John Wayne Fights with a Deep-Sea Catch in Glorious Black-and-White Fishing Photo from The Duke’s Estate

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

John Wayne absolutely loved his yacht. Friends and family say it was his favorite spot on Earth. He’d spend those warm California days hanging out on the Pacific, fishing or swimming.

He’d then retire to the cabin, with a glass or tequila or brandy. It sounds like an idyllic lifestyle.

The John Wayne estate offered a glimpse of that breezy existence Thursday on Instagram. The account posted a vintage, black and white snap of Wayne holding on to a rod as he reeled in his catch. However, there’s no sign of a fish, so we’re not sure how tall this tale got.

The caption:

“Whether it was in the Pacific Northwest or Mexico, you could find Duke fishing off the side of the Wild Goose. If you could fish with Duke anywhere in the world, where would it be?”

John Wayne Bought an Old Navy Minesweeper

Wayne’s yacht was an interesting tale in itself. Before The Duke bought it in 1962, the boat was a Navy Minesweeper. At 136 feet, it was plenty big enough for the Wayne family. He had seven children and many grandkids. And since he lived in Newport Beach, Calif., you could spend time outdoors just about any day of the year.

The Wild Goose replaced a smaller boat called the Norwester. John Wayne and his friends and family went all over on the Wild Goose. They took trips to Alaska and Canada or down to Mexico or Panama.

(Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The Duke Would Bring Buddies On Fishing Trips

He’d take meetings and screen his own movies on the boat. The John Wayne estate wrote that some of the famous friends who would hang out on the yacht were Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Jackie Gleason. Sammy Davis Jr also chartered the yacht for his own trips around Catalina.

Wayne once took a three-week fishing trip to Canada with journalist Wayne Warga. The two were supposed to work together on the John Wayne biography. It never was finished. Warga did write about the trip and said he got “rip-snorting drunk” with the actor. He said Wayne was very relaxed the whole trip.

John Wayne took one final trip on the Wild Goose in April, 1979. He knew he was dying. He played backgammon and gin rummy and talked about good times with Bert Minshall, who served as the ship’s first mate.

Then Wayne sold his beloved yacht as he tried to put his business affairs in order.

“For a long time, whenever I dreamed about him, we were on the boat,” Marissa Wayne said, according to an article on her dad’s site. “Just enjoying the people you were with, the sights, being on the sea, and lots of playing cards.”

Son Ethan Wayne said spending time on the Wild Goose was “when my father was the happiest.”