How to Keep Sand Fleas Alive


One of the most prized possessions of surf fishermen are sand fleas. Sand fleas are a type of crab that does not have claws. They are also referred to as sand crabs or mole crabs and the scientific name is Emerita benedicti. The two types of fish that love this crustacean the best are the red fish and the pompano. Handling live sand fleas is easy as there is no way they can harm or bite you in any way.

Things You'll Need

  • Sand flea rake
  • Cooler or bucket
  • Newspaper
  • Refrigerator
  • Catch the sand fleas alive at the beach. Using live sand fleas work better than frozen ones that you buy at the bait store. Frozen sand fleas are difficult to bait on a hook and have lost their scent. A few bait shops sell live sand fleas but they are difficult to find unless it is during the summer. Sand fleas live buried in the "swash zone" area of the beach. This is the area between the surf and where the dry sand begins. You have to dig in the sand to find them, as they live their whole life buried in the sand and close to the water. Between May and August is your best bet for catching live sand fleas.

  • Purchase a sand flea rake. This is a special rake that looks like a metal scoop. Stand along the water's edge and look down the shore. Look for little bubbles in the sand as the waves recede. Once the wave comes in, sweep your rake in the sand going as deep as you can. Hold your rake upright and allow the wave to take away the sand. You will be able to see how many sand fleas you have.

  • Keep them alive in your sand flea rake for immediate use. If you have plans to fish right away, then just place wet sand on the sand fleas to keep them alive for the day. You may need to occasionally add more wet sand especially if it is a warm day.

  • Use damp newspaper and your refrigerator to keep sand fleas alive overnight. Place damp pieces of newspaper in a lidded plastic container and place it in the fridge. Do not place a lid on the container. This is not a long-term solution but it will keep them alive for fishing the next day.

  • Get a cooler to keep them alive for several days. Use either a cooler or a large bucket with wet sand to keep them alive for up to five days. You only need about 1-2 inches of sand. Do not use water, as they will not be able to breathe. Be sure to leave the lid of the cooler open so that the sand fleas can receive the necessary oxygen. The top two contributing factors that kill sand fleas are heat and their own urine. Change the wet sand daily and use saltwater to flush out the urine.

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