BOCA GRANDE, Fla. — For over 20 years President George H.W. Bush went fishing with Captain Philip O’Brannon in Boca Grande.
O’Bannon said one of his favorite memories with the former president was breaking the rules when they went fishing.
“I said Mr. President, we probably need to head back pretty soon. Secret Service doesn’t want to get back when it's dark. He said, oh the heck with that! We’re still catching fish. They can wait!” He said.
He said he misses him dearly.
“It’s a loss. It really is. I really enjoyed fishing with him being around him. He was such a gentleman and a lot of fun. It was just a real honor to know him and fish with him,” said O’Bannon as he glanced over the waters he once accompanied the former president on.
O’Bannon said snook was the president’s favorite fish to catch. He said he met President Bush in 1992 and said he’s gone fishing with him just about every Christmas since then. And the two became good friends over the years.
“When they launched the aircraft carrier in his name, I got an invitation to go to that event. I was the only fishing guide with all the admirals and congressmen,” said O’Bannon.
He went fishing with the president for the last time a few years ago. And even though his health started declining, O’Bannon said President Bush still knew his way around the water.
“Still sharp as a tack, but he couldn’t get around very well. He was in a wheel chair,” he said.
He said most importantly, he’ll remember the president as a caring person.
“He took the time to speak to everybody that was involved. From the police officers to the marine patrol to the Coast Guard. He would talk them. Thank them for their service, take pictures with them. People don’t realize it took a lot of time to do that,” he said.
O’Bannon added that he’ll cherish moments spent with the former president on and off the water.