Robert Hewes pioneered the flats boat

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Robert Hewes, founder of Bob Hewes Boats Enterprises, died Sunday at his home in Miami. He was 86.

Hewes was involved in the marine business going back to his childhood working with his father, before founding his own company, which is now run by his family. He developed the first of what is now known as the modern flats boat and named it the Bob Hewes Bonefisher.

According to his company’s website, Hewes went to work at his father’s Chris-Craft and Mercury outboard dealership in Miami after he got out of the Navy in 1945.

In 1955, Mercury wanted a greater Dade County representation, so the family opened the current location in North Miami. It was here that Hewes met world champion fly fisherman Lefty Kreh, who invited him to go bonefishing. Lefty fished with a 13-foot Boston Whaler. From that experience, Hewes thought there needed to be a better way to reel in bonefish.

According to the website, at that time Hewes manufactured two fiberglass boat models – the Tarpon and the Wildcat – and it was from those models that Hewes designed  the first true flats boat. A Hewes Tarpon and a Hewes Wildcat are still in the boatyard to this day as a part of historical collection.

Hewes eventually sold his Hialeah, Fla., manufacturing plant to the Maverick Boat Company, which continues to modify and improve upon what Hewes invented, the website states.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to the Heidi Hewes Foundation.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday in Miami.

Click here for the full obituary.


7 comments on “Robert Hewes pioneered the flats boat

  1. Kevin Mahoney

    Thoughts and prayers to Bob’s family. Bob was always a wealth of information, and fun to talk with at the Florida boat shows. The industry will miss him.

  2. David Ray

    Bob was a giant in the industry and tested his boats constantly until they were perfect. He was always willing to share his knowledge and he had a heart of gold. He will be remembered by boaters and fishermen the world over.

  3. goodride

    BOB HEWES has been my father in law since 1978.
    Back in 1962  my family was looking for a small outboard boat and we ended up buying a boat from Hewes boat company on the Miami river.
    The salesman gave us the deal we wanted  we got fishing rods  water skis, and everything we needed to begin our familys love of boating.
    The salesman was BOB HEWES .
    ..In 1975 I moved back to miami from texas where I had worked at a boat shop for a couple of years and had a thought??
    I wonder if those nice guys at the hewes boat company need a technician.
    I got hired in 5 minutes….by BOB, and met his daughter Debbie and married her in 1978
    I already had bought my 1977 Bonefisher and hit biscayne bay and the stiltsville flats almost every weekend.. PopPop would come in his Bonefisher and for the next 30+ years he was my best friend, my fishin’ buddy  my race boat pit crew, my camera man he was everything to me my wife and his whole family.
    Bob’s whole family was every single customer he ever had always wanting them to feel they got what they paid for , by a   dealership that  …TTC   thank the customer.
    Thorney up there knew Bobs  tricks   he would tell people in january..let me be the first to wish  you a MERRY CHRISTMAS
    Bob was the kind of guy that would try 15 props before he found the right one and he would only recommend what he knew worked the best.
    He built a specialty boat for the flats   and the word  BONEFISHER, and Bob Hewes  became one.
    All the old school lapstake BOB HEWES  bonefisher owners know they have a piece of history  designed and built with the love and care that Bob Hewes put in everyone of his beloved bonefisher and redfisher lapstrakes .
    Bob may be gone now — so when you are out fishin’ in a lapstrake Hewes  catch one for him.  He will not be forgotten
    Bob made the world of boating a better place for us all.
    go boating  !

  4. Bob Wells

    I always enjoy talking with Bob at the Miami Boat show and the dealership. He always had a good story to tell and liked taking photos. He will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his Family and the dealership.

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