Sand fleas, also known as mole crabs, are an extremely popular bait for pompano when on the beach. They are also great to catch redfish, sheepshead, croakers, whiting, and black drum fish with! Because of that, many try to “hunt” for them by the shore, which is easy to do by hand, net, or rake.
But what happens after you catch sand fleas, how will you preserve it for your next fishing trip? Whether you want to keep them alive or freeze them properly, read on! I’ll show you the proper way to prepare your sand fleas to use as bait.
How to Preserve Sand Fleas
Preserving sand fleas is important if you want to attract fish better. After all, fish wouldn’t want to bite on smelly or rotting bait. It’s why you either want to use live bait or frozen ones that will still taste and smell fresh to fish.
But how can you do that? Follow these tips:
Freezing Sand Fleas Properly
Freezing sand fleas is a good way to preserve your bait for the long-term. It lessens the need to catch sand fleas daily, and it’s quite easy to preserve.
Once you have caught your sand fleas, be sure to keep them alive in a bucket of moist sand. Once you’re home, there are two ways to freeze and preserve your fleas:
This is the best preservation method because when blanching sand fleas, they still smell fresh once they are thawed. Follow these steps for preserving your sand fleas through blanching:
- Place the sand fleas to a mesh bag and hang it on a tree branch, rinsing them with a garden hose for half an hour. This rinses out the urine they secrete.
- Heat a large pot of water until it’s boiling, then dunk the mesh bag to the pot. Leave it for only 15 seconds, which kills the fleas and turns it orange. You may want to add some salt and/or bright food coloring to make the sand fleas tougher and looking better to attract fish later on.
- Hang the mesh bag again, then rinse it with a garden hose until the fleas are at normal temperature. Let it drain for 15 minutes.
- Bag the dead sand fleas in freezer bags, or vacuum-packed bags if you need to store them for even longer periods. Take note that medium-sized bags can hold up to 200 fleas. Write the date of preservation to keep track of what bait you should use first.
This is a less tedious option, but they are most likely to secrete urine even after they die. This can spoil them and make the sand fleas more brittle when you thaw them to use as bait!
However, it’s a method to consider only if you need to freeze the sand fleas for a day or two. Follow these steps when doing so:
- Rinse the sand fleas repeatedly in a mesh bag while they are still alive. This also rinses out the urine they continue to secrete. Rinse until they die.
- Once the sand fleas are dead, bag and freeze them.
Keeping Sand Fleas Alive
Keeping sand fleas alive is easy and safe, as they can’t bite or harm you in any way. Plus, I prefer keeping sand fleas alive compared to using frozen ones. Frozen sand fleas may be difficult to hook and have lost their scent, making them less enticing to fish.
To keep them alive to use them as live bait, prepare the following materials:
- Cooler or bucket
- Moist sand
There are various methods to keep sand fleas alive, depending on how long you need them for.
1. Keep Them Alive For a Day
Once you have caught live sand fleas, place them in a bucket with wet or moist sand. This will keep sand fleas alive for just one day, which is throughout your fishing trip.
If it’s a particularly warm day, continue adding wet sand to cool the sand fleas and keep them from overheating.
2. Keep Them Alive Overnight
If you need to keep your sand fleas alive overnight, place them in a container. Place damp newspaper pieces and leave the container open, without any cover.
This will only keep the sand fleas alive for one night, a method best used if you have a fishing trip the next day.
3. Keep Them Alive For a Few Days
If you want to keep sand fleas alive for a few days, then you’ll need a cooler or large bucket. Fill up the cooler or bucket with two inches of sand. Do NOT use or add water, as they won’t be able to breathe well, which will have sand fleas die.
Leave the cooler lid open so the sand fleas can breathe in oxygen. Change the wet sand and flush out sand flea urine with saltwater every day. This will keep them cool and alive, also removing bacteria from urine, which can kill them.
You can also use dry coquina, which is similar to sand and loosely compacted while absorbing their waste properly. Simply pat their shells and coquina daily to minimize the moisture.
The sand fleas can stay alive for up to six days, enough to last until your next fishing trip comes. It’s a bit of a tedious effort and only suitable if you have no access to sand fleas right before your fishing trip.
If you want to learn more about preserving sand fleas the right way, check out this helpful video:
Wrapping It Up
Sand fleas make excellent bait but when they aren’t preserved properly, they won’t be as effective. That’s why you should either keep them alive for a few days or freeze them if you won’t use them shortly. Through proper care and preservation, they will make great bait to attract most fish species!
I hope that this article on how to preserve sand fleas helped you out! So don’t wait any longer and look into following these tips to use your sand fleas as bait efficiently now.