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Working the Green Monster, Or Learning the "Polish Chip Shot"

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On: Fri, May 15, 2015 at 9:43AM | By: Captain Ron Kowalyk

If you’re a baseball fan you’ve probably heard of the Green Monster; it’s a high outfield wall in, I think, Fenway Park, Boston. Why it’s there, I don’t know, only that ball players seem to find it a challenge. Well, we’ve got our own “Green Monster” right here in Southwest Florida and it’s miles and miles of miles and miles. About every inch of our regional shoreline is bordered by mangrove trees. There are three distinct species of mangroves that adapt to varying zones of the coastal shoreline for home: red, black, and white. For our purposes will stick to the red mangroves. 

The most recognizable of the threeare the red mangrove trees thatare generally right at the edge of the mangrove forest upon the shore. Its distinctive masses of tangled red-brown prop roots offer a nursery refuge for juvenile fishes, shrimp, worms, and crabs. This zone is a primary hunting ground for redfish, offers ambush cover for snook, snapper, and reds, as well as other predatory species.

The mangrove islands usual start out as hard bottom features in the bays. Oyster bars in particular are places where the long Slim Jim-like red mangrove seeds lodge in between the shells. These bars and shell structures along with the mangrove seeds, will over time, a very long time, capture floating debris, muddy clay-laden marl, sand, and other sediments. These patches continue to capture floating mangrove seeds and other debris, eventually building up into a mangrove island. I’ve watched one such mangrove tree, on a lonely bar in Estero Bay, develop into a small island. After around 35 years it has acquired the company of about 20 other smallish red mangrove trees, a quaint little community and a lovely event to observe. God doesn’t make junk!

Well, back to the point; now that we know where to fish on the flooded-out and on the dropping tides at the forage-rich haunts, the how comes into play.

You’d better hone your casting skills if you want to optimize presentations at the Green Monster. The best presentations take place under the mangrove canopy, in the shadow line. “Close but no cigar” is generally the rule, three feet off and your strike percentages willgenerally fall off by at least 70%; that’s just an opinion. Pinfish and other “swimmy” large baits can draw strike off the mangrove canopy but under the Green Monster they’ll pretty much be a home run, if anybody hungry is around.

Now I’m known as the “Stinky Shrimp” guy and I don’t mind it one bit. Shrimp in good shape or varying degrees of disrepair are great, easy, traditional baits for redfish, snook, snapper, sheepies and others. I’ve probably written this a thousand times, the scent trail is the best way to get fish under the canopy on an active bite, it triggers there feeding and leads them to a meal. Any bait that vibrates flashes or sends out a scent willattract predatory fish. Stress triggered pheromones (chemical messages), speed oil in live baits, body fluidsand modest states of decay are all reasonable scents in one form or another.

Here are some tips for casting to the Green Monster. Try improving your casting skills for the Green Monster by practicing the “Polish Putting Green” method; I don’t golf but I’ve got lots of “Polockia” in my family. They didn’t golf either but they cast real good. It’s simple, train yourself to use the “Polish chip shot” stroke. Easy, a relatively delicate, very low trajectory, sidearm stroke will skip or place your offering in the constricted marginbetween the canopy and the water’s surface andhopefully into the shadowline. That’s the big time strike zone; it's well worth the practice and patience it takes to train in this approach. “No Sky Hook Casts, Please!”

Being the “Stinky Shrimp Guy”, I like the shrimp-tipped brightly colored jig head and popping corks. This old school patterns can be best, usually maybe? First it’s very effective, uses easily acquired bait, shrimp, cut stocks, and live baits. The cork aids in loading the rod and carrying the bait along in the “pizza delivery" zone orlong shore currents. The cork is, of course, an effective strike indicator. It can be used with a short search leader 18-30 inches or, if you’re up to it, a slip bobber set-up is very good.

The “Polish Putting Green” practice approach can be easilyexecuted, by simply opening and closing your garage door or facsimile, thusadjusting the sizeof margin that simulates the gap between the mangrove canopy and the water’s surface. Stepping back a few yards from the garage door or, in our case, the mangrove canopy will give your “Polish Chip Shot” a better angle of entry.

Good Luck, “Boychek”!

Cappy Ron Kowalyk “The Kiddies Pal”


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