Nevada City man catches multiple medals at casting competition |

Nevada City man catches multiple medals at casting competition

Competitive caster Austin Emmerling, 79, hones his casting skills at Gold Run Elementary School in Nevada City. Emmerling recently won several medals at a national casting competition.
Walter Ford/ |

Nevada City resident Austin Emmerling has been casting competitively for more than 60 years.

The retired dentist and one-time national record holder for distance casting used that experience to notch a top-tier performance at last weekend’s 105th American Casting Association National Tournament.

Casting at the world-renown Oakland Casting Club, Emmerling, 79, competed against the best the nation has to offer in several senior categories, placing third in four different distance events and second in another.

The silver medal came in the one-hand spin distance event with a cast of 181 feet. Billy Burke won the event with a cast of 204 feet. Emmerling took third in the two-hand spin distance event, the two-hand fly distance event, the two- hand revolving spool event and the angler fly distance event.

Emmerling said this was his biggest haul of medals in all the years he has been competing.

As to what has kept him so competitive throughout the years, he said it simply comes naturally.

“Just the fact that I am competitive,” Emmerling said. “I was a track athlete in high school and college, and anything connected to fishing I do. I tie flys, I repair fishing rods, and my backpacking is usually centered around fishing. I enjoy the casting competition.”

The desire to cast competitively was born when Emmerling was just a young boy.

“My dad bought me a bait casting outfit when I was 10 or 11 years old, so I started just doing that one event and I wound up at the Pasadena Casting Club, watching them do events,” Emmerling said. “I used to go up there and cast by myself, and eventually the tournament casters saw I was coming up all the time, so they started giving me advice. I eventually got good enough to enter some tournaments.”

Emmerling has been firing fishing line ever since.

Despite taking home several medals in the distance categories, Emmerling said he truly excels in the accuracy events but had a tough tourney at this year’s competition.

Through his 60 years of competing in the sport, Emmerling said the popularity of the sport has dwindled, but one little girl gives him optimism for the future.

Maxine McCormick, 9, swept the junior category events and tallied four national records along the way.

“This little girl is incredible,” Emmerling said. “She has great form.”

McCormick may be the up and comer in the sport, but the king of casting is Steve Rajeff, said Emmerling.

“When it comes to domination in a sport, Steve Rajeff is it,” he said. “I mean in any sport. He won his first national all-around when he was 16 years old. He’s now 55 and in all of that time, he’s lost twice and tied twice.”

Rajeff won the national tournament all around this year, finishing in the top-two in each of the 12 events. Rajeff was first in nine of the 12 events.

Emmerling practices several times a week and fishes often and said he will continue competing in the future.

If interested in learning more about competitive casting, visit

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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