Fishing With Sand Fleas (How to find, catch and use them)

Kristian Ole



If you live near a beach, you have probably heard of anglers fishing with sand fleas. But, you may not know what sand fleas are or what eats sand fleas. We have compiled an all-intensive guide on fishing with sand fleas, so you will know how to use these creatures the next time you go fishing.

What Are Sand Fleas?

You might know them as sand crabs, mole crabs, or sand bugs. Sand fleas are small crustaceans that are found on sandy beaches across the United States. 

These creatures typically have a lifespan of two or three years. Anglers have used them as bait for ages. They are also a part of the cuisine in Thailand; they are pan-fried or deep-fried for consumption. 

Why Use Sand Fleas? 

Sand fleas are excellent bait for anglers interested in surf fishing – the act of fishing from the shoreline into the surf zone. Aside from their attractiveness to fish, sand fleas are readily available on the beach. Catching them is simple, and anglers can continue replenishing their supply without leaving the beach.

Fish are the natural predator of sand fleas, so they are perfect for luring fish. Numerous anglers have extolled using sand fleas as bait, and several articles have been published praising the creature’s properties as bait. 

What Eats Sand Fleas?

Most fish enjoy dining on sand fleas, so anglers will have success using them as bait. Sand fleas are perfect bait for barred surfperch, redfish, sheepshead, striped bass, and pompano. 

Sand fleas are tiny; the largest females grow to two inches in length and the largest males measure less than an inch. But, their small size does not deter fish from feasting on them. So, what can you catch with sand fleas? Shallow-water fish can locate sand fleas easily, leading to quick and constant bites, so it’s best to fish for shallow-water fish types. 

How to Catch Sand Fleas and Where to Find Them 

how to catch sand fleas for fishing

Sand fleas live under wet sand. Anglers who live near a beach can catch sand fleas to use for fishing. Catching sand fleas is a relatively simple process that has become a hobby in and of itself.

Visit the Beach at Low Tide

While you can find sand fleas when the tide is high, it is much easier to find them at low tide. You will also have a more plentiful yield when you attempt to catch them at low tide. Sand fleas typically live in areas that experience waves at high tides, so going when the tide is low will expose them.

Look For Tiny Holes in the Sand

sand flea holes in sand

Sand fleas are burrowers, and they make their home in wet sand. If you see a hole in the sand, there is a good chance a sand flea made it. If you think you’ve found a sand flea habitat, it is time to get digging.

Catching Sand Fleas

You can dig for sand fleas with a shovel, rake, or bare hands – for those unafraid of getting dirty. Place the captured creatures in a bucket or other storage device with wet sand.

Those who don’t want to dig have alternatives. A sand flea net will catch the crustaceans when the tide comes in. When you’ve located an area where you believe sand fleas live, loosen the sand and place your net down. When the tide comes in, the net should trap a plethora of sand fleas for you to use as bait. 

How Do You Store Sand Fleas?

When you have caught your fill of sand fleas, you can either use them fresh that day or store them for a future fishing excursion. Even if you are using them immediately, you should still take precautions to preserve the sand fleas’ lives.

Store Sand Fleas in Wet Sand

Most anglers store their sand fleas in a bucket, but simply dumping the creatures into an empty container is insufficient. The crustaceans need to be in moist sand; if not, they will quickly dry out and die. We recommend taking some of the wet sand you caught the sand fleas in and placing it in the storage bucket.

Keeping wet sand in the bucket will keep your sand fleas alive longer. Bait that is alive and well is always preferable to dead bait. When the weather is unbearably hot, anglers should place a damp cloth over the bucket to keep the sand moist and the sand fleas alive.

Freeze Sand Fleas for Later

If you have some extra bait after a day of fishing and you are not capable of angling for a while, you may consider freezing sand fleas. It is also a sufficient way to have a backup supply on a day where finding bait proves to be impossible.

Anglers use a few methods for freezing sand fleas, including blanching them or freezing them in salty water. Remember that frozen sand fleas will not have the same attractiveness to fish as their fresh counterparts. 

Related article: How to rig live bait for bass fishing

How Do You Use Sand Fleas as Bait?

Fishing with sand fleas is a straightforward process. You will want something to assist with luring fish to the bait, such as attractor beads or a bobber. 

We recommend considering a Kahle hook, circle hook, or long-shafted hook. The type you use will depend on the type of fish you are angling for, so don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works best.

When you hook your sand flea, you will want to make sure you do it as lightly as possible. You want to keep the bait alive on the hook, and hooking it lightly will help it avoid getting caught in the water.

Conclusion: Fishing With Sand Fleas

Harvesting sand fleas is an easy and inexpensive way to procur bait for an entire day of fishing. Fishing with sand fleas can yield excellent harvests. The creatures are attractive to striped bass, barred surfperch, sheepshead, and pompano. Now that you know what you can catch with sand fleas, it is time to get out and get angling.


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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