KENNEBUNKPORT — The International Game Fish Association is posthumously inducting President George H.W. Bush into its Hall of Fame, recognizing the 41st president’s lifelong passion for fishing.

Former President George Bush proudly displays one of the many fish caught aboard his boat Fidelity II on the Maine coast. 1998 staff photo by David A. Rodgers

Bush was an accomplished recreational fisherman and spent many hours offshore near his family’s summer home at Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport trying to reel in his favorite striped bass and bluefish. He established 56 different wildlife refuges during his presidency and often could be found skippering his 38-foot speedboat, Fidelity IV, down the Kennebunk River in search of another catch.

While on vacation during his presidency, he waded into the rivers of maritime Canada to fish for Atlantic salmon with his friend, the former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. He also loved to chase bonefish on the flats off Islamorada, Florida, and while on a fishing trip with a guide in the Florida Keys, Bush took great pride in snaring a 135-pound tarpon.

He fished all over the country whenever he could find the time and was previously honored with induction into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2016.

His love for fishing and the outdoors dated to his childhood, when he first spent summers at the Walker’s Point compound his family has owned in Kennebunkport since the late 19th century.

Bush died Nov. 30, 2018, at the age of 94, without having achieved his goal of catching a permit, an elusive saltwater prize.


“Though my wobbly legs will clearly not permit it, I would love to go back to Tierra del Fuego for more sea-run brown trout,” he said on his 91st birthday in 2015.

Just a year later, he led a group of 40 wounded warriors on a “Fishing for Freedom” event featuring veterans of conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan at the helm of his speedboat.

In 2014, Bush said he was humbled to be presented with the first KeepAmericaFishing Lifetime Achievement award for his advocacy for fisheries conservation and habitat restoration by the American Sportfishing Association.

Bush will be inducted in September as part of the IGFA’s Class of 2019 that includes IGFA world record holder and conservationist Terri Andres, fisheries policy advocate Robert Hayes, pelagic game fish researcher Dr. Julian Pepperell, and tackle industry leader and conservationist Yasuhiko Tsunemi.

The induction ceremony will be held at Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri on Sept. 14.

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