This week’s travel dream: Gone fishin’ in Venezuela

Travelers come to Venezuela’s Los Roques National Park to snorkel in the “gin-clear” sea, to kite-surf, or to fish in “one of the great saltwater fly-fishing grounds on earth.”

There are plenty of reasons to visit Venezuela’s Los Roques National Park, said Sam Sifton in The New York Times. Some people venture to this “archipelago of coral, mangrove, and sand,” located off the country’s Caribbean coast, just to snorkel in the “gin-clear” sea. Others travel here to kite-surf in the “strong and steady breeze” that blows in from the north. Me, I had gone to Los Roques to fish. The park is “one of the great saltwater fly-fishing grounds on earth,” and I wanted to test its waters.

I arrived in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, one evening, hoping to be on a boat and casting a line before noon the next day. Caracas gets a “bad rap” for its high crime rate, but I had a wonderful night in Chacao, a relatively wealthy sector that’s home to some of the city’s best restaurants. The open, airy Mohedano serves “Venezuelan home cooking as made for kings and queens.” I drank my fill of Argentine wine and ate more than my fair share of the corn pancakes known as cachapas and tequeños, “little cheese-filled party snacks.” By the time I’d finished dessert—a chocolate soufflé served with tonka-bean ice cream and a glass of rum—I was exhausted.

But I was up again at dawn to catch a tiny plane, and soon looking out as the high hills of Gran Roque, the archipelago’s main settlement, rose from the turquoise sea. The next three days were devoted to pursuing bonefish, tarpon, and barracuda. “Mornings brought deep water and shots at mudding fish on pancake flats.” Afternoons were spent on the falling tide, hunting barracuda and fighting jacks. In the early evenings, I “waded untouched shorelines,” marking and hooking fish as they tailed above the sand, “grinding on minnows, little shrimp, and crabs.” Much of each long day was spent trudging through thigh-deep water, against the wind, and endlessly “walking and peering over distant flats in silence.” But I relished every agonizing second, and appreciated all the more the moments of rest, when the “air was soft and warm” and the wind rustling through the palms was the only sound.

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