Monthly Archives: January 2017

Demand for public ballot succeeds, results announced Monday

By 10 a.m. Monday, all involved parties in the special election had filed either motions or responses demanding the immediate release of the voting results from the Sept. 7 election on the recall of Anna Maria Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus.

At 1:52 p.m., the notice came from the Second District Court of Appeal that “all ballots, including absentee ballots, cast in the recall election of Sept. 7, shall be unsealed and open for public inspection.”

The Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office arranged to tabulate the results at 4:30 p.m. and announced the results with Anna Maria city clerk Alice Baird present, along with Michael Barfield and Sandra Mattick. Neither Stoltzfus or Gene Aubry, the candidate for his remaining term were present.

The election had finally ended, but the certification did not take place. The Second DCA made no mention of certifying the election in its order.

Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas had ordered the recall to proceed, allowing the election to take place, but he also ordered the ballots sealed and the election certification stayed until 5 p.m. Sept. 24.

Nicholas’ decision allowing the recall to proceed was followed by an appeal from Stoltzfus to the Second DCA, but on Sept. 3, at an emergency hearing requested by Stoltzfus in circuit court, Nicholas ordered the ballots sealed and the certification of the election stayed until the matter could be reviewed by the DCA.

Last week, attorney Andrea Flynn Mogensen, representing the Citizens for Sunshine Inc., filed a notice with the DCA to intervene as a friend of the court, and a motion for an emergency hearing to have the stay order lifted and the ballots — the voting results — made public. Mogensen said CFS has been following the events related to the recall closely the past seven months.

Mogensen maintained a ballot is public record according to Florida law, and that Nicholas did not have authority to seal a public record.

County attorney Jim Minix, representing Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat, filed a response to the CFS motion seeking to allow Sweat to count the ballots. His response further requested that Sweat be allowed to certify the election.

But announcing the voting results and withholding certification doesn’t sit well with Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford.

If Stoltzfus were recalled by citizens, but remained on the commission until an appeal ruling, that could create “chaos,” she said.

“What would happen later to a 3-2 vote” on a motion, ordinance or resolution, if Stoltzfus was recalled by the vote, but remained on the commission pending appeal?

Barford said the commission would be stuck knowing that one member has been recalled pending appeal. If that’s the case, any decision the commission makes by a 3-2 vote could be challenged, she indicated.

City attorney Jim Dye filed a response Monday on behalf of city clerk Alice Baird and the city asking the court to release the ballots.

Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus Committee attorney Rebecca O’Dell filed a response for the committee Monday as well, asking the court to order the ballots be released.

Stoltzfus also filed a response agreeing that the results of the recall election should be made public, but maintaining that certification should be withheld until the DCA rules on his appeal.

All the involved parties and attorneys appeared to agree that the vote should be announced immediately, but differ on when certification should take place.

The DCA has scheduled a “show cause” hearing for Stoltzfus’ appeal of the recall process for Sept. 20.

The Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus committee effort began in late March, following the public release of Stoltzfus’ private e-mails concerning city business.

Recall committee chair Bob Carter said that after he and other concerned citizens read the more than 800 e-mails Stoltzfus submitted under a public records request, the recall movement began in earnest, eventually leading to the Sept. 7 recall vote.

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Budget hearing attracts little interest

Anna Maria taxpayers appear pleased with the city’s proposed $2.1 million budget for 2010-11, and with the city commission’s decision to retain the current 1.7882 ad valorem tax rate.

Only one member of the public, planning and zoning board member and mayoral candidate Sandy Mattick, showed up for the Sept. 8 hearing on the 2010-11 budget.

Commissioners dealt swiftly with one new item in the proposed budget, a request from Sgt. Dave Turner of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Anna Maria substation for two new laser guns to track vehicle speeds.

City treasurer Diane Percycoe said the MCSO has eight such lasers, but two of them are beyond repair. The lasers were purchased in 2000, she said.

The commission approved a budget item for the purchase of two lasers at $2,250 each, with the money coming from the city’s contingency fund. The fund would then be reduced to $70,000 in the budget.

Staff members will receive an across-the-board 5 percent pay raise, the first pay increase for the staff in five years, Mayor Fran Barford said.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to retain the 1.7882 ad valorem millage rate, although it would take a rate of 1.8665 to collect the same amount of ad valorem tax revenue — property taxes — as in the 2009-10 budget.

The commission voted unanimously to take the estimated $45,000 shortfall to meet projected expense requirements in the proposed budget from the city’s $990,000 reserve fund.

The city would have a reserve to operating budget percentage of 44.7 percent, well above the 35 percent level recommended by the city auditor.

 Because of the recent decline in property values, a 1.7882 ad valorem rate will actually reduce a property owner’s tax bill, Percycoe said.

One mil equals .1 percent (1/10 of 1 percent). A person with a home at an assessed value of $300,000 without exemptions, and at an ad valorem tax rate of 1.7882 mils, would pay $536.46 in property taxes for fiscal year 2010-11.

The final public hearing for the 2010-11 budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 22.

Proposed Anna Maria 2010-11 budget itemized






Budget year









Ad valorem revenues

$1.106 million

$1.110 million

Total revenues

$2.95 million

$2.14 million

Total expenses

$2.885 million

$2.14 million










Emergency Ops.



Roads, streets






Capital projects



Lean and mean budget reviewed Sept. 14

The first Holmes Beach hearing on the proposed 2010-11 budget was to be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Mayor Rich Bohnenberger called the budget, in which there is no proposed tax increase and a 9.64 percent reduction in tax revenue to the city, “lean and mean.”

“We’re all facing cutbacks in the future,” Bohnenberger said. “The real estate market is not turning around. It’s not what you’re reading in the media and what you’re seeing on TV. The real estate market is going to continue to suffer, in my opinion.”

The final public hearing on the budget will be held Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Bohnenberger said for the third consecutive year, city employees will not receive a pay raise based on a pay-scale plan.

The city proposed to forgo the roll-back rate of 1.9369 mills. The roll-back rate is the millage rate needed to generate the same tax dollars from fiscal year 2009-10.

Instead, the city decided to propose a millage for the coming budget year at 1.7500 mills, a 9.64 percent decrease from the current 1.7549 millage rate.

That 9.64 percent reduction results in a $224,621 decrease from last year in local tax dollars to the city.

If the city levies the proposed 1.75 millage rate, the local tax on a $350,000 home, without taking any exemptions into account, would be $612.50. A mil is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value of property.

The city proposes total revenue and spending limits of $8,413,450, up from $7,865,490 last year.

The mayor said he welcomes citizens to the meeting, but he does not expect them to have complaints.

“It’s a lean, mean budget as it is, unless you want to learn what’s in it,” Bohnenberger said.

HB budget by the numbers
Category 2009-10 budget 2010-11 budget
Millage: 1.7549 mills 1.7500 mills
Ad valorem taxes: $2,269,600 $2,060,079
Total revenues: $7,865,490 $8,413,450
Total expenses: $7,865,490 $8,413,450
Commission: $100,990 $98,690
Police: $2,030,479 $2,054,880
Public works $1,964,364 $2,084,369
Code enforcement $145,027 $144,177
Stormwater: $391,000 $372,000

BB commission acts on budget

Bradenton Beach commissioners voted last week to move forward with a $2.66 million spending plan for 2010-11 and likely will adopt the budget this week.

The commission, meeting Sept. 7 at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., also unanimously adopted a resolution setting the proposed millage rate — the rate used to collect property taxes for the city — at 2.1539 mills.

The rate is the same as the rate for the 2009-10 budget and 13.39 percent less than the roll-back rate, which, according to the Manatee County Property Assessor’s Office is 2.4868 mills.

Florida’s Truth in Millage or TRIM law defines the roll-back rate as the millage rate, which, when multiplied times the tax base — exclusive of new construction added to the tax roll — would yield the same amount of revenue for the taxing authority as was yielded by the millage rate levied in the previous year.

In stronger economic times, the tax base rises by virtue of assessment, causing the roll-back rate to be lower than the previous year’s millage rate. But the tax base has declined in Bradenton Beach, and many other Florida municipalities. So, for the upcoming budget, Bradenton Beach would be raising taxes if it used the roll-back rate.

“We sure wouldn’t want to go to the roll-back rate,” Mayor Bob Bartelt said at the Sept. 7 meeting.

The meeting began shortly after 7 p.m., with the mayor and three of the four commissioners at the dais — Gay Breuler was absent — and city clerk Nora Idso at the clerk’s desk.

The audience consisted of a reporter and Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore.

Idso commented, “This is my 10th budget. This is my sixth one as city clerk. The most we’ve ever had in a budget audience is three people and two press.”

When Bartelt opened the budget hearing and invited public comment, there was silence, so he moved on.

The meeting lasted 13 minutes and included three unanimous votes: adoption of a resolution setting the proposed millage, adoption of a budget resolution and approval of a first reading of an ordinance for the 2010-11 budget, which would take effect Oct. 1.

The details

The commission, working with the city clerk and other department heads, held numerous meetings to prepare the budget, beginning in the spring and continuing through July.

From the start, the commission was using a proposed budget that set the tax rate at 2.1539 mills per $1,000 of assessed property value, the same rate used in financing the 2009-10 and 2008-09 budgets.

If the city levies the proposed 2.1539 millage rate, the local tax on a $400,000 home, without taking exemptions into account, would be $861.56.

The overall proposed budget does not call for spending any of the city’s reserves, which was required this year.

It would provide for the elimination of the program/project management department, which would yield a savings of about $115,394.

Some of the cost savings would be used to finance a 5 percent pay raise for city employees.

The mayor has said that employees have not received a raise in three years.

A 5 percent raise for an employee earning the city’s minimum wage would mean 57 cents more per hour or $22.80 more for a 40-hour week.

The budget also contains decreased estimates for fuel costs, employee overtime, professional fees and attorney services.

Overall, the proposed budget is $2,667,114.40 compared with $2,847,301 for 2009-10.

The budget year is from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30; the tax year is from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

The final budget hearing was set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, at city hall.

Now and later

Category 2009-10 budget 2010-11 budget
Millage: 2.1539 mills 2.1539 mills
Roll-back rate: 2.304 mills 2.4868 mills
Ad valorem taxes: $1.07 million $873,808
Total revenues: $2.72 million $2.68 million
Total expenses: $2.84 million $2.66 million
Administration: $360,503 $362,293
Project manager: $115,394 0
Commission: $43,954 $34,200
CRA: $106,000 $105,000
Police: $897,650 $937,226
Emergency Ops: $24,935 $21,000
Planning: $360,169 $26350
Streets/Roads: $190,150 $188,426
Stormwater: $168,300 $159,564
Facilities: $134,700 $140,577
Sanitation: $296,639 $299,372
Capital projects: $112,707 $37,500
Source: Bradenton Beach budget worksheet

Viens’ disappearance becomes homicide case

The disappearance of a former Anna Maria Island woman nearly a year ago is now being investigated as a homicide.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department began searching for ex-Islander Dawn Marie Viens, 37, of Lomita, Calif., after she was reported missing Oct. 18, 2009.

The case, for close to a year, has been pursued as a missing person investigation by a detective in that division of the department.

But last week the sheriff’s department confirmed that two homicide detectives are now reviewing the case files and looking into Viens’ disappearance.

Viens was last seen leaving work at the Thyme Contemporary Cafe in Los Angeles County, which she was operating with husband David Robert Viens, according to the sheriff’s department.

She did not take her car or more than $600 in cash she had asked a friend to hold.

The Viens lived on Anna Maria Island several years ago. They owned a home in Holmes Beach and operated the Beach City Market in Bradenton Beach.

In 2005, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office led a raid at the market and home.

David Viens was arrested Jan. 6, 2005, on suspicion of marijuana possession with intent to sell or distribute within 1,000 feet of a school, possession of opium and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He also was arrested on suspicion of trafficking marijuana.

Dawn Viens, at the time, described her husband to law enforcement as a “middle dealer,” according to newspaper archives.

On April 5, 2005, the state attorney dropped all the charges.

In Los Angeles County, the Viens had been operating Thyme Contemporary Cafe for less than a year before Dawn Viens disappeared.

She is described as having red hair, brown eyes, a tattoo of a yellow butterfly on her right hip, a star tattoo on an ankle and is about 110 pounds. She is about 5 feet 7 inches tall.

The sheriff’s department is asking that information about Viens’ whereabouts be reported to 323-890-5500.

Bradenton Beach couple avoids scam

The excitement, Nancy Eastman said, lasted about 5 minutes.

Then the Bradenton Beach resident began to suspect the prize award — a $3,980 check she received — was a fake.

Island residents should make sure they are not victims of a scam.

The Eastmans, who make a living by transporting neighborhood residents and vacationers to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, said the letter containing the check arrived in an envelope with no return address, only a Canadian postmark.

The letter read, “Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you are one of the lucky winners in the CUSTOMER COMPENSATION APPRECIATION BONANZA in the 2nd category, held on Friday, July 6 2010 for all customers of U.S. and Canada….”

“And the check looked so real,” said Nancy’s husband Joel. “If it wasn’t so real, we wouldn’t have taken it to the bank. We would have taken it right to the shredder.”

Nancy Eastman said they took the envelope, letter and check to the Bank of America, where she said a representative immediately spotted it as a fake.

In the letter, the author, a Mr. Kennedy Nelson, requested the Eastmans send $2,980 via Western Union to cover the tax of their $125,000 prize.

Nancy Eastman said she hopes others will not be scammed.

“I hope at least one person reads the (Islander) article,” she said, “and saves themselves a world of heartache.”

The heartache, she said, came from the emotional down when she realized the check was a fake.

“I could have easily laughed about the check and put it in a photo album,” she said.

Instead, she plans on putting the check through the paper shredder.


Arthur Stanley Bussey

Arthur Stanley Bussey,95, Holmes Beach, died Sept. 8. He was born in Turner County, Ga.

Mr. Bussey came to Holmes Beach in 1972 from the nation’s capital, where he had been an architect in the Department of the Navy. He was an honor graduate of the University of Florida and member of Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Eta Sigma honorary societies. He was a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. Naval Institute, the Navy League and a registered professional engineer in the District of Columbia. Locally he was a member of the Bradenton Yacht Club, past Flotilla commander and past division captain of Flotilla 81 Anna Maria of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

He and his wife traveled extensively to destinations in each of the world’s 24 time zones and to all seven continents.

Private family services will be held at a later date. Memorial donations may be to either the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 81 Anna Maria, in care of Commander John S. Alexander, P.O. Box 20877, Bradenton FL 34204or the American Red Cross. Condolences for the family may be made online at Arrangements by Shannon Funeral Home Town Chapel, Bradenton.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years Wilma E.; daughter Linda A. Griffin of Reston, Va.; son Arthur S. III of Holmes Beach, sister Mary W. Whitford of Delray Beach; four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Mary E. Greer

Mary E. Greer, nee Newhoffer, 86, died Aug. 25 in Littleton, Colo. She was born Sept. 30, 1923, in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Greer was a resident of Bradenton and Perico Island for nine years and lived in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Michigan, Colorado, New York, Illinois and Frankfurt, Germany. She traveled the world with her late husband, James. In addition to traveling, she enjoyed reading, music, crafts, gardening, volunteering and photography, especially taking photos of her family and the numerous places she visited throughout the years.

A private memorial service will be held at Bean Point on Anna Maria Island, where her late husband also was memorialized in 1999. Donations may be made to a hospice of choice.

Mrs. Greer is survived by daughter Carol Greer Siemaszko and husband Ed Siemaszko; grandson Jan Siemaszko and wife Cat; and great-granddaughter, Mena. She also is survived by a son and his family, who requested they not be named.

Kris Hall

Kris Hall, 57, of Bradenton and formerly of Bradenton Beach, Cortez and Fall River, Mass., died Sept. 4. He was born Nov. 5, 1952, in Fall River. He came to Manatee County from Fall River more than 20 years ago. Mr. Hall worked in construction. He was a member of the Anna Maria Island Moose Lodge. He was of the Catholic faith, although he embraced the Orthodox Church.

Arrangements were by Shannon Funeral Home Town Chapel, Bradenton. Condolences for the family may be made online at

Mr. Hall is survived by his wife, Elham Feanny-Hall; three step-children, Nichole, Jasper and Cary Lynn; brother Dave and sister Kathleen E. Roy, both of Bridgewater, Mass.; step-grandson Nicolas, and many extended family members and friends.

Herbert Dutcher Shuart

Herbert Dutcher Shuart died Sept. 6. He was born May 29, 1929, in Mahwah, N.J. Mr. Shuart worked at Midland Lumber Company in New York, leaving as foreman in 1957 to offer private contracting services. He was a self-taught craftsman and builder, leaving behind a legacy of custom homes and woodwork. In 1966, he introduced his family to country living, farming and raising horses and livestock on homesteads near Middletown and Thompson Ridge, N.Y. In 1970, the Shuarts bought Jan’s Hobby Shop in Holmes Beach and moved to Anna Maria Island. The family ran the shop together, offering craft and painting classes. After selling the store, they moved to Bradenton, where they were 28-year members of Church of the Cross. On Aug. 25, the Shuarts celebrated 60 years of marriage.

Visitation was Sept. 9 at Shannon Funeral Home, Westview Chapel, Bradenton. A service of celebration was held Sept. 10 at Church of the Cross, 5051 26th St. W., Bradenton. Internment was to be at Manasota Memorial Park. Memorial donations may be made to Tidewell Hospice & Palliative Care, 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota FL 34238, or to the Church of the Cross. Condolences may be made online at

Mr. Shuart is survived by wife, Jeannette (Jan); son Don of Decatur, Ga.; three daughters, Pat Lowenhaupt of Palmetto, Judy Witt of Bradenton and Debbie and husband David Cerquozzi of Myakka City; two brothers, Arthur of Howes Cave, N.Y., Curtis and wife Regina of Suffern, N.Y.; six grandchildren, Lisa Greenwalt, Jamie Lowenhaupt and Andy, Ashley, Joey and Joshua Cerquozzi; and four great-grandchildren.

Island real estate transactions

528 72nd St., Holmes Beach, a 4,014 sfla / 9,061 sfur 4bed/3½bath/4car bayfront pool home built in 2008 on a 105×112 lot was sold 08/25/10, Walding to Overstreet for $1,450,000; list $1,850,000.

512 Bayview Place, Anna Maria, a 1,512 sfla / 2,273 sfur 3bed/2bath/1car built in 1967 on a 79×135 lot was sold 08/25/10, Boyle to Mintfish LLC for $800,000.

612 North Point Drive, Holmes Beach, a 2,383 sfla / 2,993 sfur 4bed/3bath/2car canalfront home built in 1993 on a 83×100 lot was sold 08/26/10, Sheffield to Fetters for $525,000; list $549,000.

209 69th St., Holmes Beach, a 1,950 sfla / 3,763 sfur 4bed/4bath/3car duplex with pool buil tin 1980 on a 70×111 lot was sold 08/18/10, Alvarez to Palm Pelican Inc. for $480,000; list $519,000.

522 67th St., Holmes Beach, a 1,314 sfla / 2,160 sfur 2bed/2bath/1car canalfront home built in 1972 on a 80×111 lot was sold 08/25/10, Curtin to Flood for $400,000; list $450,000.

519 77th St., Holmes Beach, a 1,573 sfla / 1,906 sfur 3bed/1½bath/1car canalfront home built in 1960 on a 90×104 lot was sold 08/18/10, FV Bradenton Residental Properties LLC to Handley for $400,000; list $449,900.

333 Tarpon St., Anna Maria, a vacant 75×110 canalfront lot zoned R2 was sold 08/25/10, Chilli Fish LLC to Martin for $300,000.

2903 Avenue B, Holmes Beach, a 1,464 sfla 4bed/4bath duplex built in 1971 on a 50×100 lot was sold 08/16/10, Lehmer to Gibbs for $278,000; list $299,000.

3702 Sixth Ave., Unit 4, Beach View of Manatee, Holmes Beach, a 1,047 sfla / 1,264 sfur 2bed/2bath condo with shared pool built in 1984 was sold 08/26/10, Schmidt to Giammatteo for $230,000; list $259,000.

Jesse Brisson, broker/associate at Gulf-Bay Realty of Anna Maria, can be reached at Gulf-Bay 941-778-7244. Copyright 2010

Calling all high school athletes

The 2010 school year is back in session, which means the beginning of another year of high school sports.

Fall sports include volleyball for girls, cross-country, golf, swimming and diving for both boys and girls and, of course, the king of high school sports, football.

Winter sports include basketball and soccer for boys and girls in addition to girls weightlifting and boys wrestling.

The high school calendar wraps up in the spring with weightlifting for boys, coed track and field, tennis, and girls softball and baseball for boys.

If you’re an Islander and are participating in prep sports at your school, call 941-778-7978 or e-mail, so we can highlight your exploits in The Islander.

Horseshoe news

Two teams managed to emerge from pool play with the prerequisite three victories during Sept. 11 horseshoe action at the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits. Tim Sofran and Tom Pechous rolled the team of Hank Huyghe and Ron Pepka by a 25-6 score to take the top spot for the day.

It was the same story for pool play during Sept. 8 action as only two teams made it out of pool play and the final match was a blowout. Norm Good and Tim Sofran blitzed walker John Johnson 21-4 to win the day’s bragging rights.

Play gets under way at 9 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday at the Anna Maria City Hall pits. Warmups begin at 8:45 a.m. followed by random team selection. There is no charge to play and everyone is welcome.

Key Royale news

The women of the Key Royale Club in Holmes Beach played an individual low-net golf game on Sept. 7. Powered by a chipin on number nine, Nancy King took first place in Flight A with a 3-over-par 35, while Penny Williams, who finished second, was two shots back.

Joyce Brown took top honors in Flight B with a 1-under-par 31, two shots ahead of second-place finisher Markie Ksiazek. Jane Winegarden, Terry Westby and Joyce Rieth finished in a three-way tie for third place.

Golf tourney news

The 10th annual Anna Maria Oyster Bar golf tournament, will be held at the IMG Academies Golf & Country Club Friday, Sept. 24, and, unlike past sell-outs, there tourney is still open for registration.

For $1,000 a foursome, you can register for the tournament that benefits the Anna Maria Island Community Center, Pace Center for Girls and United Way of Manatee and includes dinner, golf, use of the driving range and some beverages. Also on tap are tons of raffle prizes, as well as longest-drive and closest-to-the-pin contests.

The fun gets going with a 1 p.m. shotgun start, with dinner following play at about 6 p.m.

To sign up or for more information, call the Oyster Bar at 941-761-7797.

Area anglers see schools of red

Some staggering news of redfish has come in from various captains, with reports of 50-redfish days in local bays and beach waters.

In the late summer, redfish begin schooling up and moving inshore. Various CAL shads and MirrOlures or MirrOdines have been doing the trick for anglers. Anglers can take advantage of some of the big breeding redfish that have come from offshore. There was even a report of a 45-inch redfish caught last week in Palma Sola Bay.

Capt. Mike Greig said he’s been catching his share of redfish, which have been schooled up in local bays. He reported days of 30 and 50 reds caught on live shiners, while chumming with live and dead baits. He said chumming with dead shiners seems to work better because the redfish search in the grass beds for snacks. Greig said he also had been catching Spanish mackerel and sharks right off the beaches.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said fishing around the Island was good this past week, with many varieties of fish. He said the redfish have been feeding in the mangrove bushes on the high tides “I’ve been tail-hooking the shiners and casting up into the open area of the bushes and letting the baits swim underneath the root systems,” Howard said. “The redfish like to hide under the mangrove canopy for protection and comfort due to the hot temperatures. On the falling tide, the reds have out of their shoreline haunts and into the potholes on the edges of the flats.”

He said the speckled trout bite has been good with a lot of little ones, as well as a few keepers. “I’ve been fishing in 2-8 feet of water to find these dependable and tasty fish,” he said.

Also, Howard noticed the mangrove snapper bite is starting to get hot. They have moved into the bay and around docks. Howard said dead shiners have worked well. “A tip to catch these tricky feeders is to let them have the bait when you feel the thump,” Howard said. “Let them pull your line tight and then set the hook.”

Phil Kirkland from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier said pompano, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, grouper, bluefish and sharks are hitting. He said the hottest bites have come from pompano and mackerel. The grouper bite, he said, has been decent.

Kimberly Shearer from Annie’s Bait & Tackle said she has customers reporting that they are catching huge sheepshead around the Longboat Key Bridge, including grunts up to 13 inches long by the buoy in front of Cannon’s Marina and mangrove snapper along the edges of Jewfish Key. She said the biggest snapper she heard caught was 18 1/2 inches long and the bait was jigheads tipped with pieces of shrimp.

Capt. Mark Johnston and Capt. Sam Kimball of Legend Fishing Charters are both catching tons of Spanish mackerel about 2 miles off the beach. Kimball is also catching blacktip sharks in the same area. Live shiners seem to be the best bait for them, he said. Kimball, when the weather is permitting, said he is catching a ton of red and gag grouper in about 100 feet of water.

Annamae Lahay from Corky’s Live Bait & Tackle said she has received reports of some oversize, as well as undersize, redfish, including a report of a 45-inch redfish in Palma Sola Bay. She also said fishers have been having success catching redfish in Sarasota Bay and in some spots near Longboat Pass. Most of the successful reports have been from fishers using live shrimp and a light split-shot for a successful cast, she said.

Fishers have reported a lot of speckled trout being caught in the local waters of Palma Sola and Sarasota Bay.  Most reports have been about speckled trout over the 20-inch length.

In the bays and backwaters, reports include “quite a few large black drum, speckled trout and snook,” she said. “Snook have been successfully being caught moreso at night than during the day.”

She said other reports from inshore waters are mangrove snapper, grouper, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Fishers are having success catching Spanish mackerel on gold and/or silver spoons during the daytime because light reflection attracts Spanish mackerel. Mangrove snapper have been attracted to live shrimp and live shrimp used with bucktail jigs, she said.

Capt. Warren Girle said on Sept. 10 he was catching redfish and trout on top-water plugs. Offshore, over a 7-mile reef, he said there were no keeper grouper, but there were tons of small grouper, limits of mangrove snapper and a keeper cobia. He said there were tons of Spanish mackerel as well. Girle was free-lining shiners for the macks. “I must have re-tied 50 hooks the other day,” Girle said. “I use 15-pound test leader and go as light as I can and bury the bait.”

He reported fishing in a nice group of 100 redfish using a small Rapala Skitterwalk and Sebile subsurface lure. “It’s tricky with the bluefish because the (Sebile’s) are around $15 a pop,” he said, indicating the toothy bluefish are capable of leader cut-offs. “But they work. I’m using silver with a greenish-blue back. They look like a pinfish and the reds really like it.” He said he also caught a couple on Exude jigs.

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