Anna Maria Outfitters fills a void
Steve Traves | Submitted
Anna Maria Outfitters is well stocked and well appointed
Anna Maria Outfitters recently opened for business on Pine Street in Anna Maria, filling a void that’s been undeveloped for a long time on the Island. Now fly anglers will have a place to find hand tied flies and other quality fly fishing equipment. I first heard about the shop from Captain Scott Moore who, knowing that I’m an devoted fly angler, reported that I should stop by and meet the new proprietors Steve and Yetta Traves.
A day later, before I had time to make a stop, I got a call from Steve Stanley, a Tampa resident who has a home on Anna Maria and is an avid fly fisher. Stanley, vice president of construction for Outback Steak House and a long time board member of Tampa Bay Watch, loves to walk the Island beaches with a fly rod. He was pleasantly surprised when he visited Traves and found just the fly he was looking for.
When I finally stopped by the outfitters I was fortunate to meet Ben Piercy the owner of What’s Your Vice Fly Tying Company. Piercy was making a delivery of his hand tied flies and I had an opportunity to see his line and talk to him and Traves. I was impressed with the quality of the flies and left with a couple of Piercy’s creations that I’m anxious to try on Spanish mackerel and little tunny.
AMI Outfitters is located in the historic Sears Cottage at 505 Pine Avenue. Traves's Outdoor Retail career began in 1973 when he became the manager of Mountain People in Idyllwild, Calif. The company eventually grew to be the Eagle Creek travel gear company.
An avid photographer Traves pursued a photography career specializing in architectural and outdoor photography. He eventually started a software company focused on CD-ROMs for children.
After semi-retiring from photography and multimedia development, Traves decided to look for an Outdoor Retail store to purchase. After a year-long search he finally found a perfect location for a start-up, right in his own backyard. The Traves, longtime Anna Maria Islanders, owned a vintage 1949 bungalow in Bradenton Beach for 25 years, and they now live in Cortez.
While the shop sells flies and fly fishing equipment, it also has a line of eco-friendly clothing and gear for kayaking, fitness and Nordic-walking. Traves is planning to work with local guides to develop a fly and spin charter service and is considering fly casting and fly tying classes. I think the Island is ripe for just such a service to supplement the robust spin charter fishing business.
Traves is also president of Kayak Anglers of West Florida. His store is the only Island seller of quality fishing kayaks and a line of eco-touring kayaks that are lighter weight and easier to maneuver, making them a pleasure to paddle. AMI Outfitters is a great addition to this community, and I’m happy to have a local shop to stop by and talk fly fishing. It’s long overdue.