As there was a considerable amount of interest generated in Los Roques after last week I would like to share a few tips over the coming weeks that I have learnt from fishing this stunning archipelago over the years. This week I am going to concentrate on the pancake flats.
The pancake flats of Los Roques are one of the facets of the fishery that are truly unique and are almost iconic to this particular destination. The pancakes are essentially raised areas of coral covered in turtle grass and sand which vary in size from ½ to 3 acres surrounded by turquoise deeper water. Schools of bonefish along with big singles and double nose their way onto the flats as soon as there is enough water, often sneaking on with their backs out of the water amidst the turtle grass. It is the nearest thing you will get to dry fly fishing for bonefish as it is technical. You need long leaders, small flies and a stealthy approach as these fish can be spooky. They will hear a clumsy footfall and move off. It is one of the few places that you will see large groups of bonefish tails with the sunlight glinting off their tails like small flags. For me it is one of the most exciting ways of catching bonefish I have experienced anywhere in the world.
The ideal time to get on these flats is first thing in morning with an incoming time. The prevailing wind is normally on your back then and with the low light you can see the fish but they can’t see you. I have also found that ambushing fish with your flies gives the best results. See the fish approaching, drop the fly in a couple of metres ahead and let them move up to it rather than try and put it near their head. This will stop you getting stuck in the turtle grass and also prevent you spooking the bone. Use unweighted flies and don’t be afraid to go down to 12s or even 14s. I like Amber bonefish bitters or sand fleas on the pancakes as that is the best imitation of the small shrimp they are rooting out amongst the turtle grass fronds. If you get stuck in a leaf try to stop yourself yanking it free. I have even left flies before and bonefish have eaten them off the grass.
My best advice though I learnt while on one of my hosted weeks in April 2010. I was fishing with Phil Mellor and the first pancake flat we waded the sun was right in our eyes with the wind at our backs. We ended up stepping on every fish before we could see them. There were plenty of fish on the flat as they waved their tails at us in salute, closely followed by giving us the fin! I then turned round to Raphael and said that we would do the next one in reverse into the wind. Now it was as if someone had turned on the lights and the entire flat was lit up. Granted casting directly into the wind presented more of a challenge, but by using a high back cast and keeping a low forecast it is possible to tuck the line under the wind and I immediately spotted three cruisers heading towards me.
I punched line straight up about 15 yards and dropped the fly on a sandy spot as they came on. When the fish was a foot away I gave it one small tweak and the fish instantly turned and snaffled my size 12 bonefish bitters. Well, he was not expecting that and charged up the flat instantly stripping me down to about 80 yards of backing before heading off the edge into deep water. Incredibly exciting and exactly why I love it there. Although it felt huge it turned out to be only about 4 lbs. Phil and I were then treated to a show. As the light dropped the entire pancake was covered on waving tails, jogging in the evening light. We just did not know which way to cast as we were just surrounded with tailing fish.
If you missed the reasons why to go to Los Roques click HERE. If you are interested in travelling to Los Roques or for more information contact Peter McLeod or Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.