Ask SWS

Our experts answer your most burning questions.

Mercury Rising
Q: I've caught lots of kingfish and really enjoy eating them once a week or so-they're that damn good. However, I've been told that they have a high mercury content. Is that why I rarely see them offered in restaurants?
- Stan Kessler,
Boynton Beach, Florida

POVEROMO: Occasionally, you might see a local restaurant offer fresh kingfish on the menu, but not like you used to. The main reason is probably the fact that king mackerel is, indeed, high in methyl mercury. In fact, advisories have warned against consuming any king mackerel larger than 39 inches long. For kings between 33 and 39 inches in total length, it is suggested that adults limit consumption to not more than one eight-ounce serving per week, and children and women of child-bearing age should have not more than one eight-ounce serving per month.

Tackle Talk
Q: I've asked this at every sport shop I've ever visited and no one has an answer-why is the equipment used to catch fish called "tackle?"
- Ted Hill,
Goldsboro, North Carolina

KEARNS: Ah, the type of question that warms an editor's heart. Here's what I found. According to www.word-detective.com, "tackle" was borrowed from the Old English word "takel," which refers to the rigging of a ship. It first appeared, as a noun, in English in the 13th century, meaning "apparatus or equipment." From this sense developed the phrase "block and tackle," referring to an apparatus of pulley blocks and ropes or cables used for hoisting heavy objects. With me so far? Remove "block," and you're left with "ropes or cables" (a.k.a. fishing line) used for "hoisting heavy objects" (a.k.a. 500-pound bluefin).

Hello, Mudder
Q: I hear that mud minnows are great baits, but I'm not sure how to fish them. Can you help?
-William Ray,
Darien, Georgia

DIBENEDETTO: Mud minnows or "pollywogs," as I called them growing up, are superb baits for trout, redfish, flounder and many other inshore gamefish. I've also had great success with big Spanish mackerel on mud minnows. There are several ways to fish them successfully. You can rig them beneath a popping cork on a thin wire hook, a bare lead jighead or on a hook tied directly to your main line beneath a splitshot. If using a leadhead, hook the minnow through both lips. When fishing a plain hook, allow the pollywog to swim against the current above oyster bars and other structure. I've caught fish both by keeping the bait moving or letting it sit still on the bottom. Dead mud minnows will catch fish too, but livies are best.