“Violent”, “savage”, “incredible strength”, “endearing lisp.” If Mike Tyson were a fish, he’d be a GT. Tackle-shattering, pound-for-pound all in fighting powerhouses of the flats, GTs both fascinate anglers and destroy their wet fishy dreams and gear. Addiction is best dealt with in the open so we caught up with author Peter McLeod of Aardvark McLeod on his new book, GT – A Flyfisher’s Guide to Giant Trevally about fly fishing for these heavyweight sluggers.
The Mission: Why GTs?
Peter Mcleod: Early in my saltwater career as I fished around the Caribbean I heard tales of this mad fish species that swam in other waters, had the power of permit but were ferocious with it. Having spent a number of years with a permit obsession, the thought of chasing after a fish species that might be more inclined to actually eat a fly seemed very attractive. In the line-up from bonefish to tarpon, GTs have captured my heart. All trevally species offer the fly angler a huge test of skill and endurance, but GTs will push your tackle to destruction. I have seen them pluck an angler’s soul from his body, destroying hundreds of pounds’ worth of tackle he has spent the last six months carefully researching and saving for. I have seen GTs charge out from overhanging coral, smash a fly, then eat another angler’s fly before tearing out to sea dragging both lines, before cutting them both on the reef. They are beautifully pugnacious.
TM: When did you catch your first GT? And the last one you caught?
PM: I caught my first GT in the early 2000’s on Alphonse Island in the Seychelles. It was not massive: a small 20 lbs fish – but it left me with such an overwhelming impression of the manner in which it was caught, and the power of that run, that I was hooked. Since then I have hunted GTs far and wide across the globe, from the Seychelles to Sudan to Christmas Island. The last one I caught was in March this year on Providence Atoll, again in the Seychelles.
TM: Best place you have ever fished for them?
PM: I was lucky enough to be amongst some of the early groups of anglers that fished Cosmoledo and Astove Atolls when they were totally pristine. Nothing will prepare you for the numbers and size of some of those fish and we fished ourselves to a standstill. Clambering around over petrified coral reefs or hunting fishing in the ocean cuts will remain with me forever. Recently the open flats of Providence have me massively excited to think we may fish over areas that no one has been to. One of my favourite experiences of all though I think has been standing on the edge of the drop offs on the rock pinnacles in Sudan, looking over the edge and seeing the fish I hooked swimming with a school of 60 +plus GTs.
TM: Favourite GT fly?
PM: My go to fly these days is either a 6/0 Poodle or an 8/0 Magnetic Minnow. I also love fishing with NYAPs in the surfline as the take is spectacular.
TM: How long did it take you to put together the book and what was the process?
PM: The book started as a detailed pre departure information booklet for trips to Farquhar Atoll as I sell these trips for a living through our agency Aardvark McLeod. I was sat on my bunk one evening after a fantastic day’s fishing and as I was fresh from the fight so to speak and bubbling with enthusiasm, I got carried away. Trying to get the excitement across that I felt when fishing for these things suddenly made me realise at that time there was absolutely no information available on GT fishing. The experience that I had was entirely down to being able to fish with some of the best guides around the world and glean information from them in different situations. This collective knowledge needed to be recorded somehow so it was really then that I came up with the idea of turning this into a book. One of the most important aspects of this book is that it is not just my opinions, but also the thoughts of as many people I could think of who are as passionate about this species as I am, and know far more. It also covers some of the Pacific destinations as well as the Indian Ocean along with a history of how GT fly fishing came about. The project has taken just over two years to finish, the hardest part being that many of these guys are out of contact for long periods of time. It has been a huge pleasure and a massive learning curve.
GT – A Flyfisher’s Guide to Giant Trevally is available from Mavungana at R890.