Eric Clapton, Michael Keaton, Lindsay Vonn; they like to toss a fly just like the rest of us.
The odds of running into Jimmy Buffett at the dock, or Tom Selleck at the fly shop are pretty slim, but there a lot of celebs who enjoy wetting a line like the rest of us. Here are a few notables who could be working the same waters as you one of these days. Also, a few whose spirits still cast their Heddon Dowagiac Minnow or Comstock Flying Hellgrammites into the depths for ghosts of fishes past.
Jimmy Buffett, the singer/songwriter who beckons us to waste away in Margaritaville is naturally handy with a saltwater rod in his hand. But he doesn’t just fish around his Palm Beach home. He likes to work in some angling on his tours as well. While fishing off Nantucket between New York concerts, he landed a 350-pound tuna. Changes in latitude don’t bother the Boss Parrothead.
A musician who is rarely seen without a guitar in his hand, Eric Clapton enjoys time away from the stage with a fly rod at the ready. Having been taught to fly fish by Procol Harum founder Gary Booker, Clapton has used that knowledge to help him through some tough times. “Fishing is an absorbing pastime and has a Zen quality to it,” Clapton reflected. “It’s an ideal pursuit for anyone who wants to think a lot and get things in perspective.”
One of American’s top alpine skiers, Lindsey Vonn also enjoys dunking a fly now and then. She’s even competed in the accuracy casting segment of the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail. It’s hoped that she’ll take part in the Games’ 2 Fly X-Stream event in June, when catching an actual fish is part of the competition.
Her former squeeze, Tiger Woods, also likes to fish. When asked to rate the TPC Sawgrass Golf Course, his answer was, “Largemouth bass. They’re everywhere around here.” He’s also had the opportunity to fly fish for salmon in Ireland. Probably played a bit of golf while there. Gotta do some work to write off those fishing trips,right?
A celeb that’s neither a singer, songwriter, guitarist, actress, or…well, we really don’t know what she is; but Paris Hilton has been fishing since she was a youngster. Angling is her getaway from the glitz of Hollywood. “I’m still a tomboy,” she said. “I love to go fishing.”
Blake Shelton, country singer and host of “The Voice” fishes for bass, catfish, carp and trout. Born in Oklahoma, he’s been doing it since he was a boy. His ex, Miranda Lambert, fishes too. So does his current lady, Gwen Stefani. Coincidence? Perhaps…
Living on a ranch in Montana, Michael Keaton has had the good fortune to fall in love with fly fishing in his own back yard. But even he believes you can have too much of a good thing. In an interview with MidCurrent, Keaton, who is never short of introspection, stated, “As much as I like fishing, after a while I start to hate fishing if I talk about it all the time. It’s like guys who say, ‘I’m going to run a fly fishing shop.’ You hate fly fishing after about three months.”
To break up the monotony of fishing the streams around his ranch, Keaton travels south for tarpon and bonefish. Wouldn’t want him to get burned out on those Montana trout.
Roger Daltrey, lead singer for The Who, has owned a 26-acre fishing reserve for more than 30 years. Like Keaton, he has his own unique take on the pastime. “When I go fishing,” Says Daltrey, “I come away feeling like I’ve smoked half a dozen joints.” (“Dude, my bobber, it like disappeared. Weird.”)
Now that he’s hung up his helmet, former Chicago Bear linebacker Brian Urlacher enjoys tackling the big ones that inhabit the saltwater around the Sunshine State. Urlacher is part owner of the “Linebreaker,” a charter out of Southwest Florida. More of a running back then a linebacker, the boat is built to waste no time getting out to where the fish. The 42-foot center console Yellow Fin is powered by three 350-horsepower Yamahas with a cruising speed of 50 mph. A couple of grand if you want to go out with the boys for a day’s fishing.
Another former NFL performer used to catch balls for a living. 982 over 14 seasons to be precise. Randy Moss enjoys catching bass and used to spend a lot of time between games with his buds in West Virginia doing just that. He says it was his decompression from the stresses of the game.
Going back a few years, President Warren G. Harding spent a lot of time chasing tarpon off the Texas shore while his “Ohio Gang” cronies were pursuing scandal, corruption, bribery and fraud. One rumor surrounding Harding’s sudden death in 1923 was that it was caused by tainted shellfish he consumed during his trip to Alaska. That was one way to make sure he clammed up.
President Jimmy Carter, the Georgia peanut farmer, had ample opportunities to bass fish in the many ponds around Plains. He also enjoyed trout fishing in the Appalachian Mountains in north Georgia, as well as saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. He may be best remembered for the “Killer Rabbit Attack” while fishing in his private pond. Apparently, a swamp rabbit was swimming across the pond to get away from hounds and happened to head for the President’s jonboat. By splashing with his paddle, he was able to fend off the assassin-bunny.
And finally, both Daddy Bush and George W. took Vladimir Putin fishing off Kennebunkport Maine in 2007. Vlad landed the only fish, and a good time was had by all. What international diplomacy! It seems like it’s time to take Vlad fishing again. (This story first appeared in Sporting Classics)