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Fishing event offers chance for intergenerational bonding

By Amy Burke aburke@news-journal.com
May 5, 2012 at 10 p.m.


Robert Embrey has been fishing for 83 years.

Fishing pole in hand, the 89-year-old Buckner Westminster Place resident patiently waited for a catch in the properties backyard lake.

Robert Embrey has been fishing for 83 years.

Fishing pole in hand, the 89-year-old Buckner Westminster Place resident patiently waited for a catch in the properties backyard lake.

"Since I've moved up here, I haven't gotten to fish very much," he said sitting on a park bench next to Billie, his wife of 65 years. "I started when I was 5 or 6. My parents got me into it."

Friday afternoon, he was joined by nearly 20 seniors from Christian Heritage School for an event called Fishing With Our Elder's, an opportunity for intergenerational time.

"We were invited here for fishing and fellowship," said Christian Heritage senior Bonny Williams. "I wish we could do things like this more often."

While the students circled the lake, resident Kathlyn Grant sat atop a hill and felt a tug. Wiggling back and forth emerged a small sun perch fish.

"I haven't fished in 10 years. I'm always afraid I'll roll in," she said with a laugh.

As the main attraction, Embrey was there to share fishing stories and tips with the students.

Originally from Shreveport, Embrey is known for his invention of a special lure, the Smithwick Devil's Horse, which is sold in Bass Pro Shops nationwide.

"If you fish a lot, you get some ideas about what fish might like and what they don't like," he said. "I thought a long slender bait would do very good."

After crafting an original prototype 1949, Embrey said he whittled one out by hand and had a lot of success catching fish with it.

The wooden bait combined with balanced, churning propellers duplicates a unique action that surface-feeding fish are drawn to. Embrey said it was named after the devils horn insect, because of its resemblance

"A lot of baits you just fish and fish and fish and never catch anything," Embrey said. "They are like people - they like certain company."

With nearly eight decades of fishing under his belt, Embrey said he has trouble picking a favorite story to tell, but the main one that sticks in his mind is when he went fishing but didn't necessarily catch a fish.

"I fished a lot at night because I had to work all day," he said. "One cold February night I was by myself, and the only light was starlight. At any rate, something hit my bait with a big splash and took off into the air. When I got my flashlight, I saw a great horned owl with his feet all caught up in the hook."

Embrey said he managed to get its talons out and let the owl loose, but he started to become more careful fishing after that experience on Lake Bistineau in Shreveport.

While he still has plans to continue fishing to pass time, he said the biggest hurdle to cross is being persistent.

"There is a lot of skill involved with fishing," Embrey said. "A lot of stuff about fishing is a secret, and you got to keep it a secret."

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