Monthly Archives: January 2017

Traffic stop leads to drug-related arrest

A routine traffic stop in Holmes Beach May 18 resulted in the arrest of a 33-year-old woman on a drug paraphernalia charge.

The incident occurred at about 7 p.m., when a patrol officer identified a red Chevy SUV with an expired tag in the 3500 block of East Bay Drive.

The officer approached the driver after she parked behind the Citgo service station in the 3000 block of Gulf Drive. “She began telling stories about her registration that didn’t make sense,” an HBPD report stated.

The driver also could not provide proof of motor vehicle insurance, which is required under state law, and had her license suspended in July 2010, according to police.

After writing a citation, the officer asked the woman to step out of her vehicle, and then, “due to her having some sort of beach shorts on” gave her an opportunity to put on a pair of jeans.

When the driver reached into the vehicle, she reached for her cell phone and began talking to a passenger. The officer asked her to leave the cell phone, and that’s when he “looked down and noticed a needle and syringe on the driver’s side floor board.”

With the driver in custody in the patrol car, police searched the vehicle and found a plastic box containing burnt Brillo pad pieces, a purse containing some pills, a suitcase containing a cigarette pack holding additional pills and “what looked to be a crack pipe.”

The driver faces a traffic citation and two misdemeanor charges — driving on a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia.

She was released from the Manatee County jail on $240 bond.

Falling fish shatters skylight

A friend stopped by Elaine and Gary Deffenbaugh’s home May 25 to find a fish on the dining room table, but not a fish being served for dinner.

The Deffenbaughs, who lives in the 200 block of Gladiolus in Anna Maria, told the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office that while they were out of town they asked a friend to check on their home.

The friend stopped over on May 25 and found a fish on the table, along with a broken skylight above the table.

An MCSO report said it was unclear how the fish fell through the skylight into the dining room.

There was speculation that perhaps a bird dropped the fish.

Beach serves as classroom in nesting season

Marianne Korosy and Suzi Fox watched the crow swoop down to the sand, grab something small and fly off.

The something, they first feared and then quickly confirmed, was a black skimmer egg off the beach north of the Sandbar Restaurant in Anna Maria.

They were heartsick about the swiped egg, but Korosy, with Audubon of Florida, and Fox, with Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, at least left the beach with some new information the morning of May 26. They confirmation the skimmers are laying their eggs.

The beach can be an outdoor classroom, for professionals such as Korosy and Fox, who, along with their organizations’ teams of volunteers, teach others.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Audubon and AMITW partnered to place stewards on the beach in Anna Maria to talk with visitors about nesting shorebirds, as well as show people the birds through scopes and binoculars.

“We need each other,” Fox said of the partnership.

AMITW volunteers assisted with logistics such as parking and tents and schedules, while Manatee County Audubon Chapter volunteers, stationed outside a staked off nesting area of the beach that held more than 300 skimmers, provided the bird basics to beachgoers.

“This is the largest black skimmer colony in the region,” Korosy said. “So it is important to keep an eye on this.… Manatee County is a friendly community to the birds.”

Stewards also reminded people to remove any food or trash that could draw predatory crows, gulls, raccoons or other wildlife; and to not disturb groups of birds, which could prompt nesters to leave their eggs. A single disturbance can cause an entire colony of birds to abandon a nesting site.

Another educational program on the Island, one focused on nesting sea turtles, is set to begin June 8 and continue through the summer.

On Wednesdays at 7 a.m., AMITW coordinators Claudia and Glenn Wiseman will lead visits to turtle nests. Last year, some tour groups contained more than 50 people, many of them vacationers learning for the first time about loggerheads.

The tours will depart from the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive W., Holmes Beach, to wherever a turtle has nested overnight.

The loggerhead nesting is ahead of last year’s pace, Fox said. By May 26, AMITW had documented 28 nests on the Island. For the same period in 2010, AMITW had documented two nests.

Mote Marine Laboratory, which monitors nesting activity in Sarasota County, also will host turtle tours at 6:45 a.m. Saturdays beginning June 4 and continuing through July.

The Mote tours begin at the Hilton Longboat Key Beachfront Resort and involve a 1.5-mile walk.

Nesting by the numbers

As of May 27, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring was reporting:

Number of turtle nests: 25

Number of false crawls: 26

Number of turtle hatchlings: 0

Read The Islander each week to follow developments during nesting season.

Dive death reported

The U.S. Coast Guard on May 19 reported the death of a 52-year-old male scuba diver who was diving about 12 miles west of Anna Maria Island.

Coast Guard officials in Cortez were notified around 6 p.m. that day that a diver from a 23-foot Carolina skiff anchored 12 miles west of the Island had surfaced and became distressed and unresponsive, according to a friend on the boat.

A USCG motor launch was dispatched from Cortez to the location of the boat, where the man and the friend had been diving. Upon arrival, Coast Guard crewmembers began CPR and took the unresponsive diver and the other diver to the Coquina boat ramp.

They were met at the ramp by EMS technicians who joined the CPR effort, but without success.

The man’s name was not released pending notification of family.

Coast Guard officials in Miami had not yet responded to a request for the victim’s name by press deadline.

Fire district rates going up — again

The West Manatee Fire Rescue District board voted — reluctantly — at its May 19 meeting to approve an increase in the annual assessment paid by district residents for fire service.

But the board rejected WMFR Chief Andy Price’s request for a 4.13 percent increase, the maximum allowed by law. The board, 3-1, voted to increase the assessment by 3.75 percent. Commissioner Scott Ricci voted against the increase, saying he preferred a 3.5 percent increase or none at all.

Price said he was concerned how to meet the annual operating budget requirements in a few years time without the benefit of ad valorem taxes. District voters have defeated that idea for WMFR revenues three times since 2004.

Commissioner Jesse Davis said that during difficult economic times the fire district has to “live within its means.” He said he didn’t know how WMFR was “going to make it” but everything, especially fuel, is increasing.

Commissioner Randy Cooper noted that WMFR spent nearly $1.7 million on buying and remodeling a new administrative headquarters and is spending $307,000 to remodel and enlarge Station No. 1 in Holmes Beach.

“Is this a good time to go to the maximum requested?” he asked.

Price said firefighters have not had a raise in two years and salaries are now below the area average. About 80 percent of the WMFR’s $5.5 million annual budget goes toward personnel costs, including salaries and benefits.

With a 3.75 percent increase in the annual assessment, Price said homeowners would likely pay about $12 more annually, while business owners’ costs might go up $15 to $18. The assessment increase depends upon the square footage.

The present base rate for residences, mobile homes and condominiums is $159.22 for the first 1,000 square feet, then 9.4 cents for each additional square foot. A 4.13 percent increase would have put the base assessment at $165.80.

Commercial buildings pay $375.72 in base assessment, while a vacant lot pays $21.

Davis said the district is up against issues it can’t control, such as annexation of areas by Bradenton, few areas for development and ever-increasing fuel and utility costs.

He agreed that Station No. 1 and No. 2 need repairs and remodeling, but he didn’t know where the money would come from. “What are we to do?” Davis asked.

Price said revenues are not going to get any better and meeting the budget will be harder in a few years. “It’s going to be a struggle.”

Ricci said the district needs to talk with Bradenton officials about coverage on Perico Island, which is in Bradenton, although the closest fire station is in the WMFR district.

WMFR gets nothing for being the first-responder in that area, Ricci observed.

Perico Island and some areas in northwest Bradenton formerly were in the WMFR district, but have been annexed by Bradenton the past decade.

“The city of Bradenton has been ripping us off,” said Davis. “Every time they take from us, we lose and we have no growth area.”

Holmes Beach City Commissioner Al Robinson said WMFR has more than $3 million in its reserve account, yet is raising the assessment. “It’s insanity,” he said.

Robinson also noted that Ross Built Construction of Holmes Beach was awarded the $500,000 contract to remodel the administration building on Third Avenue West, and objected to the same company receiving the $300,000 contract to repair and remodel Station No. 1. He questioned why the station needs remodeling.

Ricci said a lot of the $307,000 remodeling of Station No. 1 is a waste of money, especially a $33,000 sprinkler system in a fire station.

Other board members disagreed and voted 3-1 to award the contract to Ross Built, with Ricci voting no.

Sports – 06-01-2011

Run, dribble, toss, kick, tag in summer sports

The May/June issue of Florida Running & Triathlon Magazine reports Galati Yachts employee Mickey Hooke, 50, of Bradenton, has posted the top 5K performance statewide for the Florida Male 50-54 age group in 2010.

The third-annual Cobbs Corner 5K was Hooke’s Grandmaster age class debut. He ran it in 17 minutes 26 seconds, placing first in his division and third overall. The challenging certified race was held at beautiful Highbridge Park in Ormond Beach Nov. 20.

Training on his own Grassroots Running System, Hooke set three course records in his final three races at age 49 leading to this effort.

Despite racing with an injury, Hooke was able to establish a new master record as well as a new grandmaster record for the course.  This performance is a great achievement for Hooke to go with his No. 1 performance in the 5K Florida Male 40-44 in 2001.

Basketball playoffs approach

With only a handful of games left to play in the Anna Maria Island Community Center’s youth basketball league, there isn’t much drama to unfold in the regular season.  All of the first-place teams in each division are comfortably in front with the exception of Ross Built in Division II, which has Beach Bistro on their heels. Ross takes on last-place Southern Greens June 1 and a win will clinch the division for them.

Cortez Kat Charters in Division III is 6-1 and, while Anna Maria Oyster Bar recently scored a victory over Cortez Kat Charters, they won’t catch them in the standings.

Walter & Associates is undefeated and three games up on second-runner A-Paradise Realty in Division I and that staging also is unlikely to change in the last week of regular-season action. The Premier Division is in the same boat with LaPensee Plumbing comfortably on top with an 8-0 record and no team close enough to take the top seed.

That means any “Cinderella” stories will have to occur in the playoffs, which get started Monday, June 6.

The games of the week were happening May 25, starting with Ross Built’s 12-11 victory over Sandbar in Division II. Jake Ross led the way with 8 points, while Aiden Grumley and Luke Valadie chipped in with 2 points apiece in the victory.

Joe Rogers led Sandbar with 4 points, while Gavin Sentman and Jean-Paul Russo each chipped in with 3 points. Truman Carlson rounded out the scoring for the Sandbar with 1 point in the loss.

Walter & Associates remained undefeated in Division I with a 26-20 win over third-place Holy Cow Ice Cream behind 12 points from Nehimiah Goode. Moriah Goode and Seth Walter both chipped in with 5 points, while Jack Walter added 4 points in the victory.

Preston Horne led Holy Cow with 8 points, while Mikayla Kane and Zach Stewart each added 4 points. George Lardas and Austin Morrow completed the Holy Cow scoring with 2 points apiece in the loss.

Adam Bujarski poured in 27 points to lead undefeated LaPensee Plumbing past third-running Dips Ice Cream 46-40 in the final game May 25. J.T. Goode chipped in with 6 points and Pearce Hogan added 5 points for LaPensee Plumbing, which also received 4 points from Ryan Gillman and 2 points apiece from Thomas Pears and Josh Zawistoski in the victory.

Justin Gargett scored 19 points and Jerry Mayer added 8 points to lead Dips, which also received 4 points from Patrick Edwards and 2 points from Phillip Dudevoire in the loss.

The Division III game of the week saw Cortez Kat Charters sail 16-8 over Agnelli Pool Service May 26. Zach Fernandes again led Cortez Kat Charters with 8 points, while Joey Thiel scored 7. Anna Pears completed the scoring for Cortez Kat Charters with 1 point in the victory.

Franklin Valdez and Shelby Morrow scored 4 points apiece to lead Agnelli Pool Service in the loss.

Signups start up for adult football

The Anna Maria Island Community Center is once again offering five-on-five adult coed flag football for players age 20 and up. Games will be played at the center, mostly on Thursday nights, starting June 16.

Cost per player is $75, including a reversible NFL team jersey and flag set. Participants may register as pairs or couples. Registration ends Monday, June 6.

Team captains will be chosen and will draft a team immediately following tryouts, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 7.

Players can register online at or in person at the center.

For more information, contact Tyler Bekkerus at 941-778-1908 ext. 9205.

Indoor soccer registration continues

The Anna Maria Island Community Center is still taking players for its summer indoor soccer league, which starts up June 27 and runs through most of the summer.

Games will be played weekday evenings in two age divisions and competitive levels.

Coaches and team sponsors also are needed.

Magic tryouts June 6-11

Manatee Magic competitive soccer tryouts are set for June 6-11 for boys and girls ages 8-17 at G.T. Bray Park, Bradenton. The Magic player fee is $350 there’s a $50 discount for additional players from the same family.

For the complete schedule and to download the tryout information form, go to For more information, e-mail Guy Virgilio at or Islander reporter Kevin Cassidy at

Key Royale golf news

The women of the Key Royale Club played a nine-hole, individual-low-net game May 24 that saw Liz Lang and Kris Landkammer both card a 6-under-par 26 to tie for first place. Christiana Mason was two shots back in second place.

Landkammer and Mason’s scores were helped by chip-ins on hole number three while Sue Wheeler chipped in on number five.

Horseshoe news

Only two teams emerged from pool play during May 28 horseshoe action at the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits and were left to battle for the day’s bragging rights. Ron Pepka and Jay Disbrow defeated George McKay and Sam Samuels 21-14.

At the May 25 horseshoe meet, only John Johnson and Norm Good earned the required three wins in pool play and were the day’s outright champions. Ron and P.J. Pepka took second place with a 2-1 record.

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.

Anna Maria Island Community Center Basketball League schedule

Instructional Division (ages 5-7)

June 2      6 p.m.      WCAC vs. Bch. Bums

June 3      6 p.m.      Awards

Division III (ages 8-9)

June 1      6 p.m.      Kat Charters vs. Oyster Bar

June 3      6:30 p.m. Awards

Division II (ages 10-11)

June 1      7 p.m.      Ross Built vs. Southern

June 1      8 p.m.      Bistro vs. Sandbar

June 3      6:30 p.m. Awards

Division I (ages 12-13)

June 2      7 p.m.      A-Paradise vs. Holy Cow

June 3      6:30 p.m. Awards

Premier Division (ages 14-17)

June 2      8 p.m.      LaPensee vs. Sun

June 3      6:30 p.m. Awards

Island police blotter – 06-01-2011

Anna Maria

• May 25, 200 block of Gladiolus, damaged property. A woman reported to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office that when she arrived home, she found her skylight broken. The possible cause was a falling fish.

Anna Maria is policed by the MCSO.

Bradenton Beach

• May 20, intersection of Gulf Drive and Cortez Road, DUI. A Bradenton Beach woman, Julie Lombardo, was arrested for alleged driving under the influence following a two-vehicle crash at the intersection. A Bradenton Beach police report stated that a vehicle was stopped at a red light while in the left-turn lane on Cortez Road. The vehicle was hit from behind by another vehicle, which Lombardo was driving. BBPD said she admitted to having had two vodka tonics about 20 minutes prior.

• May 22, 200 block of Gulf Drive South, stolen tag. A man reported to BBPD that someone removed the license plate from his motorcycle while it was parked at the Moose Lodge.

Bradenton Beach is policed by the BBPD.


• No new reports.

Cortez is policed by the MCSO.

Holmes Beach

• May 18, 600 block of Crestwood, burglary. A resident reported that her vehicle was burglarized, with someone taking her Louis Vitton purse and wallet. She valued the purse at $1,300 and the wallet at $500. She said she later saw the strap to her purse in a nearby storm drain.

• May 18, 3500 block of East Bay Drive, expired registration, possession of drug paraphernalia. A Holmes Beach Police Department officer made a routine stop after identifying a vehicle with an expired license tag. After the driver stepped out of the vehicle, the officer saw a needle and syringe. Additional paraphernalia was found and the driver was arrested.

• May 21, 200 block of North Harbor Drive, past theft. HBPD responded to a resident’s report that someone stole her daughter’s Green Machine Big Wheel from outside the home.

Holmes Beach is policed by the HBPD.

Streetlife is based on incident reports and narratives from the BBPD, HBPD and MCSO.

Island real estate transactions – 06-01-2011

838 South Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, a 3,422 sfla / 4,330 sfur 4bed/3bath/2car bayfront pool home built in 1956 on a 110×140 lot was sold 05/09/11, Kinerk to Butler for $1,050,000.

303 N. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, a 1,392 sfla / 2,270 sfur 3bed/2bath/2car home built in 1985 on a 52×110 was sold 05/10/11, Stone to 303 North Bay Blvd LLC for $525,000; list $629,000.

207 73rd St., Holmes Beach, a 1,426 sfla / 1,917 sfur 2bed/2bath home built in 1967 on a 75×105 lot was sold 05/09/11, Molyneux to Carroll for $379,000; list $399,000.

1800 Gulf Drive N., Unit 205, La Costa, Bradenton Beach, a 952 sfla / 1,088 sfur 2bed/2bath condo with shared pool built in 1979 was sold 05/04/11, Cann to LK&T Properties LLC for $375,000; list $395,000.

2703 Avenue B, Bradenton Beach, a 1,253 sfla / 1,813 sfur 2bed/1bath home built in 1958 on a 75×120 lot was sold 05/12/11, Lieberman to Gallant for $206,000; list $247,500.

315 58th St., Unit A, Palms, Holmes Beach, a 840 sfla / 1,140 sfur 2bed/1bath condo built in 1978 was sold 05/06/11, Uden to Price for $125,000; list $125,000.

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

Obituaries – 06-01-2011

Michael J. Diemer

Michael J. Diemer, 54, of Bradenton, died May 21. He was born in West Palm Beach and moved to Manatee County in 1979.

He was a photo journalist for 25 years and then took up teaching. He was employed at Buffalo Creek Middle School for the past five years. Mr. Diemer was a member of the Anna Maria Island Moose Lodge No. 2188 in Bradenton Beach. He was an Episcopalian.

A memorial Mass was celebrated May 26 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Sarasota. Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory-43rd Street Chapel, Bradenton, was in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be made at

Memorial donations may be made to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, 6600 Pennsylvania Ave., Sarasota FL 34243-1142, or Senior Friendship Centers Inc., 1888 Brother Geenen Way, Sarasota FL 34236.

Mr. Diemer is survived by wife Francine; son Jeffrey; and daughter Paige, all of Bradenton; and mother Florence and brother Thomas, both of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

J.C. Ellis

J.C. Ellis, 82, of Holmes Beach and formerly of Clinton, Tenn., died May 28. He was born May 3, 1929, in Scott County, Tenn.

Mr. Ellis served in the U.S. Army in 1946-47 and was stationed in Japan. He began work in 1950 as a special agent in law enforcement for Norfolk Southern Railway. He served 37 years and achieved the rank of lieutenant in 1987 at the rail company. He moved to Anna Maria Island in 1987 to manage the railroad’s Lay-By resort in Holmes Beach for 14 years.

A celebration of life and visitation will be held at CrossPointe Fellowship in Anna Maria from 11 a.m. to noon with a funeral service to follow at noon Friday, June 3.

Memorial donations may be made to Suncoast Hospice Foundation, 5771 Roosevelt Road, Clearwater FL 33760-9962, or CrossPointe Fellowship, P.O. Box 458, Anna Maria FL 34216.

Mr. Ellis is survived by his wife of 60 years, Velma; daughters Dr. Sandra Ellis of Little Rock, Ark., and Linda Ellis of Largo; stepmother Hazel Woods of Kingston, Tenn.; sisters Joyce Woody of Kingston and Martha Harmon of Lebanon, Tenn.; brothers Dr. Roy Frazier of Sharps Chapel, Tenn., and David of Clarks Hill, S.C.; and two poodles, Max and Tiger.

Fishing – 06-01-2011

Tarpon junkies flock to Anna Maria Island

“What are all those boats doing out there?”

When you see a big cluster of boats on the waters near Anna Maria Island in May, that’s a sure sign it’s tarpon season.

Good numbers of fish are schooling off the beaches of Anna Maria Island and chomping crabs in the Gulf-bay passes, both north and south. Egmont Key is showing potential, but the true test will be the strong outgoing tides occurring this week in the afternoons.

Targeting tarpon at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge also is proving prosperous. Try working the slower tides if you’re going to bridge fish. It can be hard to keep your bait in the strike zone when the tide is ripping.

With their aerial displays, drag-screaming runs and overall size up to 200 pounds, the tarpon is one of the most-popular game fish in the world for light-tackle sport fishing. Picture a stainless-steel torpedo, 6 feet long, weighing 150 pounds, hitting your helpless little blue crab at warp speed. Zoom. The fish jumps 10 feet in the air, doing flips and head shakes, gills rattling, before exploding back in the emerald green water, throwing foam and spray.

Do you see how this can become an obsession.

As Frank Sergeant, award-winning writer and editor for many of America’s outdoor magazines, said, “It’s an addictive business, one that has led men to spend fortunes, marriages and lifetimes in the pursuit.”

The tarpon, titled Magalops atlanticus and known as silver king or sabalo, can grow to exceed 200 pounds. The all-tackle world-record tarpon was caught in Rubane, Guinee Bissau, Africa, by Capt. Patrick Sebile in 2003. It weighed 286 pounds 9 ounces, the length was 7 feet 6 inches to the fork, and it had a girth of 50 inches. The Florida all-tackle record tarpon was set by Gus Bell of Key West in 1975. His fish weighed in at 243 pounds. Fish bigger than this have been caught, and will be caught again. But most tarpon fishers don’t document record fish due to the fact they don’t want to kill them. For all their might, tarpon are delicate out of the water and seldom survive the rigor of measuring and weighing for record requirements, thus making it hard to determine how big they really get.

With the numbers of fish we are seeing, June looks to be an exceptional month. With big afternoon outgoing tides this week and again during the week of June 12, the tarpon fishing should be as good as it gets. If you haven’t gotten your dose of tarpon this year, it’s time to get out there and hook up. And if it gets crowded in the passes, be courteous and patient. We all have the same goal, to test our strength against the silver king.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is taking his charters to the tarpon on the beaches and in the passes. I was lucky to fish with Gross this past week along with Gross’ second-cousin Donald Gross and Donald’s grandson Nick. We fished for three hours; hooked five fish and landed three. Not bad. Nick landed the biggest fish with an estimated weight of 130 pounds.

For tarpon gear, Gross uses Penn Spinfisher 850s on an 8-foot Star Delux rod spooled with 50-pound Power-Pro, 6 feet of 60-pound fluorocarbon leader and a 6/0 Owner circle hook. This combo is ready to do battle with even the biggest tarpon. Gross drifts the passes and, on seeing a pod of fish, pulls up-current and drifts back to the school before throwing a bait. The baits of choice for Gross are blue crabs, pass crabs and threadfins.

Gross is fishing the backwater with good results. Spotted sea trout are responding to live shiners on the flats in 4-8 feet of water. Along with the trout, Gross is catching bluefish, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish in the same areas. Once the “toothy” fish show up, Gross uses a 4/0 Aberdeen hook to prevent getting cut off. “It doesn’t seem to bother the trout,” Gross says. “And it keeps you from getting your line cut by the mackerel.”

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters agrees that June is prime tarpon and a variety of baits is the key to catching them. Howard suggests mullet, pinfish, pass crabs, blue crabs, threadfin herring and greenbacks. And he recommends using stout tackle to reel these leviathans to the boat in a timely matter.

On the backwater scene, Howard says speckled trout are still biting and continue to be the go-to fish for fun action and a good dinner. “Fish the drop-offs along grassy areas, and in 5-8 feet of water. Use shiners to entice these beautiful fish,” Howard says.

Howard says shark fishing is in high gear. Black tips, lemons, spinners, bonnethead and bull sharks are coming to the tarpon-feeding party.

“Use a couple of chum blocks hung over the side to draw these apex predators to your lines. Use wire leaders or 120-pound cable rigged with a 8/0 circle hook, baited with cut ladyfish or mullet to get these fish to chew,” Howard says. “Be careful when landing these bruisers and use a long-handle release tool to keep your fingers and hands safe.”

Capt. Josh Peurifoy of Capt. Josh’s Charters is targeting tarpon in the Island passes and around Egmont Key. Peurifoy is using blue crabs, pinfish or threadfin herring to target tarpon. Cobia also have arrived on the menu for Peurifoy. “I like to sight-cast to them with Cal jigs and small swim bait,” Peurifoy says. “You have to sneak up on them and then present a bait.”

With grouper season on its way out, Peurifoy has been taking advantage in southern Tampa Bay. His charters have been coming back to the docks with limits of gag grouper in the 22-30 inch range.

Peurifoy also is working the abundance of sharks in local waters. On a recent trip by Egmont Key, Peurifoy caught and released two bull sharks in the 8-foot range using live jack crevalles for bait. He is catching and releasing hammerheads in the 8-10 foot range on the same baits.

Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle says tarpon is on the top of the list this week for inshore action. Schools of fish are being reported in all the passes as well as on the beach. Baits vary on the “mood” of the tarpon, so Keyes says to carry a little bit of everything. Threadfin herring and shiners are working great on the schools on the beach, while crabs are working in the passes. If you’re having trouble hooking up, Keyes suggests a longer leader and, if need be, scale down the pound test of the leader, too.

Moving onto the flats, Keyes says the trout bite remains solid. “Try using some top-water plugs early in the morning for trout on the shallower flats,” Keyes suggests. “There’s been some big trout caught in Anna Maria Sound.” Other applications also are producing fish in the slot size. Live shrimp under a popping cork is a sure way to increase your chances of being successful with trout.

Along the beaches, ladyfish, bluefish and jacks are being caught on live bait, such as shrimp or shiners, but also on spoons and jigs. Sharks are patrolling the beaches, so while you’re catching jacks, try throwing a piece of one out on a big rod. Wire leader connected to a 7/0 circle hook works well for catching sharks on cut bait. Species you might catch vary. Most catches have been black tip and bonnethead, but don’t be surprised to see bull, hammerhead and lemon sharks.

James Followell at the south bait shop on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Fishing Piers says pier fishers are encountering gag grouper in the keeper-size range, but most are around 15-inches. Spanish mackerel are arriving in schools, chomping up schools of threadfin herring and white bait. Followell suggests using silver spoons and crappie jigs to hook into these bait-busters. “They’re catching them on smaller greenies, too,” Followell says. Small black tip and bonnethead sharks are being caught by soaking chunk baits on the bottom. Ladyfish, mullet and mackerel work great for this type of fishing. Pompano are still being caught in decent numbers using Love’s lures pompano jigs. “Generally, the pompano bite has been in the shallower water,” says Followell.

Sightings of cobia are coming in daily, although none have been caught. Stout gear is recommended to target cobia at the piers. Getting them to take a bait can be easy; it’s the battle that ensues afterward that tests the angler’s big-fish skills. Fishing around structure such as bridges and piers requires stout tackle to control the fish. Big threadfins and pinfish make a good offering.

Tarpon are being caught on both Skyway piers and around the bridge. Again stout gear is recommended for a chance at landing a silver king. Best baits are pinfish, crabs, and threadfin herring.

Tournament fishers were out Memorial Day weekend competing in the all-release billfish Old Salt Loop Tournament hosted by Galati Yachts.

The Loop has been called the “iron man” of billfish tournaments and is sanctioned by both the International Game Fish Association and World Billfish Series. This tournament brought fishers and boats from all over to Galati Marine in Anna Maria to see who can win the prestigious LOOP Cup.

Send fishing reports to