- The Fishing
- Sample Itinerary
- When to Go
Pez Raton Lodge Overview
Totally Safe & Reliable…
Pez Raton Lodge sits on the small island of Gran Roque Island - the center of the Parque Nacional Archipelago de Los Roques (Los Roques National Park). Los Roques is a series of 40-50 major islands located approximately eighty miles north of Caracas, Venezuela. Despite the common misconception, Venezuela is a perfectly convenient, safe and reliable destination to consider for perhaps the best bonefishing in the Caribbean. We have sent over 100 anglers to Los Roques in the last four seasons and most of them have rebooked!
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A Bonefishing Dream…
We send more anglers to Los Roques than to any other saltwater destination in the Caribbean for one very valid reason... Los Roques is a bonefisherman’s dream! 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. It is also the most all around consistent fishery we have encountered in the Caribbean.
Three styles of bonefishing are available in Los Roques: Traditional mangrove lined flats make up a portion of the bonefish fishery and can be very productive. It is the pancake flats reminiscent of Christmas Island that make Los Roques so special. The super ‘skinny’ turtle grass flats are riddled with tailing bonefish that require a stealthy and accurate presentation with light entry flies. While the pancake flats offer bonefishing at its purist, the beaches of Los Roques offer bonefishing at its most productive. You can visit numerous windward beaches in the area in search of large schools cruising for small baitfish. By using a new fly pattern called the “gummy minnow” anglers lethally mimic the small glass minnows that these aggressive bonefish are feeding on. This is typically very rewarding fishing even if weather conditions are poor.
Although sold as a bonefishing destination, Los Roques also yields frequent opportunities for trophy sized permit and a reliable year-round tarpon fishery. Tailwaters clients have landed permit over twenty five pounds, and mid-sized tarpon in the 25 – 60 pound range are often available both on Gran Roque Island and in a few lagoons in the area. The lodge has the same phenomenal roster of five guides on staff since our first visit several years ago. Each pair of anglers is provided with both a guide and a boat driver. Fishermen and guide are dropped on a flat while the boat driver hangs not far behind waiting for the fishing session to conclude. This unique system alleviates the need for a long double-back wade to the anchored boat.
The small town on Gran Roque (less than one square mile in size) is surprisingly vibrant. There are numerous clean and well run shops, restaurants and bars. The beaches of Gran Roque rival the best Bahamian beaches in beauty with powdery, white sand and crystal blue water. Los Roques offers what many experienced anglers consider the best big bonefish fishery anywhere and without question a peaceful & tranquil Caribbean setting.
Los Roques Archipeligo
Venezuela sits on the northern Caribbean coast of South America. Her neighboring countries are Brazil to the south, Columbia to the east, and Guyana to the west. Venezuela was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1498, and remained under Spanish control till 1821, when the founding father of Venezuela, Simon Bolivar won its independence. Despite an unstable political environment in the capital of Caracas, your entire Venezuelan vacation is far from any seedy or dangerous 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 destination.
Pez Raton Lodge sits on the small island of Gran Roque - the center of the Parque Nacional Archipeligo 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 Euros. 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.
Several visits this 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 in the Caribbean.
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 coral 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 in the 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 angler 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 extremely 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.
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 Pez Raton is the guide system in place. Every two anglers are provided with a guide and a boat driver. The driver 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. The boats used by Pez Raton are large fiberglass panga style crafts with reliable 60-75 horsepower outboards. They are comfortable during open water crossings, and are able to access the shallowest of flats.
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. Although the guides are still learning about this resource, 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 a common 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 huge. 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 now 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.
The Pez Raton Lodge was opened in 1997 by owner, Alex Gonzalez. This charming posada (known as Posada Mediterrano) actually doubles as a hotel for tourists during the less busy times on the fishing calendar. Your hosts, Alex and Elena Gonzalez, do a wonderful job of taking care of their guests and the operation runs smoothly. Alex tends to run the fishing side of things, while Elena is a marvelous chef and coordinates the labors around the lodge. There is also a full staff of waiters, maids and other help to make your stay comfortable.
The lodge has six double occupancy bedrooms with en suite bathroom. Each room has individually controlled air conditioning, a ceiling fan, and a private safe to store valuables. The most popular gathering spot is the partially shaded open-air rooftop patio, which has an attractive seating area with tables. Cocktails and meals are also taken upstairs on the patio.
Opposite the resort from the main complex is the watersports center where anglers meet guides each morning at the fishing company office and have a cocktail at the bar located at the marina following the fishing day. A modest selection of flies, tippet, leader material, hats, t-shirts, and other fishing accessories is available at the watersports center office. A bicycle is provided for each guest at the resort for traversing the island or getting a little exercise.
The food is great, simply prepared, and emphasizes fresh seafood, fruits, and local foods, however, for variety beef and chicken are also served. Local lobster is featured when in season (November - April). Though somewhat basic, the food is incredible, 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.
12 Anglers Per Week Maximum
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), however this routing is unpredictable and not as common as in recent years. Most Texas based travelers travel through Miami or Houston en route.
Overnight on the Mainland
When you deplane in Caracas International, you are met and transferred approximately ten minutes to the brand new Marriott Hotel 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 Pez Raton stay in the four-star Marriott Hotel the night preceding fishing days, and fly out early the next morning to Gran Roque.
Inversely, guests are returned to the mainland at the conclusion of the last day of fishing and again spend the night at the Marriott Hotel. 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 Pez Raton outside the customs exit holding a sing with your party's name on it. Guests then drive approximately ten minutes from the airport to the Marriott 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 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, lodge owner and Maku, (the lodge Labrador), at the "airport" and escorted on a five-minute walk to the Pez Raton Lodge. 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 7:00AM and anglers are on the flats by 8:00 - 8:30AM. After a brief open water crossing, anglers find themselves in a perfect labyrinth of small islands, white sanded 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 Hotel for an additional overnight stay.
Guests are once again met by a representative from Pez Raton 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.
When to Go
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.
Closed in August
The lodge is typically closed for the month of August to accommodate demand from non-angling European tourists on the island. If you would like to visit Los Roques in August there is typically not a lot of availability, but please inquire for details as it may be possible.
2011- 2012 Rates
Two anglers per boat / room
3 nights / 2 days fishing ………………………… $2,100 US
4 nights / 3 days fishing…………………………..$2,475 US
5 nights / 4 days fishing…………………………..$2,795 US
6 nights / 5 days fishing…………………………..$3,195 US
7 nights / 6 days fishing…………………………..$3,595 US
One angler per boat / room
3 nights / 2 days fishing…………………………..$2,875 US
4 nights / 3 days fishing…………………………..$3,275 US
5 nights / 4 days fishing…………………………..$3,695 US
6 nights / 5 days fishing…………………………..$4,125 US
7 nights / 6 days fishing…………………………..$4,400US
3 nights / 2 days………………………………….......$1,165 US
4 nights / 3 days………………………………….......$1,325 US
5 nights / 4 days………………………………….......$1,540 US
6 nights / 5 days………………………………….......$1,860 US
7 nights / 6 days………………………………….......$2,080 US
All accommodations as outlined; All meals at Pez Raton Lodge; Round-trip ground transfers from hotels and airport; Hotel accommodations at the Marriott Hotel on the mainland for first and last nights of trip; Round-trip commercial airfare to/from Caracas and Gran Roque; Boat and guide services; 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 ($40-$50 daily).
Terms & Conditions
Tailwaters Travel must adhere to the cancellation policies of the guides, outfitters and lodges which it represents. Pez Raton’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.
Consider Travel Insurance!
Given the inherent strict refund policies associated with nearly all fishing packages, we cannot stress the importance of obtaining travel insurance to protect your investment. Travelers can obtain coverage for pre-existing health problems (related to yourself, your family, business partners, or your traveling partners), emergency evacuation, lost baggage, delay, life insurance packages; even “no questions asked” or “for work reasons” coverage.
We will provide you with more detailed information about travel insurance from our sponsored provider, Travel Guard, when you book a trip with Tailwaters Travel. We can conveniently process a very comprehensive insurance policy for you in-house after asking a few simple questions.
Call today to protect your investment: (888) 824-5420
Please review our Policies & Cancellations section.
Activities at Los Roques that can be arranged beyond fishing include snorkeling, SCUBA diving, swimming, beach combing, birding, wind-surfing, catamaran day cruises, or simply relaxing in a remote peaceful setting with a book on the beach. 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 islands quaint restaurants and 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.