Some people who enjoy saltwater fishing, especially surf fishing and pier fishing, never realize that some great free bait is right there on the beach. I’m talking about mole crabs, also called “sand fleas,” “sand bugs,” and “sand crabs.” You’ve probably seen these critters. They’re kinda oval shaped, and the larger ones are about an inch long. Check out the following fishing tips for free bait.
How to catch sand fleas
Sand fleas burrow in the sand, usually at the tide line. You can dig them up with a shovel, and this is a great job for kids. Another way to catch mole crabs is to use a piece of hardware cloth or wire mesh with ¼-inch openings. As a wave washes in, stick the mesh into the sand at an angle. The sand and water will flow out of the screen, and the sand fleas will be trapped. Don’t worry – sand fleas don’t pinch.
If you can’t catch your own sand bugs, many coastal bait shops sell them frozen. From my experience, the frozen sand fleas are just about as good as the live ones.
How to keep sand fleas for bait
Keep your sand fleas in a bucket with damp sand. Also, try to keep them out of the sun, in a cool spot.
What can you catch with sand fleas?
Several saltwater species eat sand crabs. They’re like candy for pompano and black drum. You can also catch sheepshead, reds, large whiting, and the occasional flounder on sand fleas.