When he is in
Kennebunkport the President-elect gets out to the fishing areas in a Cigarette
boat called Fidelity, named after the Fidelity Printing Corp., whose stock he
sold to purchase her. Fidelity has been modified for fishing. The cockpit has
been moved up to the bow, so that a racing boat designed to hold two or three
people can now handle six or seven, usually family members. The boat gives him
not only the pleasure of driving a powerful machine but also a practical way of
getting out to the fishing grounds. "You go fast out to where the fish
are," he says, "or you think they are, stop and fish for an hour and
then run for the 20 minutes back. If the sea is up a little, and you're cutting
through the waves, well, the combination is just heaven for me."
As the years have
gone by, Barbara Bush has grown less enthusiastic about "cutting through
the waves." Still, she often goes out on the fishing expeditions, sitting
up on the padded engine cover Indian-style with a book. The President-elect's
favorite nonfamily fishing companion is a retired naval-yard employee named Bob
Boilard. They met in the summer of 1982 on Saco Bay, near the Wood Island
Lighthouse on the Maine coast.
"I was in my
boat fishing for blues with my back to the bay," Boilard remembers. "I
heard this voice snap out behind me. I turned around, and there was the
Vice-President looking over from his Cigarette boat, with the Secret Service
boat beyond and a Coast Guard cutter farther out. It was quite a sight. He
called out and asked me what I was catching them on. I said I was using a Rebel
popping plug, which has a blunt nose that resists the water with a kind of
ploop sound and looks like a blue minnow. He said he was using a Rebel swimming
plug—a trolling plug—which has a lip on the front that makes the plug dart
around in the water. I told him to turn his boat around and follow me. By the
time we'd trolled 150 feet, he had two bluefish on, and I had one. He called me
up the next day. " 'Yes sir?' I said.
" 'Any fish
" 'Of course
there are. But they're not in my kitchen!'
"So out we went."
Boilard, as they
say in those parts, is his own man (he once turned down a chance to take Paul
Newman out for blues, for which his daughters never forgave him), and he
certainly does not stand on ceremony. He refers to Bush as Mister Vice or the
Vice, as in "the Vice and I are going out to Wood Island Light." When
Bush hooks on to something unwanted, like a dogfish, Boilard barks happily at
him and suggests that the next time he lets out a line he should spit on it for
When they first
fished together, Bush used a light bass-casting rod and eight-pound test line.
"Heck," says Boilard, "that buggy whip of his was fit for tapping a
horse on the rump and not much else, certainly not for catching bluefish. I
told him so. I said, 'Mister Vice, if you're going out for a whale you got to
use whale equipment. You're the Vice-President, but I'd sure change that rod,
and that line to 14-pound test."
The bluefish they
catch—the President-elect now dutifully on 14-pound test—average about 10
pounds, but much larger blues run in those North Atlantic waters. The biggest
one Boilard has caught was 23� pounds. "The Vice is raving mad about a
17-pounder he got off Boon Island, 20 miles or so down the coast off
Portsmouth, New Hampshire," he says.
Most of the blues
Bush and Boilard catch are released. The President-elect is not as fond offish
on the table as on the end of a line. Of those kept, Secret Service men get the
largest allotment. "They microwave 'em," Boilard says. "Those guys
go through the fish like ice cream.
shame," Boilard goes on, "that the Vice can't spend more time on the
water. When he's got a rod in one hand, the steering wheel in the other and
everything under control, there's not a happier man anywhere."