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Would Bush Rather Be Fishing?

" The best moment was -- you know, I've had a lot of great moments. I don't know, it's hard to characterize the great moments. They've all been busy moments, by the way. I would say the best moment was when I caught a seven-and-a-half pound large mouth bass on my lake. (Laughter.) "

Bass Fishing in Crawford

Bush's glee over his catch has a definite ring of truth for those of us who watch the president closely. Bush had part of his 1,600-acre estate in Crawford, Tex., dug out and flooded so he could go fishing at his doorstep, and he has taken obvious pride in the growth of the bass he introduced into the lake when they were just tiny "fingerlings."

Back in 2001, Jay Root of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote that Bush stocked the lake with a special strain of largemouth bass from an Alabama fish hatchery. "Don Keller, co-owner of the hatchery and former biologist at the Alabama conservation agency, said the popular Florida strain grows big and fast, but is not always easy to catch. So he bred it with its northern cousin, which is much more aggressive and, hence, easier to hook."

In August 2001 , just a few months into his presidency, Bush bragged to reporters on a tour of his estate that he "didn't put any big bass in to begin with. And I've caught nearly a pound in size."

Two years later, in another walking tour with reporters, he returned to the topic close to his heart.

"Q Is this man-made, sir?

"THE PRESIDENT: Man-made.

"Q How many acres?

"THE PRESIDENT: About 11 acres lake, 17 foot deep. The deepest spot, I put 600 black bass in there a few years ago, and about 30,000 bait fish. And they're about two-and-a-half to three pounds now."

And it's worth noting that from the get-go, Bush was determined not to let work get too much in the way of his favorite pastime.

As Frank Bruni wrote in the New York Times, two days after Bush's first inauguration: "In a recent interview, when the subject turned to the bass in a lake on his ranch, a reporter remarked that he would probably not get to fish there very often.

" 'I bet I do,' Mr. Bush said. 'More than you think.' "


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