Some years they should change their name to sand to run away.
“Yeah, they’re rare for us too,” says Gene Lytwyn, who owns and operates The Fishin’ Hole in downtown Daytona Beach.
Gene then offers the most popular explanation for the rarity of sand fleas in recent months.
“I don’t really know why.”
Well, there it is.
“They are always harder to get in cold weather,” he explains. “We seem to have years where they are abundant and years where they are scarce.”
And in those good years…
“They seem to appear in waves.”
Well done, Gene.
In times of plenty, those who catch sand fleas along the tide line – whether for their own bait or to sell them to bait shops – can score a jackpot with almost every pass of the rake. . They’re worth the work because a wide range of good-to-eat fish (pompano and mutton especially) love the sand flea, not because it’s a cute little crab – yes, crab, not bug.
In normal years they are also plentiful and relatively inexpensive. And durable, even after cashing in. Many diehard pompano anglers along the waves will tell you that their best bait is sand flea, and their second best bait is frozen sand flea. Some swear by boiling their chips before freezing them; not sure why.
Alas, it’s not been a normal year so far. One theory: A nasty Northeast passing through here last November swept away all the fleas in the dunes and the sea oats, destroying the population for a time.
It’s the best explanation Craig Patterson has heard. Patterson checked his books and reported what a normal flea season produces at his Donald’s Bait & Tackle on the Port Orange Causeway.
“We sold over 700 gallons of chips from September 2020 to April 2021,” he says.
In addition to pushups and sheep’s head, Patterson says, “they used to catch red and black drums, mangrove snappers, and even one customer claimed to have caught a nice snooker on the One. Two”.
“At the start of the Pompano campaign last September and October, sand flea populations looked promising. But this monster from the northeast tricked several of my commercial fishermen into believing that the rough seas killed many of them.
A handful of good news, however, was offered Thursday by Patterson.
“Since the storm only a few have been found, although a report came in today that juvenile fleas were found,” he says. “Too small for the bait, though. It will take this generation months to grow to a useful size.
Captain Jeff Patterson ventured north from his usual fishing holes in his Pole Dancer charter boat.
“North of Ormond, closer to High Bridge,” he says.
“I do pretty well with snook, using surface water first thing in the morning and the last two hours before sunset,” he says. “The rockfish bite was productive and I was even able to catch a few on site.”
A little further south, in Tomoka Basin, Patterson says he still sees flounder. “I do well with soft plastics on a jig head.”
Ike Leary says the black drum still takes bait along the pilings of Grenada Pier, where it operates the bait and tackle. He also hears good things about fishing from the North Beach Street bridge just past the entrance to Tomoka State Park.
Yes indeed. Have you seen the forecast? Worse yet, did you feel it? Those raucous breezes outside your front door are downright knee-deep on the Atlantic.
The Sea Spirit had to endure several trips this week due to rough waters. I don’t know when they will take a break.
Take a look at the long-term forecast, and there’s not a single-digit windy day as far as the eye can see.
Capt. Bryn Adams says bass fishing remains hot in the St. Johns and its productive lakes. Some trophies too.
“Wild river minnows are great live bait to use this time of year,” she says.
Speck fishing, however, has turned down the heat a bit in the past week. They are there, but not in the numbers for the past few weeks. And just at the right time, a little help with that.
Adams’ Highland Park Fish Camp is hosting a speck fishing seminar Saturday afternoon at 2 a.m., with local professional fisherman Joe Balog. Always popular tips, tricks and freebies are promised.
Hook, line and clicker
We want to see your most recent take. Email your fish photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include the first and last name of the angler(s), as well as the type of fish (sometimes we are confused). If we get enough photos, we include them in a gallery with the online version of the weekly fishing report.