Fishing is an important part of American history. Not only did it help people survive long before the United States was ever formed, it has advanced our economy, provided millions of jobs throughout history, and given outdoor enthusiast a chance to enjoy the water.
Without fishing, America would certainly be a much different place. It has influenced presidents, changed names of regions, and helped put food on the table for centuries. Let’s explore how our American history has been effected by this all-encompassing sport.
From the very beginning, many U.S. Presidents have been fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts. George Washington set the pace for presidential angling by being a passionate fisherman who loved being outdoors, including fishing in the Potomac River near his Mt. Vernon estate. He had a commercial fishing business for a short time, and legend holds that he escaped the monotony and frustration of the Continental Convention by (you guessed it) fishing. After General Washington, presidents like Grover Cleveland, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Jimmy Carter have been known for being big fans of the rod and reel.
Long before the United States was even a concept, the area that we now know as Cape Cod, the protruding peninsula of Massachusetts, was called Cape Saint James. However, when the English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold visited the area in the early 1600’s, legend has it he was so impressed by the sheer volume of available codfish in the surrounding water that gave it the name we know today. Cape Cod remains a popular commercial and recreational fishing destination, maintaining a tradition that has lasted for centuries.
Without a vibrant fishing industry, the colonies (and eventually the states) of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Delaware would have been much different. While these areas had other industries, fishing was an essential part of their economy, providing jobs and attracting many people to the region.
While commercial fishing was a large part of the northern economy, people in the south, a largely agricultural area, made fish a large part of their diet. With the availability of salt and freshwater fish, the European and Native American people all across the continent fed themselves with fish.
When Meriwether Lewis set out with William Clark to explore the western reaches of the Louisiana Purchase, they had one essential mission: to find a northwest passage. They also had a long list of sub-missions, including the documentation of wildlife. Lewis brought back extensive information on new fish species, which fascinated President Thomas Jefferson, who was a renowned naturalist and outdoorsman.
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Kyle Alsop and Taylor Bivins of Kansas State University are the winners of the 2016 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, thanks to a series of consistent weights. They finished the tournament on Kentucky's Green River Lake with 36 pounds, 4 ounces.
The Kansas State team was the only one in the field of 89 teams to bring in more than 10 pounds every day.
You often hear the phrase there is nothing more important than a friend but like many other clichés of life especially at today’s pace, many of these old time sayings are said without really understanding their meaning. As I look back at the past five decades of my life spent in blue water and at my hunting career which has taken me all over the globe, I lift both hands in front of me and start counting off the friends which I could call at any time day or night for help; those who would put their life in jeopardy to save mine, or for that matter those who I can count on in the absolute worst of situations.
America (and much of the globe) seems to have an obsession with billfish, but few species are as popular as the Atlantic blue marlin. Not that there is anything wrong with black marlin, sailfish, swordfish, or striped marlin; it’s just that the blue marlin, which is the largest of the billfish group, has captured the hearts and passions of anglers for centuries.
If you want to join the ranks of anglers who’ve pulled up a blue marlin, you have your work cut out for you. But with the right techniques, you can add this world-class trophy to your list.