Venezuela means marlin

La Guaira Bank holds more fly-rod-sized blue marlin than almost anywhere else on Earth.

Venezuela map

Venezuela map

The type of fishing that is peak this time of year in Venezuela isn't for everyone, but for fly-fishermen looking for the ultimate rush, the La Guaira Bank holds more fly-rod-sized blue marlin than almost anywhere else on Earth. Undoubtedly, the key to landing a blue marlin on fly is the number of shots, and Venezuela offers abundant chances in March and April. Some days during these peak months have yielded a dozen or more opportunities, resulting in several released fish. While political conditions over the past year have made travel to Venezuela undesirable, things have calmed down enough to make planning a trip there reasonable again. Remember, too, that it's always possible to combine a billfish trip with a few days of bonefishing on Los Roques, which is hot year round.

If you prefer to try your hand at marlin, most of the crews you'll find in Venezuela are topnotch, and bait-and-switch has become a way of life for them. Many of the best billfish crews in the world work these waters during this time of year, though mostly with bait. All, however, are more than willing to bait-and-switch for a fly-rodder.

Remember that blue marlin, no matter how small, are seriously big-game, so bring the big guns and load for bear. You'll want nothing smaller than 14-weights loaded with as much backing as you can put on a giant reel with the best drag you can find. Fly lines can include billfish tapers or heavy shooting heads, depending on your preference. Flies should be large and feature double hooks. Pink seems to be the color of choice, but many anglers suggest matching the teasers as best you can. Poppers and subsurface flies both work, but poppers produce the most visual takes. Subsurface flies like ALFs and FPFs seem to get the surest takes and are easier to cast quickly. You will likely need to bring all your own gear, with backups, because most crews here will not have fly rods. You should bring several rods at least. Unless you're concerned with record-hunting, set up your leaders with a heavier class tippet, like 30-pound. Lengthening the shock tippet affords little or no advantage, and it makes casting larger flies more difficult. Leaders should be no longer than 5 or 6 feet.

For more information, contact South Fishing at 800-882-4665 or visit www.southfishing.com. You can also contact Big Fin Adventures at 361-727-1466 or visit www.bigfinadventures.com.