WEST PORTSMOUTH — After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the annual True Lure Trout Derby is back.
This year’s derby will honor World War II and Korean Navy Veteran Harley Ellis, with his name being a part of the official title of this year’s event. The Harley Ellis True Lure Trout Derby is scheduled for April 23 at Roosevelt Lake for disabled children and disabled veterans. The event will begin at daybreak and go till 5 p.m.
“This means everything to me,” Ellis said while wearing an official Harley Ellis True Lure Trout Derby Shirt. “This really floored me. I didn’t have any idea until they told me.”
Those who participate in the event will have the opportunity to fish at the lake and in a special area where trout will be placed. ODNR will have special nets set up in the lake to allow those fishing more of an opportunity to catch a fish.
“This is what it’s all about,” True Lure founder and organizer Todd Dunn said. “Harley served in the war and is a veteran and has taken care of kids and enjoys helping them, so we thought he was a perfect match to honor him.”
Along with serving in the Navy, Ellis was also served as a 50-year mason in Lucasville and served as a Shriner.
“He’s been through it all,” Dunn said. “He really has been a big part of doing stuff for people.”
Dunn shared that those participating in the event can also enjoy socialization, food, and free items, including fishing poles and bait to fish while supplies last.
“We want everyone to come out and have a good time,” Dunn said. “You know there are not a lot of vets like him left anymore, but we just want to take care of Harley and make it the best day ever for him.”
Dunn shared that the event has grown throughout the years and despite the event being canceled the past two years, he expects a large turnout.
“This has truly become a community event,” Dunn said. “We have had people donate items and help organize. If I tried to name them all, I know I would be leaving someone out.”
Dunn shared that he is also thankful for Governor DeWine, who waived the fishing licenses for the children and vets at the event.
“They don’t have to worry about getting that,” Dunn said. We just want them to come out and have a good time and catch some fish.”
Ellis shared that he is looking forward to the event and getting a chance at catching a fish.
“I am looking forward to meeting all the kids and the veterans,” Ellis said.” I used to fish, but I don’t fish anymore, but I am this day. I used to fish every day when I was younger.”
While Dunn said there are many sponsors he would like to thank, he shared that the American Legion Post 23, The Portsmouth Eagles and American Producers have really stepped up and helped by donating fishing poles and other items for the event.
“We are still collecting items. If anyone wants to donate a fishing pole or a case of pop, whatever, they can just bring it down here to the legion and it will get to us,” Dunn said.
The Harley Ellis True Lure Trout Derby is scheduled for April 23 at Roosevelt Lake for disabled children and disabled veterans. The event will begin at daybreak and go till 5 p.m. Anyone interested in donating can drop off supplies at the American Legion Post 23 or contact Dunn directly at (740)-716-9960.
“We are still out there trying to do more and more for the vets and it’s worth more than anything to watch the smiles on their faces out there,” Dunn said.
Reach Adam Black at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1927, or by email at [email protected]
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