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Tampa, FL 33604

Iglesia Bautista Idlewild

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The Flea That Doesn’t Bite

The Flea That Doesn’t Bite

The Flea That Doesn’t Bite

by Campbell Middlebrooks
This is our opportunity to share what we have learned as instructors, or just a great story that we
would like to share with you.
One of my fondest memories as a child was when I was 7 years old and my parents took me to
Indian Rocks Beach for vacation. My dad had bought me a 6’spinning rod and a Mitchell 300
reel and wanted to teach me to fish. I remember asking him where could we buy live shrimp and
he told me we were going to fish with fleas. I knew fleas were small and lived on my cat, so
how could we put them on the hook?
My dad told me we were going to catch sand fleas that lived at the water’s edge. They are really
mole crabs (Emerita Talpoida), but everyone I know calls them sand fleas.
My dad had me walk into the surf, place my back to the water using both hands to dig into the
shells and sand where the surf hit the beach, and out of the water came a handful of these ugly
looking bugs with a hard shell. We put them in a bucket and my dad told me to hook the flea
from the underside and up through the hard shell.
He had me cast just about 10 feet into the surf and in a few minutes I caught a whiting and by the
end of the day, many whiting and pompano. While we were fishing I saw a man holding the end
of a net on the beach and another man walking the net out in the water about 100’ and bringing it
back to the beach. They pulled the net in and I could not believe the number of trout, redfish,
snook, whiting and pompano that were in the net. My dad took that opportunity to teach me a
lesson about where fish feed, what fish eat and if you know those things he said it will help you
to become a good fisherman.
This is what he taught me: redfish, whiting and pompano swim parallel to the shore just outside
where the surf hits the beach in search of sand fleas. When a wave is receding (washing back
out) these fish rush up toward the beach and catch the sand fleas before they can dig back into
the sand and shells. Snook and trout are there also, but they are looking for mud minnows that
chase sand fleas onto the shore. The next day my dad had me take a small dip net to the surf and
we caught a bucket of mud minnows, then proceeded to catch several trout and snook.
60 years have passed since that fishing trip, but the sand fleas are still there and waiting for you
to catch and use them. Any public beach on the gulf coast will do and concentrate your fishing
where you find the most sand fleas. I would recommend rigging your spinning rod with a 1/8th
oz egg sinker free sliding above a small swivel attached to
18 “ of 15 lb mono leader. A #2 live bait hook will work fine. Cast no more than 10-15’ from
shore and bring your line in slowly (keep it tight at all times). The bite will usually occur close to
the shore so watch your drag setting. Too tight and you might be broken off, too loose and you
might not set the hook. If you have a dip net try catching some mud minnows. Hook them through the top of the eye
socket and work them just like the sand fleas. You can also use a float and set the depth at 24”.
Remember tight lines as the waves are bringing your bait back toward you.
Don’t forget to check the FWC regulations on all fish you catch if you are considering keeping
the fish to eat. Good fishing and let us know about your trip.