A beer with Neil Slater
  |  First Published: May 2007

1. Name, age and where’s home?

Neil Slater, 37, Geelong

2. How long have you been fishing – can you remember your very first fish?

Yonks! When I was a small scone-grabber, my grandfather used to take me down the Barwon River near Queens Park. I’d catch minnows in the shallows for bait and my grandfather would get the other rods ready. We always caught a few reddies and I was hooked from there.

3. How many days a year, do you fish on average?

No idea, but not as much as I’d like to. Pre-kids I practically lived at Lake Modewarre and Murdeduke. If I wasn’t fishing, I was planning a trip. I only came home to eat and sleep and I did that at the lakes sometimes too. I also had to go to work to get money to buy more fishing stuff. These days I normally get out about 3-4 times per month.

4. What’s your deadliest or favourite lures/bait?

I have many! Live minnow fished on a float does pretty well for trout. I love casting lures and flies for natives with spinnerbaits. Topwater lures and flies are definitely up there too. I love flyfishing for salmon. Pink rules in The Rip so anything with a splash of pink does well. I’ve tried to disprove it, but always go back to pink. Snapper seem to like it with soft plastics too.

5. Who are your three most influential or admired anglers, and why.

There are too many to leave it at 3! My Dad. He is one of those blokes that can pull a fish out of a puddle and keeps reminding you about it years later. Rodger Dark and Wayne Tempest. These guys taught me a hell of a lot about natives, trout and writing for mags. Rod Harrison showed me some flyfishing tips once. He was great to watch and learn from. Rob Meade. This guy is a pissa. Looks like Chevy Chase and cracks jokes all the time. Rob is a real thinking fisherman who works very hard and studies each species he chases. And lastly, Rex Hunt for changing the way people view catch and release. Thanks Rex, you made a difference!

6. If you had three wishes, what would change about today's fishing world?

1. Negate the need for the netting/longline/professional fishing industry by farming all table fish. 2. Ban windy weekends 3. More rain to fill the lakes!

7. List some of your PB’s - any species you like.

15kg Spanish mack on 6kg line - Groote Eyladnt NT, 94cm barra - Mary River NT, 76cm cod on a surface lure – Timber Lake Vic, 83cm flathead – Caloundra QLD, 3kg silver trevally – Forster Tuncurry NSW, 9kg carp on 2kg tippet – Lake Modewarre Vic

8. You’ve got one month left to live - where and how do you fish your last days?

Belize or Christmas Island flyfishing for bonefish, then New Zealand for those big trout and that scenery, and a few days fishing for black bass up north! All trips with unlimited crownies and eye fillet steak.

9. When you are six foot under what will other anglers best remember you for?

Drinking all their beer and eating all their food on fishing trips.

10. What was your worst fishing experience?

Losing a 3-4kg trout at Lake Bullen Merri during an ANSA comp. It just jumped off the lure after I’d fought it for about 5 minutes. It didn’t spend much time in the water once I hooked it so it must have worked free. I was spewin’.

11. What are some of your hottest sessions or greatest memories on the water?

A two hour session casting poppers at boiling queenfish off Whitsunday Island

A two hour session at Lake Mulwala where the cod were slamming anything that hit the water. There was a ‘fwoor! Did ya see that!” about every 40 seconds. We were using surface lures and flies around the shallows just on dusk (I’m shaking writing this).

I’ve had plenty of sessions in the Rip casting lures into football field sized schools of salmon – you can’t miss!

One of the first (and possibly the last) surface lure sessions I’ve ever done with Wayne Tempest. Tension was high and Wayne was retrieving his lure very slowly. I grabbed the back of his leg and yelled. He shit himself, struck and the lure sailed past our heads. I thought he was going to carck it as he was holding his chest while I struggled to catch my breath from laughing.

Getting shot between the eyes with ink by a small calamari. We had about 3 or 4 goes trying to take a photo, but we were laughing too hard to do anything.

12. What are you reading at the moment and what is your favourite music?

I rarely pick up long books as I never finish them. Last ‘real’ book I read was Steve Waugh’s ‘Captains Diaries’ (all of them). I’ll be reading Geoff Wilson’s Knots and Rigs soon (just bought the latest one).

I like most rock. Jet, Spiderbait, Wolfmother and TISM just o name a few.

13. It’s easy to criticise, moan or complain, but over the last few years, what are three big positive outcomes or developments in our sport of angling?

1. Catch and release fishing. 2. Boat licenses 3. Increase in fisheries officers’ presence.

14. So you’re a fishing tragic and totally obsessed – how have you stayed in a relationship?

Having a very understanding ‘trouble and strife’ is a big plus! Earn points by letting her watch cricket and drink beers with her mates in the shed. Everyone needs a break so offer the boat to her and her mates occasionally while you look after the kids for the day (while the cricket or footy is on). Never underestimate the power of flowers from the servo either.

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