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FISHING With Alex Julius

Recently, I saw an amazing post on the great new Facebook page Darwin Women Hunting and Fishing.
It was from keen fisho, Zerena Di-Prima, who was lucky to survive a recent outing to Leeders Creek, and Zerena was happy for me to tell the story in this column.
On the day, Zerena and her husband Allan had already caught a legal barra and a mangrove jack in the creek, but the march flies were particularly hungry that morning.
“I was bitten by countless march flies, including on my toe which was really hurting so I rubbed ice on it,” Zerena explained.
“Then I started to get itchy so I stripped off my shirt and pants to find I was covered in red welts and hives.
“When my lips started to tingle, it was time to go.”
As the pair sped off to the ramp, Zerena’s eyesight faded to black and she passed out.
Allan began pinching her and yelling at her but couldn’t get a reaction.
He then tried splashing her with cold water from the ice box which brought her round and she regained consciousness.
However, it was low tide, and the boat was stuck 100m from the ramp.
“Allan threw out the anchor, picked me up and started trudging along the muddy bank towards the ramp,” Zerena said.
“At times, he sunk up to his waist in mud and had to place me on rocks so he could get out, all the while thinking there could be a croc around waiting for us to get too close to the water.
“We finally made it to the fishing hut and borrowed their phone to call 000.
“I couldn’t really move without passing out again, but I had made it through the worst of the reaction.
“The ambulance arrived about an hour later, and with them the Care Flight helicopter.
“Both crews were fantastic and got me to Royal Darwin Hospital as fast as possible,” Zerena explained.
Another fishing group arrived as the tide came in, and gave Allan a lift back to get the boat.
They couldn’t believe what he had managed to do.
 “I began to have trouble breathing when I was in the hospital, so they decided to give me adrenaline and keep me overnight,” Serena said.
“They diagnosed what I went through as a severe anaphylactic reaction; I had been bitten too many times by the flies and my body decided to flip out over it.
“Now I have to take an Epipen with me everywhere,” Zerena said.
Epipen is a brand name for an epinephrine auto-injector device to manage potentially-life-threatening reactions to allergens.
Zerena reckons the experience showed the importance of always having a fishing buddy in case something goes wrong.
One thing is for certain: Allan is a hero… a bloody legend.


zerena and mangrove jack

1.    Zerena Di-Prima with her Leeders Creek mangrove jack caught before she had a life-threatening experience on the water.

zarena in hospital
2.    Thanks to her husband Allan’s strength and bravery, and a Care Flight evacuation to Royal Darwin Hospital, Zerena has recovered and is ready to hit the water again.


In case you missed it, last week the National Recreational Fishing Conference was held in Darwin, with leaders and experts in the industry discussing the future of fishing Australia-wide.
At the conference was the federal Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston.
I met the Senator once at a meeting of the Australian Fishing Trade Association, and she impressed me with her knowledge of recreational fishing and also her history as a farmer and keen hunter.
Senator Ruston praised recreational fishers for their commitment to sustainability, describing them as essential stakeholders with “much expertise to offer regarding the balanced management of our fisheries”.
One of the key takeaways from the conference was the importance of bipartisanship for the sector.
It was therefore great to hear what federal representative for Darwin and Palmerston, Luke Gosling, is doing to raise the profile of recreational fishers in Canberra.
Mr Gosling has launched the Parliamentary Friends of Recreational Fishers, a group which provides a forum for Members and Senators to meet with stakeholders regarding recreational fishing.
Locally, Mr Gosling worked with Northern Territory Fisheries Minister Ken Vowles to support Gone Fishing Day.
In its second year, this national day highlights the economic and social benefits of recreational fishing to the wider community, and that’s a good thing.


helena bott and scott robertson barra
3.  Helena Bott and Scott Robertson are all smiles with Helena’s first-ever barra caught casting in Darwin Harbour on Scott’s birthday.