Fishing: The Pastime of Presidents
January 25th, 2017 by Curtis Condon

This Presidents Day, February 20, remember they were mere mortals first and presidents second. Most of them—like most of us—preferred a rod and reel in hand rather than a golf club and little round ball. Left, Franklin Roosevelt watches as the day’s catch is off-loaded from his boat, “Larooco,” after a rewarding fishing excursion in Florida in 1924.
Photo courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

“All men are equal before fish.”
—Herbert Hoover

Golf is likely the first thing that comes to mind when people think of the favorite presidential pastime. However, that is a misconception. Golfing presidents is a relatively modern trend.

Fishing has been the pastime of choice for most presidents. Nearly two dozen of them enjoyed regular fishing trips as an escape from the pressures of the Oval Office, while several presidents were downright passionate about the sport.

Three presidents who belong to the latter group are George Washington, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

Washington loved to fish the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the rivers and streams of Virginia. He often carried a small, pocket tackle box with him. It contained hooks, wax, horse hair and lengths of silk fishing line so he could indulge his frequent piscatorial urges.

Dressed in slacks, jacket, collared shirt and tie, Hoover never really looked the part of a fisherman. But his looks were deceiving. He was the consummate angler. His favorite places to wet a line were the Florida Keys, Northern California, and the McKenzie and Rogue rivers in Oregon. His favorite fly was a size 10 Royal Coachman.

Carter is a contemporary version of Hoover. He is a lifelong, avid outdoor enthusiast and fisherman. He is a master of knot tying. His favorite is a nail knot with seven turns. He has fished throughout the world, from Venezuela to Mongolia, and everywhere in between. One of the most talked-about outings was his famous encounter with the “killer rabbit” while fishing near Plains, Georgia, in 1979.

Want to learn more? Here are three popular books about fishing presidents: “Fishing with the Presidents” by William Mares; “Hoover, the Fishing President” by Hal Elliot Wert; and “An Outdoor Journal” by Jimmy Carter.

Baby Your Fishing Rods
A good rod is the backbone of fishing, so it’s important to treat your rods with TLC.

The best thing for them is to be cleaned periodically. Use a soft, cotton cloth and a little rubbing alcohol. Pay particular attention to the guides, handles and reel mounts, where gunk can build up over time and adversely affect performance.

Always store fishing rods vertically, either on a wall rack or in storage cases, so over time they don’t develop a case of the bends.

Be an Outdoor Volunteer
Volunteer opportunities abound throughout the region, since many outdoor and conservation programs are always in need of help. For more information, check out the website of your favorite outdoor agency or organization.

What Day Is It?
February 3: Feed the
Birds Day
February 8: Boy Scout Day
February 22: Walking the Dog Day

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

Many of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking with his two sons in the mountains of the Northwest, or bird watching along the coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 35 years.