June 28, 2018
By Jonathan Wright
Q: What do Barack Obama and Donald Trump Jr. have in common?
A: They each like to go fly fishing!
You thought there was a joke coming, right? Well, no joke, both the former president and the son of the current POTUS were reported being guided on the water last week fishing for trout. Obama chose the Adirondack region in New York for his excursion, and the younger Trump took a river float trip in Montana. Both were apparently successful in catching fish, which you know had to be a stress test for the guides.
According to the New York Times, Mr. Obama flew into Adirondack Regional Airport near the former winter Olympic site of Lake Placid, and engaged local guide Vince Willcox of Wiley's flies in the town of Ray Brook. Willcox reports that the former president, who had only fly fished one other time, did great, "catching a couple of fish", one of which was kept for dinner. The two spent the day at an undisclosed location with secret service staff at the ready, and after the session, shared some of Willcox's home brewed beer. It is not known if the two were fishing on a river or lake, but Willcox said the trip had been in the planning stages for over nine months.
Over halfway across the country, another player on the current political stage -- Donald Trump Jr. -- took time to float the Stillwater River in Montana. People.com reported that the younger Trump took his new girlfriend, media personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, along for the trip and commemorated the occasion making posts on Instagram.
"Great time floating the Stillwater River yesterday in MT with @kimberlyguilfoyle. It doesn't get prettier than this," he captioned a series of photos of them fly fishing. "What a way to spend a weekend. #fishing #flyfishing #montana #mt #outdoors."
While Montana and New York each have a long history with the sport, and are generally considered prime examples of either Progressive or Conservative values, it appears that fly fishing crosses the aisle between parties and provides common ground for policy discussion on what is of value to Americans. Interestingly, current Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is also a native Montanan, and his views on public lands such as the Stillwater River that Mr Trump enjoyed would certainly be welcome in the debate.
Presidents have always fished with flies. Teddy Roosevelt was an avid hunter and angler before spinning gear existed, and Dwight Eisenhower was a fan of the classic "House and Lot" dry fly pattern. More recently, Jimmy Carter returned many times in his retirement to float the class 4 whitewater of Gunnison Gorge in Colorado to get a crack at the wild browns there.
If only we could get current and past presidents together in a boat for the day, I think that many of the country's problems might get sorted out in short order!