If you're surf fishing, mole crabs, also known as sand fleas, can work well as a bait for such fish as whiting, red and black drum, and pompano. They thrive on the beach, right at the point where waves break, which means they have to move in and out with the tides. Once they find a temporary spot, they burrow into the sand, sticking out tiny antennae to catch phytoplankton for food. Because they are natural prey for surf fish, they also work as bait.
Find mole crabs in the damp part of the sand left uncovered when waves roll back into the ocean. Look for "V" formations on the sand and use your hand or a sand flea rake to bring them up out of the ground. Drop them into a bucket and cover them with damp sand or newspaper--but do not cover them in water.
Open the shells of your mole crabs. If you are using a female, run a hook through the top of the shell and through the eggs--they're orange and easy to see. To tell males apart from females before opening, choose the larger crabs--females get as long as an inch, while males rarely get longer than 2/3 inch.
Cast your bait during the early morning, late afternoon or at night. Early morning can be the most productive. You'll also find that there are more fish during the last two hours of rising tides and the first couple of hours of receding tides. You shouldn't need to cast more than 10 or 20 feet to find a hungry fish.
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