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Robert Hewes pioneered the flats boat

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.

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