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Until recently, Mexican national turned Venezuelan citizen, Eduardo Pantoja of Chapi Tours & Fishing was owner of the sole outfitting company at bonefish hotspot, Los Roques. We reported in detail last November (see pages 1-4) how he appeared to have put an end to the turmoil on that archipelago by taking control of all of the bonefishing out that way and putting it under the control of a competent on-site operator by the name of Alejandro Gonzales. Well, we were wrong. The turmoil isn’t over by a long shot.

Pantoja’s hand-picked operator, it seems, has decided to go out on his own and compete with his former boss, and he’s taken with him rights to handle six of the 12 sportfishermen who can legally be hosted at one time on Los Roques. He has also taken with him the two best-known guides, Walter and Chris. Pantoja has fired back by hiring a replacement manager by the name of Frank Ybarra who has quickly put together a workable team of guides.

It’s anyone’s guess whether there is room over the long haul for two operators on Los Roques, but for the moment both are running generally successful trips. Significantly, both have moved their clients out of the somewhat cramped Macabi Lodge into another lodge almost next door called Vistalmar. The two groups of clients simply get in different boats.

As for who to book with right now, we find it impossible to recommend either operator over the other right now. If Alejandro Gonzalez has the immediate advantage of superior guides, Ybarra has the long-term advantage of being backed by a wealthy and influential individual. Gonzalez’s relative lack of financial backing bears close scrutiny and we plan to keep an eye on how he fares.

If you want to book a trip to Los Roques (and you definitely should because all of the wonderful qualities we wrote about last November are still there for the savoring), the best way to do so is through one of the agents who have focused on this destination. They include The Fly Shop, Frontiers and Fishabout among others.

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