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As It Was: Presidential Candidate Herbert Hoover Fishes the Rogue

Some presidents play golf, others retreat to their ranches or luxury beach resorts, but the 31st president, Herbert Hoover, found relaxation in fly fishing.  He said fishing “reduces our egoism, soothes our troubles and shames our wickedness.”  Hoover grew up in Oregon and his favorite place to fish was the Rogue River.

After Republicans nominated him for president in 1928, Hoover squeezed in a last fishing trip before the election.  The party included an entourage of newspaper reporters and cameramen, Hoover’s son, and several politicians and private guests.  Hoover clearly would have trouble finding the peace and tranquility he sought while fishing.

The day after a night spent in an isolated lodge on the Rogue River, he waded into the icy, early morning water to cast his line.  The ensuing spectacle was more circus than serene communion with nature.  Each cameraman vied for a better shot, shouting at the candidate to “look over here” and “smile.”  Is it any wonder Hoover failed to catch a fish?

Today, the lodge where Hoover stayed is on private property at the Upper Table Rock trailhead.  His fishing spot is near the present-day Denman Wildlife Area.

Sources: Mouat, Jeremy. "Herbert Hoover in Oregon." The Oregon Encyclopedia: A Project of the Oregon Historical Society, Oregon State University and the Oregon Historical Society, 17 Mar. 2018, https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/hoover_herbert_in_oregon/. Accessed 9 May 2018; Miller, Bill. "Presidential candidate fished the river." Mail Tribune, 19 Feb. 2012 [Medford, Ore.] , www.mailtribune.com/article/20120219/News/202190337. Accessed 9 May 2018; Raines, Howell. Raines, Howell. "Fishing With Presidents." The New York Times Magazine, p. 264+, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1993/09/05/372793.html?action=click&contentCollection=Archives&module=LedeAsset®ion=ArchiveBody&pgtype=article&pageNumber=264. Accessed 5 Sept. 1993.

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.