Ask SWS

Our experts answer your most burning questions.

The Eyes Have It
Q: How can you tell the difference between fluke and flounder?
— Butch Geiger,
via the Internet

BETHGE: Once you get the hang of it, differentiating between the two is simple. Winter flounder are right-eyed fish, while fluke are left-eyed. Now, if you are anything like me, you'll have forgotten which is which by the time you are done with this sentence. I've come to rely on a more dependable system. Fluke have a large mouth that's full of teeth, whereas winter flounder have a small, soft mouth suited for eating seaworms.

Dead Sea Trolls
Q: We currently do not have a functioning bait well and would love to target kingfish. Can you provide some tips for rigging and trolling ballyhoo?
— Allen Smith,
Fort Myers, Florida

POVEROMO: I'd recommend rigging these baits to swim. Use a standard pin rig on 60-pound-test stainless wire leader with a small, 1/2-ounce egg sinker riding on the loop that joins the leader to a 7/0 long-shank hook.Limber up a medium ballyhoo by using your thumb and index finger to squeeze the bait slightly along its lateral line from behind its head to the base of the tail. Split its beak by simply running your thumbnail and index fingernail down the center groove. After threading the bait onto the hook, making sure the weight rests snugly under its throat, slide the leader up through the split in the beak. Take one wrap of copper wire between the leader and bill to prevent the leader from sliding back down through the split bill. Then wrap the leader to the bill with the rest of the copper wire.When trolled, the weight forces the bait's head downward, while the beak acts as a rudder and helps to provide depth and swimming motion. That, in conjunction with its limber body, results in a very lifelike bait.

In Hot Water
Q: How do I find the theromocline?
— David Baliles,
Clifton, Virginia

LEAR: Marine biologists and commercial fishermen use a bathythermograph probe to measure temperature below the surface, but that's not really practical for the majority of us. Recreational-grade sonar units measure surface water temperatures instead. Some units, like those made by Raymarine, use HD digital fish-finding technology to display plankton and bait holding along a thermocline automatically, but most quality sonar units can provide the same information by turning up the gain. The returning noise signals will show on the screen as horizontal lines that distinguish the thermocline levels.