VALE Wayne Erskine

On the 27th July, 2017 Bass Sydney lost its club Patron, Dr Wayne Erskine PHD. He was not quite 63 years of age.

Wayne was one of those rare individuals who was able to mix a heady intellect with a down to earth and generous nature. Equally at home in the research lab or on the river bank, he was happy to share what he knew about geomorphology or fishing.

What he knew about geomorphology was a lot! Just 10 days before Wane passed away I was hiking with a group of people in the Northern Territory – Wayne’s home turf for the past several years. On learning that one of the group was a former CSIRO soil scientist I remarked on coincidentally knowing a geomorphologist in the area. “Oh yes”, he replied, “I know of Wayne’s work” and proceeded to name some papers that Wayne had written.

More recently, at a memorial service held in Wayne’s honour, we heard tributes from fellow academics who praised Wayne’s contribution to his field of science. We also met colleagues and students who had been mentored by Wayne. He has clearly left a lasting professional legacy.

Importantly, Wayne was more than willing to deliver his knowledge in layman’s terms and did so many times over the years for the benefit of Bass Sydney members.

What Wayne knew about fishing was also a lot! I clearly remember his descriptions of fishing in his youth along South Creek. He assured me that South Creek was Sydney’s premier bass stream before land disturbance and land use increased the soil and nutrient loads. His stories of 500mm fish certainly had me wishing for the good old days … and more motivated to get involved in Bass Sydney’s conservation efforts.

I was also lucky to benefit from Wayne’s knowledge of bass fishing by sharing a canoe with him at a number of Bass Sydney events in the ‘90’s.

I still carry those lessons with me. Features of Wayne’s fishing style were persistence (read long hours!), a willingness to search for fish wherever they might be feeding (a memorable session on fish that were taking grasshoppers off an open grassy bank) and sheer weight of casting – Wayne didn’t subscribe to the cast, pause, twitch method promoted by the gurus of the time. Get a cast in, reel it back quick and get another one in. His methods worked a treat! From what I hear, they’ve also been working on northern bass (aka barramundi) for the last many years.

Like many high achievers, Wayne appears to have devoted huge amounts of time and energy in equal measure to his professional life, to his undying love of fishing and to his extended family.

Wayne is survived by his Mum Judy, brother Peter, three children (Vanessa, Aaron and Jess) and nine grandchildren. Our hearts go out to them.

And as they put it, we pause to remember Wayne who has “gone fishing” for good.


Alan Fowkes

1500 Hours up At Russell St, Emu Plains
Lane Cove River Bush Regeneration 13th August


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Thursday, 23 March 2023