Tag Archives: 03-12-2014

Police target spring-breakers breaking alcohol laws

Anna Maria Island is a natural destination during spring break, with its azure waters and warm weather.

While local businesses welcome visitors taking advantage of their time off school, law enforcement doesn’t want spring-breakers breaking ordinances, especially one that prohibits alcohol on the beach.

“This time of year, we always increase our beach patrol officers on the weekends and during the spring break vacation,” said Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale. “We will be focusing on violations of the alcohol ordinance and underage drinking.”

Officials in both the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments say they are beefing up their beach patrol efforts.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said his department has a zero tolerance for “violations of that sort.” He said his officers cited at least 10 people in the past week for open containers on the beach and underage drinking.

“We have a little machine that we can wave over an open container and it will read whether or not it’s an alcoholic beverage,” he said. “We are looking for people who display signs of intoxication. If the person is underage, we will do a Breathalyzer.”

In addition, both departments were participating in a nationwide click-it or ticket campaign in the first two weeks of March.

Tokajer said his department is targeting speeding, seatbelt violations and DUIs.

Speciale said with increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in Bradenton Beach, officers are more concerned with buckled seatbelts and safe driving.

“Bumper-to-bumper traffic makes it almost impossible to speed in Bradenton Beach,” Speciale said. “But we will be participating in click-it or ticket, and especially watching for drivers who don’t wear their seatbelts.”

 

HBPD monthly stats

The Holmes Beach Police Department reported 17 arrests in February in a report released March 5.

Those arrests included seven criminal traffic arrests, one domestic battery, one DUI, two warrants and five arrests relating to alcohol, which included both underage drinking and open containers on the beach.

One of the 17 arrests involved a juvenile.

According to Tokajer, HBPD officers responded to 214 calls in February, with Holmes Beach dispatch fielding 820 calls.

The HBPD also worked 16 traffic crashes in February. The department issued 66 citations, 42 written warnings and 77 parking tickets, the report said.

The report said HBPD officers also offered assistance to other agencies. They worked with BBPD five times, assisted Manatee County Sheriff’s Office seven times and 39 times helped West Manatee Fire Rescue and EMS.

There were 10 noise complaints in Holmes Beach in February. In three instances, HBPD found city noise ordinance violations — “any sound in quantities that interferes with the enjoyment of life or property” or, as Tokajer puts it, “any sound that annoys or disturbs someone.”

The ordinance prohibits noise exceeding 65 decibels 10 p.m.-7a.m. However, the Holmes Beach City Commission will consider lowering that to 40 decibels at its March 12 meeting at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

 

Security and safety

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer is focusing on warning residents to not to leave their valuables in parked cars in a safety report released for March.

He said there was an increase in vehicle thefts in 2013 in the city and three of the five cars that were stolen in Holmes Beach had keys left inside the vehicle.

Tokajer recommends locking all vehicles and hiding valuables when leaving a parked car.

He said that leaving valuables and keys in plain site for passersby makes “you an easy target of opportunity.”

HBPD officers also are promoting several safety tips in March including safe bicycling and golf cart operation and parking violations. Information on those topics is available online at www.holmesbeachfl.org/Cities/COHB/documents.asp

And Tokajer encouraged Florida residents to register emergency contact information at toinformfamiliesfirst.org for emergencies. TIFF allows motorists to register contact names and information that are accessible only by law enforcement through driver’s licenses.

Juvenile causes 23 crashes in island-town chase

A 16-year-old Desoto County student led law enforcement officers on a wild and destructive ride March 4.

The spree resulted in a three-hour closure of the Cortez Bridge and gridlock on the southern half of Anna Maria Island.

The trail of destruction began around 10 a.m. when a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy responded to a report of a stolen Ford F-350 from a Bradenton business in the 4000 block of 60th Street West, according to a news release issued by Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube.

The deputy spotted the vehicle heading west on Cortez Road near 119th Street West and pursued. He turned on his lights to initiate a traffic stop, at which time the driver allegedly accelerated toward the Cortez Bridge.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by the pursuing deputy, the teenager reached speeds of 70 mph while crossing the bridge in light traffic. When he reached the Bradenton Beach intersection of Gulf Drive and Cortez Road, he struck the first of 23 vehicles.

He continued to flee down Gulf Drive at a speed in excess of 60 mph.

Witnesses, including Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jan Vosburgh and Vice Mayor Janie Robertson, said it appeared the driver was traveling much faster. Both Vosburgh and Robertson said they were shocked to see the chase play out.

The driver continued north on Gulf Drive onto East Bay Drive toward Manatee Avenue with the deputy still in pursuit. The driver then turned east on Manatee Avenue and sped toward the Anna Maria Island Bridge, where he sideswiped two more vehicles.

According to the report, the deputy was ordered to cease his pursuit and an MCSO helicopter took over the surveillance as the motorist continued on Manatee Avenue to 43rd Street West, where he turned south, heading back toward Cortez Road.

He turned right and headed back to Anna Maria Island on Cortez Road, where he eventually caused nine crashes, and himself crashed to a halt on the Cortez Bridge, where he was taken into custody by Bradenton Beach Police Officer Mike Bazell.

According to BBPD Police Chief Sam Speciale, Bazell drew his weapon and ordered the teen to exit the vehicle several times, but he refused. Speciale said Bazell used his weapon to break the truck’s window and forced the driver from the vehicle, at which time he was taken into custody.

According to the MCSO, the teen is blamed for 23 accidents during the chase.

BBPD worked four crashes, the Bradenton Police Department worked four crashes, the Holmes Beach Police Department worked two crashes and the MCSO worked 13 crashes, including nine on the Cortez Bridge.

There were no serious injuries reported.

The teenager was booked into the Manatee County jail on multiple charges. He is scheduled to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 7.

Due to his age, the remainder of his booking and court information was not available as of Islander press time.

The Islander is withholding the juvenile’s name.

 

9 crashes fail to damage Cortez Bridge

The Florida Department of Transportation said the 16-year-old driver of the stolen vehicle who rammed the Cortez Bridge several times March 4 may have met his match for toughness.

“Our initial inspections have failed to find any damage to the bridge,” said JoAnn May, a DOT spokeswoman.

The driver of the stolen truck hit the bridge protection rail numerous times during his attempt to elude police, according to law enforcement reports. The youth twice crossed the Cortez Bridge during the chase.

“But the bridge held up nicely,” May said. “We’re still checking, but nothing found at this time.”

AM commission approves A-frame sign moratorium

Business owners in Anna Maria who have A-frame signs outside their premises now have 30 days to breathe easier and make their case.

They have a month to find solutions to keep the signs, which had been declared blight by the city and illegal under a new ordinance that passed its final reading Feb. 25.

Anna Maria commissioners agreed at a March 3 special meeting to ask Mayor SueLynn not to enforce the ordinance for 30 days. The mayor agreed.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said that the section of the sign ordinance that eliminated A-frame signs outdoors at businesses slipped through the cracks. Woodland, who called the meeting, said it fell through because most of the sign ordinance discussion focused on real estate signs.

“I really believe it was an oversight. Had it come up, I would have had a discussion. During the ordinance hearings, everything was about real estate. I think this just fell through the cracks.”

A business is allowed to have a sign, but several business owners, including Markus Siegler of Beach Fashions Boutique in the old Anna Maria post office building, 9808 Gulf Drive, said people walking or driving by could not readily see his business.

“It’s in the corner of the building. Without the A-frame outside, many people do not even know we are there,” he said.

Siegler produced several statements from customers who said they were drawn to the business because they saw the A-frame sign displayed in front of the building.

Business owner Brian Seymour of Anna Maria General Store and Deli, 307 Pine Ave., said he doesn’t use an A-frame sign, but other businesses are aided by the marketing tool. He suggested establishing a procedure for a business to obtain one A-frame sign.

Deb Webster said her business is upstairs at the new post office in the Bayview Plaza, 101 S. Bay Boulevard, and people wouldn’t notice her location without the benefit of the extra sign downstairs on the plaza property.

“I would lose significant business if people didn’t see my sign,” she said.

Commissioner Carol Carter said she originally was “of a mind to let businesses do what they want with an A-frame.”

But after touring the business district March 2, she said she found several businesses with more than one A-frame and some were placed in the right of way.

She was concerned that if the commission gives businesses “an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

Woodland suggested a cooling-off period of 30 days and made a motion to allow code enforcement officers 30 days from March 3 before removing signs. Only one A-frame per business was permitted in the motion, and A-frame signs in the right of way will not be allowed.

Commissioner Doug Copeland added that businesses should meet as a group with building official Bob Welch, city planner Alan Garrett, code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon and the mayor to discuss options.

Copeland suggested there might be a procedure for a variance to obtain an A-frame.

City attorney Jim Dye cautioned that regulating signs should not be about content — although menu boards were allowed in the new ordinance — because of the possible violation of free speech.

Commissioners unanimously approved the motion and SueLynn said she would organize a meeting with the staff and business owners.

The moratorium will expire April 3.

BB commission stops short on more power for mayor

Is Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon captain of a sinking ship?

That was the analogy given by Vice Mayor Janie Robertson during a March 6 city commission meeting centered around a discussion on how much power the charter allows for the mayor.

In late February, city attorney Ricinda Perry launched a discussion on setting policies surrounding the city’s power structure. She said the discussion was coincidental to a lawsuit filed against the mayor about a month ago for abuse of power.

The suit alleges Shearon threatened employees with their jobs if they failed to provide evidence to sway the commission to deny a joint development agreement with The BeachHouse restaurant to build a dune and parking lot across from city hall.

Shearon was one of three people who sued the city to have the agreement nullified, but withdrew from the lawsuit after winning the November municipal election.

Shearon said because of the lawsuit alleging his abuse of power, he could not continue in the current manner to operate the city until the commission acted on policies that would delegate his authority to deal with department heads, staff and contractors.

Perry was directed two weeks prior to draft a policy that would better define the city’s mayoral system, which she previously said is somewhere between a strong and weak form of governance.

During the March 6 meeting, she expressed frustration over the lack of input from some elected officials and virtually all the department heads into her queries.

“Unfortunately I don’t have anything to provide a draft policy for the commission,” said Perry. “What I’m getting is different directions.”

Perry said some officials feel the mayor should be granted broader authority and some do not.

“So there is a split on how much authority can be written and incorporated into the charter,” said Perry. “With respect to the department heads, I have no feedback. They feel their job descriptions are clear and don’t have anything to contribute.”

Perry said the problem is that some department heads have taken on too much responsibility and, “that’s what the mayor is trying to sort out. It’s a who’s on first and what’s on second situation.”

Shearon said he was hoping for more feedback, although he expressed his own opinion of his role as mayor.

“The way I see it is that the commission owns the yacht and the mayor is the captain,” he said. “The commission says where the boat is going and it’s up to the captain to determine how to get there.”

Shearon encouraged the commission to be involved with department heads, “But there has to be one captain to direct the ship. Right now, it’s taking on water and I’m trying to run a ship with one arm tied behind my back.”

Shearon said he wasn’t making a power grab, rather trying to establish policy that clearly gives him the authority he feels he already has under the charter, “to be the executive head and run this city in the way I was elected to do. Do you want me to run the ship or do you want to direct me on how to run the ship?”

Commissioner Ed Straight reminded the mayor that everyone on the dais was elected to perform a duty. He said there are things the commission should not give up, and that includes the termination and hiring of department heads. He also said the mayor should not be so intricately involved to the point he finds himself in a voting situation that he had a hand in creating.

Commissioner Jack Clarke said no one was doubting the competence of Shearon, “however, there are two branches of government here.”

Robertson supported giving the mayor more responsibility, saying it was a good idea to have one person responsible and accountable.

“If you don’t have that one person being accountable, what happens is people start pointing fingers,” she said.

She said emergencies should be handled by the commission, but that the mayor should be freed up to handle the day-to-day administrative duties of the city without having to wait on the commission.

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh disagreed. She said she has always taken problems from constituents straight to department heads.

“I don’t feel like everything needs to go through the mayor,” she said. “I think that’s unproductive.”

Vosburgh agreed with Straight that the mayor should not have the sole responsibility to hire and fire department heads, staff or contractors.

“The way I read the charter is we do not have a strong-mayor charter,” she said.

Perry pushed for direction from commissioners and asked if she should continue to draft the new policy. If so, she said she would need a commissioner to act as a liaison to the process and suggested also drafting an opposing policy to satisfy commissioners.

Shearon said it was fine to move forward with drafting two policies for commission review, but also that he saw the writing on the wall.

“I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but I’ll just wait for someone to come up with some direction for me,” he said. “Right now, I don’t have any. I can’t be comfortable making day-to-day decisions in this situation.”

Shearon then asked for temporary power until a policy was reviewed, but did not get a response from the commission.

Robertson did say she believes the mayor is the one person that can “put the cork back into the sinking boat. We are a sinking boat right now,” referring to what most of the commission expects will be bad results from an ongoing audit.

Clarke volunteered to be the liaison to Perry’s attempt at drafting a policy and the commission provided a consensus to move forward.

Shearon wasn’t pleased by meeting’s end.

“I’m still in the same place I was three weeks ago and now I’m facing a lawsuit,” he said. “I’m over it. I don’t have clear directions, so my plans to move the city in a direction is a case of, I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t.”

Shearon said he was not threatening the commission, “but until I have some direction, I have to refocus the way I’m doing things. I can’t work any other way.”

Abundant beaches, Coquina on track, end is near

To borrow a phrase from Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way,” the end is near for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach renourishment project on Anna Maria Island.

Workers for Great Lakes Dredge and Dock reached their first finale March 5 at 13th Street South in Bradenton Beach of two Anna Maria Island projects.

According to Sirisha Rayaprolu, corps spokeswoman in Jacksonville, all that remains of the $13 million federal project is to put the finishing touches on the beach at 13th Street South.

However, a drive by March 8 of the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, confirmed the staging area in the parking lot there has yet to be cleared and cleaned up.

Meanwhile, the next phase of renourishment is already underway — a Manatee County project from Cortez Beach southward through Coquina Beach to Longboat Pass. GLDD immediately began work and by March 7 had reached the second lifeguard station.

This $5.7 million project is funded with state and county money. The county’s share comes from the 5 percent resort tax collected on rentals of six months or less in the county. The state will reimburse the county for a portion of the cost, Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources director Charlie Hunsicker said.

The goal to have phase 1 of beach renourishment completed by early March has been met, Rayaprolu said.

“Everything seems to be on schedule for the corps,” Rayaprolu said.

Now, GLDD will work 24/7 to complete renourishment, weather permitting, to Longboat Pass by early April.

Renourishment by April 30 is desired because May 1 is the start of turtle nesting season and equipment on the beach would be an impediment to mother sea turtles searching for a place to lay their eggs.

Phase 2 of beach renourishment is monitored by Hunsicker’s department and Coastal Planning and Engineering.

“We’re moving right along,” Hunsicker said.

He said he was pleased renourishment from 79th Street North to 13th Street South was accomplished with minimal interference for beachgoers.

GLDD built sandy walkovers nearly every 100 yards of its pipes, allowing people access to the beach and the Gulf of Mexico waters.

Hunsicker said GLDD would place similar walkovers as it continues southward.

Island visitors were generally pleased with how quickly renourishment went.

“It was only in front of our cottage for a few days, and they had a walkover for us. Then it was gone. The noise didn’t bother us either,” said Gale Morningdale of Syracuse, New York.

“It’s something that had to be done. Thankfully, they did it quickly.”

Others were not so pleased. The Ozmanski family of Pittsburgh asked for a refund after they observed the operation in front of their beachfront resort.

“They never told us this would happen,” said a displeased Oscar Ozmanski.

But Sebastian Mueller, manager of the Blue Water Beach Club on the Gulf at 6306 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, said he couldn’t be more pleased with how quickly the renourishment went.

“And the people were very accommodating. When I asked that equipment be moved so guests could get to the beach, they immediately complied and were very pleasant. They did a good job and our guests were happy,” he said.

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon, owner of the Linger Longer Lodge, 302 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach, the farthest south lodging facility on the Gulf, said he was pleased at how efficient GLDD was in renourishing.

“They moved in quick and it looks like they’re working real fast to finish up. There was only a little noise at night,” said Shearon.

“Of course, we were the last beachfront lodging in the renourishment stack, so we had a few months before they arrived. But I’m pleased. Looks like they’re continuing to renourish south,” he said.

When renourishment is finished, Manatee County plans to replace the defunct groins along Cortez Beach with state-of-the-art groins that allow some sand and water to flow through the groin.

An example of the new groin is in operation at Coquina Beach, adjacent to the Longboat Pass.

According to Hunsicker, a decision has yet to be made by Manatee County as to when construction of the groins will begin because of sea turtle nesting season.

He also said a decision to allow pedestrians and anglers on the groins is subject to negotiations between the county, Shearon and the Bradenton Beach City Commission.

Bradenton Beach man faces multiple felony charges

A 23-year-old Bradenton Beach man faces three felony charges following a March 27 traffic stop in Bradenton.

According to the probable cause affidavit, William Johnson was observed by a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy traveling westbound in the 4300 block of Cortez Road West.

Johnson passed the deputy traveling 55 mph in a 45-mph zone, changed lanes and proceeded to tailgate the vehicle to his front. Johnson allegedly changed lanes again and accelerated to 65 mph, at which time the deputy initiated a traffic stop.

According to the report, the deputy observed upon approaching the vehicle an open beer can in the center console. When asked for his driver’s license, Johnson produced a Florida identification card, saying he did not have a license.

The deputy conducted a field sobriety test and Johnson allegedly failed, at which time he was arrested for misdemeanor DUI and driving on a suspended license.

A second deputy observed a handgun in the driver’s side door, which turned out to be a loaded .22-caliber pistol. A single oxycodone pill also was found on the driver’s seat.

Deputies continued to search the vehicle and found pill bottles in the back seat containing more oxycodone and alzaprolam.

A backpack inside the vehicle contained 28 oxycodone pills, 99 hydrocodone pills, two different types of methadone pills and four kinds of alzaprolam pills.

Johnson faces charges of felony drug trafficking, felony possession of a controlled substance and felony possession of a concealed weapon on top of the two misdemeanor charges.

He was booked into the Manatee County jail and held without bond. As of Islander press time, he remained in custody.

Johnson is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday, March 14, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., in Bradenton.

Obituaries – 03-12-2014

Marcia B. Bouton

Marcia B. Bouton, 95, of Holmes Beach, died March 1.

There will be no service. Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 43rd St Chapel was in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be made online at www.brownandsonsfuneral.com.

Mrs. Bouton is survived by a son, two daughters, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

 

Beverly J. Ekstrom

Beverly J. Ekstrom, 92, of Holmes Beach, died March 1.

She is survived by her loving family and many friends. Florida Direct Cremation and Burial Society was in charge of arrangements.

 

Evelyn T. Garant

Evelyn T. Garant, 84, died Aug. 22. She was born in Windsor, Ontario, and her greatest passion was her family. She lived in Bradenton Beach for more than 20 years.

She and her late husband Raymond were avid dancers and enjoyed spending time with family and friends in Florida and Michigan, always near the water’s edge.

She was a member of the Moose Lodge No. 2188 in Bradenton Beach and the American Legion, and was a parishoner at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach.

Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 15, St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach.

Mrs. Garant is survived by her daughters, Lynn and husband Ron, Laurie and husband Doug, Luanne, and Lana and husband Chris; and grandchildren Julie, Raymond, Samantha, Brittany, Andrew and Bradley.

 

Edward A. Morin

Edward A. Morin, 80, of Northampton, Mass., and Bradenton, a winter resident of Anna Maria Island since 2000, died Feb. 26. He was born Aug. 5, 1933, in Northampton, Mass., to the late Arthur J. and Agnes (Lamica) Morin.

Mr. Morin attended the former Annunciation School in Florence, Mass., graduating from Northampton High School in 1951. He served in the U.S. Army 1951-53. He was a combat veteran of the Korean War, attaining the rank of sergeant and earning the Combat Infantry Badge.

Mr. Morin began a 40-year career in banking at the former Northampton National Bank, attending schools of finance and trust at the School of Banking at Williams College, and the University of Chicago. He became chief financial officer at the Florence Savings Bank in 1978, was appointed president in 1986 and retired in 1995.

Mr. Morin was a life member of the Elks, a member of the VFW, American Legion, Korean War Veterans’ Association and the 7th Infantry Division Association. He served for many years on the finance committee of the former Sacred Heart Church in Northampton, where he also was a lector and sang in the choir. He served as treasurer of the Northampton Forbes Library for more than 20 years and was a member of the Northampton Retirement Board for 21 years.

In his retirement, he enjoyed traveling with his wife and friends. He was an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan. He also enjoyed golf, singing in his church choir and reading.

He especially enjoyed a “Korea Revisit Program” trip and also joined veterans and spouses on a trip to Washington, D.C., visiting war memorials.

Mass will be celebrated at 3 p.m. Friday, March 14, at Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles Church, 2850 75th St W, Bradenton. Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 43rd Street Chapel, Bradenton, is in charge of arrangements. Donations may be made to Tidewell Hospice & Palliative Care, 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota FL 34238. Condolences may be made online at www.brownandsonsfuneral.com.

Mr. Morin is survived by his wife of 56 years, Rose-Marie (Kirouac); sons Peter of Bristol, Conn., David and wife Susan of Ipswich, Mass., and Scott of Northampton, Mass.; daughter Cam and husband Mike Kelly of Cary, N.C.; grandchildren Sean, Ryan Dana, Marc and Andrea; brothers Bernard A. and wife Barbara of Charlottesville, Va., and Pierre and wife Sue Shea of Savannah, Ga.; sister Joy Tudryn of Hadley.

Fishing – 03-12-2014

Spring into action to cash in on early spring fishing pattern

 

Spring has arrived early and fishing around Anna Maria Island improves as the water temperature rises. As the days get longer and the cold fronts fade away, you can expect fishing to get even better.

Snook, trout and redfish are swarming the grass flats from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge south to Venice. Shiners are available and are providing a near guaranteed bite, especially during afternoon outgoing tides. Keeper-sizes of all three species are attainable.

Nearshore structure is holding respectable numbers of sheepshead and mangrove snapper. When using shrimp for bait, carry an ample amount due to the number of spot tails and small grunts infesting the reefs. Also, carry a few jigs or spoons get in on the Spanish mackerel catch. The big macks are carousing nearshore structure and make for a great adversary on light tackle.

Cobia also are making a showing on nearshore wrecks and reefs. Be ready to toss out a free-lined pinfish or shiner when the brown bomber presents.

Finally, pompano and other migratory fish such as bluefish, ladyfish and jacks can be caught in the bays and along the beaches. Small jigs tipped with shrimp are a great offering.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore adding more than the usual suspects to the fray, including grouper and snapper. As spring settles in, a wider variety of species will be coming our way.

To start, Girle is fishing structure in depths of 35-45 feet of water. Cobia are being spotted daily and are readily taking most baits offered. Girle’s clients are catching keeper-size cobia on either live shiners or pinfish.

Next, Girle is instructing his clients to fish the bottom with live shrimp. By doing this, they’re reeling up keeper-size hogfish as well as good numbers of Key West grunts, porgies and mangrove snapper.

Keeper-size gag grouper are a consistent catch — consistently released. Red grouper are in the mix, too, although keeper sizes are not as common in the shallower depths where the gags can be caught.

Moving inshore, Girle is finding an ample amount of redfish up to 32 inches on live shiners free-lined over potholes. Rallies of reds are not uncommon, according to Girle, and schooling fish are arriving daily on the flats.

Spotted seatrout are readily available by free-lining live shiners over shallow grass flats. Girle says fish exceeding 23 inches are common.

Finally, by working small jigs over deeper grass flats, Girle is finding pompano, ladyfish and bluefish. Remember, when blues and ladyfish arrive, be ready to lose a few jigs. These fish can cut your leader just by thinking about it.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says the mack bite is sporadic. He believes they’ve worked their way up to the Skyway Bridge in search of bait. The macks that are lingering at the pier are being caught on small speck rigs of either bubble gum or chartreuse.

Sheepshead are gnawing away at the barnacles attached to the pilings under the pier and live shrimp anglers are finding success. To ensure success, try baiting tubeworms or fiddler crabs. Expect to encounter sheepies 1-2 pounds. Bigger fish can be seen in the depths, but catching them is another story. Those big pier sheepies are smart, but be determined. They give in eventually.

Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle says fishing is good just about everywhere. Whether fishing offshore, nearshore or inshore, smiling anglers are arriving back at the cleaning table.

Offshore fishers are getting good results on red and mangrove snapper. Offerings such as live shiners or pinfish are attracting the bite. If catching bait isn’t your thing, try frozen squid and threadfins.

Fishing offshore also is resulting in permit and cobia. Typically, you’ll find permit spooky and elusive, while on the other hand, cobia are curious. They’ll eat a bait right next to the boat. For the permit, a live pass crab or small blue crab is the way to go. As for the cobia, live baits, pinfish and shiners, are hard for them to resist.

Moving to the nearshore bite, Keyes is hearing of good action on sheepshead and mangrove snapper. He recommends live shrimp combined with a circle hook, some 30-pound leader and enough weight to keep your bait on the bottom. Places to search for these tasty fish include reefs, wrecks, piers, docks and rocks.

Finally, the inshore bite busted wide open in the past two weeks. Keyes is both hearing from anglers and catching good numbers of large spotted seatrout. Fish up to 28 inches are being reported, although most are 18-25 inches. Keyes suggests using topwater plugs or plastic bait, such as the Savage Shrimp, to attract a bite.

He says snook and redfish are making a showing in their normal backwater haunts. Live shiners are the bait of choice, according to Keyes, although catches also are occurring on live shrimp and artificials.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime is focusing on the inshore slam — snook, spotted seatrout and redfish, which is coming alive on the flats.

Howard is concentrating on snook. Since the season opened March 1, it’s time to get one for the dinner table. Rallies of 20 fish a trip have been the norm when you can find moving warm water and snook feeding stations.

“This week’s “high hook” went to Davenport, Fla.-Saratoga N.Y., snowbird Robert Lyons, 85. He hooked up and released two over-slot snook of 34 and 36 inches while seated on a cushion, fishing with a bobber and a large shiner.

“The key to catching the big ones has been to use the biggest shiners in your live well and tossing your baits a country mile away from your boat,” Howard says.

Redfish and big spotted seatrout are invading the flats and chewing. Look for the fish to stage on the outside bars of flats on the low tide and then move into the bushes as the tide progresses to high tide. He says to use a popping cork rigged with a 2/0 hook and a 5-foot fluorocarbon leader and make it gurgle to attract predators.

Looking forward, the cold fronts are getting weaker and the island-area water temperature is rising — bellwethers for some fantastic fishing. The shiners at the Skyway are starting to make a show on the flats. The moon phase will be on the increase working toward a March 16 full moon, which means increasing tides and fantastic fishing.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is cashing in on the abundance of backwater species that are feeding on the flats. Snook, spotted seatrout and redfish are in Gross’ sights and are readily responding to bait offered during moving tides.

For the snook and reds, Gross is anchoring over shallow flats and free-lining shiners around the boat to locate the bite. By chumming, he attracts hungry snook and reds to strike the bait at the surface, which provides a casting target. Gross is managing to guide his clients to keeper-size fish of both species.

Spotted seatrout also are responding to shiners and pinfish. Larger, over-slot fish are being caught in the same areas as the snook and reds. For sheer numbers of fish, Gross is fishing deeper flats of 5-7 feet.

        Send fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Calendar – 03-12-2014

Wednesday, March 12

2 p.m. — The Friends of the Island Library presents mystery author H. Terrell Griffin, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

7:38 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Thursday, March 13

1 p.m. — St. Bernard St. Bernard Council of Catholic Women “Wearing of the Green” card and game party, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach. Fee applies. Information: 941-778-4769.

2 p.m. — A talk on herbal supplements takes place at the Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information:941-778-6341.

3 p.m. — Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra Oldies Dance Party, Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria. Fee applies. Information: 941-799-2181.

7:38 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Friday, March 14

2 p.m. — County conservationists Melissa Nell talks about endangered species at the Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information:941-778-6341.

5:30-7:30 p.m. — Holmes Beach Artwalk, various locations, downtown Holmes Beach, Marina and Gulf drives. Information: 941-778-6694.

5:30-7:30 p.m. — Artists’ Guild of Anna Maria Island reception with Sue Lynn Cotton, Guild Gallery, 5414 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. AGAMI also is cutting the ribbon on its remodeled gallery and celebrating a 25th anniversary. Information: 941-778-6694.

5:30-7:30 p.m. — Island Gallery West, 5368 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, reception and exhibition for painter Don Pulver. Information: 941-778-6648.

5:30-8 p.m. — Anna Maria Island Art League reception for Recycled Art and a watercolor demonstration by Rob Reiber, 5312 Holmes Blvd., Holmes Beach. Information: 941-704-3708.

6-8 p.m. — Reception for Diane Wiseman Linscott’s “Passing Thoughts” art exhibit, the Studio at Gulf and Pine, 10101 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Information: 778-1906.

7:30 p.m. — Roser Memorial Community Church concert with Paul Todd Sr. and Paul Todd Jr., 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-0414.

7:39 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Saturday, March 15

10:30 a.m. — Island Gallery West demonstration with Barbara Hines, 5368 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6648.

10 a.m.-4 p.m. — Anna Maria Island Tour of Homes, Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-1908.

7:39 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Sunday, March 16

4 p.m. — St. Patrick’s Day Parade, presented by Beach Bistro and Eat Here, beginning at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, traveling north to 78th Street. Information: 941-778-6444.

5 p.m. — Post-St. Patrick’s Day Parade party, with live music, Duffy’s Tavern, 5808 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-2501.

7:40 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Monday, March 17

7:40 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Tuesday, March 18

2 p.m. — Computing class, Island Library, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

7:41 p.m. — Official sunset time.

8 p.m. — Island Players performance, “Mama Won’t Fly,” benefit for American Cancer Society, Island Players theater, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Fee applies. Information: 941-778-2181.

 

Wednesday, March 19

10 a.m.-5 p.m. — Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park-Coquina Beach Arts and Crafts Festival, Coquina Beach, Bradenton Beach. Information: 941-518-4431.

1-3 p.m. — Anna Maria Garden Club annual Penny Flower Show, Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-2607.

7:41 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Off-island

Wednesday, March 12

Noon — Off Stage Ladies luncheon, Mannatees Sports Grill, 7423 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. Fee applies. Reservations required. Information: 941-779-2181.

7:30 — Album release party for Das Funk Haus, Eat Here, 1888 Main St., Sarasota. Information: 941-807-6484.

 

Friday, March 14

6 p.m. — Music in the Park with Scott Blum and friends, Riverwalk, downtown Bradenton. Information: 941-840-0013.

 

Saturday, March 15

8 a.m.-3 p.m. — Palma Sola Botanical Park annual spring plant and art sale, 9800 17th Ave. NW, Bradenton. Information: 941-792-8719.

 

Monday, March 17

11:45 a.m. — Anna Maria Island Democratic Club luncheon and meeting with Randall Wells of Mote Marine Laboratory, Mannatees Sports Grill, 7423 Manatee Ave., Bradenton. Fee applies. Information: 941-761-4017.

 

Coming up

• April 5, Bradenton Marauders’ first home game, Bradenton.

• April 5, Keep Manatee Beautiful Make Every Day Earth Day, countywide.

• April 12, Anna Maria Island Privateers Thieves Market, Bradenton Beach.

• April 12, An Island Affaire gala, Anna Maria Island Community Center, Anna Maria.

 

Save the date

• April 19, Sandbar Restaurant Easter egg hunt, Anna Maria.

 

Calendar announcements

        Send calendar announcements to calendar@islander.org. Please include the time, date and location of the event, a brief description and a contact via email and phone. The deadline for submissions is the Wednesday a week before publication. High-resolution photographs welcome.