Going down the Halifax River canals of Port Orange, Florida, isn’t the typical fishing scene. Some of it’s nature, some of it’s suburb backwaters.
Fishing near dock pilings and intracoastal banks that are backends of the suburbs can be a spot for a bevy of black drum and sheepshead. Capt. Scott Blanford of Bad Juju Charters was born and raised in the area of Ormond Beach — he knows these waters. He graduated from University of Florida in Environmental Management and worked as an environmental scientist. Now, he’s back doing what he loves. Since 2009, he has been running his guide service on his custom 21.5-foot Sea Pro powered by a 150hp Mercury outboard.
Capt. Blanford finds dock pilings that are crusted with barnacles. Sheepshead and black drum tend to flock to these spots for breakfast. On this trip, he used fiddler crabs, which are versatile for both species. When fishing for sheepshead, he recommends holding the line against the rod above the reel to feel the nib that sheepshead are known for — using those buckteeth. He almost has the rod tip in the water, and as he felt a nudge on the line, he just lifts up the rod — barely setting the hook. With the sheepsheads’ mouths being small and paired with teeth like a gerbil, these fish are sneaky at taking bait.
However, black drum hit and shake the bait like a pitbull on a chew toy. Catching black drum is like playing tug of war, whereas pulling out sheepshead is like trying to win at Jenga.