destinations to the north, Los Roques enjoys a very consistent equatorial climate with little seasonality and excellent fishing twelve months a year. January – September offers the best months for wade fishing, while the larger tides in the fall months spice up things on the flats with more shots at permit and tarpon.
If you are interested in wade fishing for large bonefish, you needn’t look any further than Los Roques in this hemisphere. If you are the type of angler than enjoys diversity in species, Los Roques will work for you as well. It is the perfect destination for folks interested in a low-key holiday on a sleepy Caribbean paradise. Posada Acuarela is a lovely European style hotel that accommodates low maintenance and active non-anglers or spouses. You should NOT be intimidated by the politics associated with Venezuela – as Los Roques is 100% totally safe for American tourists.
7 Night / 6 Day Fishing Package (based on shared room/guide) is $4250 per person. Additional expenses include but are not limited to airfare to Caracas (CCS), alcoholic beverages, gratuities, National Park entry fees, and guided non-angling activities. (See RATES for more detail).
You the client don’t pay a penny for our travel services! Our destination recommendations, organization, and pre-trip planning services are completely free of charge – and oftentimes less expensive than booking direct with a lodge or outfitter. We can assist with every question, concern, or special request related to your adventure at zero cost!
Sight Cast and their Posada Acuarela are located on the small island of Gran Roque – the center of the Parque Nacional Archipelago de Los Roques. Created in 1972, the Venezuelan government recognized the beauty and value of this wonderful chain of islands, and has set up extremely stringent environmental laws governing the National Park. Los Roques is a series of 40-50 major islands located approximately 80 miles north of the Venezuelan mainland. If you count all the small islets and coral outcroppings in the area, there are over 300 islands in the chain.
Gran Roque is a wonderful and romantic little island approximately four miles long and no more than a mile wide. The island is dominated by large rocky bluffs that add a seldom seen mountainous element to a sleepy Caribbean paradise. The town of Gran Roque is also surprisingly vibrant with numerous lively restaurants and bars that are extremely clean and well run. It is a European holiday hot-spot and the sandy streets of Gran Roque are very active with the Caracan aristocracy and vacationing Europeans. The beaches of Gran Roque rival Bahamian beaches in beauty with powdery white sand and crystal blue water. Unlike many world-class flats fishing destinations, Gran Roque provides a low-key and charming setting with just the right amount of town and nightlife to keep visitors entertained when not on the flats.
Despite an unstable political environment in the capital of Caracas, Los Roques is far removed from the less desirable parts of the country. From the moment you exit the baggage claim you are in the safe hands of our drivers, in a four star hotel, or relaxing on the island. The out islands of Los Roques are light years away from the hustle on the mainland and could not be a more tranquil and safe tropical angling destination.
Several visits over the last decade have secured Los Roques in our minds as one of the most consistent, user-friendly and rewarding bonefish destinations on the planet. Bonefish should be considered the target species; however depending on the conditions anglers may have several shots at permit and tarpon as well as huge barracudas, jacks, parrotfish and other reef dwelling species. The diversity of the flats environment in Los Roques is like nothing we’ve ever experienced before or since in the Caribbean.
Sight Cast maintains a full-time staff of seven guide teams (1 guide and 1 captain per boat) that operate modern 28’ center console pangas equipped with 75-100 HP 4-stroke Yamaha outboards. Sight Cast’s super pangas are the perfect boat for making the rougher deep water crossings between islands as well as accessing skinny water flats.
What originally made Los Roques famous was numerous fishing areas that are dominated by a series of pancake flats (70-100 feet wide) reminiscent of Christmas Island. All the pancakes are super shallow mini-atolls that pop up in, and are surrounded by the refuge of deep cooler water. Some of the pancake flats are the size of a small parking lot, while others are several football fields in length. All are covered in turtle grass and are typically fished with as little as 6-12 inches of water – and sometimes even shallower.
If you are into stealthy presentations to tailing fish, you have arrived in bonefishing heaven. The skinny water on the pancakes dictate a little more technical approach, with longer leaders and light entry flies. Most bones encountered on the pancakes are seen tailing in huge schools – often with hundreds of fish. Most fish on the pancakes are in the 3-6 pound range, and trophies up to double digits are not uncommon. Having a guide and a boat driver allows for really maximizing your time covering the pancakes. Although anglers don’t usually get out of the boat unless you spot fish immediately, the boat can drop off two anglers and a guide, fish the flat, and the quickly retrieve anglers before moving onto the next one. No need for dropping anchor or backtracking to the boat.
Los Roques has hundreds of your traditional, white sandy flats with easy wading. Some of these flats are flanked by mangroves with slow moving bones hugging the edges. Others are more open flats that just scream perfect bonefish habitat and seem to go on for miles. These traditional flats are fished with your standard bonefish patterns and typically offer great opportunities for small groups and larger singles. If you are the type of angler that enjoys long solitary wades and a less regimented boat – flat – boat – flat program as executed on the pancakes, you will love this style of fishing.
So much of the Los Roques fishery revolves around the presence of HUGE schools of baitfish. Sardines, anchovies and above all else, trillions upon trillions of small glass minnows envelope many of the calm bays and beaches in the archipelago. From pelicans and frigates dive bombing, to horse-eyed jacks herding, to schools of bonefish and tarpon corralling, you will see every kind of critter feeding on the minnows and other baitfish. Always look hard under a pelican after he feeds as you will often see greedy bonefish scurrying for the leftovers!
The most surprising element to the Los Roques Bonefish habitat are the sloping white sand beach flats which are home to some of the largest and cooperative fish in the fishery. Anglers approach these beach flats with baitfish patterns (gummy minnows & clousers) and entice extremely aggressive bones while casting from the beach. This is an unconventional and unique experience that usually yields average sized fish in the 4-7 pound range, with several double-digit fish seen daily. No kidding! In our experience there are a few 10-12-pound monsters that are not afraid to eat a fly – not to mention thinly clad Italian tourists doing a little sun worshipping. The beaches offer high success rates for anglers of all skill levels – as well as a welcome venue when fishing conditions are less than ideal. You don’t need to present the fly super accurately and the bonefish are usually very aggressive when feeding on bait.
WADING FRIENDLY & TWO GUIDES PER BOAT
Fishing for all species excluding tarpon and some permit fishing is done wading the grassy and sandy flats of Los Roques. Most of the flats have very little coral (the beaches are an exception), however enormous amounts of conch shells are present in some areas, so quality flats fishing footwear is a must. Perhaps the coolest part of fishing with Sight Cast is the guide system in place. Every two anglers are provided with a guide and a boat driver. The boat captain unloads anglers and the guide on the upwind side of the flat, and slowly follows the group with the boat close at hand. Fishing time is maximized by not having to backtrack to the boat over unproductive water. Tidal fluctuations are not very significant (less than a foot), however do play a role in deciding where and when to fish. Some flats are great at low tide of course, but numerous flats and beaches yield excellent fishing at a high tide – thus allowing for quality fishing throughout all hours of the day.
As mentioned, tarpon and permit are often seen in the area, but should be considered a bonus. Although most tarpon specific destinations are much more predictable in terms of when the fish show up, the general rule of thumb with the tarpon is if there is bait around so are the tarpon. The summer migration plays no real role in the presence of fish at Los Roques, and 20-80 pound tarpon are seen frequently throughout the year around Gran Roque. Tarpon seem to come and go with the presence of baitfish (glass minnows and sardines). There appears to be no rhyme or reason to the appearance of bait – you may hit it right and you may not. Jacks are seen frequently, and enormous barracudas are always around. We strongly advise rigging a 10 weight for these speedsters. You may even try your hand at some of the massive (yet tricky) bump nosed parrotfish seen tailing along in shallow tidal pools!
Until recently, Los Roques was not really considered a certifiable permit fishery. Although we still don’t brand it as a permit exclusive destination, more and more permit are getting tagged each season. We have personally landed permit over twenty-five pounds, and when you hit a week just right you will have shots at happy, tailing permit nearly every day. Despite its proximity to the equator the average temperatures are quite comfortable, wind is usually not too much of a problem, and the fish definitely seem less sophisticated than their brethren to the north. Casts are usually on the short side of the spectrum and the average bonefish is big. For these reasons we think that Los Roques offers the beginner with a wonderful environment to learn, and the experienced flats angler with a trip that will blow you away.
THE GUMMY MINNOW
Baitfish are a huge part of the Los Roques fishing program – and anglers are foolish not to come prepared with at least a dozen gummy minnows for a week of fishing! Yes, it is a $6 fly and it looks like a “lure”, but they are an absolute must in every Los Roques fly box. Bonefish prefer the size #6 gummy in pearl or brown. Tarpon in the areas around the main island of Gran Roque also buffet feed on the gummies… and we have a “Big Game Gummy” tied on a stout 2/0 hook designed for chasing the silver king. Don’t leave home without your gummies! Trust me, if you don’t come prepared with the gummies you will be arm wrestling and playing drinking games for the last one laying around the lodge.
Anglers with Sight Cast stay at the beautiful Posada Acuarela, a twelve-bedroom owner operated lodge facility that is by far the nicest accommodations on Gran Roque. This charming posada is a one-minute walk from the beach and all the local restaurants and bars. It has a full time manager in place for fishing guests as well as a full staff of waiters, maids and other help to make your stay comfortable.
The lodge has twelve double occupancy bedrooms with en suite bathroom. Each room has individually controlled air conditioning, a ceiling fan, solar powered hot water, and a private safe to store valuables. The building is a hybrid of Mediterranean and Caribbean architecture, and has a very fresh, open vibe with lots of common areas and privacy.
The food is great, simply prepared, and emphasizes fresh seafood, pasta, fruits, and local foods, however, for variety beef and chicken are also served. Local lobster is featured when in season (November – April). The food is fantastic, the service is great and the accommodations are comfortable and conveniently located to the fishing grounds. By island standards, they are the best available – even better than the privately held villas owned by wealthy Venezuelans. Considering its locality and the fine services that the staff delivers, most guests – including couples – are quite satisfied.
Traveling to Los Roques is simple and not intimidating! Far too many folks have anxieties about visiting Venezuela because of former President Chavez’s blowhard anti-American comments on CNN. The average Venezuelan shares a similar distaste for their government and are very hospitable hosts. Furthermore, anglers spend almost zero time in public areas when en route to Los Roques – perhaps one of the safest little communities you could ever visit.
Anglers reach Venezuela via a non-stop itinerary through many U.S. cities including Miami, Newark, Atlanta, Washington, Houston, and most European portals. The flight from Miami to Caracas is approximately three hours. On occasion, American Airlines services direct flights from Dallas / Ft. Worth (DFW) certain days of the week/month.
Overnight on the Mainland
When you deplane in Caracas International, you are met and transferred approximately ten minutes to the brand new Marriott or Eurobuilding Express Hotels next to the airport. Most people don’t realize that the Caracas Airport is actually not in the city, but rather a solid 45-minute drive from town in the coastal town of Macuto Vargas. Guests of Sight Cast stay in the nearby four-star Marriott or Eurobuilding Express Hotel the night of arrival in Venezuela, and fly out early the next morning to Gran Roque.
At the end of the trip, guests fly back to the mainland at the conclusion of the last day of fishing and again spend the night on the mainland. This allows travelers to get an early start for home as most international departures are early the following morning.
Travel to Caracas, Venezuela. Upon arrival in Caracas you will meet a representative from Sight Cast outside the customs exit holding a sign with your party’s name on it. Guests then drive approximately ten minutes from the airport to the Marriott or Eurobuilding Express Hotel. Macuto is a coastal town forty-five miles north of downtown Caracas. Anglers spend the first night in Venezuela at the hotel.
The following morning, guests are returned to the domestic auxiliary terminal at the airport bright and early by our driver service and checked in for an early morning, 45 minute commercial flight to Gran Roque. Anglers are greeted by the guides and staff at the “airport” and escorted on a five-minute walk to Posada Acuarela. After a brief breakfast, anglers start their first full day fishing as soon as you have your gear organized.
On the following days of fishing, breakfast is usually served around 6:00-6:30AM and anglers are on the flats by 7:30 – 8:00AM. After a brief open water crossing, anglers find themselves in a perfect labyrinth of small islands, white sand beaches, mangrove lined lagoons, and pancake flats – perfect bonefish habitat. Lunch is made to order, and taken in the shade on a small island or in a quaint fishing village. Anglers usually return to the lodge around 4:00PM. This allows plenty of time to take a shower, cruise through town, or take a hike up to the lighthouse. Dinner is served around 7:30 – 8:00PM and guests may feel free to take a stroll to the local pub for a nightcap with the locals and tourists.
At the conclusion of the last full day of fishing, guests depart the island via a late afternoon commercial flight back to the mainland, where you are met and escorted back to the Marriott or Eurobuilding Express Hotel for an additional overnight stay.
Guests are once again met by our ground representative and escorted to the airport and through the check-in procedures for the flight home. Flights returning to the States usually depart as early as 6:00AM – 11:00AM the following morning, making for an early afternoon arrival back in the U.S.A.
Although Los Roques is located close to the equator, the average temperature is surprisingly cool relative to other Caribbean fisheries. Average temperatures are usually are between 65 – 80 degrees during the months of December through April (dry-season) and between 70-95 degrees during the months of May – October (rainy-season). Moderate trade winds keep things cool and anglers always comment how comfortable the environment truly is.
Rain is seldom a problem and almost never shuts down a fishing day. The summer months are marked by occasional cloudbursts and moderately heavier winds during the so-called rainy season. However, note that the area is marked by consistent water shortages and excessive rains almost never occur. Los Roques is blessed in that its unique location in the Southern Caribbean has spared the little archipelago of major hurricanes and tropical storms for many years.
Spring & Summer
The best times of the year to wade fish Los Roques is the months of January – mid September. The fishing is wonderful throughout the spring and the majority of American anglers visit during this time, only because the summer fishing opportunities are always overlooked. February, March, and April are by far the most popular with Venezuelan weekenders and Europeans as well. One of our favorite times to visit Islas de Los Roques is during the summer months. The wind has usually laid down, there are fewer gringo anglers on the island (thus less fishing pressure) and the fish seem to be a little less spooky.
Fall & Winter
Los Roques experiences higher tidal fluctuations during the fall and winter months, making it a little more difficult to wade fish for bones during October and November. However, the fish are of course still there, and anglers who don’t mind fishing a little more often out of the boat can have excellent success. The autumn months are also the best periods for chasing permit and tarpon as well. There are also far fewer anglers around this time of year.
Activities at Los Roques that can be arranged beyond fishing include snorkeling, SCUBA diving, swimming, beach combing, birding, wind-surfing, kite boarding, stand-up paddle boarding, catamaran day cruises, or simply relaxing in a remote peaceful setting with a book on the beach. Sight Cast can also provide boat transfers, packed lunches, umbrellas, and coolers of drinks for excursions to more remote nearby islands.
The small village of approximately one thousand inhabitants is tons of fun to explore, people watch, and do a little shopping. Guests can hike up to the top of the small mountains on Gran Roque for a little exercise, or hang out at one of the island’s quaint restaurants or bars. During the peak summer months, you will always encounter a few Europeans in town and the beach is usually inhabited with a little action as well. Guests who enjoy a peaceful romantic, sleepy, Caribbean island will fall in love with Gran Roque even if they are not fishing. It is an awesome location for low-maintenance non-angling companions who are happy with gorgeous beaches and a charming tropical atmosphere.
All accommodations as outlined; Guided fishing as outlined; All meals at Posada Acuarela; Beers in boat coolers; Round-trip ground transfers from hotels and airport; Hotel accommodations at the Marriott Hotel or Eurobuilding Express on the mainland for first and last nights of trip; Round-trip commercial airfare to/from Caracas and Gran Roques; Fishing licenses and permits; soft drinks.
What’s Not Included
Airfare to Caracas, Venezuela from the USA; Meals and other expenses on the mainland; Los Roques National Park entry fees and Airport Departure Taxes; Overweight baggage expenses; Beer, Wine, Liquor; Items of personal nature such as telephone calls; Laundry services; Gratuities for Guides and Lodge Staff.
TERMS & CONDITIONS
Tailwaters Travel must adhere to the cancellation policies of the guides, outfitters and lodges which it represents. Sight Cast’s policy follows: A fully refundable 50% deposit is required to secure all reservations. Final balance is due 60 days prior to departure. If a reservation is cancelled 120 days prior to departure, deposit will be refunded minus a $100 per person handling fee; if cancelled between 119 and 60 days prior, deposit will be forfeited; if cancelled with sixty days all payments are fully non-refundable. Refunds of deposits/payments made on credit cards will be charged a 3.5% service charge to fully compensate Tailwaters Travel for all bank charges incurred. Receipt of deposit and/or final payment is acknowledgment that registrant has read and accepts the cancellation, refund and responsibility clauses.