Emmerling gifts Student Fishing League to youth

It is possible Harry Emmerling is one of Santa Claus’ elves.

He may dress in everyday clothing and work for the city of East Liverpool, but if you look and listen closely and pay attention to what you see and hear, you will detect clues that Emmerling is not your ordinary person.

He thinks big and, when it comes to children and fishing, he has more gumption than anyone I know.

Consider, for example, his brainstorm to gather donated fishing tackle for members of his growing Student Fishing League. His idea took wings and soon soared to become “Santa’s Kids Fishing & Outdoor Expo” from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 15 at Middleton Township Fish and Game Club in Negley.

“As I started getting items that people and companies were donating, I realized I probably would have a lot more stuff than the SFL kids could use, so I decided to open it up for the public,” Emmerling said. “Now we’re getting lots of stuff for giveaways and we’ll have seminars on fishing techniques and maybe hunting.”

Emmerling, quick with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, embodies the spirit of giving. It’s as though he took a page from the elves’ guidelines at Santa’s North Pole headquarters. Others feeling the spirit of Christmas may contact Emmerling to donate for the event.

Like his Christmas expo, the Student Fishing League itself has grown dramatically. It started a few years ago as a fishing club for kids who lived near East Liverpool. Today the SFL has more than 30 student members and at least that many parents and other adults who help Emmerling organize and stage youth fishing tournaments and social activities.

Many of the SFL members join with nothing other than a curiosity about fishing. Some have no fishing tackle and lack the means to buy rods, reels and lures, so Emmerling gladly accepts donated equipment that he passes out to those who want it.

It was in that spirit that he started gathering items for his SFL members this holiday season. Then he located a venue suitable for hosting hundreds of kids and adults, so anyone can attend and enjoy the opportunity to pick out some cool stuff and even learn a trick or two about fishing and other outdoor pursuits.

Donated items include lures, rods, reels and other gear. Big packages arrived from bass pro Kelly Owens Spear and tournament angler Chris Clutter, among others.

“From word of mouth and social media, I’ve received stuff from as far away as Cincinnati,” he said.

He’s working on setting up seminars and already knows local bass expert Sean McCauley will provide instruction in fishing the popular Ned rig for bass. He also plans a flipping and pitching contest and will display photos young people bring to show off their catches.

Merchandise will be available to students at no charge. Each registered young person will receive tickets that can be used to acquire the donated merchandise.

The Dec. 15 event also will include a big bake sale and food concession. Proceeds will help support the activities of the Student Fishing League.

Emmerling encourages SFL members to participate in community activities. They serve as volunteer marshals in the Muransky Companies Bass Classic, benefiting the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.

And they do it because they want to — not because they are asked.

Emmerling will be happy to accept items you wish to donate. Clean out your fishing room and give him a call or text message (330-383-1194) or email email (harry16520@hotmail.com). He will periodically post updates on the Student Fishing League Facebook page.

Jack Wollitz is a writer and angler who appreciates the good people provide in sharing their love of fishing. He also likes emails from readers. Send a note to Jack at jackbbaass@gmail.com


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