SARANAC LAKE — Former President Barack Obama visited the local area for some fly fishing Thursday and Friday.
His guide was Vince Wilcox of Wiley’s Flies, who has a fly fishing shop, guide service and motel in Ray Brook. Wilcox posted about the experience on Instagram and talked to the Times Union of Albany. The Enterprise could not reach Wilcox.
Wilcox told the Albany paper Obama had only fly fished once before, in 2009 in Montana.
“Apparently, when you are the president, you don’t have a lot of time,” Wilcox said. “But he did great. He’s a natural athlete.”
Wilcox posted that Obama caught “a couple brookies.” The guide wouldn’t tell the TU how many fish the former president caught or where, but he said Obama released all the brook trout except one, because he wanted to know what it tasted like.
Wilcox gave Obama a gift of his home-brew, a special variety called White House Honey Ale. The guide posted that Obama “gave it his approval,” noting that Obama was the “first president since Washington to brew at the Whitehouse.”
Obama also signed a picture of a flower Wilcox’s daughter had drawn.
Obama stayed with a friend somewhere nicer than Wilcox’s vintage motel, but Wilcox wouldn’t say where or with whom.
Wilcox said he learned of the visit a few weeks ago but that it had been in the planning phase for nine-and-a-half months.
The guide posted that Obama was “exactly who I thought he was and why he had my votes, gracious and thoughtful.”
The 44th president of the United States flew out Friday on a private plane the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear.
Rumors about Obama swirled Friday: there were numerous third-hand reports that he had flown in and out of the airport, and people who clearly knew something refused to speak to the press. But the gossip was hard to verify until late Friday night, when NBC 5 news anchor Stephanie Gorin posted pictures on Facebook of Obama posing with airport worker Richie Hewitt on the tarmac beside a private plane. The distinct profile of St. Regis Mountain could be seen in the background.
Gorin’s post echoed what rumors had said, that Obama was here for “fishing with a friend,” although she didn’t identify her source.
It is not known that Obama came to the Adirondacks during his eight years as president. His predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, both visited publicly during their time in the White House.