The first thing is to use a light wire hook, as this will easily penetrate the sand flea (also known as mole crab). Hooking the sand flea, you should start from the bottom of the sand flea closest to the head area. The head area has two little antennas sticking out. From the bottom close to the head drive the hook upward and out the exterior shell. If alive, the sand flea should stay on the hook very well. Frozen sand fleas also work, but they have a tendency to come off easier.
One of our readers Randy Churchill added this: I was taught to only use sand fleas that have orange egg sacks under their belly. While I was experimenting with different hooking methods, I started noticing that the fish, often Sea Mullet in the Hatteras surf, would cleanly chomp out the rear of the flea, getting the eggs but missing the hook. I have since started with the hook coming in through the back/bottom of the shell, and then out into the egg sack. I think I am catching more fish using this method.
Thank you Mr Churchill, that is absolutely excellent advice.
Captain David M Rieumont
The Online Fisherman Inc.
Something else to consider when thinking about using Sand Fleas for bait - and they are among the best living bait you can ever use when surf fishing - is how to catch them. Basically you have to sift the sand where they're likely to live. Start right at the endge of the water line. We find more of them at low tides, it seems, but as long as the bottom is flat and wet and not underwater at the moment you scrape, you can likely find some. A cool thing is that our shorelines are really rich in shark's teeth. Some (many) are small. But once in a while you will come across an ancient tooth that could be as big as your palm. Rare but it happens.