the spring, many a young man’s fancy turns to…fishing.
Back in the spring of 1891, even Gov.
James S. Hogg could not control an urge almost as strong as that
other longing that often evidences itself when the wild flowers start
blooming. Only three months after being sworn in as Texas’ 20th governor,
as soon as he could take a break from his executive duties the 40-year-old
governor boarded the International and Great Northern train in Austin
and headed for his native East
He would arrive to find the dogwoods blooming and the fish biting.
When the governor reached Tyler,
his friend and fellow attorney Henry B. Marsh joined him along with
R.N. Stafford, an official with the I&GN. From Tyler
they traveled to Mineola,
where the party was met by J.A. Stinson, Hogg’s
father in law. Mineola
resident and Hogg
friend D.H. Brace soon joined the party.
They spent the night at Stinson’s residence about 12 miles from town
and as the Galveston Daily News later reported, “sallied forth early
in the morning, making their way to some of the lakes for which Wood
County is so famous, where they spent the day angling.”
Truth be told, those “lakes” were only man-made ponds, but they did
have fish in them.
Using minnows for bait, the 300-pound governor
caught seven “trout” weighing from one-and-a-half to four pounds each.
Since trout is not indigenous to Texas, Hogg
must have been catching bass.
Hogg would occasionally load his hook with a common fish worm,
spit on the bait for good luck, and angle awhile for a white perch,
just as he did years ago on these same lakes when he was a farmer
boy in this county,” the newspaper continued.
After one back-to-childhood day in the outdoors, it was back to affairs
of state for the governor. He left Mineola
May 27 and rode the I&GN back to Austin.
started his career as a newspaperman before studying law. His legal
practice led to his first public service as a justice of the peace.
After spending some time in the Legislature, he served as attorney
general before being elected governor.
day, newspapers frequently mixed a little poetry with their prose.
Six years after Hogg
took that fishing trip to his old stomping grounds in Wood
County, the San Antonio Light devoted nearly a column of type
to a succession of paragraphs and poems it called “Motley Musings.”
One of those musings had to do with fishing. Observing that “almost
every form of rest seems to involve considerable labor,” the author
noted that fishing took the least work.
“Given the worm and the apparatus and a man may sit and read and sleep
until evening. The worm may grow pulpy, the fish may play hide-and-seek
round the innocent hook, the inquisitive spider may explore the intricacies
of his countenance; but peace shall persist, until the evening,” the
writer went on.
Well-rested but without any fish to take home, at that point the angler
had to move into action. There were stories to invent about the one
that got away and the tiring search for “the secluded fish-stall to
line his empty basket.
The author followed those observations with three stanzas of doggerel,
the last of which is this:
“Sing hey! for
the yarns so fearless and free.
And the lies that all fishermen spout;
For we know that the fish that remain in the sea [or pond or lake
Are greater than ever came out.”
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