Before attending a rally for GOP incumbent congressional candidate Matt Gaetz and gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis in Niceville on Aug 2, Donald Trump Jr. decided to see for himself if the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village" held up to its name.
The morning of the rally, the president’s oldest son boarded the Home Grown, a Destin charter boat captained by Preston Muller. But this wasn’t the first time Muller and Trump Jr. had fished together.
Muller said he was fishing with one of his buddies, Josh Jorgensen, in South Florida when he first met the president's son. Trump Jr. contacted Jorgensen to come to his place in Mar-a-Largo to go shark fishing for a few hours, and Muller tagged along. Muller said he and Trump Jr. hit it off instantly and it felt like talking to an old friend.
“He’s really down to earth and understands fishing,” Muller said. “He knows his way around a rod and a reel.”
During that trip, Trump Jr. told Muller he would let him know if he was ever in the Destin area so they could go fishing together again. Muller and Trump Jr. spoke occasionally once or twice a month through social media and one day a few months ago, Muller got a random FaceTime call from the president’s son.
"He told me he was going to be in Destin for less than 24 hours but he didn't want to sit down,” the boat captain said. “He said he wanted to get straight on my boat from the plane."
Around 11 a.m. that Thursday morning, the “Home Grown” left the docks for a four-hour fishing trip 16 miles offshore. Muller said there wasn't a huge Secret Service presence because Trump Jr. wanted to keep it low-key and only one Secret Service member accompanied him on the boat. The service member stayed in the wheelhouse the whole time, texting coordinates to Washington each time they stopped.
"He was a really cool guy," Muller said about the agent. “We were joking around and I was like ‘man, you’re giving away all my good fishing spots,’ but he assured me the numbers were safe.”
The seas were pretty rough that day, but Trump Jr. still caught some king mackerel and amberjack. Muller said Trump Jr. was extremely passionate about conservation and cared a lot about learning.
"He was asking questions most people don’t ask like ‘what are we fishing over’ and ‘does water temp matter,’” Muller said. “He’s a big, big outdoorsman.”
Some people might be intimidated having such a high-profile passenger, but Muller said it was really easy to relax with Trump Jr.
“It’s always in the back of your mind, but once you start talking fishing, it just kinda supersedes everything,” Muller said. “It shows a lot of trust in somebody taking the president’s son 16 miles out into the Gulf.”
After they got back to the docks, Trump Jr. suggested going back out that night after the rally, but Muller said he and the crew were just too tired to go out again.
"You could just tell how much he loves fishing, because with as busy as he is, he always makes time to do it when he can." Muller said.
According to Muller, Trump Jr. said he wants to bring his son back to Destin to go on a couple of day-long fishing trips.
"I mentioned going in the fall or spring but he's so busy, it'll just have to be whenever he can find the time to do it," said Muller.