Lou Gehrig, Angler (Part 3)

When the Gehrigs returned to New York from their barnstorming tour of Asia on February 13, 1935, Lou gave the necessary press interviews, then grabbed a friend to confide that he wanted to go fishing more than anything else in the world. He complained that in five months his only trip had been with Charles Smith, mayor of Seattle, who took him and Eleanor out for trout in a private lake north of the city. It was now time for spring training and Lou groused that he would have no time to go back to Long Key Fishing Camp in Florida where he had landed a seven-foot sailfish the previous year, along with a number of large tarpons.


Lou Gehrig was not a freshwater enthusiast. He wanted big fish, like cod in the Great South Bay or the various species to be found the Gulf Stream. When asked about his favorite quarry, Lou said that sailfish were the most spectacular, but he preferred to catch a large amberjack which would fight for thirty to forty minutes. He was in the midst of changing his rods from what originally looked like telegraph poles to lighter tackle for a more sporting scrap, though this meant more broken leaders and lines.

Lou did manage a short trip to Long Key before showing up for spring training and it was well worth the effort. He brought a six-foot, six-inch sailfish alongside the boat before releasing it. Eleanor had hooked an even larger sailfish, but after a twenty-five-minute tussle, it threw the hook and got away. Lou had hooked another large fish, possibly a wahoo, but after stripping a couple hundred yards of line from the reel it, too, shook the hook. The Gehrigs did land several king mackerel, a large bonito and a dolphin, which was released. Satisfied with his angling, Lou packed up and headed for St. Petersburg and the Yankees training camp.

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© 2020 by Alan D. Gaff