Saddled with the historical burden of being in office when Black Tuesday ushered in the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover savored his time outdoors, away from the fray. His adventures often included fishing, a hobby he came to appreciate while growing up in Iowa and Oregon.
During his time in office —as well as in retirement — Hoover was likely our "fishingest" commander-in-chief. I was reminded of that last month when I viewed a display at The Hall of Presidents attraction at Walt Disney World. It featured a fly reel used by Hoover in the 1930s.
Like other presidents, Hoover documented his place in history in his memoirs. But perhaps the most notable work he authored was "Fishing for Fun — and to Wash Your Soul," published in 1963, just a year before his death at age 90.
He was a witty and eloquent writer, and left us with many musings on his favorite pastime. Here is a sampling.
"Presidents have only two moments of personal seclusion. One is prayer; the other is fishing — and they cannot pray all the time."
"To go fishing is a sound, a valid, and an accepted reason for an escape. It requires no explanation."
"Nor is it the fish we get that counts. We could buy them in the market for mere silver at one percent of the cost. It is the chance to wash one's soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of the sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week."
"The gods do not deduct from man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing."
"Man and boy, the American is a fisherman. That comprehensive list of human rights, the Declaration of Independence, is firm that all men (and boys) are endowed with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which obviously includes the pursuit of fish."
"Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers."
"Two months after you return from a fishing expedition you will begin again to think of the snowcap or the distant mountain peak, the glint of sunshine on the water, the excitement of the dark blue seas, and the glories of the forest. And then you buy more tackle and more clothes for the next year. There is no cure for these infections. And that big fish never shrinks."
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