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Manatee County fishing for improvements

Jiggs Landing expansion could lure more visitors.

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  • | 8:10 a.m. July 12, 2017
  • East County
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On a rare weekday off, Mike Flagler launched his boat into the Braden River, tied it at the dock at Jiggs Landing and sat down for a quick hot dog before heading out for some bass fishing.

“It’s a nice county park,” Flagler said of the preserve, which opened to the public in December 2010 but added a concession vendor with canoes, kayaks and a bait shop in January 2016. “I’m used to the old fish camp that was here in the 1980s. It had its own charm, but it was a dump. It’s cleaned up quite a bit. I’ve tried renting the cabins a few times and during the winter — forget it. They’re full.”

Don Collison, co-owner of TDKS Enterprises LLC (doing business as Jiggs Landing Fish Camp), said the four fishing cabins at Jiggs Landing are rented out nearly every weekend — often a month in advance — and most weekdays are booked up as well, especially in the fall and winter months.

That fact has prompted Charlie Hunsicker, the director of Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources, to think bigger.

He has preliminary plans to expand Jiggs Landing with a boardwalk, nature trails and five additional fishing cabins by using a roughly five-acre property north of the actual Jiggs Landing site. The property  is owned by the city of Bradenton and sits on the Evers Reservoir, the city’s drinking water supply.

“It would be a repeat of this,” Hunsicker said of Jiggs Landing. “It would be great for the public.”

Conceptual plans include additional trails at Jiggs Landing that connect to run along 63rd Street East, which turns into to Linger Lodge Road, and onto the city’s property to the north end of the reservoir. More secluded fishing cabins could be added, as well.

“I have people coming here all the time looking for nature trails,” Collison said. “I think people would love to have more trails and cabins. The weekends are so full (for cabins), I turn people away.”

The plan is in its conceptual stages only, and the county officials have not yet had formal discussions on the plan. However, Bradenton Public Works Director Jim McLellan said he sees no problems with the idea, which would have to be approved by the Manatee County Commission and Bradenton City Council.

Manatee County has no funding or formal plans for the project, yet, so implementation of the plan likely is about two years away, Hunsicker said.

“I don’t think the city would have any major objections to the general concept,” McLellan said. “We’ve got time to work on any agreement. It’s land we purchased so nobody else could build on it.”


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