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Reeling In Amelia Island’s Treasures with Drake Bordnick

For the past three years, Drake Bordnick (@DBordyFishing on Instagram) has been a guide on Amelia Island — a spit of sand off Florida’s Atlantic Coast near the Georgia border.

Amelia has a long history of pirate occupation — Luis Aury, Jean Lafitte, Captain Kidd, Blackbeard — and tales of ghosts and buried treasure abound. But the only treasure you’ll find with Drake is the kind with fins and scales — although some flash silver or brilliant gold.

“Surf fishing, we get the occasional tarpon, as well as some redfish,” Drake says. “We also get pompano, bluefish, jacks and sea trout.”

No, Drake — in spite of having the name for it — is not a treasure hunter after Blackbeard’s hidden trove. Rather, he’s the only land-based fishing guide on Amelia Island.

“I started fishing when I was about three years old,” he says. “I was born in Detroit, and I started fishing with my dad for the first time after we moved to Baltimore — we moved around a bit.”

It wasn’t until they settled in Woodstock, Georgia that Drake discovered his true passion: Bass fishing.

Although he grew up with — and still loves — chasing largemouth bass, since his move to Florida, Drake has found a new quarry of choice.

“Peacock bass are my favorite freshwater fish,” he says. “They are pound for pound one of the toughest fighting fish out there.”

He just got back from a peacock bass excursion to Miami. Not only has he found a new fave — his tactics are about to evolve.

Until recently, Drake did all of his fishing from the shore.

“I just got my first boat, so I may start trying to fish some tournaments,” he says.

Drake doesn’t usually guide for bass, though. So, there are no immediate plans to change the business model for his guiding service.

“People come down here and they’re interested in learning how to surfcast or fish the backwaters,” he says. “There are plenty of guides who will take people inshore and offshore fishing. But land-based fishing is my specialty area.”

When it comes to saltwater fishing, there is nothing Drake would rather see on the end of his line than the shiny gold scales and distinctive spotted tail of a bull redfish.

“Bull reds are fun to fight,” he says. “They’re strong, strong. And they’re beautiful.”

When it comes to guiding, though, Drake loves to put his surfcasting clients on the tarpon when they’re running.

“It’s a lot of excitement for a potentially huge fish,” he says.

His personal preference for landing tarpon?

“I like to use a bone-colored, Heddon Super-Spook and just walk the dog,” he says. “I use Tica rods with a Piscifun reel, and I have no trouble with even the biggest tarpon.”

What keeps Drake on the water, though, is a deeper drive.

“I’m really competitive,” he says. “The mystery of what’s going to be the next I hook into keeps me going back out. Plus, making sure that our fisheries remain sustainable. That’s really important to me.”

Check out Drake’s fishing adventures on YouTube.