Headline News From The Islander
Santa Claus announces the Christmas season’s arrival as he waves to his adoring crowd in the Privateers annual Christmas Parade Dec. 7. Click here for more images
The Anna Maria Island Privateers, along with their Christmas sleigh, Santa Claus and their float/boat Skullway, join the fun hosted Dec. 6 by The Islander and The Feast Restaurant at the Island Shopping Center in Holmes Beach. Nearly all the shops, including the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, where a tree-lighting took place at dusk, held open house events. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy. Click here for more images
Students of Diane Partington’s Studio of Classical Ballet of Sarasota perform for guests of the center’s Family Fun Day Dec. 7. Dancers performed selections from the Nutcracker, which will be showing at the Sarasota Opera House Dec. 21-22. Click here for more images
The Anna Maria Island Privateers head up their Dec. 7 annual Christmas Parade aboard Skullywag. The parade began at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria, passing along Pine Avenue, and wound south to a party hosted by the Privateers at Coquina Beach. Islander Photos: Jennifer Glenfield
The Barefoot Tiki Bar of Holmes Beach celebrates the holidays in the Anna Maria Privateer’s Christmas Parade Dec. 7.
Some members of The Hitcrew, a roller derby team from Manatee County, ride in a large green truck in the Dec. 7 parade while other derby players follow on skates.
The Privateers Christmas parade winds up at Coquina Beach where scores of children, including young pirate Julianne, visiting with Santa aboard the Skullywag.
The Privateers Christmas parade winds up at Coquina Beach where scores of children, including young pirate Julianne, visiting with Santa aboard the Skullywag.
Guests of the Privateers gather at Coquina Beach Dec. 7 for photo ops with Privateers at the Skullywag and Santa sleigh.
Following the Privateers Christmas parade at the Coquina Beach Dec. 7 party, pirate volunteers serve lunch — free for kids and for a small fee for adults.
Bradenton Beach city officials and friends ride aboard the city’s marine patrol boat.
The Hernando DeSoto Conquistadors celebrate the holiday on their ship/float in the Privateers Christmas Parade.
The Hernando DeSoto Conquistadors celebrate the holiday on their ship/float in the Privateers Christmas Parade.
Holmes Beach city officials and friends ride aboard the city’s marine patrol boat.
The Anna Maria Island Privateers arrive in Holmes Beach in their Christmas Parade.
Santa Claus announces the Christmas season’s arrival as he waves to his adoring crowd in the Privateers annual Christmas Parade Dec. 7
The Anna Maria Island Privateers, along with their Christmas sleigh, Santa Claus and their float/boat Skullway, join the fun hosted Dec. 6 by The Islander and The Feast Restaurant at the Island Shopping Center in Holmes Beach. Nearly all the shops, including the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, where a tree-lighting took place at dusk, held open house events. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy
A very delighted Julie Ann Jordan, 6, of Bradenton, rushed to meet Santa and lept into his arms with squeals of joy as he prepared to board his sleigh in the parking lot at The Feast Restaurant in Holmes Beach.
Mom Shawna Nance holds baby Lyla, 7 months, and Carter, 3, as Carter whispers to Santa his Christmas wish list. Carter was a little shy about sitting with Santa, but he surely wanted his wishes known.
Children young and old at The Islander and The Feast Restaurant-sponsored party in the Island Shopping Center Dec. 6 enjoyed snow flurries — with many thanks to snow-machine owner Mark Kimball.
Students of Diane Partington’s Studio of Classical Ballet of Sarasota perform for guests of the center’s Family Fun Day Dec. 7. Dancers performed selections from the Nutcracker, which will be showing at the Sarasota Opera House Dec. 21-22.
Gingerbread houses created by local businesses were on display for fun day attendees to admire and vote for their favorite.
Scott Dell of the center greets Chuck Lester and Joey Lester at the annual event they sponsor for “family fun.”
Santa arrives to Fun Day Dec. 7 at the Anna Maria Island Community Center aboard a West Manatee Fire Rescue firetruck, where children anxiously await his arrival.
Family Fun Day ballet dancers pose with Santa while other children and their families form a line to get a word and photo with the jolly fat man on a visit from the North Pole to AMI.
The Manatee High School drum line leads Santa on his arrival by firetruck to his seat on center stage in the AMICC gym.
Santa greets children and their families as he passes through the lobby of the community center on his way to his seat on the stage accompanied by the Manatee High School drum line.
Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon began his new policy of holding a work session prior to city meetings with a bang as the city began to overhaul its administration department.
A plan put forth by Commissioner Jack Clarke and supported by the majority of the commission will essentially terminate every staff position at city hall, but allow current employees to reapply for their positions in an attempt to create a more structured environment.
At the Dec. 5 work session, Shearon indicated the departure of former city clerk Nora Idso is an opportunity to restructure the administrative staff.
Idso left her position for undisclosed reasons, but it appeared to be related to medical issues, according to her resignation agreement. She accepted the agreement terms in November to receive her full salary through April and keep her insurance through July.
“Nora has been our city clerk for a long time and she wore many hats,” said Shearon. “She was city clerk, city treasurer and the department head for the building and planning department.”
Karen Cervetto has been named “acting city clerk.”
Shearon said the city has been cautioned by its auditors for years to separate the city clerk and treasurer duties between two people. Shearon said the Florida League of Cities recommends that a municipality split the clerk and treasurer duties.
“Right now, we don’t have a city clerk or a city treasurer,” said Shearon, who told commissioners he is seeking direction in filling the positions. He said the planning department head can be addressed later.
“A lot of our policies and procedures are in dire need of updating and redoing,” said Shearon. “My thought is that we need to hire these people and basically start fresh.”
That brought Clarke forward to lay out his plan for the overhaul.
“My long-term plan is to eliminate every administration position and re-establish the positions of clerk, deputy clerk and every current employee for those positions,” said Clarke.
Only Vice Mayor Ed Straight questioned the idea of terminating employees and having them reapply for their jobs.
“I don’t know about that,” he said.
Commissioner Janie Robertson said she liked the idea of starting from scratch.
“We totally need to readjust the energy and talent in that office,” she said, while noting it’s an opportunity for the existing employees to showcase their strengths.
Perry said before the city moves forward with a plan to restructure city hall, she needed a consensus that the city would create separate positions for city clerk and treasurer, which she received, including authorization to spend up to $1,000 to advertise the job openings.
Perry then focused on the restructuring aspect and suggested keeping the same employee titles, but creating new responsibilities for each employee. She said she would need a consensus to proceed.
However, Straight said he wasn’t comfortable with the making existing employees reapply for their jobs.
“But it’s obvious I’m outnumbered here,” he said.
The final question to be answered is the chain of command at city hall under the mayor. The city clerk has typically been second in command. Perry asked if it would be the city clerk or treasurer who would be considered the administrative department head.
Clarke said for his plan, the clerk and treasurer would each be department heads of their supporting staff.
Officials acknowledged that funding for two positions is not budgeted, but Shearon said the city is going to have to “bite the bullet on this one” to come into compliance with its charter.
Anna Maria Elementary School students are collecting donations to help children affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which wreaked havoc in the Philippines.
The three-week effort involves collecting toothbrushes, toothpaste, bar soap, shampoo, new sheets and blankets and instant dry noodles, as well as pocket change to help with shipping costs.
Students are gathering donations through Dec. 20 at the AME front office.
The school is working with gift2care.org in Bradenton.
To learn more visit gift2care.org or call Michelle Laade at 941-737-9662 or AME at 941-708-5525.
Rumors of the next beach renourishment project’s startup have been floating around the island for months.
In fact, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox was told earlier this year to prepare to move sea turtle nests during nesting season, which came May 1 and went Oct. 31.
But rumors were put to rest Dec. 5 when Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources director Charlie Hunsicker told a full gallery at the Bradenton Beach City Commission meeting that renourishment will begin Dec. 11.
Islanders can expect to see the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractors mobilize heavy equipment to begin what Hunsicker called a “sight to see.”
The project involves an offshore dredge, from which sand is pumped to shore in a pipeline, and moved and smoothed with heavy equipment into a beach extending beyond the present shoreline.
Hunsicker said the $16 million project was made possible by a federal emergency spending bill passed after damages from Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012 were assessed.
About 75 percent of the project will be funded through the federal spending bill with Manatee County resort development tax funds and state funds each paying 12 percent.
“We are the beneficiary of good, white, fine-grained sand and are the envy of many places around the world,” said Hunsicker, who noted that the island beaches are the most important tourist attraction in the county.
Hunsicker explained the natural process of sand movement in the Gulf of Mexico’s wave action. But storms such as Debby can have devastating consequences to the natural development of beaches.
He said it’s better to have a beach take the brunt of a storm rather than a residential or business district, which can result in the loss of tax dollars.
Hunsicker said it’s proven that a community with a healthy beach fares better from a storm event than a community with an unhealthy beach. For that reason alone, he said, upkeep of the island beaches is vital.
The project is expected to end around mid-February, at which time a second phase unrelated to the main project will take place at Coquina Beach.
The Coquina Beach project is expected to end sometime in late March or early April.
Also scheduled: the replacement of three erosion-control groins along Cortez Beach, which is expected to be completed sometime in early 2015.
In other business, commissioners put the cell tower proposal on hold.
It was an action item the prior commission tried to get done before the Nov. 5 election, but was unable to do so in time and now the cell tower proposal has hit its first obstacle under the new administration — one commissioner publicly opposed the cell tower as a citizen.
City attorney Ricinda Perry brought forward an easement request needed by Verizon to run underground cable to the proposed cell tower site at the end of Church Avenue and next to the public works building where a land-lease agreement has been authorized by the prior board.
Commissioner Janie Robertson previously opposed the location and the idea of the city giving up public property for a private venture.
Perry said the 10-foot easement was necessary for the cell tower to function, but Verizon submitted only a text description of the easement.
Robertson said at the meeting that the description was too difficult to comprehend and that it appeared to add up to a lot more than 10 feet.
Perry agreed, saying it is typical for a sketch to be included in an easement description, but Verizon did not submit one.
“It looks like our new parking lot is being leased away,” said Robertson. “I don’t know if I want to do that.” She said her understanding is that “we can’t do anything with our property because there is some underground wiring there.”
Commissioner Jan Vosburgh and Vice Mayor Ed Straight remain on the commission and support the cell tower proposal and location.
“I don’t see any other choice,” said Straight. “We have to have a cell tower.”
Robertson said the location ties the city’s hands for decades and said the city couldn’t even plant a tree in the easement if it wants.
“I think the whole thing needs to be rethought,” she said.
Vosburgh suggested an expert be brought in to explain the easement to Robertson and Mayor Bill Shearon asked Perry if the matter is time sensitive.
Perry said it was not and suggested a presentation, including a sketch of the easement, from Verizon would be a good idea.
Commissioner Jack Clarke moved to table the Verizon easement until a later date, which was seconded by Straight and unanimously approved.
The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification committee is getting back to business with its second meeting since its summer break. It also now now has two city commission liaisons — possibly.
City commissioners voted on appointments to various committees and entities at their Nov. 19 meeting, at which time, based on the recommendation of Mayor Carmel Monti, Commissioner David Zaccagnino was eliminated from the beautification committee and replaced by Commissioner Marvin Grossman.
Zaccagnino protested at that meeting and later sent an email to the committee saying he would not attend its Dec. 4 meeting.
“Politics has reared its ugly head again and the mayor has dismissed me from this committee,” Zaccagnino wrote. “At the last commission meeting, I fought very hard to stay on, but it’s apparent that Marvin Grossman has more pull with the mayor and he will be your new liaison.”
Zaccagnino has been a liaison or member of the committee for 10 years and touted in his email the committee’s accomplishments, including the redevelopment of Kingfish Boat Ramp, memorial tree program, increasing tree canopy in the city, becoming a member of Tree City USA and more.
At the Nov. 19 meeting, Zaccagnino said the committee would not like his dismissal. He was partially right.
Committee chair Melissa Snyder said she had a conversation with Monti before the commission vote on liaison assignments, expressing frustration over Zaccagnino missing four meetings.
However, Snyder did not want Zaccagnino removed from the committee and upon finding out what the commission did, requested that he remain as liaison. Monti approved her request, but Grossman also will remain involved. He attended the Dec. 4 meeting and addressed the committee on beach accesses.
The city has been contemplating how to enhance beach accesses. Monti and building official Tom O’Brien have presented some ideas at various meetings that include beach access shelters, which have drawn criticism from residents who oppose shelters.
Those opposing say shelters detract from the natural environment and draw homeless people looking for a place to sleep or teenagers looking for a place to drink alcohol.
City officials have maintained that discussions are in the idea phase. Nothing official has been presented to the commission, but O’Brien is working on a presentation.
Grossman said the parks and beautification committee can get involved by presenting landscaping ideas to the commission. Grossman, who opposes shelters, said landscaping and benches are better solutions.
He has been involved with the dog park and has touted it as a place for dogs to play and people to socialize. He would like to see a similar environment created at the beach accesses.
“One of the things on my list to get involved with before I was elected was the dog park and the reason is that besides being a park, it’s a social event,” said Grossman.
He said it’s rare to see citizens anywhere talking with one another other than at the dog park.
“It’s an important community aspect,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for people to get together and I believe the beach accesses present another opportunity to do the same.”
Grossman said he is considering organizing sunset meetings at specific beach access points as a social function.
Snyder said those sites need to be identified and then a targeted landscape project can be determined to beautify the areas.
She agreed to accompany Grossman on a tour of the sites and bring some ideas back to the committee at its Jan. 8 meeting.
In other matters, the committee took issue with a lack of action on the city’s part for projects already approved by members.
Snyder said bushes were supposed to be planted at the 79th Street trolley stop, “but nothing has been done.”
She also said bollards were recommended to be placed near the entrance of the Grassy Point Preserve to prevent people from driving cars on the trail.
“It was recommended by Manatee County to put those bollards there and public works still hasn’t done it,” said Snyder.
Committee member Bob Longworth said the red cedar tree planted on Marina Drive and 77th Street in April is still wrapped in ropes.
“It is still tied up,” he said. “It needs to have some weed eating done around it and trim it up. It looks like hell.”
Committee member Jerry West said it won’t do anyone any good to criticize public works.
“Public works is doing a good job overall,” said West. “I think they are overworked. Maintenance is something we should look at and set up some priorities.”
Snyder said she wasn’t trying to criticize public works and acknowledged that committee members look for specific things that workers probably don’t see on a daily basis.
In other matters, the committee agreed to make a recommendation to remove the vegetation around a sculpture at the entrance to the Key Royale subdivision.
Snyder said it should be replaced with ground cover landscaping to prevent the vegetation from overtaking and covering the sculpture.
The committee also agreed to approach the city to suggest updating its Christmas decorations for next year, citing some that were “outdated and faded.”
Snyder also resurrected a community garden idea discussed in 2012, but never moved forward.
A community garden would give residents a chance to take part in a larger garden to grow vegetables of their choice.
Anna Maria has something similar, but use planter boxes. Snyder is against that idea and favors what the Annie Silver Community Center, in Bradenton Beach, has done by using land to section off garden plots.
Snyder said she would like to use a plot of land outside the small dog park and baseball field. She wants to move the idea forward, but said it would depend on community involvement. She asked interested people to email her at email@example.com.
Longworth said Holmes Beach “already has chickens running around. We might as well have a community garden.”
West disagreed, saying such the topic is not appropriate for the parks and beautification committee and should be taken up by local garden clubs.
The committee also discussed what to do about its annual education seminar.
Snyder suggested educating residents and visitors on the city’s many pocket parks, where small stretches of land have been dedicated as mini parks.
West said there are as many as 10 in the city and many are coming into their own as far as beautification. He suggested the committee members come up with a few ideas and present them at the next meeting, which is at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.
ITEMS FOR SALE
BEDROOM SET, KING, pink, seven pieces, $400, glass dining table, four chairs, tropical, $200. 941-778-6158.
DEWALT MODEL 745 10-inch contractor table, lightly used, complete, $225. 941-778-2346.
OAK COMPUTER CART: $35, tan sofa bed, $70. 941-778-6364.
CHRISTMAS VINTAGE ORNAMENTS, Noel angels from the 1950s, 50 items total, $35. 941-326-6253.
WHITE OVERRANGE MICROWAVE. Upgrading to stainless, $50. Recently cushioned wrought iron sofa, $95. 941-779-9470.
COMPUTER: DUAL 1.8GHz HT DELL, refurbished $60. 941-756-6728.
CRYSTAL CHANDELIER: LIKE new, $35, eggshell rocking chair, $35, radiator, $25, sweaters from $2. 941-779-9781.
COFFEE TABLE: DROP-leaf, very nice, $100, 1-year old above-ground pool, accessories, 15-18 foot, $100. 941-778-3920.
FREEBIE ITEMS FOR SALE
Individuals may place one free ad with up to three items, each priced $100 or less, 15 words or less. FREE, one week, must be submitted online. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, fax toll-free 1-866-362-9821. (limited time offer)
WANTED: WORKOUT DVDs and retired but working XBox, Wii units with games for Ministry of Presence for kids and teens in Haiti. Deliver to The Islander, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
TERRY HAYES, REALTOR. Premier Sothebys. 941-302-3100. Terry.email@example.com. Discoverannamaria.com.
WANTED: YOUR OLD cell phone for recycling. Deliver to The Islander, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
ANTIQUES, ART, and collectibles. View at The Islander store, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
AERIAL PHOTOS of Anna Maria Island. View and purchase online: www.jackelka.com.
FISHING GEAR WANTED: The Privateers and The Islander are collecting new or used, repairable fishing poles and reels, nets, tackle, buckets, etc. to give to children. Donate your gear at The Islander newspaper office, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
FREE GUN LOCK courtesy of Project Childsafe, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Holmes Beach Police Department. Pick up at The Islander office, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Don’t be sorry, be safe.
ROSER THRIFT SHOP: Open 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m-1 p.m. Saturday. Open 9-11 a.m. Wednesdays for donations. Don’t forget to check our $1 sales racks! 511 Pine Ave. Anna Maria. 941-779-2733.
STEFF’S STUFF ANTIQUES: Consignment sale 20-50% off, open daily. The Centre Shops on Longboat Key. 5380 Gulf of Mexico Drive. 941-383-1901.
LOST & FOUND
LOST: LADY’S PRESCRIPTION Silhouette eyeglasses. Call 941-778-2497.
WELL-MANNERED RESCUED dogs (and kittens!) are looking for great new homes or fosters. Please, call for information, 941-896-6701.
DOGGY DAY CARE: Coastal Canine Cottage. Leave your pets with us for fun and pampering while you’re out! Lisa, 941-243-3990. 8819 Cortez Rd. W., Bradenton.
FOR SALE: 2013 Gem Car e4. Loaded, garage-kept on Anna Maria Island. Call/text, 404-668-9397.
BOATS & BOATING
BIMINI BAY SAILING: Small sailboat rentals and instruction. Day. Week. Month. Sunfish, Laser, Windrider 17 and Precision 15. Call Brian at 941-685-1400.
PONTOON BOAT RENTAL Create life long memories. Call 941-518-3868 or see boatflorida.weebly.com.
ANNA MARIA ISLAND boaters: Selling or buying, call Captain Dave! World Class Yacht Sales, 877-901-BOAT. firstname.lastname@example.org
WAGNER CUSTOM-MADE 15-foot boat on lift, four-stroke, 40-hp, Yamaha motor plus deluxe electric remote motor, trailer. $6,500, will consider street legal cart in trade. 941-778-9184.
50-FOOT DOCK for rent, wide deep-water canal, many amenities. BJ, 941-778-3013.
POWER NOLES CUSTOM 11.5-foot fiberglass tunnel hull with bass seats. Very stable! Great for fishing-stand on the side without tipping, go in really shallow waters. Very fun boat for anyone who wants to get on the water! Includes a trolling motor with battery. Must see! $500 obo. Call Toni, 941-928-8735.
SINGERS WANTED: BASS and tenor section leaders. Paid positions, Roser Church. Call 941-778-0414, leave message for Jim Johnston.
ISLAND BUSINESS SEEKS full-charge bookkeeper (QuickBooks) for part-time work. Great opportunity for the right person. Send resume and cover letter to: email@example.com. 941-795-7558.
LPNS NEEDED FOR active quadriplegic using Hoyer lift. Morning shifts, 4-5 hours starting at 7 a.m. Overnight shifts, 9:30 p.m.-7 a.m. Travel opportunity. 941-685-5213.
KIDS FOR HIRE
LOCAL ISLAND STUDENT babysitter available. CPR and first aid-certified, early childhood development major. Emily, 941-567-9276.
RESPONSIBLE RED CROSS certified babysitter. Honor student. Call or text Isabel, 941-545-7995.
KIDS FOR HIRE ads are FREE for up to three weeks for Island youths under 16 looking for work. Ads must be placed in person at The Islander office, 5604-B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
TOASTED COMPUTER SERVICES. Your home and business specialist. On-site service, virus/spyware, cleanup, system setup, upgrades, diagnosis and repair, internet/wireless networking, custom system design. 941-224-1069.
I DON’T CUT corners, I clean corners. Professional, friendly cleaning service since 1999. 941-779-6638. Leave message.
ALL AROUND PAINTING: Quality work. Free estimates. Licensed, insured. Call native islander Jim Weaver, 813-727-1959.
ISLAND COMPUTER GUY, 37 years experience. On-site PC repairs, upgrades, buying assistance and training. Call Bill, 941-778-2535.
TRANSPORT SERVICE: LET me drive you to the airport or anywhere in Florida. Flat rates. Reasonable. Call Mike, 941-567-6634.
CLEANING RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL and resort. Love what we do, love to work. 941-756-4570.
JUST THAT CLEANING service: We will clean your home like our own. We offer organic cleaning products. Free estimate. Call Jenise, 941-730-6773.
U FLY I drive your car anywhere in the USA. Airport runs, anywhere. 941-746-5651, 941-545-6688.
PART-TIME BOOKKEEPING services available, experienced and reliable. Call Michael at 941-713-0284.
JOHN “THE FIREMAN” Island Cycle & Scooter Repair. 25 years experience. Affordable prices. 918-639-5002 or 941-276-1414.
DIRTY LAUNDRY? WORLD-class laundry drop-off service. $1 per pound, most items. Sun Clean Coin Laundry. 2905 Manatee Ave., W., Bradenton. 941-746-0849.
FOR REAL: REAL estate photography services. $15 off any package. 941-524-4656. http://www.for-real.bz/
COMPUTER SERVICES: I can fix it. Virus cleanup, system upgrade. Hardware, software and network repair. FBI virus cleaned and removed. Cell phone repair, support. Replace broken camera, screen, etc. Give islander Socko a call: 941-799-1169.
BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS JD’s Window Cleaning looking for storefront jobs in Holmes Beach. I make dirty windows sparkling clean. 941-920-3840.
ISLAND MERMAIDS CLEANING and Co.: 38-year Islanders. Rentals our specialty. 941-778-3046.
BEACH SERVICE air conditioning, heat, refrigeration. Commercial and residential service, repair and/or replacement. Serving Manatee County and the Island since 1987. For dependable, honest and personalized service, call William Eller, 941-795-7411. CAC184228.
ANYONE CAN TAKE a picture. A professional creates a portrait. I want to be at your wedding! www.jackelka.com. 941-778-2711.
RELAXING MASSAGE IN the convenience of your home or hotel. Massage by Nadia, more than 19 years on Anna Maria Island. Call today for an appointment, 941-518-8301. MA#0017550.MA#0017550.
LAWN & GARDEN
CONNIE’S LANDSCAPING INC. Residential and commercial. Full-service lawn maintenance, landscaping, cleanups, hauling and more! Insured. 941-778-5294.
ISLAND LAWN SPRINKLERS repairs and installations, watering the island for 15 years. Jeff, 941-778-2581.
JR’S LANDSCAPING AND MAINTENANCE Lawns, native plants, mulching, trimming, hauling, cleanups. Island resident 25 years. Call 941-807-1015.
STRAIGHT SHOT LANDSCAPE. Specializing in old Florida seashell driveways and scapes. Free estimates. Call Shark Mark, 941-301-6067.
SHELL DELIVERED AND spread. $50/yard. Hauling all kinds of gravel, mulch, top soil with free estimates. Call Larry at 941-795-7775, “shell phone” 941-720-0770.
TOP NOTCH LAWN Care: Residential and commercial. For all your landscaping needs. 941-932-6600.
NATURE’S DESIGN LANDSCAPING. Design and installation. Tropical landscape specialist. Residential and commercial. 30 years experience. 941-729-9381, 941-448-6336.
VAN-GO PAINTING residential/commercial, interior/exterior, pressure cleaning, wallpaper. Island references. Bill, 941-795-5100. www.vangopainting.net.
CUSTOM REMODELING EXPERT. All phases of carpentry, repairs and painting. Insured. Meticulous, clean, sober and prompt. Paul Beauregard, 941-730-7479.
TILE -TILE -TILE. All variations of ceramic tile supplied and installed. Quality workmanship, prompt, reliable, many Island references. Call Neil, 941-726-3077.
GRIFFIN’S HOME IMPROVEMENTS Inc. Handyman, fine woodwork, countertops, cabinets and wood flooring. Insured and licensed. 941-722-8792.
JERRY’S HOME REPAIR: Carpentry, handyman, light hauling, pressure washing. Jack of all trades. Call 941-778-6170 or 941-447-2198.
HANDYMAN SERVICE: 25-year Island resident. We do all repair, interior and exterior, insured. The Flying Dutchman, 941-447-6747.
SOUTHBAY HOME REPAIRS: If it’s broken, stuck, loose, leaks, needs paint, etc. I’ll fix it. Affordable quality work. 941-720-2906.
PRESSURE WASHING: RESIDENTIAL, commercial, roofs, driveways, house, lanai, pool area. The Flying Dutchman, 941-447-6747.
PRESSURE WASHING: RESIDENTIAL, commercial, resorts, roof, lanai, etc. Also windows, lawn services, also. 941-756-4570.
PROFESSIONAL TILE ROOF restoration. Call Peter for free estimate, references, insured. The Flying Dutchman, 941-447-6747.
WEEKLY/MONTHLY/ANNUAL rentals: wide variety, changes daily. SunCoast Real Estate, 941-779-0202, or 1-800-732-6434. www.suncoastinc.com.
VACATION RENTALS: GREAT location near boat ramp and everything on Anna Maria Island. Free WiFi, cable. 941-779-6638.
VACATION RENTALS: BRADENTON houses or condos. Weekly or monthly. Call 941-962-0971 or 941-794-1515. www.coastalpropertiesrealty.com. Suzanne Wilson, broker.
ANNUAL HOME WANTED January 2014: Long-time Island couple seeks single-family home with pool in quiet Holmes Beach or Anna Maria. No pets, no smoking. Minimum 2BR/2BA. Will consider waterfront condo. Tom, 941-993-4909.
1BR AND 2BR units off Cortez Road, two miles from the beach. 3611 117th St. W., one block from the bay. $650-$800/month. 941-518-8478.
SEASONAL APARTMENTS AVAILABLE: 1 and 2BR at Westbay Cove condo. Walk to beach, shopping, restaurants, on free trolley line. Tennis, two heated pools. Old Florida Realty Co., 941-713-9096.
SEASONAL RENTAL AVAILABLE January through April. Second floor 2BR/2BA newly remodeled unit with screened lanai and pool. One block from public beach and town. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for serious inquiries.
3BR/1.5BA with screen porch, garage. Washer, dryer and big back yard. $2,000 month. Mike Norman Realty, 941-778-6696.
FLORIDA KEYS VACATION rental house. 2BR/2BA with dock, oceanside. Available Dec. 21-Jan. 8. 941-778-3106.
HOLMES BEACH ANNUAL: 2BR/1BA, garage, Florida room, Gulfside, $1,150/month plus utilities, security. 336-509-9636. www.RTBeach.com/beach.
2BR/1BA ANNUAL ELEVATED duplex. One block to beach and shopping. $1,000/month. 941-778-2227 or 991-778-7980.
SENIOR COUPLE REQUESTS four-month lease for 2-3BR/2BA with heated pool. Kindly email offer to: email@example.com. 478-960-8810.
SEASONAL OR WEEKLY cottage-style rentals. 1BR/1BA or 1BR/1BA with loft with pool. Walk to beach, shops or dining! 941-778-3426. Web site: www.spinnakerscottages.com.
PLEASE CALL ME if you are interested in selling. I am looking to purchase a home close to the beach or on the beach. 941-779-6158. No Realtors.
WE’RE LOW, LISTINGS needed. Are you curious as to how much your home could be worth? Call us for a free professional consultation. Call Lynn at Edgewater Real Estate, 941-778-8104.
LAKEFRONT CONDO: 2BR/2BA. $230,500. Over-55 community, no pets, renovated home, quiet area, double carport, ground floor, boat docks, kayak/canoe facilities, heated pool, exercise room, tennis, shuffleboard, and waterfront park on beautiful Sarasota Bay. Only two miles to Bradenton Beach. For sale by owner. Call Fred 941-794-5011.
GREAT LITTLE HOUSE, great big view: Open water view of AMI Bridge, 1950s cottage, block construction, pine accents. New appliances, etc. An island treasure. $849,500. FSBO. 941-730-2606 (leave message).
FOR SALE BY owner: Palm Court off of El Conquistador Parkway. 4816 61st. Ave. Drive W., Bradenton. Move-in ready, 941-524-6977.
SUNBOW BAY TOWNHOUSE: 4BR/3.5BA water view, handicap accessible, garage, pool. By owner, easy show, $359,000. 941-795-3778.
OPEN HOUSE: Noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. Best buy, home on a canal per square foot. 3BR/3BA, pool, $649,900. 618 Foxworth Lane, Holmes Beach. Key Royale. Sharon Hightower, Edgewater Real Estate. 941-330-5054.
Filling seats at a city meeting in Anna Maria is seldom a problem. With hot-button topics such as parking and rental solutions, the gallery is often SRO.
Such will be the case for the Dec. 5 Anna Maria City Commission meeting.
That’s when residents should learn the fate of what city planner Alan Garrett calls the “Anna Maria City Pier Park” on the vacant lots at the east end of Pine Avenue.
Commissioners on June 27 approved by a 3-1 vote a plan for the park drawn by then-Commissioner Gene Aubry.
That approval came with a $50,000 donation from Holmes Beach resident Rex Hagen, and a pledge of $100,000 from Pine Avenue Restoration LLC principals Ed Chiles and Mike Coleman. Aubry’s plan included public restrooms and a 15-space public parking lot at the south end of the park. The park perimeter already is lined with newly planted 15-20 foot oak trees, while the remainder of the park will be landscaped open space with benches.
Mayor SueLynn figured the park would be smooth sailing after commission approval and proceeded to purchase trees and shrubbery, dig a well and build an irrigation system, all attributed to Hagen’s donation.
At the same time, Garrett prepared a site plan for commission approval. Even though the park is on city property and the plan is prepared by the city, the city administration must follow code and hold a review for the site plan by the planning and zoning board and, if it meets code requirements, eventual approval by the city commission.
Enter Commission Chair Chuck Webb, who was not at the June 27 meeting where the 3-1 vote was held.
At the site plan hearing Nov. 21, Webb said he wanted to know about any conditions attached to the donations, saying he is opposed to the city’s acceptance of private funds with contingencies.
Webb said at the Nov. 21 meeting he was learning for the first time about the conditions attached to the donations, and he thought his colleagues would never approve a plan that included conditions from a private donor.
Since the June 27 approval, stories about the park and the donations, including a photo of tree installations, have appeared in The Islander.
Commissioners voted Nov. 21 to continue the public hearing on the park site plan to 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.
Since the Nov. 21 meeting, however, several people, including Coleman, have claimed Webb deviated from established site-plan review procedures by calling for a continuation.
Coleman said the code is specific, that if the site plan meets all requirements established by the code, the commission must approve the plan. The park site plan does meet those requirements, Garrett said Nov. 21.
At the June 27 meeting, city attorney Jim Dye had reviewed the conditions without objection.
On Nov. 21, however, Dye said he would again review the conditions and bring them to the Dec. 5 continuation of the public hearing.
After learning of Webb’s objections, Hagen said it was a “tempest in a teapot.” He also said he expected all would be resolved at the Dec. 5 continuation.
Mayor SueLynn said she was stunned when Webb voiced his objections. She said she had asked commissioners at the June 27 meeting to be “sure this is what you want,” and she was assured when the commission majority favored the plan.
Since the Nov. 21 continuation, the mayor has halted work at the park until the commission approves the site plan.
Hagen said the city needs a park, parking and public restrooms near the pier, which is considered by Manatee County’s tourism officials to be the No. 1 non-retail tourist attraction.
If the commission votes down the park, Hagen said he wants his money back. Coleman said PAR has not made a decision pending the outcome of the public hearing.
SueLynn said no city funds have been spent at the park. All trees and shrubs and the irrigation system were installed using money from Hagen’s donation.
Since the June 27 vote, the commission has a new member, Carol Carter, who replaced the seat previously occupied by Aubry, who chose not to seek re-election.
Carter said Nov. 21 that she voted against the park plan as a member of the P&Z. Commissioner Nancy Yetter voted against the plan at the June 27 meeting.
Park plan askew
While former Anna Maria Commissioner Gene Aubry and others await the city’s site plan decision amid delays on the park being developed at Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard, Aubry says there are new problems that need to addressed at the park.
Among the 15 15- to 20-foot tall, semi-mature oak trees, several appear to be dead or dying, showing signs of damage from salt spray and possibly underwatering.
Aubry said he had a qualified irrigation company lined up to install a watering system for trees, which need attention while getting established in the new location. He said the plans changed and the irrigation system became the work of Mike Miller, a city resident who specializes in native plants.
“It’s all wrong,” said Aubry. The line is too small and at the far end the water only trickles, and the trees are showing the result, he said.
Aubry also said the trees were not planted “as designed,” meaning the oak trees have not been planted in the locations shown on the drawings.
He indicated Miller told him the trees had to be relocated because they “didn’t want to go where they were planned.”
Rumors on Anna Maria Island that beach renourishment would begin immediately after Thanksgiving were premature. But it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources director Charlie Hunsicker said he and Great Lakes Dock and Dredge, the contractor for the renourishment project, have not agreed to a date for mobilization or pumping sand on the island shore.
Hunsicker said he won’t know a start date “for another week or two,” but he expects mobilization to begin mid-December to early January.
Great Lakes, which did the 1992 and 2002 renourishment of the island beaches, has other projects to complete before its equipment can be brought to the island.
Mobilization of the dredge, graders and pipes might take several weeks before sand begins flowing from the chosen borrow site, about 2,000 feet off the northwest tip of Anna Maria.
Renourishment will start at the 79th Street beach access in Holmes Beach and proceed south through Cortez Beach. No Anna Maria beaches are included in this project.
With no weather delays or equipment failure, the renourishment of beach areas down to Cortez Beach should be finished by early February, Hunsicker said.
That will cause the least interference for resorts that advertise the beach as an amenity for guests.
After Cortez Beach is renourished with funds from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state of Florida and Manatee County, Coquina Beach will be renourished with state and county funds.
The county’s portion of beach renourishment cost is paid with revenue from the tourist development tax collected on rentals of six months or less in Manatee County.
Hunsicker said the county saved about $2 million in mobilization costs by getting a permit from the Corps to renourish Coquina Beach after Cortez Beach.
That would have cost the state and county another mobilization fee from the selected contractor.
The Cortez Beach project includes installing state-of-the-art expandable groins to replace the dilapidated concrete groins located along the beach now.
Total cost of the entire renourishment project is estimated at $16 million.
While Anna Maria beaches are not included in this project, Hunsicker has said the Bean Point area of Anna Maria would need renourishment in the future. At this time, he said, those beaches are “in good condition.”
A 25-year-old North Carolina woman faces up to three years in a Florida prison after being convicted Nov. 27 of grand theft auto and causing serious injury to a law enforcement officer.
Amanda Varner will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
In early March, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments were called to assist a Florida Highway Patrol helicopter and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies, who were tracking a stolen car and Varner for a North Carolina arrest warrant.
Police closed in on Varner at the Island Shopping Center in the 5400 block of Marina Drive in Holmes Beach. Bradenton Beach Police Officer Eric Hall was still on his way to the scene.
As police moved in on Varner, drawing weapons and ordering her from her vehicle, she sped out of the parking lot onto Holmes Boulevard.
Hall, coming from the other direction, was hit head on by Varner, causing serious injuries, including a broken leg that required a 15-inch metal rod to repair.
Hall was told his law enforcement career was over but, after months of rehabilitation, was medically cleared for road patrol in September and is back on the job.
Varner’s saga began in 2003 when she was the sole survivor of a North Carolina drug-related shooting in which three others with her were killed.
She was shot twice and stabbed 22 times in the encounter, and was able to crawl out of the trailer after the suspects set it on fire, assuming she was dead.
The suspects had not yet left the scene, however. They put Varner in their truck, but pushed her out when emergency vehicles began arriving. They then fled the scene and Varner’s life was spared.
Her defense attorney tried to use Varner’s near-death experience as a defense. She pleaded not guilty due to reason of insanity — post-traumatic stress disorder.
The attorney argued that when police arrived with weapons drawn in Holmes Beach, it sparked Varner’s PTSD and she acted without reason.
Hall was unable to be reached for comment before Islander press time. He previously said he doesn’t hold a grudge against Varner. He did suggest she should be taken off the streets for putting public safety at risk.
Hall said his injuries are all part of the risk every officer faces in the performance of his or her duties.
Varner remains in custody at the Manatee County jail and still faces charges in North Carolina.
Manatee County charges included: aggravated battery on an officer, motor vehicle theft, aggravated assault on a law enforcement office, resisting arrest with violence, fleeing with disregard to safety and causing injury, and serious injury while driving a motor vehicle without a driver’s license.
There’s a good reason former Bradenton planner and development director Jerry West called the Holmes Beach city center committee an “exciting” group.
Of the many committees focusing on traffic, congestion and parking problems, the city center committee isn’t just looking at resolving existing problems, but also has a focus on enhancing the city for future needs.
The city center committee comprises volunteers with more than a century of engineering and architectural experience.
The ideas for what the city center — the surrounding area at Gulf and Marina drives — should look like have been forthcoming, but nothing can come to fruition until the storm drains start flowing.
West said no surface projects could be implemented until the city addresses drainage issues.
Building official Tom O’Brien said the city is seeking an engineering study and, based on his inspections, there is much to do in terms of locating stormwater pipes that aren’t identified correctly on city maps and cleaning out the known pipes.
O’Brien said one of the main drains responsible for carrying rainwater into the Mainsail marina basin is about 90 percent blocked. He also said some drain pipes are too low in the ground.
“At high tide, the tide will overflow where it’s plugged and seawater will go all the way to the city hall swale,” said O’Brien. “That’s why you have stinking water, because the seawater is just sitting in the plugged pipe.”
O’Brien said seawater is getting trapped in swales and it’s killing vegetation, adding to the odor issue.
Once the drainage situation is addressed, plans include shortening the merge/turn lane on Marina Drive from the intersection to the Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive.
On an island with little opportunity for expansion, committee members say the idea will accomplish two goals: improve safety and provide landscaping.
Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said motorists use the lane to speed past other vehicles and jump back into the primary lane. The elimination of the lane would decrease the potential for accidents. It also would give the city added space for landscaping and a boardwalk along the marina where businesses on barges also are being proposed.
The atmosphere would be enhanced with old-fashioned gas street lights.
The ideas from the committee are to make the city center a walkable shopping destination for residents and visitors.
The plans include enhancing pedestrian and bicycle traffic flow in the area.
The committee suggested the use of portable planters to experiment with landscaping if and when the Marina Drive merge lane is eliminated.
O’Brien also suggested eliminating the driveway entrance on Gulf Drive into S&S Plaza at Hurricane Hank’s.
O’Brien said an intersection is meant for public streets and it’s not meant to be a four-way intersection with one path being a private driveway.
“It doesn’t meet Florida Department of Transportation standards,” said O’Brien. “We’ll have to work with the property owners to come up with another plan.”
While city center ideas are being vetted in the public, committee members stress that they are simply brainstorming.
There was, however, a plan submitted by a group of merchants to create a roundabout at the intersection of Gulf and Marina drives, although the committee has not addressed it.
“There are no plans being submitted,” said O’Brien.
West said the city center committee is supposed to be bringing up the rear of what other committees are doing.
“We need them to be on board before we know where we are going, so I think we are moving faster than everyone else,” said West.
O’Brien said the city could move early with shutting down the Marina Drive merge lane, however, and will turn the idea of portable planters over to the city’s beautification committee for discussion.
Much of what the committee wants to do hinges on the successful completion of the Mainsail Lodge development site. The Mainsail site and the proposed city center projects are expected to work in conjunction with one another to enhance both projects.
In other matters, since the city center committee is ahead of other committees, and December is a busy holiday month, West proposed cancelling the Dec. 17 meeting.
The members agreed and scheduled the next meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.
West said he would like to see more people join the committee to expand its creative potential. Anyone wishing to join the committee can contact West at 941-778-2268.
Along the lines of more participation, O’Brien said he would like the committee to consider the creation of a design competition for city center amenities.
Members agreed that would be a good idea moving forward and would discuss it at a later date.
It’s no secret on Anna Maria Island that an increasing number of visitors seeking beach time can translate to crowded, sometimes illegal parking.
The city of Holmes Beach has taken action to discourage errant parking by raising fines and creating tow-away zones, but it has become the goal of the city’s congestion committee to make off-site beach parking available.
The congestion committee, city center committee, city staff and, most recently, the parks and beautification committee each are reviewing a piece of the parking problem pie. The congestion committee, perhaps, has the largest share.
Committee members are working with city staff and Mayor Carmel Monti, who is working with Manatee County to reconfigure the Manatee Public Beach parking lot to add spaces and a passenger drop and pickup area.
The committee’s primary focus has been the development of a parking agreement with churches and businesses that will allow use of their parking lots for beach overflow parking.
That includes use of the city hall parking lot, which could provide 30 additional spaces on the weekends and the Island Library on Sundays and Mondays, when its closed, with its 40 spaces, although both are five blocks from the beach and the trolley route only travels northbound along Marina Drive.
“The goal is to begin working on overflow parking lots as close to the beach as possible and work out from the beach,” said committee member Bob Johnson.
Committee chair Carol Soustek said the secondary goal for discussions with organizations with property farther from the beach would be to ensure a trolley stop is nearby.
In all, the committee plans initial discussion with six churches and banks that could provide some 235 additional parking spaces on weekends and holidays.
That doesn’t include the addition of several dozen parking spaces at the public beach and dozens more spots at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, on the border of Holmes Beach and Anna Maria.
CrossPointe — only a block from the beach — already provides beach parking on weekdays, Saturdays and after church on Sundays, but it is underused. However, some nearby residents have complained about the lack of services — restrooms — for beachgoers passing though their neighborhood.
The committee has been progressing through a document to begin presenting to various organizations for consideration, but needs city commission approval.
At a Nov. 26 congestion committee meeting, members finalized the generalized wording of the document with the understanding that each agreement would need to be negotiated and brought back to the committee for a recommendation to the city commission.
“This thing is going to vary from user to user,” said Johnson. “This is just a guideline document, and then we’ll need to look at the parameters of each negotiation. It’s a template, not a final document.”
The committee wants the city commission to take the draft agreement up for discussion and possible vote at the commission’s Dec. 10 meeting. Soustek said she would like committee representatives to begin negotiating with organizations by January.
The committee already has set a a February launch date as its goal for opening beach overflow parking lots.
The next phase for the committee is to launch a public awareness campaign. There has been discussion on how to do that, but committee members were tasked by Soustek to come up with more ideas and bring them to their Dec. 9 meeting.
The public awareness campaign is a key factor in the committee’s success.
“Just because we created it, doesn’t mean they’ll come,” said Johnson. “Now it’s how do we get the word out and how do we keep people engaged.”
The committee will meet only once in December, at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.
This writer, along with six other fathers, packed up our vehicles with 19 kids, tents and provisions for a Nov. 24-26 stay at Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring. It’s about a two-hour trek straight east from Bradenton, and worth the drive.
Highlands Hammock is one of Florida’s oldest parks, opening to the public in 1931. It is one of three local state parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to put people to work and dig the United States out of the Great Depression.
Myakka State Park to the south and Hillsborough River State Park to the north also were built in the 1930s by the CCC.
Highlands Hammock offers a variety of activities, including a scenic 3-mile bicycle loop and hiking along the park’s nine trails. There’s also an elevated boardwalk that gives hikers an up-close look at an old-growth cypress swamp.
The park offers guided, narrated pram tours through areas of the park that are otherwise restricted to public access. Our group discovered at least 30 alligators. including babies, two deer, a red shouldered hawk and countless other animals on the tour along Charlie Bowlegs Creek, with breathtaking views of the swamp and hammock.
The park also houses the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, which brings to life the 1930-40s era when the park was constructed and jobs were scarce in the United States. The museum photos showcase the young men and their hard labor. The camps provided workers with food, clothing and shelter and paid them $30 a month, $25 of which had to be sent home.
Though our group had to endure some heavy rain, we still managed to have a great time. Best of all — despite having 19 kids ranging in ages from 7 to 15, there were few noses buried in cellphones, a rarity these days.
Next adventure, Fort De Soto Park in December.
Three teams emerged from pool play during Nov. 30 horseshoe action at the Anna Maria City Hall pits and were left to battle for the day’s bragging rights. The team of Dom Livedoti and Larry Delarber drew the bye and watched as Tim Sofran and Herb Puryear defeated Hank Huyghe 22-13 to advance to the finals. The finals were all Livedoti-Delarber as they rolled to a 21-4 victory in the championship game.
Nov. 27 action also saw three teams advance to the knockout round. Norm Good and Gene Bobeldyk were too good for Bob Heiger and Huyghe, earning a 21-11 victory to advance to the championship match against Livedoti and Tom Skoloda. Good and Bobeldyke stayed hot, defeating Livedoti-Skoloda 22-11 to earn the day’s bragging rights.
Play gets under way at 9 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday at the Anna Maria City Hall pits. Warmups begin at 8:45 a.m., followed by random team selection.
There is no charge to play and everyone is welcome.
Registration ongoing for indoor soccer tourney
The Anna Maria Island Community Center is accepting registrations for its 14th annual indoor soccer tournament Dec. 12-19 with weekday games played 5-10 p.m. at the center and weekend games played 9 a.m.-9 p.m..
The cost to play is $100 per team and each participant receives a tournament T-shirt. Teams need 6-12 players, and adult teams — all coed — are required to have a female on the court at all times.
For more information, contact tournament director and sports director Matt Ray at 941-778-1908, ext. 9205, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More sports offerings
The center is accepting players in its winter lineup of adult coed sport leagues — flag football, volleyball and tennis.
Games begin in January and players who sign up for two sports get a $25 discount.
Flag football tryouts are Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. and teams will be chosen on the field. Games will be played on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The cost is $75 for center members and $110 and non-members.
The cost for tennis is $50 for singles and $85 for doubles. Games will be played on Tuesday evenings starting at 6 p.m.
Register online at www.islandcommunitycenter.com.
LOOK for more sports, including Key Royale Club golf news and more photos from Kevin Cassidy’s group adventure to Highlands Hammock State Park online at www.islander.org.
In cooler weather, changing tactics improves odds
Have you noticed all the mullet fishers in the area? They’re out there, and they are a sure sign that winter is around the corner.
Our first real cold front has sent the local mullet schools to flush out the passes en route to the Gulf of Mexico to “do their thing.” Spawn.
As fishers, we need to focus on cooler weather. With the days shortening up to the winter solstice Dec. 21, we have to take advantage of every opportunity.
As water temps drop, our tactics are changing. Very soon, white bait will be difficult to find. And even if you find it, the fish may not respond as they did on warmer days. The days of buying bait shrimp are nearing. Slower populations and a lot more patience will play a major role in achieving a successful day of fishing.
Locations of fish will be changing, too. Most backwater species will be starting their search for a warmer sanctuary. Canals, shallow bays, creeks and rivers are going to start showing more numbers of fish as winter settles in.
It’s time to start jigging soft plastics under docks. Flounder, reds and black drum will readily respond to a Berkley Gulp in cooler water temps.
Finally, different species are going to enter the area as the water cools. Pompano already are cruising the beaches and also can be found foraging over grass flats in the bay waters. If you’re fishing the bays, expect to pick up blues, macks, jacks and ladyfish, too.
Gags are entering Tampa Bay in good numbers, but season closes Dec. 4.
Just a reminder, snook season closed Dec. 1. The linesiders get a little break until March 1, although there’s no reason you can’t catch-and-release this species.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is producing good number of fish despite strong winds from the recent cold front. Both prior to and after the front, fishing conditions were tough at best. With a little persistence and a lot of know-how, Gross is leading his clients to keeper-size redfish, flounder and spotted seatrout.
For the reds, Gross is free-lining shiners on shallow flats adjacent to mangrove islands. Being able to locate edges on the lee side and out of the wind is aiding in locating fish. Redfish 16-22 inches were the average this past week.
Flounder and trout are being caught on both live shiners and soft plastics combined with a jighead. To find these fish, Gross is fishing deeper grass flats, which contain an abundance of sandy potholes. By casting baits or lures into the holes, Gross is producing keeper fish for his clients.
Capt. Warren Girle was fishing nearshore structure prior to the front with good results on a variety of species. Mangrove snapper are readily taking fresh-cut live shiners, which is resulting in limits of fish up to 20 inches. By chumming with fresh-cut live shiners, Girle is creating a slick, which in turn is attracting hungry snapper to the transom. With a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader connected to a small live bait hook buried in a chunk of shiner, snapper are aggressively taking the hook.
With all the commotion, other predators such as gag grouper and kingfish are attracted to the bait. Gags up to 27 inches are being caught sporadically on snapper baits. Skilled anglers are reeling these fish to the boat. As for the kings, the same applies. Kingfish in the 10-pound range can be expected.
In Sarasota Bay, Girle is drifting and jigging for migratory fish — pompano, bluefish, jacks and ladyfish. This is a fun method of fishing, if just for the variety of fish caught — and the pompano make great table fare, too. Small cannonball head jigs tipped with fresh-cut chunks of live shrimp are producing the bite.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is managing to find a bite despite strong winds and tough fishing conditions. During the strong east winds, prior to the front, Lowman was able to locate rallies of Spanish mackerel close to the shoreline, and mangrove snapper were in the mix while anchored over structure.
On the flats, Lowman is finding spotted seatrout and redfish in calm waters. For the trout, he’s jigging with Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jighead over deep grass flats. For the reds, Lowman is finding shallow flats around mangrove islands are producing a bite.
Lowman also is hooking up respectable-sized flounder around residential docks and structure. Again, he’s casting Berkley Gulp shiner with a jighead under docks to locate the tasty flat fish with the migratory eye. While targeting flounder, Lowman also is putting clients on snook and redfish.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria Island City Pier says while the bay has been rough and blown out, Spanish mackerel are being caught frequently by fishers using silver spoons or Gotcha plugs. Macks up to 22 inches to the fork are being reeled up — three or four at a time by various anglers in some instances.
Mixed in with the macks are jacks, ladyfish and the occasional bluefish. Remember to arrive with an ample amount of lures. These fish are toothy and when the bite is good, you lose a few lures in the process.
Send fishing reports to email@example.com.