Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Voices from the Past: Presidential Fishing (1899)

The following article, entailed "Fishing in the West: A Favorite Place With Former President Harrison for Casting a Line," was first published in the Chicago Record and reprinted by various organs, including the San Francisco Call for November 13, 1899. It details the favorite fishing haunts of President Harrison.

Such streams as the Fox River in Illinois, the White or Tippecanoe of Indiana afford at times even to-day very good sport for the fly rod.

Ex-President Harrison and a few chosen friends often make a fly-fishing trip for bass along the Tippecanoe, which was once a famous bass water, and even yet is not quite shorn of its ancient glory. These gentlemen would as soon think of grand larceny or highway robbery as to entertain the idea of using anything but the flyon the small mouths of the Tippecanoe. This stream may be waded on many of its best reaches, though it is best to take along a boat, and some anglers prefer to fish it from a boat all the way.

The bass of this river are very good fighters, and show the leaping instinct of the small-mouth species, sometimes springing out higher than one's head as one stands playing the fish. The average run is a pound or thereabouts, though often one will take a fish much heavier. The bucktail flies are good on the Tippecanoe, though this seems to be also a water where one may with profit indulge in his notions for bright colored millinery in laying out one's supply of flies.

The Ferguson and the Silver Doctor are sometimes used effectively, and the Seth Green, with a cinnamon wing, has been found good upon occasion, though as to these matters it is not well to set forth dogma. There is no ultimate truth discoverable in the matter of bass flies in stream fishing. This method we may as well call "broad fishing," since it is followed at all times of the day and on all parts of the water. This is late spring and summer fishing, when the bass are lying about in the weedy pockets, under logs or close to sharp banks, and this method, of course, ends when the cold weather comes and the bass behind to congregate in the deep holes.

The Fox River in the summer time offers an occasional evening of good fly fishing at such points as the reefs near Clintonville or Elgin, when the bass are taking the natural fly in the cooler part of the day, and on this river, as well as the Kankakee, one may now and then pick out a bass from midstream even in the middle of the day, while the fish are lying pretty well down and only looking up lazily at the panorama which sails past them outlined against the sky. This sort of fly fishing, not restricted absolutely to any part of the water, but intended for any fish that may happen to be lying about loose, is the most common form of fly fishing, and is sometimes very successful when the bass are in the humor.

-- Dr. Todd

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