Ok Hunter, although the Oracle has spoken, I shall try as well.
I am going to design a rake at some point, but till then...
There are some things that make one purchased rake better than others. The screen is very important. You want diamond shaped holes, not squares. Squares clog and don't let the sand sift through as quickly. The rake should be wide, at least a foot. It should have a leading edge that is sturdy enough to dig in and take scoops.
When it gets cold, use the Amelia Island bucket shovel deal.
Fleas catch more than just pompanyo, and I ain't so certain that the pomps are good as gone either. I was catching the really big ones last year up until about christmas. Maybe this year is different, but....
I bought my rake at Sports Authority ( they actually thought they were for scooping golf balls out of lakes ). I think mine was thirty bucks. It is about fourteen inches across and sturdy. I ordered one over the net once, and it was about ten inches across and it broke when I was scooping. Paid forty for it.
I like fleas because they are easy to use, carry, keep, and they catch nice fish. They don't work for bluefish which is another reason I like them. This past summer I put away several containers full. Brined them and they look as good as new, but don't work as well as live.
BTW- I heard they migrate out at sea, maybe they do, but I have found them on our beaches during cold weather as well. Also, beaches that have healthy populations of fleas seem to produce fish pretty well. Remember I said that fish can't see sandflea eggs, but rather smell them.
Having spent my entire spring/summer/fall digging and fishing with fleas- almost exclusively, I have learned alot about their behavior. I think I brought bait with me about five times ( not counting tournament day ). I brought instead my rake and my castnet. It was nice heading to the beach with no bait, but requires effort once you arrive. A few times I spent longer than I wanted scrounging bait, but I always seemed to be able to aquire what I needed. It was something I had to force myself to learn, and I did so by leaving the salted shrimp at home.
Get a purchsed rake, and make sure you have plenty of bait with you such as clams and shrimp, and you will have the best of both worlds. Cast out your brought bait, and then dig fleas.
I am pretty sure I will catch fleas this winter, just have to look where you know they would never be.