Foreign bait theory

On Tuesday Nancy and I went to the beach for a day of sun and fun. You know I surf fish but you probably didn’t know that Nancy can sew quite nicely due to the high ambient light level and has a much easier time with darker fabrics. So we can have all this togetherness time without getting in each other’s sh.t.. We went directly to the National Seashore south of New Symrna after first stopping to pick up a Publix deli sandwich. We got to the beach about noon and I was totally blown away by the amount of seaweed – a foot deep all over the beach and worse, solid masses from the surfline out about 30-50′. I picked a load of sand fleas but soon confirmed that it was totally unfishable. We ate the sandwich and then humped all the gear back to the truck.

Instead of just going home, we decided to head north and back to my old spot at Flagler. Maybe we could still snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. We get there only to find the smallish parking lot totally full. By now it’s pushing 1PM and this is looking like a total loss. We pushed north along A1A to see if we could find another spot. We found parking a couple of miles further north, on the south end of Gamble-Rogers Park. There was one other car and a motor home. Before unloading the gear I checked out the beach and found the water to be fairly clean and clear, no seaweed, and the waves very manageable. So even if this was a bad fishing spot, at least the conditions would be good.

I had the sand fleas from New Symrna so in 2 minutes had bait in the water. Within about 15 minutes I hooked and landed a large Pompano. Pompano are the ultimate surf fish from a fighting and eating standpoint. Try pricing them at a fish market. You consider yourself lucky if you get one or two a trip. The guy who was fishing beside me came over and asked what I was using for bait and he was surprised to learn it was sand fleas, the same as he’d been using since about 9AM that morning without a bite. I told him it was probably just dumb luck but that generally I had been having better luck in the afternoons. About 15 minutes later I landed another nice, nice Pompano. Shortly after that another couple came down and heard that I had caught a couple of nice fish so they set up operation about 30′ away. There were miles of empty beach but this guy had to get right up close and personal. AH. He soon had 3 rods going using sand fleas. I picked up another fish a bit later and a 4th still later while the newcomer went empty. The first guy did catch a smaller one but at least he caught something. The new jerk guy came over and asked what kind of rig I was using. I described it but he wanted to actually see it. So I reeled it in and he said, “oh, that’s a whiting rig”. Now I know this guy is a jerk. So I said, well it looks like a whiting rig for sure but I tied it up myself and it’s just a bit different. That was total BS but I owed this guy. He looked at it really intently now and said, “oh, yeah, I see it now – nice touch”. Soon thereafter they packed up and left; so did the first guy. I got good looks at their tackle and honestly couldn’t see a bit of difference so no way it was tackle. We were all using sand fleas but……. they were using local fleas and I was using the New Symrna variety. I have to admit I could see no difference at all but but maybe………….. So I hooked up a couple of local fleas to test my theory. Nada, zip – not a bite.

So I think the evidence is indisputable that the foreign fleas out performed the locals. It makes me ponder though, are the New Symrna fleas tastier or is it just their foreign origin. If I took Flagler fleas to New Symrna would they outperform the locals??? Did I screw up the local ecology when I threw a few of the New Symrna guys onto the Flager Beach?

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