Monthly Archives: December 2016

Campaign season begins on Island

The campaign season for Island candidates seeking to fill city commission seats in Holmes Beach and Anna Maria up for election Nov. 8 got under way Sept. 17 with the Manatee County League of Women Voters and The Islander forum at the Island Branch Library.

Candidates from both Holmes Beach and Anna Maria were given the opportunity to present their views on issues, provide personal background and answer questions from the audience and forum moderator Rosalie Shaffer of the league.

Although no seats are contested in Bradenton Beach, incumbent Commissioner Gay Breuler and Mayor-elect John Shaughnessy also spoke to the audience.

Anna Maria

Three commission seats are up for election Nov. 8 with incumbent Commissioners Dale Woodland and John Quam facing a challenge from political newcomer Nancy Yetter and former Mayor SueLynn in the race. And although Quam had replied to the LWV that he would attend the forum, he did not appear.

Ex-Mayor SueLynn said that she served on the city’s transportation enhancement grant committee and City Pier Centennial Committee after leaving office in 2006.

She has stayed “on top” of the issues in Anna Maria and is running for a commission seat because she’s concerned with a number of changes in the city the past five years.

“Outside forces are determining what’s taking place in our city,” SueLynn said, and these forces appear to be more interested in tourism than in the residential character of the city.

Woodland, who grew up on Anna Maria Island, said he is seeking another term to continue the work that he’s done since first being elected to the commission.

He first became involved with the city in the early 1990s when he headed a committee to dredge the Lake LaVista channel. The permit was issued in 1993 and is still in use by the city.

As a commissioner, he has helped draft the 2007 comprehensive plan, initiated the stormwater drainage fee that provides revenue for drainage issues, and worked to create the present public parking system at the city’s beach access points and along Pine Avenue.

Yetter is a member of the planning and zoning board and took that position upon nomination by Mayor Mike Selby after her husband resigned from the board.

She said she’s always been “pro-active” and willing to give something back to the city where she lives

Her intent as a commissioner is to “respect and protect the village atmosphere of Anna Maria,” while at the same time facing the issue of taxes, something every city across the country is facing these days.

Yetter supports the purchase of the six lots across from the city pier and favors using the area for green space, although she does not yet have a firm idea of how best to use the space. She suggested the city consider a cell tower as a revenue stream, possibly on the six lots.

Woodland and SueLynn agreed that the six lots should be used for green space, but not empty green space.

SueLynn said the “outside force” influencing Anna Maria is the travel industry, which appears to be marketing the city successfully to increase visitor traffic. The problem, she said, is that more visitors mean a greater impact to the city’s infrastructure.

“I’m not saying it’s good or bad, right or wrong, but we need to manage it,” she said.

Anna Maria resident George Barford asked the candidates if they consider it “proper” for the city to accept an offer from an anonymous donor to pay to cut down Australian pines on city property. Barford said the “rumor” in the city is that a Holmes Beach builder has plans to develop the area near the pine trees.

Woodland said “anonymous” donors don’t matter, but the decision to remove the pines or not should be based on what the community wants, not one person.

Yetter said a lot of information circulating about Australian pines might not be true. She does believe the pines provide “a beauty to the Island.” Any decision to remove them should be up to the community, she said.

The candidates also shared varying views on the addition of a cell tower in the city.

SueLynn was mayor when the current cell tower ordinance was passed in 2003 and no company has yet to apply for a permit. But she believes the day is coming when cell service will dominate the communications industry.

Woodland replied that no company has made application because there’s not enough revenue in Anna Maria for a cell tower. That will change in the near future, he predicted, and the city should let the industry decide when it’s ready for an application.

Yetter suggested a cell tower on the recently purchased lots across from the city pier might provide a revenue stream to help pay for that purchase.

All three candidates stated opposition to a 65-foot-high-rise bridge to replace the Anna Maria Island Bridge, and believe a compromise height for a mid-level bridge would be sufficient.

 

Holmes Beach

The candidates for the three seats up for election Nov. 8 are incumbent Commissioners Pat Morton, David Zaccagnino and Al Robertson and the challengers are Jean Peelen and Andy Sheridan. Sheridan gave notice he could not attend, while Robinson RSVP’d the LWV but did not attend the forum.

The No. 1 issue emerging from the candidates was development, particularly development of large multi-bedroom visitor accommodations in residential neighborhoods.

Morton said developers have found a loophole in the city code allowing them to tear down older properties and build large rental homes with six or more bedrooms.

“The big rental houses are coming. We can’t stop it, but we can put parameters on it,” Morton said.

The whole issue is driven by tourism, he said.

Peelen is a retired civil rights attorney who was unsuccessful in her first campaign for the commission.

But she’s adamant in her desire to “give back to the community.”

Her major concern is that the interest of the residents is taking a back seat to tourism.

The current commission has “done a great job” with handling the city’s revenue and budgets, but she wants the city to be “pro-active” against the push for more rental properties.

Zaccagnino also said growth issues would be a major focus of the future commission.

“Let’s refocus on what’s happening in our city,” he said and examine how to limit the proliferation of rental properties.

He also wants the Manatee County Tourist Development Council to return more funds to the city.

“Too much tax goes off-Island and is not returned to the city. We only get back about 10 percent of the taxes we pay,” he said.

The candidates were in favor of the city’s police department and had little to no interest in pursuing law enforcement services from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Robinson, who was not present, has often said the department costs the city too much money.

Zaccagnino said the police department is” not a huge budgetary issue.” If it were, he would favor looking at alternatives or reducing its size.

He indicated that he favors looking at consolidation of services with other Island cities, including trash pickup and building department services.

Morton agreed. “Citizens like the police department,” he said.

The numbers produced by Robinson about the department are “funny numbers” that do not reflect reality, Morton noted.

Peelen said the overall cost of the department is not too much money for what the city gets, but she was surprised to learn the pension Chief Jay Romine will get when he retires.

“I won’t know enough of the details until I am elected,” she said, “but we do need to look at incoming salaries. They are great officers. I don’t agree with the tactics used by the commissioner (Robinson), who is not here, but I don’t disagree with some of his basic points.”

All three candidates favored the city taking control of the concession at the Manatee Public Beach. There is a lot of revenue involved, and the city does not seem to be getting a fair share. Annexation should be addressed, Zaccagnino said.

The Islander will present candidate profiles for each Island city beginning in the Oct. 5 edition.

Student muralists sought for Manatee Public Beach

The concessionaire at Manatee Public Beach and the county arts council recently issued a call to artists in local high schools.

The Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, and the Manatee County Cultural Alliance/Arts Council of Manatee County are holding a contest to paint murals on the north side of the beach restaurant.

For students and teachers who think big, there are four panels on the building, each measuring about 7 feet by 11 feet, said Mark Enoch, co-owner of United Park Service, which operates the county concession.

Enoch isn’t sure what to expect from the first contest, which is taking place this fall, but he’s hoping to establish an annual or bi-annual event.

Since taking over the concession last year, UPS has made a number of improvements and expansions to the property, including the addition of an outside tiki bar and an indoor ice cream shop. Most recently, a new sign was installed at the Manatee Public Beach entrance.

“We also have some plans for landscaping out front,” said Enoch.

Enoch is working closely with Dorothy Blum of the MCCA on the mural contest, and Blum is working with Manatee County School District officials.

She said she’d like to have school groups to enter the contest by Nov. 1, and possibly have the murals installed before the end of the year.

The awards are the artists’ designs in a high-profile public place — thousands of people visit the cafe each week.

But Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, which also is providing the art supplies for the project, is offering a $200 first-place award as well second-place awards. Additionally, the cafe is offering gift certificates to participating teachers.

“We thought it would be pretty cool to involve the schools, to have a regular competition,” Enoch said.

Holmes Beach to discuss border fence with BB

Holmes Beach city commissioners decided at their Sept. 13 meeting they’d rather talk to their neighbors to the south than fight them in court, at least for the time being.

Commissioners agreed to postpone initiating conflict resolution and subsequent legal action against Bradenton Beach for the private construction of a fence along 27th Avenue North and, instead, have the mayors of the two cities meet to find a solution.

At the July 24 commission meeting, Commissioner John Monetti expressed concern that the fence might restrict public access of Holmes Beach residents. City attorney Patricia Petruff was instructed to investigate the issue and to send a letter to Bradenton Beach asking the city to hold off construction until they could talk about those concerns.

The division began in 2008, when Bradenton Beach vacated the avenue to the Sandpiper Resort. Holmes Beach opposed the action, as 27th Avenue is the dividing line between the two cities. Holmes Beach said the vacation should have been down the middle of the avenue and considered the vacation illegal, but did not pursue the matter.

In July, however, the Sandpiper Resort applied to Bradenton Beach for a permit to build a fence along the northern edge of the vacated street east of Gulf Drive and the Sandpiper. No portion of 27th Avenue west of Gulf Drive toward the Gulf of Mexico was vacated in 2008.

At the Sept. 13 Holmes Beach commission meeting, Petruff reported that she had sent a letter to Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt asking for a delay, but the letter was never answered. Petruff said she also investigated the quitclaim deed that Bradenton Beach gave the Sandpiper in 2008, but could not find the document. She also reported that she found a lock on one of the gates in the fence.

Petruff said she concluded that the quitclaim deed was inappropriately vacated by Bradenton Beach in 2008. Therefore, the fence should not have been installed, and the “no trespassing” signs should not have been posted.

That led Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger to place a resolution on the Sept. 13 agenda for the city to “initiate conflict resolution with Bradenton Beach prior to initiating court proceedings.”

Before discussion, Petruff noted that conflict resolution between cities before a lawsuit is a “very process-oriented” procedure that could take some time to complete and become expensive. However, it’s up to the commission if it wants to move forward, she said.

Chair Sandy Haas-Martens called for public comment.

Two Holmes Beach residents, commission candidate Andy Sheridan and Robert Heiger, said the city should proceed with conflict resolution, but resident Peter Graziano pointed out the process would “require a big expenditure of taxpayer dollars” by both cities.

“Access to the Gulf has not changed. It’s just a perimeter fence, and still provides unrestricted public access to Gulf Drive,” he said. Any litigation would not benefit the taxpayers of either city, Graziano concluded.

Bartelt said he learned of the problem four days before the Sept. 13 meeting, and said he never received a letter from Petruff.

“I would not have ignored such a letter, but would have immediately called Rich and said ‘let’s talk’ and settle this informally,” Bartelt said.

Holmes Beach resident Jean Peelen, also a commission candidate, said she lives in the area and owns a unit at the Sandpiper, so she could see both sides of the issue. The fence and gate are not restricting anyone’s access to Gulf Drive or the Sandpiper, Peelen said, and the no-trespassing signs have been there since 2008 with no complaints.

Bradenton Beach Mayor-elect John Shaughnessy, who lives in Sandpiper, said there has been “a lot of misinformation about the fence passed around. I’m not here to argue right or wrong, but present a proposal.”

He suggested the commission set aside the conflict resolution for now and allow Bohnenberger, himself and Bartelt to “sit down and arrive at a solution agreeable to both sides.” While he doesn’t think any proposal reached would please everyone, he’s “confident” the mayors can find something they agree upon and bring back to their respective commissions.

Rather than generate “hard feelings and ill-will” on both sides of the fence, Shaughnessy said, “Let’s give it a try, guys. We’ve got nothing to lose.”

Bradenton Beach Commissioner Gay Breuler, who also lives in Sandpiper, said no one at the resort knows who put the lock on the gate and the lock has been removed. There were never any plans for a lock on the gates, and no plans to restrict access by Holmes Beach residents.

Holmes Beach resident Mary Jones said the gates have been in place since 2008, and she’s never had a problem entering the property or asked to leave.

Petruff noted that a lock provides “an opportunity to exclude,” but she agreed “wholeheartedly” with the proposal to table the motion while the mayors talk.

Commissioners agreed, and set aside the conflict motion until the mayors can return with a recommendation.

Bohnenberger said he was ready to meet as soon as possible, but the commission must decide to accept or reject any compromise.

HB limits golf cart access

While Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine told city attorney Patricia Petruff he’s not considering the addition of any more streets to the current list of roads that golf carts can drive on, Commissioner David Zaccagnino wants to discuss the problem with the chief.

The “problem,” said Zaccagnino, is that none of the streets that allow operation of unlicensed golf carts are south of the Gulf and East Bay drives intersection. That prohibits all unlicensed golf cart owners on the south side of the city from using those vehicles to drive to Publix and other nearby businesses for shopping.

City attorney Patricia Petruff reported to commissioners at their Sept. 13 meeting that all the streets that permit the operation of unlicensed golf carts are in the northern part of the city. Romine “does not recommend adding any more streets,” she said, until the Florida Department of Transportation issues a permit for a Gulf Drive crossing at the traffic light by Mike Norman Realty.

Although Petruff said Romine is confident the permit will be issued, Zaccagnino, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger and Commissioner Pat Morton said they’ve been hearing that from the DOT for years and still no permit has been issued.

Bohnenberger said when the commission in 2003 approved the ordinance allowing unlicensed golf carts to operate on some city streets, it intentionally left out any streets in south Holmes Beach.

Some people wanted streets for golf carts on both sides of Gulf Drive to get to Publix or a convenience store, but that would mean crossing Gulf Drive, the mayor said.

Crossing Gulf Drive — State Road 789 — in an unlicensed golf cart would subject the driver to a potential traffic ticket, Bohnenberger said.

Romine, however, said previously that when officers detect an unlicensed golf cart using a street not on the permitted list, they use it as an “educational opportunity” to inform drivers of what’s allowed under the ordinance.

Zaccagnino, however, wants discussion with Romine to see if there is any possibility of adding some streets in south Holmes Beach to the list. Romine was not at the meeting.

Drivers of unlicensed golf carts must be at least 14 years old. Similar electric vehicles must have tags, lights, be insured and operated only by someone with a valid driver’s license

These low-speed vehicles are only permitted on streets with a 25-mph speed limit or lower, Petruff said, and that excludes Manatee Avenue.

Even if a crossing is built on Gulf Drive at East Bay Drive, there is still no access to it for an unlicensed golf cart in south Holmes Beach east of Gulf Drive, Petruff observed.

She said an access road could possibly be built through a small area of Grassy Point behind Mike Norman Realty that connects with Avenue C, but that will cost money.

Getting golf carts across Gulf Drive south of East Bay Drive has “been a problem for years,” said Commissioner Pat Morton.

Zaccagnino and Morton asked for Romine to attend a commission work session to discuss the matter and Petruff pointed out that the city charter designates the chief of police as the city’s traffic engineer.

Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens said she would ask the chief to attend an upcoming work session to discuss possibilities while awaiting the DOT permit.

In other business, commissioners approved the final reading of an ordinance to amend the comprehensive plan to add Kingfish Boat Ramp as a park on the future land-use map and designating the land-use as recreation open space.

Also approved was the final reading of an ordinance rezoning Grassy Point from single-family residential and medium-density residential to the conservation zoning district. The ordinance added public rest rooms and roads as permitted uses.

 

SIDEBAR

Holmes Beach allows unlicensed golf carts to operate on a number of city streets, all north of Manatee Avenue. Those streets are:

• All streets in Key Royale.

• Marina Drive north of Key Royale Drive.

• All streets north of Key Royale Drive and east of Palm Drive.

• Seventy-first Street from the bay to the Gulf of Mexico.

• Holmes Boulevard from Gulf Drive to 75th Street.

• Seventy-fifth Street from the bay to the Gulf.

• Seventy-seventh Street from the bay to the Gulf.

• White Avenue from Gulf Drive to Aqua Lane.

• Flotilla Drive.

• Sixty-second Street.

HBPD responds to bar fight

The Holmes Beach Police Department responded late Sept. 2 to a fight in the 5300 block of Gulf Drive, just outside Martiniville.

At least five people were involved in the incident.

The police report states that HBPD officers were called to Martiniville at about 11:35 p.m. and found a 26-year-old woman, her face covered in blood, lying in the road.

Two other women, acquaintances, told the officers that the injured woman had been engaged in a mobile phone conversation on the patio at Martiniville and they told her to “chill out” and not be a “Debbie downer.”

The woman then became irate when a Martiniville bouncer asked her to move from the patio, and both the woman and her 28-year-old boyfriend yelled racial slurs at the bouncer.

Outside Martiniville, the three women began to fight, apparently over lost car keys, according to HBPD.

Two witnesses said the injured woman fell in the road when the Martiniville bouncer attempted to break up the fight.

The report indicated that no one involved in the incident wanted to pursue charges.

WMFR passes budget in narrow vote

Unanimous approval of the West Manatee Fire Rescue District’s annual budget apparently is no longer routine among the five district commissioners.

In a 3-2 vote, commissioners at their Sept. 15 budget hearing approved WMFR Chief Andy Price’s proposed $5.4 million budget for 2011-12, but dissenting Commissioners Jesse Davis and Scott Ricci, as well as several members of the public, expressed dismay with the salary increases in the budget.

The budget, a 2.4 percent increase over the 2010-11 WMFR budget, contains salary increases for staff that will cover the 3 percent of salary that WMFR employees must now contribute by law to their state retirement plans.

Ricci said Price and the district staff and firefighters are “the finest” anywhere and “extremely hardworking,” but he can’t support a budget that raises salaries to cover retirement funding increases ordered by the Florida Legislature.

“This budget makes up for the 3 percent,” Ricci said.

He agreed that firefighters deserve a pay raise, but not at this time. “In this economic situation, we have to tighten our belts,” Ricci said.

Salary and benefits for WMFR staff account for 85.4 percent of the budget, a figure that Holmes Beach resident Robert Heinz said was “off the charts.”

Heinz admonished commissioners for doing what he believes is whatever the fire chief wants.

“All I can see is that you are puppets for the chief. You are a board supposed to be monitoring the district. Where is it going to stop? The fee is raised every year because you can do it,” Heinz said.

Holmes Beach Commissioner Al Robinson, long a critic of the WMFR budget, said Price “gets everything he wants. He makes all the decisions and you rubber-stamp them.”

Robinson also was against the salary increase that recoups the 3 percent retirement deduction.

“It may not sound like much,” but 3 percent of the budget for benefits comes to $136,000.

Price, however, said firefighters have not had a pay raise the past two budget years.

Commissioner Randy Cooper said no one “likes the raise, but we think we can live with it.”

Board Chair Larry Tyler dismissed Heinz’s statement that commissioners are puppets for Price.

“We have sat down with the chief individually and gone over the numbers very carefully. We are not puppets,” he said.

Heinz also said the district should get moving with consolidation of all independent fire districts in Manatee County, not just talk with Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue about a merger.

Tyler said he agreed with consolidation, but some districts “don’t want to listen” to such conversations.

What’s needed, Tyler said, is an independent feasibility study on consolidation. He said he’s tried for years to find funding for the study that he estimated would cost between $150,000 and $200,000, but Manatee County officials have been lukewarm at best to the suggestion that funds come from the county budget.

“But we need someone to tell us if it will work and how to do it,” Tyler said.

Heinz agreed. He said it’s time taxpayers stop funding the 11 or 12 independent fire districts in Manatee County and come up with one body to run the fire service. Somebody needs to step up to the plate with some funding, Heinz indicated.

While not consolidation, merger talks are ongoing with Cedar Hammock, Tyler said, but it’s not an overnight process. Officials from the two districts will meet in a public workshop at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at the CHFR station at 6601 53rd Ave. W., Bradenton.

Tyler cautioned that this is a work session and public input might not be taken at the meeting. This is the first meeting of the two commissions and Tyler said information exchange heads the agenda list.

Among the numerous problems with the merger is that WMFR implements a fee for district residents, while CHFR has both a fee and ad valorem taxes to generate revenue.

No matter what the district boards decide, voters of both districts must validate any merger plan, Tyler advised.

 

SIDEBAR

WMFR fees up again

For the 12th consecutive year, the West Manatee Fire Rescue District has raised its fees for fire service to district residents.

In the WMFR 2011-12 budget, the annual base rate for single-family residences, mobile homes and condominiums was raised 3.7 percent, from $159.22 to $165.19 for the first 1,000 square feet.

The base rate for commercial buildings also jumped 3.7 percent, rising from $375.82 for the first 1,000 square feet to $389.81. The base rate for vacant lots rose from $21 to $21.79.

WMFR is at the maximum fee allowed by the Florida Legislature, but can increase the fee to correspond with inflation. An effort by the WMFR to have revenue also come from ad valorem taxes was defeated by voters three times between 2002 and 2007.

The Islander Newspaper E-Edition: Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011

Fishing – 09-21-2011

Fishers benefit from migratory species invasion

 

Inshore waters just off the beaches of Anna Maria Island have been invaded by schools of migratory species — Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, bonito, blue runners and jack crevalle.

If you’re an experienced fisher, you can tell from a distance what type of school you’re looking at just by the eruption on the top of the water. For instance, Spanish mackerel will torpedo clear out of the water to chase bait, while bonito roll on the top, similar to tarpon.

No matter what kind of school you pull up to in a boat, the fishing technique is basically the same. If you have a full live-well of shiners, you’ll be able to catch every species mentioned. And you can produce the same results using lures, a silver spoon or white jigs.

If you find you’re not catching even though you think you’re doing everything right, try looking at what bait the school of fish is feeding on. Typically if mackerel or bonito are feeding on glass minnows, it’s harder to get them to eat your bait. They seem to dial in on the minnows and don’t much care for anything else. If this happens, you can wait until they’re done and then present your bait, or you can scale down to a small crappie jig that mimics a glass minnow.

Remember, among all of this activity in the water from all of these different migratory species, also comes the blacktip and spinner sharks.

Watch for sharks patrolling the edges of mackerel and bonito schools waiting for an easy meal because fishing these schools can be some of the best catch-and-release shark fishing you’ll experience.

These sharks are abundant, aggressive and hungry. What an ideal combination. Most of these sharks are in the 5- to 6-foot range but, bigger sharks, such as bulls and hammerheads, are not uncommon. Gear up accordingly.

Gag grouper season officially opened Sept. 16 and will run through Nov. 16. Targeting gag grouper in water depths of 100-120 feet is producing keeper fish. Moving close to shore, fishers are still catching keeper fish, although just barely. Most inshore gags are still juvenile in size. Near the last week of the gag season, we should see some bigger fish migrating into shallower water for the winter. Remember, the minimum size for gag grouper is 22 inches and you can keep two per person.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier is seeing the early-morning Spanish mackerel bite improving by the day. Large schools of Spanish sardines have engulfed the pier, which in turn is luring in the macks. You also can expect to hook up ladyfish, jack crevalle and skip jack while on the mack attack.

Flounder also are making an appearance at the pier. Sork recommends using Spanish sardines or white bait to entice these flat fish to bite your hook. And try casting out and dragging your bait back to the pier on the bottom. Also, keep in mind that flounder like to hang around structures. You may want to try casting under the pier and dragging the bait out.

Guide Capt. Mark Johnston of Just Reel charters is catching redfish around mangrove islands on high tides. He likes to slowly and quietly sneak up to his spot, anchor and then begin chumming with live shiners to attract the redfish to the boat. Slot-size fish and bigger have been the norm.

Mangrove snapper are getting a good look at the inside of Johnston’s boat, too. Fishing by small boat wrecks and bridges, Johnston is free-lining live shiners or shrimp for mangrove snapper with good results. “Shallow-water fishing for snapper is fun,” says Johnston. “But you have to be stealthy. Those little snapper are smart and will stop biting after 10 or 15 minutes.” If this happens, Johnston likes to scale down his leader size as well as hook size. He also feels that shrimp are working better than shiners right now.

On the Gulf side of the Island, Johnston is catching Spanish mackerel, blue runners, bonito and ladyfish. Again, Johnston likes to anchor and chum with live bait to get the fish behind the boat. A long shank hook with some 30-pound fluorocarbon will suffice for a rig.

Dave Cochran at the Rod & Reel Pier says he’s seeing pier fishers hook a few black drum under the pier. Redfish are being caught there, too. Live select shrimp are the ticket to lure these two tasty species to your hook. Mangrove snapper are around the pilings of the pier. Small shiners or live shrimp are producing the bite, although most of the snapper are on the small side.

Spanish mackerel are coming by the pier in packs, ravaging light-tackle fishers as they pass by. Small, white crappie jigs and silver spoons are working to get that bite going.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is targeting redfish and spotted sea trout on the grass flats of Lower Tampa Bay and upper Sarasota Bay. “Its nice when we can find the schools,” Gross says, referring to redfish. “But even when we can’t, we’re still locating fish by chumming with live shiners.”   On the lower tides, Gross likes to look around large, shallow grass flats and oyster bars for schools of redfish.

Spotted sea trout in the slot-size are being caught aboard Gross’ boat although sometimes his clients have to reel up a dozen in order to get a keeper. “Most of the spotted sea trout roaming the flats are small, but there are bigger ones mixed in,” says Gross.

Mangrove snapper in the 12- to 14-inch range are hitting small shiners weighted with a split shot. Any small structure in either of the bays is holding fish. Gross suggests chumming with shiners to get the mangos chewing behind the boat.

Last, but not least, you guessed it: Gross is catching Spanish mackerel just off the beaches of Anna Maria Island using shiners for bait. He likes to call the big ones “baseball bats” because of their shape. To attain this status, the mackerel must be considerably long, as well as fattened up from gorging themselves on bait. “There are as many as you want out there,” says Gross.

Capt. Warren Girle is taking advantage of calm seas and fishing offshore for mangrove snapper. Fish to 18 inches are being caught on live shiners. While offshore, Girle is encountering schools of Spanish mackerel and blue runners. Moving in a little closer on nearshore structure, Girle is catching keeper flounder. Again, live shiners dragged on the bottom are producing this bite.

Inshore, Girle is still targeting schools of redfish with good results, drifting shallow grass flats in search of disturbed water — a disruption on the surface resulting from movement across the flat. On a calm day, these schools stick out like a sore thumb. Don’t be fooled by a school of mullet, as sometimes they look the same as redfish. As of this week, Girle is catching redfish up to 34 inches.

Spotted sea trout are still abundant on deeper flats. In the early morning, Girle is using top-water baits, such as the Sebile Stick shad and the Rapala Skitterwalk. As the sun gets higher in the sky, Girle switches to plastic baits on a jig head. He’s getting good results using the Exude Dart by Mister Twister.

Jeff Medley at the south bait shop on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Fishing Piers says, “Everyone is happy to see that Spanish mackerel are back.”

Schools of hungry macks have begun a full assault of the bait pods lingering at the pier. Threadfin herring and scaled sardines are literally jumping out of the water to escape the razor-sharp teeth of the ravenous mackerel. All methods of mackerel-style fishing are working. Silver spoons, Gotcha plugs, white crappie jigs and, of course, live bait are producing a bite.

“If you throw 10 times,” says Medley, “eight out of 10 times will result in a mackerel.”

Along with the catch of mackerel are jack crevalle and ladyfish.

And pier fishers are enjoying a great mangrove snapper bite. Fish up to 18 inches are being caught under the pier using cut bait or live shrimp. Fishers using shrimp are coming up with an occasional sheepshead or flounder.

Capt. Sam Kimball of Legend Charters is offshore fishing in water depths of 100-120 feet. With calm seas, greater distances offshore are attainable, resulting in a wider variety of species.

To start, Kimball is catching three different varieties of snapper. Mangrove, yellowtail and lane snapper are proving to be abundant on deeper ledges and structure. Mangrove snapper up to 5 pounds are being reeled up, as well as respectable sizes of yellowtails and lanes.

Gag grouper action is on fire on the deeper ledges. Limits of gag grouper are being caught on both live shiners and live pinfish.

Catch-and-release red snapper fishing is still going strong, too. Fish in the 7-pound range are the average, and live shiners and pinfish are the ticket to a hook up.

Moving up in the water column, banded rudderfish are patrolling offshore structures. A lot of times, you’ll get bit on the drop to the bottom for grouper, says Kimball, ’cause halfway down it’s hit by a banded rudderfish. “These little guys fight hard and aren’t bad for dinner, either,” says Kimball.

        Send fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Islander Calendar – 09-21-2011

Wednesday, Sept. 21

        7 p.m. — International Peace Day celebration at Anna Maria Elementary School, 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-708-5525.

 

Saturday, Sept. 24

        Noon to 4 p.m. — Corn Hole Tournament at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-1908. Fee applies.

 

Monday, Sept. 26

        11:30 a.m. — Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce golf outing at the Bradenton Country Club, 4646 Ninth Ave. W., Bradenton. Information: 941-778-1541. Fee applies.

 

Tuesday, Sept. 27

4 to 5:30 p.m. — Inquiring Minds cross-denominational Bible study group meets at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-4579.

 

Ongoing:

• Tuesdays, noon, Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island meetings at the BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach. Information: 941-794-8044.

• Tuesdays, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., coffee and conversations for seniors at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-1908.

• Second Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m., Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 8199 meets at the volunteer fire station, 201 Second St. N., Bradenton Beach. Information: 941-778-4400.

• Wednesdays, two hours before sunset, the city of Bradenton Beach hosts a sunset party with entertainer Mike Sales at Katie Pierola Sunset Park, 2200 block of Gulf Drive North, Bradenton Beach. Information: 941-448-5798.

• Wednesdays, 6 to 8 p.m., teens meet at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-1908.

• Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m., players pitch horseshoes in the pits at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Information: 941-708-6130.

• Fridays, Senior Adventures Group meets for outings to various locations. Information: 941-962-8835.

• Fridays, sunset, drum circle with Mike Sales at Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-526-6789.

• Saturdays, 8:30 a.m., Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island meets at the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

 

Off-Island

Wednesday, Sept. 21

10 a.m. — Bradenton Opera Guild meeting with guest performance by Christina Pier at IMG Academies Country Club at El Conquistador, 4350 El Conquistador Pkwy., Bradenton. Information: 941-755-7426.

 

Thursday, Sept. 22

7:30 p.m. — “The Sound of Music” opens at Manatee Players, 102 Old Main St., Bradenton, through Oct. 9. Information: 941-748-5875. Fee applies.

 

Friday, Sept. 23

        5 p.m. — Contender Film Series: “Murderball” at the South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. Information: 941-746-4131. Fee applies.

7 to 9:30 p.m. — Starry night paddle through Robinson Preserve, 1704 99th St. NW, Bradenton. Information: 941-742-5757 ext. 7. Bring your own kayak/canoe.

 

Saturday, Sept. 24

7:30 a.m. — Manatee Glens ninth annual Walk for Life begins at Sutton Park, 1025 Sixth St. W., Palmetto. Information: 941-782-4299. Fee applies.

1 to 4 p.m. — Music on the porch at the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez. Information: 941-708-6120.

9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — National Estuaries Day celebration at 1700 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota. Information: 941-955-8085.

 

Coming Up:

• Sept. 30, Contender Film Series: “The Heart of the Game,” South Florida Museum.

 

Save the Date:

        • Oct. 14, Anna Maria Island Community Center Golf Outing, IMG Academies Golf and Country Club.

        • Oct. 14-15, Bayfest, Pine Avenue.

 

AME calendar

Save the date for the following Anna Maria Elementary School happenings:

• Sept. 21, 6 p.m., PTO budget adoption meeting.

• Sept. 21, 7 p.m., 10th annual Peace Day event.

• Sept. 22, progress reports are sent home.

• Sept. 23, 8:30 a.m. to noon, blood drive.

• Sept. 28, 10:30 a.m., birthday book club in the media center.

AME is at 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. For more information, call 941-708-5525.

 

Send calendar announcements to diana@islander.org. Please include the time, date and location of the event, a brief description and a contact via e-mail and phone.

Island real estate transactions – 09-21-2011

        113 Gull Drive, Anna Maria, a 2,447 sfla / 3,165 sfur 3bed/2bath/1car canalfront home built in 1969 on a 91×100 lot was sold 08/30/11, Fitz to Mason for $610,000; list $675,000.

4501 Second Ave., Holmes Beach, a 1,500 sfla / 2,116 sfur 3bed/3bath/1car duplex built in 1974 on a 50×100 lot was sold 09/02/11, DHJLR Properties LLC to Serdy Properties LLC for $525,000.

2312 Gulf Drive, N., Unit 109, Sunset Terrace, Bradenton Beach, a 1,180 sfla / 1,340 sfur 2bed/2bath Gulffront condo built in 1982 was sold 08/31/11, Brothers Beach Property LLC to Jackson Florida Properties LLC for $362,500; list $389,500.

209 Periwinkle Plaza, Anna Maria, a 1,194 sfla / 1,712 sfur 2bed/1bath home built in 1957 on a 85×125 lot was sold 08/31/11, Hatch to Norris for $337,500; list $359,000.

111 36th St., Unit A, 36th Street Coastal Cottages, Holmes Beach, a 1,938 sfla / 2,090 sfur 4bed/2bath condo with pool built in 1937 was sold 08/29/11, Mek Properties LLC to Broyles for $327,000; list $325,000.

243 17th St. N., Unit 10, Bradenton Beach Club, Bradenton Beach, a 1,688 sfla / 2,122 sfur 2bed/2bath condo with shared pools built in 2003 was sold 08/29/11, Bank of the Ozarks to BBC Condo LLC for $325,000.

303 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, a vacant 104×72 lot was sold 08/31/11, Pineapple Corner LLC to AJN Golden Shores of Florida LLC for $320,000.

5608 Gulf Drive, Unit 105, Sun Plaza West, Holmes Beach, a 1,092 sfla / 1,236 sfur 2bed/2bath condo with shared pool and tennis court built in 1981 was sold 08/30/11, Fam LLC to Thompson for $290,000; list $299,900.

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