Hoover Fishing Stories—As Told by Calvin Albury

Herbert Hoover with Florida fishing guide, Calvin Albury. 1956
Herbert Hoover with Florida fishing guide, Calvin Albury. 1956

In an April 1967 oral history with Ray Henle, Florida fishing guide, Calvin Albury, recalled his time fishing with Herbert Hoover.  Albury first met Hoover in December 1948 at the Key Largo Anglers Club.  Hoover needed a new guide for fishing off the Florida Keys.  He said to Albury: ‘It looks like I’m going to be your victim next week.’  As Albury tells the tale, Hoover was his ‘victim’ for more than thirteen years.  

The two men hit it off immediately, cementing their friendship on mutual respect and successful fishing.  The very first time Albury took Hoover out on the Gulf, Hoover caught a twelve-pound bonefish.  His previous best bonefish had been a seven-pounder.  The twelve-pound bonefish was a record catch from the Key Largo Anglers Club, a fact that pleased Hoover.  Given this auspicious start, it is not surprising that Hoover relied on Albury to be his guide every time he fished Florida.

An experienced guide, Albury was initially put off by Hoover wearing business attire to fish. Albury thought, ‘Dressed like that, how good can he be?’  Albury was soon impressed by Hoover’s angling ability.  As Albury recalled, no one ever matched Hoover’s success in reeling in bonefish.  ‘Once Hoover hooked them, they were caught.’  Hoover also had a knack for landing double-headers, two fish on separate hooks on one line.  Albury bragged that Hoover once caught nine bonefish on five casts using this technique—a feat he’d never seen matched.

Albury knew Hoover’s fishing days were coming to an end when a bonefish struck and Hoover did not react.  The fish ran with the bait, snapped the line, and Hoover merely sat holding the rod.  He turned to Albury and said: ‘I’m a tired old man, and the best thing for you to do is take me back and put me out.’  No one on the boat could dissuade Hoover.  They returned to the dock.

Once there, Hoover turned to Albury and said: ‘Take my wristwatch, rod and reel.  If I ever come back, I’ll use them again.  If not, keep them as mementos of our happy times fishing together.’  Hoover did not return.  Calvin Albury kept the watch and fishing gear for many years, eventually donating them to the Herbert Hoover Museum.

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