Matt Murphy

Rockport – Aransas Pass – Corpus Christi

A season’s end …

In a few days, waterfowl season will end.  And, oh, what an amazing season it has been. Weather conditions were unpredictable and erratic. From cold, rainy and windy, to the complete opposite; hot, no wind, and plenty of mosquitos. Over the years, I’ve hunted waterfowl from stationary blinds, by boat, and even by backpacking in gear on foot. But none of those methods have been more exciting than staging my attack from my Hobie kayak. The pure versatility a kayak offers, by allowing me to traverse the farthest reaches of a marsh. This really allows the hunter to get up close and personal, to where the ducks feel safe.

Man, oh man, we sure fooled them. With the wind at our backs, and the aid of concealment from our Yack Gear Ambush blind, they didn’t stand a chance. Wings would cup, as they descended towards our decoy spread, as if the plastic shell of a duck and flapping mojo decoys were relatives from back north.  Take ’em … boom!

I’m already looking forward to next year. But, for now, it’s time to focus on fishing.

Gearing up for 2020 …

The turn of the calendar means it’s time to triage the condition of your rods and reels. For me, it’s necessary to replace the line on my reels. There are many choices when it comes to fishing line. Because line is the most crucial component of fishing, I choose Power Pro microfilament braided line, in 15- to 20-pound breaking strength. This line strength gives me the confidence that I can land most inshore species. The smaller diameter braid also leaves room for more line on the spool. More line, farther casting distance, and equal strength make braid a win-win. Not to mention, enough power to land any redfish, flounder, or trout.


I also clean the reels that have been neglected, while also applying new oil and grease. This can go a long way to ensure an enjoyable start to the season. A properly maintained reel should provide you with smooth performance out of the water. Preventive maintenance safeguards against potential of catastrophic reel failure, which can end your day early. Fear not, you can find the schematics of most reels on the manufacturer’s website, so you can service your own. If tackling that job is not for you, reach out to a local specialist, who provides professional cleaning. When I’m short on time, I turn to the experts.

Fish activity

Act now! The trout bite has been exceptional in the bays around Rockport and Aransas Pass. I’ve been targeting shorelines in 1-3-foot depths early in the morning with artificial swimbaits. Mornings were fast and furious, usually producing limits. Almost any color and lure size have resulted in strikes once you’ve found the fish. My personal preference is a SaltWater Assassin five-inch Die Dapper, in the color opening night, or Mama’s 14k.  Even redfish have fallen victim to the Die Dapper during the past few outings. It’s great to have a single lure that I can use to target multiple fish species.  Also, this allows me to reduce the amount of gear I need. How’s that for minimalist fishing?

If you’re not an early bird, I suggest that later in the day you more away from shorelines to search for schooling trout in deeper water. Although the swimbait setup will still produce, I’ve also been finding success in 3- to 5-foot depths with a Gulp Mantis Shrimp under a popping cork. I favor using either a Speck-A-Nator or a Cajun Thunder popping cork, with an 18- to 24-inch fluorocarbon leader. For the hook, I tie on a 1/16 to 1/8ounce jighead. I like the way a lighter jighead makes the mantis shrimp flutter as it descends in the water. This perfect match is ready to be gobbled up by a hungry game fish. Pop, clack, pop, clack, pause.  Good luck, and just wait for the sound of a screaming drag.

Until next edition, my friends, remember that in the sport of fishing some days you catch them, while others you catch sunrise pictures of God’s country. Both are considered a blessing.

Matt Murphy

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