The President's Offshore Adventure

Call it Lady Luck.

Call it angling skill.

Call it whipping the President in fishing.

Melissa Fischer, co-host of ESPN2's "Offshore Adventures" with husband Chris, was apologetic after she caught the only fish Saturday on a quick excursion with Bush on Chesapeake Bay out of St. Michael's, Md.

"Melissa said, 'I'm sorry Mr. President, should I have handed you the rod?'" Chris said. "He's like, 'Good for you, girl. I'll get my own.' "

Shortly after Bush signed an executive order designed to help build up stocks of red drum and striped bass, he hooked into a striper, which he eventually lost. Fischer, who was relieved someone in the party caught one of the fish to be protected, said Bush spoke on end that he wants Americans to have the opportunity to take their children out and catch fish.

"We've got to make sure we've got enough to catch as well as enough to eat, and we can do both in a smart way," Bush said to media outside the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

Besides discovering that the President "really knows how to handle a rod and reel," Chris Fischer said he left his 1-hour, 50-minute experience truly impressed with Bush as a person.

"He's one of the most impressive men I've ever met before," Fischer said. "He truly is an outstanding guy. It's kind of like hanging out with your dad. He's clearly a very compassionate, big-time family guy. Very intelligent. Super smart.

"You've got all these preconceived ideas based on what you read and see. And it's far from the truth. Far from the truth. The guy is like the coolest guy you'll meet, and I've met a number of them."

Fischer said White House personnel told him they searched for a platform to announce the new directive, and wound up contacting Chris Fischer because of the show's conservationist approach.

"They chose us. They literally found out my number and called me on the phone," Chris said. "I kind of thought it was a joke at first. I was on the way to the airport to go to British Columbia to go steelhead fishing. I still whacked 'em. Caught 11 but had to cut the trip short. I wasn't going to miss the chance."

The "Offshore Adventure" team, including producer Jeff Lubsen and cameramen Rick Lloyd and Rich Christensen, got exclusive access to Bush, but were told to keep mum before the trip, which culminated a big week for Fischer Productions. They won two Emmys and had a near-record tuna caught by a man off the street on their other show, "Wanna Go Fishing?"

"It was a really big honor. It's a life experience. It's just an amazing thing," Fisher said of taking Bush fishing on the Semper Fidelis III piloted by Capt. Ed O'Brien. "They called a couple weeks back. Told us to be real quiet because it's hard to secure Chesapeake Bay. They told us they'd have to cancel if word got out."

Lubsen said he felt honored the team was picked, even more so because of the circumstances.

"The White House people were familiar with the show and the President was too," he said. "They wanted to issue an executive order at the same time, so it was kind of a mutual thing. He thought we were a good platform because we are very conservation oriented."

Talk turned to "Offshore Adventures" and its plans to embark on a Cousteau-like 7-year journey around the world, visiting unexplored places and checking on marine biology projects.

"We talked a lot about our 7-year journey, which we believe will be the greatest oceanic quest of all time," Fischer said. Bush "kept going on and on, thanking us for trying to get relative issues out there for sportsman."

But mostly the President acted like a regular Joe out fishing. Fischer said Bush went on about bass fishing at his ranch in Crawford, Texas — how there's some 10-pounders there — and how he manages the deer herd there and allows organizations to take youth out on hunts.

"He believes that children need to be in the outdoors and on the water," Fischer said. "He feels that's a part of our American heritage. I think that's how anybody who loves the outdoors feels."

The Fischers' main goal, besides landing one of the fish Bush had moved to protect, was to give the President a relaxing offshore adventure.

"We wanted to get on big striper. It gave us an opportunity to show the fish he was trying to protect," Fischer said. "Our other goal also was to try to provide some time so he could clear his mind and just go fishing, catch a fish. Let him escape for just a few minutes. I think we did that."

This despite what Lubsen described as a "true presidential caravan like you see on land, but just on boats." The Chesapeake Bay is, after all, a difficult area to secure, he said.

"They couldn't bring a submarine out there," Lubsen said. "There were a few secret service folks on the boat, some aides, several boats around us, and the U.S. coast guard. They were all very curteous. Kept their distance, 500-plus yards. It was a tough area to secure."

Fischer went on how Bush made every one of his crew feel at ease. The President's humor stuck out for Fischer, who called him the "King of the one-liners."

"It broke the tension and made you feel comfortable," he said. "There were boats all around us. People everywhere. Crazy stuff. He went out of his way to make it feel like it was just us hanging out with him.

"He really went out of his way to make everybody feel comfortable. He seemed so connected to us. He really did. Remembered everybody's name. We talked about families. I hope in that time, it took him away from it all."

Chris even warned him about Melissa, and kind of pointed out to the President of the United States of American that a woman outfished him.

"We were ribbing him," he said. "I was preparing him on the way; Melissa catches more fish than anybody most of the time. "