Hoover Fishing Story


Herbert Hoover once said, "There are only two occasions when Americans respect privacy, especially in Presidents. Those are prayer and fishing." He also half-seriously joked, "All men are equal before fish."

Pete Hoover, grandson of the 31st President, recalled those lessons learned at his grandfather's side:

"And my grandfather was a consummate fisherman. He said that really there's only one kind of fishing and that's trout fishing in streams. And we were at a ranch in Wyoming in the Grand Teton or Jackson Hole area.

"And I noticed that at one point the guide, a cowboy, took his hat off and went through the grass with his hat. And I thought, you know, that's an unusual behavior, even for a Wyoming cowboy.

"I just quit fishing and watched. And he reached in and pulled out a grasshopper, and he put it on the hook. My grandfather cast it into the stream and I thought, oh-oh, you know, the sun is not going to come up tomorrow morning because my grandfather is using live bait!

"And what he did, he cast in, got a fish just like that. He took it and handed it to the cowboy, who cut it open and examined the trout's stomach contents. And my grandfather went through his box of dry flies and found one that resembled what the trout had been eating and put that on. And he was the only one that caught fish. And at lunch I asked him about that. He said, 'Well, you know, the idea is to catch fish and you do it the best way you can given the limits.'

"But he said don't use too much skill—now, this is not quoting directly—but it's in effect, 'Don't try too hard because you have to eat everything you bring in.' If you bring in the limit of twelve fish in the afternoon, you know that you're going to have trout for every meal until those twelve are gone. So that is 'catch and release' lessons early on."


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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