Mike Sales and the Sales-etts, Barbara Bourjaily, Judi Manke, and Sharon Tollner, perform March 27 at the Beach to Bay Eco Day on Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach. The event hosted by the Bridge Street Merchants featured blues notes, green products and a rainbow menu. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy
Artist Rhonda K, a regular the weekly Bridge Street Markets, showcases her work at the Beach to Bay Eco Day held March 27 in Bradenton Beach.
Festivalgoers attend a kayak seminar presented by Shawn Duytschaver of Native Rentals during the Beach to Bay Eco Day.
Bridge Street is line with vendors and crowded with festivalgoers for the Beach to Bay Eco Day organized by the Bridge Street Merchants. The nonprofit also hosts a weekly market on Sundays.
Leonardo Rojas with his fine chocolates — some specially made to attract Privateers — works his charm at the back of the Back Alley on Bridge Street during the Beach to Bay Eco Day held March 27.
Since January, Holmes Beach city commissioners have postponed the second reading of a police pension fund amendment and, despite receiving requested legal advice in time for their March 22 meeting, they again deferred on the matter, this time until May 24.
Commission Chairperson Sandy Haas-Martens suggested the continuance based on the fact that Gov. Rick Scott has unveiled a plan to reform the state’s employee pension system.
“The senate is reviewing 19 pages of amendments and the legislative session isn’t over until May,” she said. “We should see what the governor signs to make sure we aren’t spinning our wheels and get our plan right.”
Adjustments to the city’s ordinance have been ongoing to comply with changes made to the Internal Revenue Service code and regulations, as well as changes to state law.
The amended ordinance also includes two new benefit options for retirees: the deferred retirement option plan and the partial lump option plan.
If a police department employee elects to enter the DROP, he or she represents a cost savings by ending the city’s retirement contribution. However, the employee may continue to work and draw a salary for up to five years after entering the DROP.
The commission initially postponed discussion in order to seek legal advice from Tallahassee attorney James Linn of Lewis, Longman and Walker, regarding the calculation of unused sick time for police department staff entering the DROP.
As the ordinance reads now, it appears officers would be compensated for unused time upon entering DROP, while also retaining the ability to accrue sick days for use during the DROP period.
The question may be a moot point depending on what action the legislature takes. Scott has proposed ending DROP effective on or after July 1, 2011.
Holmes Beach Police Lt. Dale Stephenson objected to further delay. “The pension board has given you all the information we can for you to make a decision. People have come from home or stayed over from work to listen to a dialogue, and you haven’t even talked about Mr. Linn’s response, that’s the bad part of this,” he said.
“We can have special meetings if you want, but I hate to pass something and have the Legislature take it away,” said Haas-Martens. “We want to get it right for all of you.”
Dan Hardy, a member of the Holmes Beach police pension board, also expressed his disappointment that the commission didn’t make progress on the proposals.
“We’ve got the best department on the Island, one that is well respected in the community,” said Hardy. “We’ve proposed a cost-saving measure — several people ran on that — we have a fully funded pension plan while most are not.”
Hardy noted that all but one item, the, in the proposed amendment DROP housekeeping efforts to comply with changes already made to codes and regulations.
“We hoped you would at least have passed all but the one item that might change,” said Hardy. “Ninety-five percent of these changes are corrections.”
Commissioner Al Robinson questioned the urgency of passing the ordinance rather than waiting until May or June.
“The ball has been rolling a long time on this,” Hardy responded. “We all know changes from Tallahassee come and go like the wind. There will be more changes to make after you approve this.
“We have been trying to get a DROP plan approved for five years,” said Hardy. “We’re not getting anywhere with it. We’re not getting any discussion. It’s a can that keeps getting kicked down the road. Other city employees have DROP, and we’re just trying to level the playing field.
“DROP does save money and it sends a message of support,” he said. “I don’t think the homework on this was done. I don’t think anyone cracked open a page.”
Robinson asked several times for an explanation of how a DROP program benefits the retiring employee.
“I hear loud and clear why it’s good for the city,” said Robinson. “What I don’t understand is why the police are pushing for it? When you’re so eager to give something to me, what’s in it for the policeman? I question if it is a way to spike the pension somehow. After 30 years, I don’t believe anyone wants to work for nothing.”
Stephenson responded that officers have no feasible way to spike the pension with pay for hundreds of hours of overtime. Holmes Beach officers are not offered overtime hours.
Stephenson also explained the benefit for an officer to enter a DROP. “We pay 6 percent of our salary into the pension plan. When I go into DROP, that stops and I get $350, let’s say, more in my salary. I still have a health plan and I can focus my time on getting my ducks in a row and leave the city on good terms.”
“Dale, thank you so much for explaining it,” said Robinson. “I finally got the answer — it doesn’t cost us anything and it puts more of your salary in your pocket — I got an education here. It makes sense.”
After more discussion, the commission passed a motion to continue the second reading to its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 24.
Small wonder so many officials are in disbelief. It’s unthinkable, unbelievable that Anna Maria Island has lost so many residents. The recent census results are causing a rip current of concern.
Whether you measure by homestead exemptions (homeowners mostly living year-round in their homes), voters (folks with a vested interest) or use the new U.S. census numbers (a so-so head count), the numbers are down.
Down. Down. Down.
Wow. Just when it looked like there was evidence of a renaissance in some areas — after all, business is on the up, up, up on Bridge Street and Pine Avenue, and Holmes Beach is holding its own.
And contractors and investors are developing new homes and rejuvenating the surge of elevated duplexes that resulted in the 1970s after FEMA all but eliminated ground-level homes here.
Apparently, what we are to surmise is that these homes will be purchased by investors who won’t ever live here.
Are we becoming more than what we wished for — more a tourist town and less a residential community where families raise their kids?
Like our late friend Snooks Adams, born in Cortez and having spent most of his adult life on Anna Maria Island, would say when asked what he thought of all the folks that have come here: “Hell, I didn’t want you to come here.”
But, he proceeded to comment, “Now that you’re here … we Islanders have to provide for those folks who want to come and live here. Roads, bridges, beaches, schools, lifestyle, safety, sustenance.
Remember when AMI had three grocery stores and a market? More than 400 students at the elementary school? Five competitive Little League teams? A full roster of members at the Key Royale Club?
How will we provide for the future? A future of more visitors than residents? That’s the big question.
If you’ve frequented any top tourist destinations, you’ve seen the “big picture.” And that picture comes from visioning. From people challenging one another to think ahead and consider “what if” scenarios.
Just five to six years ago Islanders were cashing in their chips, selling at top dollar and moving back North or short distances to “town,” where their dollar stretched in housing options.
Then, the bubble burst on real estate, and Islanders found themselves coming up short. Low prices are bringing investors — deal-makers who only want to make money.
And so it starts again.
The difference will be, they don’t want to live here.
They won’t homestead, vote or count in the census.
We will have a new brand for paradise.
And who could have guessed 10, 20 or 30 years ago that we were headed into a declining population?
Who knew we Islanders could become such rare birds?
A suspect in the rip-off of a Holmes Beach couple was in a Sarasota County jail, as of Islander press time.
Catherine Theresa O’Malley, 48, was arrested shortly after midnight Feb. 25 near the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and U.S. 41 in Sarasota, according to a Sarasota Police Department arrest report.
In mid-March, she was convicted of three offenses dating back to a December 2010 case — fraud, presenting a false ID to a law enforcement officer and possession of narcotics/narcotics equipment.
O’Malley also is facing grand theft, a third-degree felony charge filed against her March 9 in Sarasota County. Court records identified her as homeless and a waitress.
Meanwhile, in Manatee County, the Holmes Beach Police Department has named O’Malley as a suspect in the 2010 case of a stolen car, jewelry and other possessions from the home she was hired to watch by Barbara and David Hines of Holmes Beach.
The Hines had hired O’Malley to take care of their pets and home while they were vacationing in Europe late last year.
O’Malley, in police documents, is accused of grand theft, a felony.
“The defendant knowingly obtained the property of another with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of their right to the property,” the report stated.
The Hines had trouble with their bank accounts while traveling, and when they returned they learned of checks cashed on their accounts and that numerous items were missing from their residence, the largest being a Mazda Miata.
“The victim’s bank fraud department has images showing the defendant cashing and attempting to cash the stolen checks throughout the area,” HBPD reported. “The total amount for the items that were stolen is $23,213.”
The Miata, was found in Bradenton in February and turned over to the insurance company. Some of their possessions were found in the trunk of the recovered auto.
Soon after the theft, the HBPD issued an all-points-bulletin for the vehicle, as well as an arrest warrant for O’Malley.
An 8-foot-tall statue of a giraffe is back home at Slim’s Place in Anna Maria following a prank that led to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report of grand theft.
The statue had been reported missing March 14 and believed taken from just inside the door of the restaurant and lounge either late March 13 or early March 14, according to an incident report from the MCSO.
But Slim’s ownership later learned that the missing giraffe had been taken in jest, not as theft.
The case is now closed.
• March 18, 800 block of North Shore Drive, petit theft. The renter of a vacation home reported that a pair of kayak paddles stored outside were taken. The paddles were valued at $75.
• March 18, 100 block of South Bay Boulevard, missing/found child. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a child lost from the city pier. The girl, a vacationer from Missouri, was found within minutes.
• March 20, 400 block of Pine Avenue, domestic disturbance. Two people walking along the street — and suspected of being intoxicated — were fighting. The MCSO deputy gave both information about domestic violence. The woman called her husband for a ride.
• March 21, 100 block of Willow Avenue, theft. The MCSO took a report that a rented bike was stolen.
• No new reports.
• March 19, 12300 block of 46th Avenue West, petit theft. The MCSO investigated a report that a woman’s wallet was stolen at Star Fish Co. The value of the wallet and its contents was $85.
• March 20, 4500 block of 102nd Street, battery. Two men in an apartment got into a fight. The MCSO responded.
• March 20, 4500 block of 119th Street West, burglary. The MCSO investigated a report that someone stole two rods and reels from a vehicle parked near Cortez Bait and Seafood.
• March 19, 5200 block beach access, graffiti. The Holmes Beach Police Department responded to a complaint that someone wrote an expletive on the pavement near the access. An officer found the graffiti writer and notified him he could be arrested for vandalism, and then had the man remove the graffiti.
• March 21, station report, theft. HBPD investigated the theft of a 16-foot boat valued at about $2,000 and fishing equipment valued at about $2,000 from a trailer. The boat was painted olive-green with a camouflage cover.
Streetlife is based on incident reports and narratives from the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
Austin Ferrer eludes Hunter Parrish during 13-16 division NFL Flag Football Super Bowl action March 26 at the Anna Maria Island Community Center. Islander Photo: Kevin Cassidy
Ferrer leads Bears past Raiders in 13-16 Super Bowl
The Beach Bistro Bears jumped all over Bassett, Vita, Vining & Herman Group Raiders early and often on the way to an easy 33-16 victory in the Anna Maria Island Community Center NFL Flag Football 13-16 division Super Bowl on March 26 at the Community Center.
Leading the way for the Bears was Austin Ferrer, who had a hand in four of the five Bears touchdowns.
Ferrer and the Bears wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. After a 12-yard run on first down, Ferrer got loose down the right sideline and made a leaping catch on a pass thrown by Henry Bernet to give the Bears a 6-0 lead two minutes into the game.
The Bears held the Raiders on downs to get the ball back to their offense. After a pair of incomplete passes, Ferrer dropped back looking to pass, but found nobody open so he took off and scampered 45 yards for a touchdown. Bernet then hit Ferrer with the extra point pass and the Bears took a 13-0 lead midway through the first half.
Bernet got the ball back for the Bears when he intercepted Reese Vita at the 9-yard line. Nick Mello ran it in from the 7-yard line and Ferrer ran in the extra point to give the Bears a 21-0 lead.
The Raiders finally got on the scoreboard when Vita hit Danny Doyle on a third-down pass to midfield. Doyle eluded two defenders and ran it into the end zone to complete a 45-yard catch-and-run play. Vita then hit Michael Galati for a two-point conversion to pull to within 21-8 with 3:55 left to play in the half.
The Bears got the ball back and methodically drove the length of the field before a scrambling Ferrer connected with Michael Pears on a 14-yard touchdown pass and a Bears 27-8 halftime lead.
The Raiders held the Bears on downs to open the second half, but after a nice pass play from Vita to Galati that gave the Raiders a first down, Ferrer intercepted Vita’s next offering and took it to the house. The Bears had a 33-8 lead.
Late in the game, the Raiders drove the length of the field on short passes and scored when Vita hit Hunter Parrish on a 10-yard touchdown pass. Parrish then ran in the two-point conversion to pull to within 33-16.
Other members of the 13-16 division champions include Jordan Brown, Carolyn Cullinan, Katie Holiday and Max Miller.
Fourth-annual McSwain tourney a hit
The fourth-annual, Jimmy McSwain Mixed-Doubles Tennis Tournament was played March 21-22 at the Rex Hagen Courts at the Anna Maria Island Community Center.
Twenty-four players participated in the event, directed once again by McSwain. An awards banquet attended by more than 80 players and friends was held March 24 at the Sandbar Restaurant.
Dolce Little took first place among the women, followed by Sue Herman and Kathy Rose. First place among the men and high-point champion was Al Cirulli, while Peter Horrocks, Don Jackson and Bill Davis tied for second place.
Key Royale golf news
Golf action last week at the Key Royale Club was punctuated by the annual President’s Cup on March 17. Club president, Craig Humphreys presented first- and second-place awards to the top two teams. The team of Chet Hutton, Tom Warda, Vince Mercadante and Art McMillen took first place with a 10-under-par 118. One shot back in second place was the team of John Estok, Fred Meyer, Gary Harris and Tom Nelson.
The President’s Cup went to Tom Nelson with a net 6-under-par 26 and also individual low-gross honors with a 2-over 34.
In other club news, members played in an inaugural Key Royale Club men’s senior handicap championship for members age 70 and older. A field of 48 golfers was whittled down to the final match March 25 that saw Ernie Hauser defeat Bob Elliott 3 and 2.
The women and men teamed up March 24 for a coed, two-best-balls-of-foursome match. The team of Nel Bergstrom, Joyce Brown, Jim Finn and Earl Huntzinger combined to card a 2-under-par 126 to take first place. Second place went to the team of Bob Dickenson, Ed Havlik, Liane Klien and Terry Westby with a 131.
The women played a nine-hole, low-net game March 22 that saw Pam Alvord and Penny Williams tie for first place in Flight A with matching 4-under-par 28s.
Kris Landkammer’s 4-under-par 28 gave her a two-shot victory in Flight B over Christina Mason and Beverly Neville.
Mardene Eichhorn and Sue Little both carded 2-under-par 30 to finish in a tie for first place in Flight C. Second place also finished in a tie as Donna Soos and Barb Lindwall both came in at 1-under 31.
Erma McMullen had the low-net round of the day, carding a 7-under par 25 to take top honors in Flight D.
The team game of the day was a two-best-balls-of-foursome gross score won by the team of Cindy Miller, Marcia Helgeson, Mary Selby and Penny Williams at 79.
The men played an 18-hole, two-best-balls-of-foursome match March 22. The team of Art Hibbs, Gerald Taylor, Andrew Barber and Peter Proxy fired a 27-under par-101 to take first place.
The men played a nine-hole, individual-low-net match March 20. Dave Krueger and Bill Martin tied for first place with a 6-under-par 26.
Horseshoe action at the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits March 26 saw three team emerge with the required three victories in pool play. Adin Shank and Gene Bobeldyke drew the bye into the finals and watched as Bruce Munro and Art Kingstad rolled to an easy 24-5 victory over Norm Good and John Johnson. Bobeldyke-Shank edged Munro-Kingstad 21-17 in the finals.
The March 23 horseshoe games also saw three teams emerge from pool play with Norm Good and Norm Langeland drawing the bye into the finals. Bob Lee and John Crawford cruised past Herb Puryear and Dom Liedot 23-12 in the semifinal before demolishing Good-Langeland 24-3 in the finals.
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.
609 Emerald Lane, Holmes Beach, a 1,641 sfla / 3,049 sfur 2bed/2bath/2car canalfront pool home built in 2069 on a 90×115 lot was sold 03/11/11, Safety Harbor Assets LLC to Davis for $484,000.
4607 Second Ave., Holmes Beach, half of a land condo lot was sold 03 04 11, Island Restoration VII LLC to Hebden for $270,000.
2601 Gulf Drive, Unit 427, Sandpiper Resort Co Op, Bradenton Beach, a 1,066 sfla / 1,378 sfur 2bed/2bath mobile home with share built in 2003 was sold 03/08/11, Albert to Murphy for $215,000.
611 Gulf Drive N., Unit B18, Imperial House, Bradenton Beach, a 794 sfla 2bed/1½bath 55+ condo with shared pool built in 1969 was sold 03/10/11, Heath to Wilson for $150,000; list $174,900.
Jesse Brisson, broker/associate at Gulf-Bay Realty of Anna Maria, can be reached at 941-778-7244.
Ella E. Fullin
Ella E. Fullin, 92, of Anna Maria and formerly of Bridgeport, Conn., died March 18.
A service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 30 at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive,
Marion Rose Lacoste Ramsey McCartney
Marion Rose Lacoste Ramsey McCartney, 88, of New Carlisle, Ohio, and Anna Maria Island, died March 18.
Mrs. McCartney was an active member of the United Methodist Church of New Carlisle and the Roser Memorial Community Church in Anna Maria.
She retired as a rural carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. She held numerous positions in the public and private sector, including government service during World War II and as a paramedic on the New Carlisle Emergency Squad. She traveled and lived in locations spanning from New Orleans to Florida and
Pennsylvania to Japan. She enjoyed singing, dancing and playing bridge.
A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society or hospice.
Mrs. McCartney is survived by her children, Judy and husband Masato Sato, Harry and wife Debbie, Jamie and husband Ronald Trick, William and wife Becky; grandchildren and spouses Aimee and Dan Lin, Ronald Jr. and Katy Trick, Adrienne and Michael Gorretta, Matt McCartney, Elizabeth and Nicholas Fields; and great-grandchildren Noah and Nathan Lin; step-children Gail and Dave Armstrong and Eric and Jody Ramsey and their children.
Chris Braun, left, caught this amberjack using a pinfish in approximately 200 feet of water, while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters. Eric Smithman and Alex Braun assist Chris with his 75-pound monster catch. All are from Bradenton.
Springtime, time to prepare for silver kings
Well, it’s almost time to start the quest for tarpon. Sightings have been reported, although targetable numbers of tarpon have not yet arrived to Tampa Bay. So dig out the tarpon rods and get ready for one of the most desired fishing seasons. Take this opportunity to go through your tackle and make sure it’s all worthy of the prospective battle with a silver king.
For spinning tackle, most tarpon fishers are using an 8-9 foot, extra-heavy (25- to 40-pound) rod paired with an oversized spinning reel such as a Penn 850 Spinfisher or something comparable. Using a bigger reel gives you the drag strength you need to turn a fish and also provides a lot of line capacity. I like to have at least 250-300 yards of 50-pound braid plus backing on my reel. You probably won’t need that much line for smaller fisher, but you never know when you’re going to hook a big one. I’ve seen a big tarpon spool a reel all the way to the knot, and having more line is better than not enough.
Leader sizes of 50-, 60- or 80-pound fluorocarbon are commonly rigged with a 5/0-sized or bigger circle hook.
In the upcoming weeks, we should be hearing reports of tarpon moving north, so make sure you’re ready when they show up.
Inshore fishing around Anna Maria Island is still getting better as spring proceeds. Rumors of pompano are coming from the beach fishers. Also on the beaches, fishers are reeling in whiting, spotted sea trout, mackerel, ladyfish and jacks. Live shrimp and sand fleas are working well for the pomps, whiting and trout, while spoons and jigs have been working for the macks, ladies and jack crevalle.
The sheepshead bite is still keeping the rods bent at the piers. You still can’t beat a tubeworm, but sheepsherders using fleas and fiddlers are producing, too.
Offshore action is getting better every day as the water temps warm up. Mangrove snapper in the 2- to 5-pound range are being caught on offshore reefs and ledges along with hogfish, porgies and Key West grunts. Gag grouper are still dominating nearshore and offshore structures. Record numbers of amberjack are being seen offshore, and rumors of kingfish in 40-50 feet of water are occurring, while these species are also being seen around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Capt. Sam Kimball of Legend Charters is catching lots of snapper as well as catch-and-release grouper on his offshore trips. Using live select shrimp or squid is resulting in catches of lane snapper, vermillion snapper, yellowtail snapper up to 2 pounds, and mangrove snapper up to 6 pounds. Catch-and-release gag and red grouper are still going strong with fish in the 20-pound range coming from deeper water. To round out the offshore experience, Kimball is catching amberjack in the 10- to 20-pound range on live threadfin herring. Moving to the nearshore structure, he’s seeing Key West grunts and sheepshead in the 3- to 4-pound range.
Captain Mark Johnston, also of Legend Charters, is having success in the Intracoastal Waterway and northern Sarasota Bay with Spanish mackerel, sheepshead and spotted sea trout using live shrimp.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charter says backwater fishing is improving as the water temps rise. While flats fishing in the bay area, Gross is catching good numbers of snook using live shiners. “We caught a dozen in 20 minutes in one spot,” Gross said. Gross also is targeting redfish around oyster bars.
Using live shrimp, Gross is reeling in reds up to 25 inches. In the same areas, he’s switching over to white bait and catching snook and spotted sea trout in the 22-inch range. He also says sheepshead remain abundant around docks and in the passes. Gross likes to use half a shrimp on a jig head for best results.
Finally, Gross is catching Spanish mackerel on the deeper grass flats and channels using both live shiners and shrimp.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle says beach fishers are reporting in with a mixed catch depending on their bait. Sand fleas fished in the trough right by the shoreline are resulting in whiting and an occasional sheepshead, and there are still some flounder on the beaches. “Try using a Berkeley Gulp shrimp to catch those flounder,” Keyes suggests. Live shrimp have been producing some keeper spotted sea trout, as well as a few pompano. “There’s some pompano out there,” Keyes says, “but the bite has been sporadic.”
Last but not least, some bonnethead and black tip sharks are cruising the beaches along the shoreline. A piece of cut-bait such as squid or threadfin herring is a good way to hook up the feisty jaws.
Moving into the bays and Anna Maria Sound, fishers are targeting spotted sea trout on the deeper flats, where DOA Cal jigs and a 1/4-ounce jig head are producing trout within slot size. Redfish are starting to show on the flats around the mullet schools. And, Keyes says, you may encounter some good catch-and-release snook action around the mullet schools as well. To target both of these species, try using live shrimp or shiners. “The MirrOlure “Lil John” is working well, too,” he says.
Local docks and piers are still holding good numbers of sheepshead. Keyes suggests carrying an assortment of baits, including fiddlers, sand fleas and live shrimp. “Sometimes the sheepies will get finicky,” Keyes says, “So you want to be prepared.”
Inshore and offshore fishing is picking up by the day. Key West grunts, porgies, sheepshead, hogfish and mangrove snapper are all being caught on live select shrimp. Cobia are cruising the structure. The amberjack bite is on fire around 15 miles out. Keyes suggests you try some live threadfin herring or pinfish to catch these reef donkeys.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing waters up to 50 feet deep and reeling in catch-and-release gag grouper up to 29 inches. “There’s still a ton of grouper out there,” Girle says. In these same areas, Girle is catching limits of mangrove snapper in the 2-pound range on live shrimp. Spanish mackerel, Key West grunts and lots of sheepies are being boated.
Moving into the bay, Girle is hooking up redfish around docks and canals using live shrimp. He says artificials are the ticket for spotted sea trout on the deeper grass flats.
Jeff Medley at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge South Fishing Pier says the sheepshead bite is still going strong with pier fishers landing convict fish up to 5 pounds. “The sheepies are biting like they were back in February,” Medley says, “They’re even biting on small pieces of peeled shrimp.”
Spanish mackerel have moved in with a purpose, eating schools of glass minnow, small threadfins and white bait. Fishers using spoons or shiners are bringing fish in up to 25 inches. The Spanish mackerel’s larger cousin, the king mackerel, also have moved inshore. Fish up to 30 inches are being reported,
while bigger ones have been spotted, too. A live threadfin on a flat line has been working well for a hookup.
Fishers using Doc’s jigs or reasonable facsimiles are catching pompano. “Try tipping the jig with a small piece of shrimp,” Medley suggests.
Fishing cut bait on the bottom has resulted in some nice-size shark and stingrays at the Skyway. A nice chunk of Spanish mackerel is a good way to entice smaller black tip sharks, according to Medley. And don’t forget to gear up, these fish fight long and hard.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier says sheepshead is remaining the mainstay for pier fishers. Tubeworms, fiddlers and sand fleas are working great, with catches in the 2-pound range the norm. Spanish mackerel are starting to show and Kilb says Gotcha plugs and white crappie jigs are highly effective on these fast-paced fish. While fishing for mackerel, pier fishers also are encountering jack crevalle in the 5-pound range. White bait is starting to load up around the pier, so don’t forget to bring a Sabiki rig if you want shiners for bait.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters says nonstop action on a variety of species is the springtime norm. The sheepshead bite peaked last week with the full moon and produced some huge sheepies of up to 7 pounds.
Snook have been burning the drags on Howard’s reels, feeding heavy since the warmup and making for some excellent catch-and-release fishing.
Speckled trout also are feeding in a variety of water depths from 1 1/2 to 8 feet. Some exceptional fish have been landed using shiners. Howard says to look for the speckled trout bite to improve as we move deeper into springtime patterns.
Redfish have started moving out of their winter spots and onto the flats. He’s seeing mixed sizes sitting in potholes and readily taking shiners.
Howard is looking forward to some of the best fishing action of the year on a variety of species that patrol the beautiful waters of Manatee County. Fishing action “will heat up as the shiners flood the bay and the water warms up,” Howard says.
Send fishing reports to email@example.com.