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For a man who in days will have the burdens of high office on his shoulders, President-elect George Bush apparently had few cares in the world Saturday, save perhaps one: his pursuit of the wily bonefish.

Ever the avid outdoorsman, Bush was up before dawn and on the water not long after sunrise to savor a second day of fishing far removed from the pressures that will come with his inauguration Friday as the nation's 41st president.In high spirits, buoyed in part by his angling success the day before, a relaxed Bush put off any serious thought about politics on a final weekend of relative freedom before moving into the White House.

Final appointments to his Cabinet on Thursday fulfilled one of the major tasks that had demanded his attention before Inauguration Day. Another top priority, his inaugural address, will have to wait until Sunday and his return to Washington.

"I've already started," he said when asked whether he would devote time to the speech over the weekend, "but not here. When I get back, there's going to be more seriousness on that."

In the meantime, there was light-hearted banter and larger-than-life fish stories.

Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., told reporters that Bush had landed a 36-pound bonefish the previous day, far in excess of the record of 16 pounds.

"We weighed it, authentically," Simpson insisted.

"That's our story and we're staying with it," Bush said.

Actually, the fish weighed in at a respectable but non-record 13 pounds. Consistent with the local rules of engagement, Bush preserved his catch on film, then released it.