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Presidents Who Enjoyed Fishing


Upon his induction into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in March 2016, President H.W. Bush said, “I love bass fishing, I am proud and humbled to be a member of this outstanding organizationThe three presidents who enjoyed fishing the most were probably Grover Cleveland,  Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter. Cleveland and Hoover wrote books— Cleveland’s “Fishing and Shooting Sketches” (1906) and Hoover’s “Fishing for Fun— and to Wash Your Soul” (1963)—extolling the virtues and healthful benefits of fishing.

(This is according to the White House Historical Association. Several others also fished, including Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and both Bushes. The elder President Bush told the media that "Bassmaster" was his favorite publication. Check out this piece about him, "A Kinder, Gentler Angler," at

Grover Cleveland enjoyed fishing for bass on the C&O Canal, which operated from 1831 to 1924 along the Potomac river.During his presidency, Cleveland fished in the Adirondacks of upstate New York and later used a summer home south of Boston near Cape Cod.

Shielded from the prying eyes of press and public by woods, fields and water, Cleveland had the privacy he wanted to enjoy family life and practice his favorite sport.

His friend Richard Watson Gilder noted: “His fishing … excursions, while entered upon with appetite, were also considered by him a duty; for it was only on these little vacations that he was able to obtain … exercise, and release from mental strain.”

Cleveland was so serious about fishing that he once snapped at a friend whose mind appeared to be wandering from the task at hand: “If you want to catch fish, attend strictly to business!”

Herbert Hoover with a day's catch from 1929.Hoover developed a devotion to fishing during his boyhood in Iowa, fishing for catfish or sunfish on the small Wapsinonoc River in his hometown of West Branch.

As president he liked few things better than casting for trout at his presidential retreat on the Rapidan River in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, some 100 miles from Washington.

Rapidan Camp lay 2,550 feet above sea level and provided a refreshing difference to the humidity-laden air of Washington. Just three days after the 1930 Virginia fishing season opened Hoover hurried from the White House to his Rapidan retreat and was attired in hoop boots in the Rapidan River fishing by 6 in the evening. He caught some fish and the camp cook broiled them for a dinner enjoyed by guests including the White House Physician Dr. Joel T. Boone, and Commerce secretary Robert Lamont, Attorney General William Mitchell and Interior secretary Ray Lyman Wilbur.

President Jimmy Carter fishing along a trout stream on Four Lazy F Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming, August 1978.As president, Carter fished in Alaska and at the Four Lazy F Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming.

He also loved to go to Spruce Creek, a tributary of the Little Juniata River in Pennsylvania, to fly-fish. Spruce Creek was easily accessible from the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains. Carter fished at Spruce Creek for the first time in May 1979 and returned there often, forming a close friendship with Wayne Harpster, who owned the farm through which three miles of Spruce Creek flows.

Carter described a typical experience in his diary in 1980: “[June 13] [sons] Chip, Jack and I went by Camp David, picked up our fishing gear, and took off for Spruce Creek. We fished until 10:00 at night, just knocking off briefly for supper. . . [June 14] We were on the creek at 5:15 in the morning and fished until about 4:00 in the afternoon.”

Carter once told a press conference: “I have a rare opportunity to go fishing —  to get out in the woods and swamps and in the fields and on the streams by myself. I really believe that it’s not only good for me but for the country to be able to do that on occasion. I wish I could do it more, but I don’t intend to ignore any opportunity to take advantage of a fishing trip when my own work permits it. And I hope the press will understand and the people will understand that I, like the average American, need some recreation, at times.”

Excerpt from the White House Historical Assocation article "The President's Catch of the Day."


New Invader in Great Lakes: Thermocyclops Crassus

It's not much to look at. In fact, it's impossible to see without a microscope.

But for the first time in a decade, an exotic aquatic species has been found in the Great Lakes. That makes 185 or 186  non-native species, depending on who's counting, now established in the basin. Some, including the lamprey and alewife, migrated up the St. Lawrence Seaway, but most, including the zebra mussel as well as this latest, probably were introduced via ballast water from ocean-going ships.

Thermocyclops crassus, a type of zooplankton, was discovered in water samples taken from Lake Erie by limnology technician Joe Connolly of Cornell University.

“It’s kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Connolly said. “I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it wasn’t something we’d seen before.”

He found both male and female specimens in low numbers, but enough to say that an established population exists of the invertebrate that is native to Europe, Asia, and Australia. Officials from both the U.S. and Canada have planned more sampling to determine how widespread this new invader is and what its impact may be.

 “We don’t know enough yet about what this species could or could not do in the Great Lakes,” said Elizabeth Hinchey Malloy, an environmental scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Size isn't an indicator of impact, as the zebra mussel, a fingernail-sized shellfish, and the round goby, a small bottom-dwelling fish, have proven.

Confirmed in 2006, the bloody red shrimp was the last previously discovered invader. It now swarms in excess of 135 individuals per square foot.

"The impact of this species on the Great Lakes is yet unknown, but based on its history of invasion across Europe, significant impacts are possible," said Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. "The bloody red shrimp is an omnivore. Its diet includes waterfleas and algae. They may compete with young fish, while providing food for larger fish. The invasion of this species in some European reservoirs has been documented to accelerate silica cycling, resulting in blooms of diatoms and, in some cases, plating out of silica onto pipes."


Fishing's Fascinating History Documented in Book by Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson

If you like to fish and you enjoy reading about history, then The American Fisherman: How Our Nation's Anglers Founded, Fed, Financed, and Forever Shaped the U.S.A. is just the book for you. Written by Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson and historian William Doyle and illustrated with 75 photos, it traces the significant, and often surprising, role that angling has played.

For example,  in "The Fisherman Who Created America," find out how fish, saved Washington's Continental Army at Valley Forge from starvation, although actual events might not be as dramatic a "fish story" as originally believed. The "Greatest Fishing Trip of All," meanwhile, was Lewis and Clark's trip up the Missouri River, in the wake of the Louisiana Purchase. An Army private from Massachusetts, Silas Goodrich, even was brought along as an angling expert.

"We don't know where he picked up these skills," Robertson and Doyle wrote, "but as soon as they hit the water, he was reeling in fish all over the place," including "the men's favorite, catfish, some as huge as 100 pounds."

In this book, you also can learn about "the fish that won the last battle of the Civil War," the whaling era, and the golden age of sportfishing. The latter possibly is the most fascinating, as it traces development of the sport, both salt and freshwater, from Ernest Hemingway to Kevin VanDam.

Female anglers are recognized too, as are U.S. Presidents who fished. A final chapter documents the remarkable healing power of fishing.

Appendixes provide interesting reading as well, including an article by former President George H.W. Bush and another entitled "Great Moments  in American Fishing."

Why We Fish and Better Bass Fishing, a couple of my books, provide nice complements to this historical perspective on fishing.


Zebra Mussels Threaten Popular Connecticut Bass Fishery

The largest reservoir in Connecticut and one of its most popular bass fisheries is at risk of infestation by zebra mussels.

"They're not on in Candlewood yet, but they're right on our doorstep," said Len Greene of FirstLight Power Resources, which owns and manages the lake and a hydro power station on it. "It was only a matter of time before they migrated there."

"There" is the station's foundation on the Housatonic River and nearby boulders. In 2009, the invasive mussels were found in nearby Lakes Lillinonah and Zoar and in the river itself.

And the threat lies in way that power is generated, by pumping water between the lake and the river. In the past, FirstLight has voluntarily limited pumping during times when mussels reproduce to lessen the threat, and plans to continue doing so.

"We've been able to buy five years with the pumping restrictions," Greene added. "It's an unfortunate situation that I think was inevitable at some point, given that zebra mussels spread everywhere they can."

As officials try to decide on the best way to repel a zebra mussel invasion, Candlewood Lake Authority has suggested  a smaller than normal winter drawdown to reduce the risk when the lake refills with river water. Typically, water is drawn down 6 1/2 feet to knock back another invasive, Eurasian watermilfoil. Executive Director  Larry Marsicano added that the authority can monitor the area around the intake pipe.

"We're still trying to manage the risk of them getting a toehold," he said. "Even if one gets pumped in, it takes two to tango."

Aside from the threat that they post for blocking water intakes with their dense colonies, zebra mussels also improve water clarity as they feed on algae and plankton. That would allow for more light penetration, encouraging already problematic watermilfoil to grow faster and spread into deeper water.


Seven Coves Bass Club Helps Bring Classic to Lake Conroe

HOUSTON, Tex. --- Seven Coves Bass Club has received some impressive recognition for its conservation efforts.

In 2013, the Texas B.A.S.S. Nation (TBN) affiliate was awarded the Texas Environmental Excellence Award from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “This is probably the highest recognition our conservation program has received to date,” said Tim Cook, TBN conservation director. “Every member of the Texas B.A.S.S. Nation should be proud to be part of an organization that gives so much back to the sport we all love

And now, Lake Conroe, a  Houston-area bass fishery that the club has helped shepherd to world-class status during the past eight years, will be the site of the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic March 24-26.

"We're pretty pumped about it," said Ron Gunter, a past president and conservation director for the club. "It's an opportunity to showcase what we, with all our partners, have done."

But, he was quick to add, bringing to Classic to Conroe wasn't the priority, or even a consideration. "We just wanted to protect and enhance the fishery."

In doing so, though, they helped create a fishery worthy of the Classic, according to Tim Cook, TBN conservation director. "It's been producing 30-pound stringers all summer long," he said. "The lake has a significant number of 8-pound fish and I'm expecting that six to ten over 8 pounds will be caught each day. We've had five Toyota Texas Bass Classics on that lake, so anglers know how good it can be."

Read the rest of my story at