While attending the first edition of the European Fishing Show in Bristol, we had the time to sit down with Peter Mcleod for an interview. Peter has been flyfishing since he was 6. After years of guiding he founded his own fly fishing travel agency, Aardvark Mcleod, in 2009. Over the last 20 years, Peter has fished all over the world and has since then acquired extensive knowledge about fly fishing and interesting stories to tell.
Let's start with hard one. What's the first fish you remember catching ?
My father used to fly fish. I remember he had a nice carbon fiber rod. He found an old “tank aerial” rod for me to use which was made of steel, with a wooden handle and an old fly reel. I remember messing around with a dog nobbler fly, trying to get my line out, and thinking fly fishing isn’t much fun. I was having a hard time learning to cast and I was very disappointed. I was like “this is rubbish! I want my float and my bamboo rod!” And then suddenly, I watched the line slipping out through the rings of my rod. I immediately set the hook and I was on a really nice rainbow of about 2.5lb. The reel had no drag and the line was litteraly roaring off, but from that point, all the spinning rods and floats went outside, and all I wanted was a nice fly reel and rod. I was probably 6 at that time. It has been a horrendous addiction eversince !
What your favorite destination and why ?
First of all, I’d say I prefer saltwater fishing, because of the species variety, and the fact that you never know what’s swimming around the corner. And it also means I need to have lots of gear. Who has the most toys wins. It’s an excuse to have a 7 wt rod, a 9 wt, and a 12 wt. Concerning the destination, I think it would be Providence Atoll, in the Seychelles. It’s so untouched, so virginal. A complete wilderness. There’s literally whole sections that no human beings ever walked on, and it’s covered in fish : GTs, Parrotfish, milkfish, triggerfish, bonefish, you name it ! I’ve been there twice now and I still need to go again, more explora-
tion needs to be done over there.
Do you think Sportfishing tourism like you do can help protect endangered species ?
Yes definitely, without a shadow of a doubt. Those people who care enough about what we do, they’re so passionate about it. You sometimes hear people say “You’re a fisherman, you’re damaging the environment” but as long as we catch and release, we’re not. Actually we’re the biggest advocates for looking after the environment. If you look at the amount of money invested by fishermen in that sport, that alone is an obvious answer. Look at all the conservation funds, most of the money coming into these organizations come from fishermen. I just wish we learned about preservation much earlier.
Do you ever use spinning or baitcasting reels or do you only use a fly rod ?
No. The reason why ? I don't have any problems with people who use them, I’m just crap at it ! As a coarse fishermen I can use a fixed spool rod with a float, but baitcasting reels ? I just can’t cast. I can do stuff with my flyrod I wouldn't be able to do with a spinning or baitcasting reel !
Like every fishermen, I am sure you have a good story about “the one that got away". What's yours ?
This is the part where I tell you I’m a lousy fishermen ! Seriously, I was fishing in Farquhar a few years back, on an Island called Depose. It’s a big sand island, and the flats basically drop into the ocean. So right at the bottom of low tide we got down there. You could see the white sand slip away into the blue with the current. I was standing there and I saw what I thought was an enormous ray with a GT over it. I put my fly out and I realised it wasn’t an enormous ray, the whole thing was one GT. When they get huge they get totally disproportionate, the tail is much smaller than the rest of the body, like a huge head and with a little propeller on the back, and they move very slowly. This one lazily came after the fly, and at the last second the fish came out of the water and his head was on the coral bummie, in front of me with its mouth open. The fish missed the fly, I screamed and fell backwards ! The monster swam away towards my guide who estimated it about 1,40m ! We’re talking about a 120-130lb fish. So that’s not really a fish that got away, but it’s a very close encounter and it still gives me nightmares.
Do you have a dream destination you haven’t been to yet ?
I would really like to go to Tsimane in Bolivia and fish for dorado. The reason why I've never been there is because I employ Steff (Steffan Jones). He’s one of the first that went over there, and he knows the place very well. He does all my latin American fishing. I would love to go in the jungle catch these huge dorados !
One last question. What’s your favourite fish ?
You know I want to say GT but I’m trying to be original ! Really, GT is my favorite because they're probably most brutal fish in the ocean. I also love trout fishing. Trout is an honest fish. And I love bonefish also. They eat if you present the fly correctly, and they’re good fighters, especially on light tackle.