Last week we lost a Territory fisheries stalwart with the sudden passing of Steve Sly. Steve was only 41 and he was both an angler and a Fisheries manager. Although born and educated in the Territory, in recent times, he had been living with his parents in southern NSW. There he had been waiting for a heart/lung transplant but sadly none turned up in time. According to a memo sent around the Primary Industry and Resources Department’s CE, Alister Trier, “For those of you who did not know Stephen, he was a long term member of the Fisheries team, starting out as a technical officer in mud crab research, progressing through the Aquatic Biosecurity unit to ultimately become the Manager of the Aquatic Resource Management team. “He was heavily involved in a number of important government projects and played a key role in both the Blue Mud Bay and Kenbi land claim negotiations. “He was a valued member of the department and his contribution to fisheries management in the Territory is gratefully acknowledged.” After spending a few years down south, including attending university in Tasmania, he returned to Darwin to complete a post graduate diploma and had worked here ever since. Steve was very much a keen fisherman, and a couple of years ago bought himself a boat mainly to fish his beloved Daly River. He competed in three NT Barra Classics with his fishing buddies, Alistair Shields and Rex Schoolmeester in Alistair’s boat “Bear Pit”. Alistair told me: “We managed a top 10 placing once, and Steve scored most of the points for us. “When he was a kid, he used to go down the Daly with his family and they’d camp at the Browns Creek camp ground. “He never caught a metrey but he was a good fisherman and he came close many times. “One thing about Steve was that he never complained, not even during those long hot days fishing the Classic,” Alistair said. Apparently, one day the team was in training on the river before the Classic and Steve nodded off. Whilst asleep, his lure hit a snag and all the line came off the reel. He awoke when the rod was ripped from his hands when the line came to the knot on the reel, and over the side it went. “We dragged the anchor up and down the river and actually got his rod back,” Alistair said, remembering his friend fondly. My association with Steve was mainly via the Recreational Fishing Advisory Committee where he was the Fisheries representative, although I did bump into him once or twice on the Daly. He was a conscientious and likable bloke – a real gentleman actually – and he loved to have a chat on the side about where they’re biting. Steve was too young to hang up his rod, and this column expresses deepest sympathies to his family, his friends and to the many work colleagues who I know were saddened by his passing. ……………………………………………. So what’s happened to our $Million fish? After a 10-day flurry of red-tagged action when the second season began on 1 October and six barra worth $10,000 each were captured, not one more tagged fish has been caught. It just goes to show that this competition can be very much luck of the draw. Thankfully, there were those six fish caught as it adds true legitimacy to the competition and makes it the drawcard for interstate fishos to visit that was always intended. Of course, now that I’ve written this, there’ll probably be one or two caught this weekend; after all, there are another 95 red-tagged barra out there, including the $Million fish itself. The tides are certainly good enough for a barra assault at several locations. One that comes to mind is the mouth of the Adelaide River on Saturday. You could launch at Saltwater Arm boat ramp at first light, then head out the arm and across to the Adelaide mouth. Low tide is about half an hour later than Darwin, falling about 9.30am, so you’ll have plenty of time to scout around looking for bait, nice colour changes and clear water to fish on the turn. You could start by trolling either side of the Narrows at the mouth where there are good patches of rock. The three main Wiltshire Creeks on the left side going up the river could also yield some nice barra. PHOTOS: Steve Sly in his boat on his beloved Daly where he fished since he was a kid. Dave Russell bagged this silver 90cm barra in a remote Top End creek.
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