Herbert Hoover’s lifelong passion for fishing is well-known. For no other President has a biographer written a 350-page book subtitled, The Fishing President, as Hal Elliott Wert has done for Hoover. In this book, Wert describes Hoover’s fishing exploits and expeditions from age 8 to age 88. Young Bert Hoover pulled a ‘record’ twelve inch sucker out of the Wapsinonoc Creek that ran past his birthplace cottage. At age fourteen, Bert had a memorable afternoon fishing with his uncle and a friend, pulling one hundred trout out of an Oregon stream. He continued fishing into his 80s, enjoying hours on the waters of the Gulf fishing with guide Calvin Albury of the Key Largo Anglers Club.
On April 3, 1962 Hoover and Albury shared their last fishing trip. At the end of the day, Hoover gave Albury his watch as a memento. He then gave Albury his rod and reel saying: “If I ever get back, I use them; if I never get back, it’s yours.” Hoover never got back to the Key Largo Anglers Club. Decades later, the heirs of Calvin Albury donated the watch and rod and reel to the Hoover Museum.
Hoover never tired of the piscine pursuit, fishing for trout in freshwater streams, bone fish in saltwater flats, and any fish that would take the bait in deepwater oceans. Hoover’s passion for fishing led him to wax lyrical in writing–not common for Hoover. As Secretary of Commerce Hoover championed conservation of natural resources, especially fresh water fishing. His addresses to the Izaak Walton League in the 1920s led to Hoover being named honorary chairman of the league from 1926 to 1932.
As an ex-President Hoover addressed fishing, writing ‘Men are Equal before the Fish’ for a Florida magazine in 1951 and later regaling the Gridiron Club with tales of political auguries of fishing. He compiled his thoughts on fishing in Fishing for Fun–And to Wash Your Soul. He opens this book with: ‘Fishing is a chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of the sun on the blue water…. It is discipline in the equality of man–for all men are equal before fish.’ Hoover offers insights into the mentality of fishermen: he must be of contemplative mind, for it is often a long time between bites; he is by nature an optimist or he would not go fishing.