The most famous fisherman from each state have been presidents, outfielders…
Fishing has a strong claim to the title of national pastime. This list of fishermen includes actresses, musicians, presidents, judges, writers, and—I guess not surprisingly—pro bass fishermen.
Tony Bean from Tennessee
Tony Bean didn’t describe himself as a trophy fisherman. It was his passion for one species, the smallmouth bass, that made him a legend. “I don’t care what size my last fish will be,” he said. “I just want it to be a smallmouth.”
Ernest Hemingway from Illinois
One could argue that nobody has gotten closer to winning a Nobel Prize for fishing.
Jimmy Carter from Georgia
As a fisherman, Carter is best known for a clumsy incident with an aggressive swamp rabbit. An unfortunate legacy, because Carter spent a lifetime fishing the United States, from the Gulf Coast to the Appalachians.
Mark Healy from Hawaii
Between his spearfishing hobby and his day job as a professional surfer, it’s not clear if this guy ever actually leaves the water.
Carrie G. Stevens from Maine
Her contribution to fly fishing goes way beyond the streamers she tied, but Stevens is best remembered for her Grey Ghost streamer. Legend has it that her first cast with the new streamer hooked a six pound brook trout.
The DuPont family from Delaware
The DuPont’s are a big enough family that surely some have enjoyed fishing. But the company they founded is also responsible for one of the most important developments in the history of the sport; the monofilament line.
Theodore Roosevelt from New York
Roosevelt’s exploits as an outdoorsman are well known. But his founding of the national parks system was crucial to preserving rivers and lakes for future generations. In other words, us.
Joe Brooks from Maryland
Brooks’ prominence as a writer in the outdoors scene helped spread the sport to Lefty Kreh, another legendary fly fisherman and writer.
John Atherton from Minnesota
John Atherton is a founding father of American fly fishermen. His contribution to that legacy was through his art. A commercial artist, Atherton applied his skills to depictions of fly fishing, and is largely responsible for the classic imagery of fly fishing in American culture.
Ted Williams from California
His baseball career secured him a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. When the IGAF inducted him for sport-fishing, he joined two other athletes to be so honored in multiple sports.
Lee Wulff from Alaska
Namesake of the Royal Wulff, Lee dedicated his life to spreading the sport of fly fishing through his art and the teaching he did with his wife (who also made this list).
Ray Scott from Alabama
I still don’t buy Ray’s premise. But the success of televised competitive bass fishing speaks for itself. The idea supposedly struck him in a motel room while he was dozing off the disappointment of a rained-out fishing trip.
George Snyder from Kentucky
Snyder’s success failed to match his contribution to the sport of fly fishing. His un-patented Kentucky Reel was quickly copied by northeastern companies who could manufacture it at a fraction of the original price. Nevertheless, his design is the prototype for fly reels up to the present day.
Theodore Gordon from Pennsylvania
Gordon didn’t let consumption stop him from fishing and writing. Besides being an early proponent of the sport, he’s known for founding dry fly fishing in America.
George Washington from Virginia
America’s first President was also an early adopter. He was taking every opportunity to drop a hook years before fishing really took off as a pastime in the 19th century.
Brad Paisley from West Virginia
Brad has sung his preferences pretty clear.
Kevin VanDam from Michigan
If Paisley’s narrator can’t land enough cash to make a living for his family, Kevin VanDam probably views that as a personal failing. The several-times world bass fishing champion has made more than $4 million dollars at the sport.
Eva Longoria from Texas
It’s tough to call Texas’ most famous angler. Longoria wins out for her enthusiastic defense of fishing and hunting in the face of criticism from PETA.
Karl Malone from Louisiana
The 2nd most prolific scorer in NBA history has a well documented love for the outdoors. But his interest in the sports came originally from necessity; his poor northern Louisiana family turned to the wilderness to supplement a thin budget.
Joe Perry from Massachusetts
Joe Perry of Aerosmith may be a little too enthusiastic about fishing. He was called out a few years ago for fishing with alleged overfished “Mark the Shark.”
Jewel from Utah
Jewel has long since been removed from her rural upbringing in Homer, Alaska—geographically and economically. But she still treasures the sporting life she grew up with.
Dick Cheney from Nebraska
As far as we know, Dick Cheney has never injured anyone with a treble hook.
Brian O’Keefe from Oregon
O’Keefe’s first love is fly fishing, but O’Keefe has made a a name and a living as an outdoor photographer. The two interests are related. O’Keefe claims he began taking photos because his family wouldn’t believe the size of the fish he caught.
Buzz Ramsey from Washington
This Stetson-crowned Washingtonian is the champion of pulling up big northwestern steelhead. He’s an inductee of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, as well as the hall of fame for the Association of Northwest Steelheaders.
Ted Trueblood from Idaho
Trueblood helped spread interest in fly fishing as a writer and editor for Field & Stream. He also worked to save it in native Idaho. He used his influence as a respected conservationist to keep dams from completely blocking the native steelhead and salmon from their spawning grounds.
George H. W. Bush from Connecticut
The Presidents Bush are both known as enthusiastic saltwater fishermen. But H.W. was the captain whenever the two went out together.
David Moore from Oklahoma
The U.S. and the rest of the world disagrees over carp the way we do with football. Hooking a carp in the states can be disappointing or downright shameful. Elsewhere, it’s a way of life. David Moore has been representing the U.S. in world tournaments for years, and introducing more Americans to the sport through his American Carp Society.
Dwight Eisenhower from Kansas
Eisenhower has a sterling reputation as a president and general. He was also a criminal. In 1952 the soon-to-be president was accused of catching more than the legal limit of Colorado trout.
Dave Whitlock from Arkansas
Field & Stream writer Dave Whitlock was born in Oklahoma, but fell in love with fishing when his family moved to Arkansas. Besides his writing, Whitlock is known for his fly tying. He was inducted into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame in 1981.
Calvin Coolidge from Vermont
It makes sense that “Silent Cal” would take up a hobby known for its quiet and solitude. Coolidge spent so many holidays fly fishing in South Dakota that it was dubbed the “Summer White House.” It was from Custer State Park that he curtly informed the nation “I do not choose to run for President in 1928.”
Daniel Webster from New Hampshire
It’s uncertain whether the famous 19th century senator really caught the 13 pound “salmon trout” that later passed into legend. The misattribution isn’t surprising. Webster, along with many others, was a regular patron of the popular Connecticut River.
Ginger Rogers from Missouri
Rogers is one of the earliest stars of film and television. Contemporary media got a weird kick out of documenting her fishing excursions, and there’s plenty of photographic evidence of her enjoyment of the sport.
Dan Bailey from Kentucky
Bailey hails from Kentucky, but his real contribution was in popularizing western fly fishing after setting up shop in Livingston, Montana.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. from North Carolina
The NASCAR legend and outdoors entrepreneur likes fishing well enough. But he says his real passion is eBay.
Sam Beam from South Carolina
Better known by his stage name Iron and Wine, Sam Beam has mentioned getting songwriting inspiration with a fishing rod in his hand.
William H. Gass from North Dakota
Gass doesn’t talk much about his personal life, but fishing analogies crop up in the work of this famous author and philosopher. The following quote from his 1995 masterpiece, The Tunnel, shows an appreciation of the sport so deep that, if he hasn’t tried it, he probably should. It seems like he’d like it:
“I remember, as a boy, being taken fishing by my father. Brown trout lay hidden in little stone holes like the complete expression of a wish.”
Harrison Ford from Wyoming
Though born in Illinois, this dedicated conservationist and outdoorsman relocated in order to stay close to the beauty and great fishing on the Snake River.
Bud Lilly of Montana
This World War II veteran and former Cincinnati Reds recruit had plenty of chances to make a name for himself. Bud founded Bud Lilly’s trout shop in 1952 after years as an enthusiast, and grew to become the authority on rivers in the West Yellowstone area. Bud Lilly’s fly shop is open to this day, but Bud is long since retired.
Mark Ruffalo from Wisconsin
Some hilarious footage from 2011 shows Ruffalo struggling with some pretty basic fly casting maneuvers in the name of Water Defense, an anti-fracking initiative he’s done a lot of work for. It seems like a joke, at first. But he looks happy, and he’s maintained his commitment to preserving American fisheries. Nobody said this was a list of good fisherman.
Sandra Day O’Connor from Arizona
Arizona state senator and Supreme Court alumnus Sandra Day O’Connor is a famously avid fly angler. Most of the United States found out about her successor on the Court before she did; she was fishing in Montana at the time.
David Pickering from Rhode Island
With an average annual catch of 2,000 striped bass annually, it’s hard to imagine where Pickering finds time to do anything else. He must, though, since he’s a fairly active presenter at local fishing conferences and seminars.
Cormac McCarthy from New Mexico
McCarthy’s brother reports that the two used to hunt and fish during their childhood in Tennessee. Some of those details make it into his early autobiographical Suttree.
Warren G. Harding from Ohio
Harding is still a divisive president, but in his personal life he was known for his friendliness and warmth. He was an active vacationer, with interests that included yachting and fishing.
Byron Velvick from Nevada
Velvick is a fishing champion with several wins to his name, but he came to the attention of the world as a contestant on Season 6 of The Bachelor.
Joan Wulff from New Jersey
“First Lady of Fly Fishing” is a title that was well earned. Wulff demonstrated her chops with a 17-year streak as a National Casting Champion, which she won against all-male competition.
Martin Arostegui from Florida
This Florida native may hold a world record for world records. Apparently bored with his day job in a Coral Gables emergency room, Arostegui set out with the specific goal of hooking as many world records as he could. 326 records later, Arostegui was recognized by the IGFA with a lifetime achievement award.
Tommy Skarlis from Iowa
This dedicated walleye angler has been collecting trophies since the 90’s. The list has grown as long as his ever-present smile is wide.
John Denver from Colorado
This pop-country singer spent much of his last few decades living off royalties and fishing all over the world. Before his tragic death in 1997 he fished Alaska, New Zealand, and the rivers near his home in Aspen.
Tom Brokaw from South Dakota
This legendary news anchor is famous for his enduring love for the outdoors. He spends a lot of time at his ranch near Livingston, where he hunts and fishes with enthusiasm.
Famous people seem to love to fish and we can see why!