Carol Kimball sits in a cafeteria chair on the patio at Annie Bait and Tackle as reggae music — Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” — plays form the jet ski rental office nearby.
She looks across north Sarasota Bay, past the docked offshore boat of her son, Capt. Sam Kimball, as cars cross the Cortez Bridge. She realizes why she loves this area.
“This is it,” Kimball said. “Right here. The smell of the saltwater, the reggae music.”
But it never was just for Kimball.
You really can’t measure the contributions she has made to the area‘s outdoors community, from being one of the reasons the Green Bridge Kid Fishing Tournament exists, to her service with Manatee/Sarasota Fish and Game, as well as her efforts to protect natural resources as a board member of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA).
Odds are, you’ve never heard of Carol Kimball.
That’s how she always wanted it.
Kimball, 60, is hereby recognized as the 2009 Bradenton Herald Outdoors Person of the Year.
Kimball has been living in Manatee County since she was 4 and said the impact she’s most proud of is getting kids hooked on fishing. Kimball was that kid once, a girl who was more into bee bee guns, snakes and bugs then dolls.
She grew up an outdoors women and would give birth to Sam Kimball, who would develop into a professional fishing guide with Legend Fishing Charters out of Annie’s Bait and Tackle in Cortez. When Sam was younger, Kimball lived on bay front property in Sunny Shores, a perfect spot where Sam would wade fish, and Carol didn’t have to worry about him.
Carol Kimball began as a judge for the Kids Fishing Tournament in 1993, the same year she joined the CCA, and immediately was quite active with marine environmental issues.
“Carol is one of these people who would volunteer for things, she’d do the job, but she’d stay in the background,” said Roger Williams, a member of the Manatee chapter of the CCA. “She is one of these people who wouldn’t say, ‘I did this, and I did that.’ She’s very unselfish.”
In 2000, she was appointed to the board of Manatee/Sarasota Fish and Game and became the chairman of the Kids Fishing Tournament.
The reason few have heard of Carol Kimball is that she did not want to be known.
It wasn’t for her. It was for the kids. Then she helped give the kids, and all of us, the spectacular recreational fishery we have, fighting in the background to protect our natural resources.
Nick Walter, outdoors writer, can be reached at 745-7013.