BOCA GRANDE (WWSB) - People all across the country today are mourning the loss of former President George H. W. Bush - including his long-time fishing captain right here on the Suncoast. The Bush family has many ties to Florida, but one that the public might not know about is their little, private getaway in Boca Grande every December.
“Nobody really bothers them. It’s such a laid-back community here that they just fell in love with the island,” said Captain Hayes of Last Buffalo Charters.
Captain Hayes and his crew have been taking out President George H. W. Bush and his family fishing since 1999.
“The first time I took them out I was so nervous," remembered Hayes, "They got on my boat, I had senior the first time, he made me at ease and started saying jokes and made me at ease and we had a great day of fishing. From there on out, it was easy.”
He tells me, after that, they would come every 26th of December and leave on New Year’s Eve. They haven’t come the last few years since the late President was sick, but they would usually be out fishing for hours on the Suncoast waters., and then come back and go golfing all together – something Captain Hayes says he’ll truly miss.
"It's just so sad. He was just such a superb person. He was so nice to me, and so nice to everyone around us as we were going fishing."
Captain Hayes is a fourth generation fishing guide on the island, and just being able to have been one of Bush’s captains is something he says he’ll hold close to his heart forever.
“This is something I’ll never forget. I’ve saved some of the pictures and it’s something i’ll pass down to my grandkids. This will be something I cherish for the rest of my life for sure.”