3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta Riviera Dunes Marina

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta

Attention, thrill-seekers: Prepare to be amazed at boats racing more than 120 mph! Witness daring events like this and so much more when you join in for the 3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta just a few weeks away on Feb. 4.

If you haven’t been to the Bradenton Area River Regatta previously, you’re in for a real treat! The schedule is still not concrete, but there are many exciting surprises in store for all of the Bradenton and Palmetto locals.

Head to the Manatee River for thrilling events including the Powerboat Super League Formula 2 events and the XHydro Cross Jet Skis and Disc Connect K9 show. You’ll also get to hear from the Nashville Yacht Club, Tampa’s own Soul Circus Cowboys and the ZBTB, the No. 1 Zac Brown tribute band, as the headliner. One thing’s for certain, the Powerboat Super Leagues will return for another spectacular performance that you do not want to miss. Other exciting events include extreme sports stunt shows, a family fun zone, a 5K river race and so much more!

Of course, don’t leave the kiddos at home! All ages will enjoy an art activity at the art center, activities at the South Florida Museum, the Little Anglers Fishing Tournament and more.

This free, family fun premiere event will also feature a variety of food vendors for you to refuel throughout the day. Then, make sure you stick around for the fireworks show and awards ceremony in Bradenton.

The Bradenton Area River Regatta will be held rain or shine. New this year will be the two Sarasota trolleys that will transport guest from Bradenton to Palmetto throughout the day.

Stay tuned as more details will be released. Visit BradentonAreaRegatta.com for the latest information.

Next: Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Anglers, Download this App and Help Track Invasive Fish

Anglers, Download this App and Help Track Invasive Fish

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Anglers, Download this App and Help Track Invasive Fish

Florida recently partnered with the Swedish app, Fishbrain. Fishbrain allows fishermen to connect and share the best fishing spots, tide changes and any other fishing-related news that interest anglers.

Though, the partnership between the state and the app stems from Florida’s interest in locating invasive fish using the app’s data. With approximately 250,000 Floridians using the app already, the data will assist the state and wildlife officials to track down freshwater exotic fish.

Local fisherman, if you’re interested in joining the state in their research for invasive fish or simply connecting with fellow anglers, here’s how the free app works.  You can follow another angler, a type of fishing or fish species as well as view other helpful tidbits of information including the local weather report. Users can view and post photos as well as leave comments. The map feature also provides accurate locations of where fish are being caught, which is where you can help, local anglers!

In the state’s pilot project, they’ll be using the data taken from the mapping feature to track 15 species of fish. Fish include tilapia, bullseye snakehead and catfish, among others. As anglers log their catches in the app, this information is then delivered to wildlife officials. While anglers can choose whether or not to share their locations, as some fear the best fishing spots will become less of a secret, the state is hoping this will not deter them from assisting them in the project.

Fishbrain is free, but you also have the option to upgrade to the premium version, which includes special features like the fishing forecast and a species tracking map. The premium version costs $5.99 per month or $60 for an annual subscription.

Next: Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Top 5 Places to Spend New Year’s Eve Near Bradenton

Top 5 Places to Spend New Year’s Eve Near Bradenton

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Top 5 Places to Spend New Year’s Eve Near Bradenton

Still looking for the most exciting place to spend New Year’s Eve that’s near Bradenton? We’ve got you covered here at Riviera Dunes Marina. Let’s ring in the New Year near Bradenton at one of these fabulous parties.

1. The Seafood Shack Marina Bar & Grill in Cortez

Head to the Neptune Room at The Seafood Shack Marina Bar & Grill for a New Year’s Eve party with country music performances and more! The Eric Von Band will be bringing the tunes. Opening for country music stars including Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert, Eric Von is also a native of Cortez. Other features of the party include cash bars, drink specials and a special menu.

  • Price: $15 (includes cover, fees and taxes).
  • Time: 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Band begins at 9 p.m.
  • Where: The Seafood Shack Marina Bar & Grill, Cortez.

2. Fishermen’s Village

For a family-friendly environment, head to Fisherman’s Village! Enjoy music and dancing with Gator DJ in Center Court as well as with singer and guitarist Michael Hirst. Visit with Pamela, the radio host of “Tropical Tarot & Beyond” for a tarot reading. Get festive with hair glitter designs from Brian and Lori. Then, the kids will enjoy magic shows, balloon art, face paintings by MaryRose, a photo booth and so much more.

  • Price: Free parking and admission.
  • Time: 5 p.m. to midnight; Michael Hirst at 7:30 p.m. to midnight.
  • Where: Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda.

3. Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town

New Year’s Eve is your last chance to galavant around Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. Though nearly an hour from Bradenton, Christmas town is the perfect place to end the year with a bang! Marvel at the two million festive lights and decorations and enjoy holiday entertainment that’s fit for all ages! Visit with Rudolph and Santa and hear live performances featuring holiday classics!

  • Price: $92.99 and up.
  • Time: 9:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Where: Busch Gardens, Tampa.

4. Sarasota Pineapple Drop

If you’re in Downtown Sarasota, head to their annual New Year’s Eve party, the Sarasota Pineapple Drop! Hear live music from Big Night Out on the Mattison’s Stage, beginning at 8 p.m. Jah Movement Reggae Band will be on the east stage near Evie’s at 8 p.m. Then, hear DJs on the Lemon Avenue stage. There’s also plenty of kids entertainment including carnival rides and games beginning at 1:30 p.m.! At midnight, head to the intersection of Lemon Avenue and Main Street for the Pineapple Drop countdown into 2017!

  • Price: Free admission.
  • Time: 1 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
  • Where: Downtown Sarasota.

5. Main Street Live in Downtown Bradenton

Our area’s most popular street party, you won’t want to miss Main Street Live for hours of live music. Bands include The Dram from 6–10 p.m. and Have Gun, Will Travel playing from 10 p.m.–midnight. You’ll also get to the opportunity to peruse a variety of vendors for a festive end to 2016!

  • Price: Free.
  • Time: 6 p.m. to midnight.
  • Where: Old Main Street, Bradenton.

Next: Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto FL Riviera Dunes Marina

Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

With the weather forecast looking beautiful and sunny for the next week, it’s the perfect time to take a boat or water tour in Palmetto, FL! Here are the three best boat and water tours our area has to offer.

1. Riverside Tours Inc

1005 Riverside Dr., Palmetto. | 941-779-3606

At Riverside Tours Inc, get the chance to cruise the Historic Manatee River! There are a variety of cruises to choose from. Their day cruises will take you to see mansions along the river, and you’ll even get to learn about the history of the thriving mangrove islands. Evening cruises are perfect for date night or a night out with friends since these are adult-only. In addition, you are welcome to bring your own libations and picnic to enjoy while cruising. The boats are also weather-protected and are equipped with an on-board restroom facility to ensure the most comfortable ride.

2. Bass N’ Bay Charters

752 Manatee Ave W., Holmes Beach. | 941-722-2033

If you’re looking for an exciting fishing trip, then you’ve come to the right place at Bass N’ Bay Charters! Captain Brady Nelson will take you on a saltwater or freshwater fishing excursion that you’ll remember for a lifetime. Brady’s boat is equipped with top-of-the-line fishing and safety equipment, so you can always be in for a smooth ride. Fishing trips are very customizable. View the full list here. There’s also a special running right now! If you choose to book a saltwater trip for two, you can bring one additional guest for free.

3. Captain Rachel’s Charter

Hop aboard Captain Rachel’s Charter, where you can fish and have a wonderful time outdoors during an eco water tour! Her 22′ Bayrider can seat up to six guests. With Captain Rachel, you’ll take a trip to Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve, a beautiful area that’s thriving with wildlife, a wide variety of fish and the occasional manatee or porpoise sighting! Because her fishing trips are so flexible and customizable, she is able to take her guests to local restaurants if they wish. Choose fishing trips ranging from four to eight hours. Then depending on the amount of passengers prices range from $350 to $800. Eco tours will run for either two or four hours, with prices ranging from $250–$250.

Next: Live Shrimp: The Best Bait During a Florida Winter

Live Shrimp: The Best Bait During a Florida Winter

Live Shrimp: The Best Bait During a Florida Winter

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Live Shrimp: The Best Bait During a Florida Winter

With the changing seasons, the appetite also changes for the fish in our Florida waters. Have you not been having much luck catching fish lately? Try baiting your hooks with live shrimp.

You’ll find that you’ll have great luck using live shrimp to catch redfish, black drum, sheepshead and other species depending on where you’re fishing.

If you happen to be traveling in the back country areas this holiday season, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see what this seasonal bait will catch you. Look out for catches of flounder and mangrove snapper in these areas.

Perhaps this is your first time using live shrimp as bait. Here’s how to bait a live shrimp depending on your fishing method:

Drifting

Hook your live shrimp through the carapace, avoiding the stomach and pancreas. Your hook should be just under the shell and crosswise through the carapace.

Longer distance casting

For this fishing method, you’ll want to place the hook under the chin and through the carapace’s center. Hooking your live shrimp this way will allow for easier retrieval and a shorter lifespan for your bait.

Another way to bait your shrimp for this method is to go through its tail. By doing so, there is less risk of you losing your bait.

Fishing in grassy areas

To ensure there are no weeds on your casting rig when in these areas, remove the shrimp’s tail fan and insert the hook through the tip of the tail. In addition, going through the center of the tail prevents bottom snags. 

We wish you the best of luck during your holiday fishing trips this season!

Next: Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

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Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

Just a short drive away from Riviera Dunes Marina is Downtown Sarasota with many places to eat, shop and play! From galleries to Vietnamese cuisine, here’s a list of fabulous recommendations when you’re thinking about taking a day trip to Sarasota.

Where to Eat

Downtown Sarasota offers a splendid variety of cuisine, from Vietnamese to seafood. Enjoy a mouthwatering seafood stew or more casual bites at Marina Jack. Accompanied by live music, it’s a fun place to spend some time even after dinner’s well over.

Pho Cali Vietnamese Noodle House is perfect for chillier days when you want to be comforted by a bowl of one of their homemade, signature noodle soups. They also have authentic dishes including rice vermicelli bowls and boba tea for an after-meal treat.

For Latino cuisine, you won’t want to miss Selva, a modern spot where you can lounge and enjoy exquisite tapas, a variety of ceviche and other sensational bites.

Where to Shop

Sarasota is known for its exciting and unique shopping experience! Have you been looking for one-of-a-kind glassware and fine linens for your next dinner party? Look no further than Malbi Décor offering an assortment of Italian items for your home.

For artisanal gifts, Artisans’ World Marketplace is the best spot in town. Products hail from Africa to Asia, so you’ll be sure to find a rare treasure.

The latest fashion trends can be discovered with just one visit to RUE SRQ, where Natalie Rue Morgan offers a carefully curated selection of items including handbags, cocktail rings and much more.

Where to Play

Live music lovers will enjoy The Gator Club! Depending on the evening you visit, you’ll hear Top 40 hits to reggae tunes or rhythm and blues. There’s even something for the whiskey aficionados! In their bar, discover 180 whiskey varieties.

Adorers of art will want to visit Art Center Sarasota, which is home to three galleries with many juried exhibitions. There are also youth programs and classes on Saturday if you and your family are looking for a fun weekend activity. Historic Burns Square is also chockfull of galleries, boutiques and shops.

Get out in nature at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens to see rare orchids among more than 20,000 plant varieties. The young ones will enjoy their own rainforest garden as well, so it’s certainly perfect for the whole family!

If you’re in the Bradenton area, make sure you check out our list of Top Things to Do in Bradenton, FL

Next: Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

Where to Fish During Our Florida Winter

Where to Fish During Our Florida Winter

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Where to Fish During Our Florida Winter

The colder weather may be upon us, but that doesn’t mean that the fishing pauses during winter! Snook, big jack crevalle, redfish and other species are plentiful at this time of year—you just have to know where to go.

Stick to the brackish areas of our area. That means the rivers, creeks and bayous are where you’ll find prime gamefish during a Florida winter. You might be wondering, ‘What’s so significant about the brackish portions of our local waters?’ The deeper, more guarded areas of these bodies of water offer more protection and warmth for gamefish, which is why they gather here during our Florida winter.

Other than the plentiful fishing, brackish waters offer many other positives for anglers. The guarded bodies of water are ideal for using small watercrafts, such as kayaks and jon boats, for angling as well as those that are shorebound. Another benefit is that artificial lures tend to do well in these murkier waters since there is more shoreline cover. 

Fly fishers, especially, can benefit from winter fishing in Florida. The local creeks offer a splendid opportunity for them to attract trout that are heading north.

Wondering where the best winter fishing in Florida is? From the Bradenton area to Sarasota, here’s where fishermen have been having luck: 

In the Tampa Bay and Bradenton area, kingfish, mangrove snapper and tarpon are plentiful. It’s been reported that trout, redfish and snook are frequenting the local bays as well. In Sarasota, you’ll be catching bluefish, snook, specks, mackerel and more. Then, if you head further south to the Venice and Nokomis areas, red grouper and snapper are currently being caught with whole squid as bait.

Next: Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

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Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

With Thanksgiving almost here, it’s time to start planning for the wondrous holiday events, and there is much to see and do in and around Bradenton!

Marvel at trails of lights and parades or participate in reindeer games or toy drives. Free holiday events near Bradenton are plentiful, and you do not want to miss out on all the fun this season!

Here’s a list of free holiday events near Bradenton that we’re most excited about:

Nov. 26: Free Outdoor Movie and Tree Lighting

6–10 p.m., Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach

Head to Bridge Street for an evening of live music from the Sweet Adelines, a free showing of the 1966 cartoon “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and popcorn and refreshments. All you need to bring is a chair and blanket! 

Dec. 2: 38th Annual Holiday Night on St. Armands

6–9 p.m., St. Armands Circle Park, Sarasota

Usher in the holiday season with a Christmas Carol Sing-a-long, special performances and the arrival of Saint Nick himself! Capture a photo with Santa, then enjoy the many store promotions in the shopping center.

Dec. 2–3: A Village Christmas Artwalk Weekend

Friday 6–9:30 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.–4 p.m., Village of the Arts, Bradenton

Village of the Arts will host a special, holiday-themed art walk during their monthly event. While admiring the holiday decorations, peruse unique art in galleries and studios, enjoy live music and food and much more!

Dec. 3: Palmetto’s Christmas in the Park

3–8 p.m., Manatee County Agricultural Museum & Palmetto Historical Park

Join in in Palmetto’s annual Christmas event! This year’s theme is ‘A Country Christmas.’ Chockfull of reindeer games, kids’ crafts and entertainment, Santa will also be arriving at 4 p.m.! And no need to worry about dinner! Food vendors will offer BBQ, lemonade and much more delicious goodies.

Dec. 10: Anna Maria Island Privateers Annual Christmas Parade

10 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Bay Front Park to Coquina Beach

You won’t want to miss the annual Christmas Parade hosted by the Anna Maria Island Privateers. Come and see their private ships as they sail from Bay Front Park to Coquina Beach. Then, Santa will hop aboard their Flagship “Skullywag” for a great photo opportunity.

Dec. 10: Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade

6:30–7:30 p.m., Riverhouse Reef & Grill

Follow the illuminated and decorated boats in the annual holiday boat parade! At dusk, you can enjoy the parade from the Green Bridge Fishing Pier and Riverhouse Reef & Grill as well as the Riverwalk in Bradenton. Boats will also compete for cash prizes!

Dec. 17: 2nd Annual Marty’s Toy Drive

9–11 a.m., Pirate City, 1701 27th St. E., Bradenton

Get into the holiday spirit by joining Bradenton Marauders for their 2nd annual toy drive! Please bring new, unwrapped toys, which will be given to Salvation Army to distribute to those in need. Donators will receive a complimentary breakfast, a promo item and entry into a raffle for four tickets to a 2017 Spring Training game!

Next: Free Fun in Sarasota and Bradenton

Attention Boaters: Watch Out for Florida Manatees!

Attention Boaters: Watch Out for Florida Manatees!

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Attention Boaters: Watch Out for Florida Manatees!

November is Manatee Awareness Month as Florida manatees begin to migrate to our waters to leave the cooler, winter waters. This week, many manatee protection zones went into effect as they travel south.

Manatee numbers are currently flourishing, but this means it’s even more important to look out for them. It’s been reported that there have been 91 manatee fatalities caused from boats this year.

In order to survive the winter weather, Florida manatees migrate to our rivers, bays and coastal waters. This is why it is especially important for boaters to keep a watchful eye out for these aquatic mammals when out on the waters this month.

Though large in size, adult manatees can actually be difficult to spot. To spot them easier, you can wear polarized sunglasses and look out for traces of their presence, such as “footprints” they leave on the water’s surface.

When in manatee protection zones, follow the speed rules in these areas that are known to have more manatees. Boaters can also drive slower, in general, and try to stay in deeper waters to avoid these friendly creatures. Areas such as sea grass beds and other shallow areas will want to be avoided as manatees are known to dwell here as well as lagoons and estuaries.

It’s also important to be mindful to not leave any lines, hooks or any other debris behind in the waters. These could entangle or be ingested by manatees and other wildlife should they encounter these hazardous items.

You can view the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) seasonal rules for manatee migration season as well as the areas designated as manatee protection zones at MyFWC.com/Manatee.

Next: 5 Seafood Gems to Harvest From Your Palmetto Boat

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Do you know about the bonito fish? Let’s learn about this feisty game fish that you may encounter this winter.

The bonito fish is a game fish that is known to frequent the Sarasota area. You may hear these fish referred to as ‘bonita’ or even ‘bonehead.’ Bonito fish, named for their aesthetically pleasing exterior, are speedy and powerful game fish. Their speed and power often causes spools to empty very quickly since they put up quite a fight when you’ve hooked them.

Bonito often travel in schools and will remain in our waters much longer after most pelagics have migrated. You’ll find that seabirds easily spot them when an underwater commotion arises while they’re feeding on small baitfish.

Wondering how to catch them? You’ll be successful with small jigs, spoons and flies, which are often used by sportsmen. Try going to nearshore reefs and catching them by way of bottom fishing; you’ll be surprised when they’re suddenly hooked with a light tackle. The force of the bonito will quickly clue you in that you’ve caught this spirited species.

Though the bonito fish are cousins of the tuna, you’ll want to save these as bait for shark instead of for the dinner table.

Where to Fish Now

The Tampa Bay and Bradenton Area is currently brimming with flounder, large mackerels, black sea bass, grouper, pompano and bluefish.

Sarasota is where you’ll find trout, snook, ladyfish, sea trout and redfish, and bluefish are present as well.

When you’re in the Venice and Nokomis Beach area, expect grouper, snapper, speckled trout and more snook.

The Lemon Bay and Englewood area is bountiful with sea trout, snook, redfish, barracuda and cobia.

There’s much to catch this winter. Happy Fishing!

Learn more about snook here.