2023 has been a busy year for the Aardvark McLeod team, with fishing trips to all corners of the world. Here’s a roundup, and highlights, of the team’s travels in 2023.
Olly Thompson’s year has been particularly busy with Argentina, Iceland, Bolivia and Cuba in his sights. Here’s a quick snippet from each (we’ve left Iceland to Peter McLeod below). Do get in touch if you’d like to chat about future plans, he’s got all the latest information at his fingertips.
Estancia Maria Behety, Argentina
Estancia Maria Behety is special for many reasons. One such reason is that no other lodge offers such a complete experience of the Rio Grande. One day, you could be fishing the broad and deep pools on the lower river, and the meandering middle reaches the next. The variety offered is truly remarkable and one of the things I most look forward to. Few places manage to blend comfort, great food, and a relaxed atmosphere quite like this lodge – the asado lunches overlooking the mighty Rio Grande with a glass of fine Malbec are as memorable as the fishing.
Pluma Heli Fising, Bolivia
Tsimane is where the rainforest meets the Andes and is a destination I had wanted to travel to for many years. The newly opened heli programme based from Pluma Lodge offers a fishing experience like no other. Deep in the jungle I found untouched crystal clear streams home to some of the best golden dorado fishing I have ever experienced. Using a helicopter to access these remote rivers means you can explore uncharted waters. It’s a proper jungle adventure with some superb wildlife thrown in too.
Canarreos Archipelago, Cuba
Exploring the expansive flats of the Canarreos Archipelago aboard Jardines Avalon I was a wonderful opportunity for me to enjoy the diverse system that connects Cayo Largo with the Isle of Youth and Cayo Largo. The fishing was excellent for good sized bonefish and resident tarpon and we also had good permit shots throughout the week. The atmosphere on board was very relaxed and it was a great way to spend a week with like-minded anglers.
Peter McLeod has re-visited two if his favourite destinations and finds both in fine fettle. Get in touch quickly if Iceland is on your list for next year and have a look at our recent blog if Providence appeals – we’ve some unexpected space to offer in 2024.
Laxa I Kjos, Iceland
We offer fishing all over Iceland but Laxa I Kjos is a river to which we return again and again. The classic clear water sight fishing is the main draw. You’re often close enough to spot your quarry and these aggressive fish will freely take a fly just a matter of metres from your feet. Time it right and you can enjoy both great runs of salmon and big sea trout. The guide team is one of the best in Iceland too.
Providence Atoll, Seychelles
This pristine atoll is home to a huge variety of species, massive populations of bonefish, giant trevally, triggerfish and milkfish – all fished in the company of some of the most highly experienced and enthusiastic guides in the world. I love that my world here revolves around nothing but tides, tactics, fishing tackle, camaraderie, serious fly fishing and stunning sunsets. You have no idea of what the next day will bring, but just know it’s going to be an adventure.
Along with continuing his travels in with Norway, Alex Jardine has also had the opportunity to explore the delights of Italian trout fishing.
Winsnes Lodge, Norway
I’ve been travelling to the Gaula and Winsnes Lodge for the past eight years and have fallen in love with the river and location. Spectacular fly water and beautiful salmon combine with a lovely lodge to make an all-round wonderful experience. Both banks are controlled by the lodge which is a real bonus in Norway and each pool has its own characteristics. There’s genuinely the chance to catch a salmon of a lifetime here with fish in excess of 40lb landed each season.
Trentino and Piedmont, Italy
It was a joy to explore these two fascinating trout fishing destinations. The varied water of Trentino in the Dolomites has improved hugely with the careful management of the last few years and the alpine lakes, mountain streams, and valley floor rivers offer some excellent trout action now. Val di Mastallone, considered the birthplace of Italian fishing, in Piedmont is a paradise of crystalline rivers with both trout and marble trout. Both beautiful places and easily combined with non-fishing activities.
Charlotte Chilcott’s annual hosted trip to Alphonse Island has a regular band of followers. If you want to travel with like-minded anglers or are new to saltwater fly fishing this is a perfect choice.
Alphonse Island, Seychelles
This wonderful fishery is super consistent and suitable for all anglers whether you are targeting bonefish, giant trevally, milkfish, permit and a whole host of other reef and flats species. GTs may take the lion’s share of the glory, and permit are responsible for many a clammy palm, but triggerfish are my personal nemesis. How I love these tricksy, picky personality filled creatures which frequent Alphonse and St Francois in good numbers. Away from the fishing, Alphonse Island is simply a great place to stay. Convivial and comfortable, you return home feeling like you’ve had a proper holiday.
Charlotte Opperman’s quest to find the perfect non-fishing/fishing combo continues, with promising visits to the Maldives and Belize. She joined the other Charlotte in Alphonse and happily reports back that this little jewel is just as good as ever for both the fisherman and non fisher.
Hopping off your international flight onto a waiting speed boat or sea plane has something of a James Bond feel to it. The tropical island resorts of the Maldives don’t disappoint either – all nodding palm trees, turquoise waters, stilted overwater villas and incredible marine life. Discovering that you can combine saltwater fly fishing with a luxurious beach holiday was a trip highlight. The fishing isn’t as established as elsewhere but it’s fun and well worth a morning or two’s exploration.
Turneffe Island Lodge, Belize
Finding that holy grail to please fisher and non-fisher is a complicated business. Sorting somewhere that would appeal to a luxury-loving, part-time fishing wife, a never-fished-before girlfriend, and three anglers spoilt by multiple trips to the Seychelles sounded like the impossible. Not so! Turneffe Flats Lodge fitted the bill perfectly, with enough for the ‘proper fisherman’, a good chance of a catch for the less experienced, and just enough to do of not fishing at all. Next time, I plan to see more of Belize too and the great thing about this lodge is that you can book half weeks, making it easy to combine a few days’ visiting Mayan ruins in the jungle with some fishing.
If any of the Aardvark McLeod team’s fishing travels have caught your eye, or you would like to explore further ideas then please contact Peter McLeod or Charlotte Chilcott or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.
About the author: Charlotte Opperman