Fishing & Boating News

Cool Nights offers HOT action at Rollover

by: Ed Snyder, Ed Snyder Outdoors

Paul Hayes working the lights.
Photo by Ed Snyder
Lining up for a spot on THE WALL starts early.
Photo by Ed Snyder
(Jul. 19, 2012 - Rollover Pass, Gilchrist, TX.)

The silent hissing of Coleman Lanterns are long gone now, replaced by the noisy WRRR of the generators of those who enjoy fishing the cool of the evening after a day of sweltering 100degree summer heat!

"I come to Rollover for night fishing during the dog dayz of summer, informed Paul Hayes, to enjoy the cool evenings sea breeze while fishing for speckled sea-trout." Paul, a U.S. Navy Veteran, enjoys fishing at Rollover Pass, bringing his light system, tent, tackle, and trailer rigged with all the comforts he needs to enjoy his stay here. "I usually spend two or three days and nights here when I fish, Paul advised, adding that he enjoys every minute of it."

Paul isn't the only one who brought creature comforts. Looking around I spot several tents, camper trailers, and motor homes setting up their camps, lights and BBQs for adding those tasty aromas to the midnight air. Night fishing is also a great way to meet people, renewing old friendships and starting up new ones. On most nights a party atmosphere fills the air with anglers laughing and reminiscing about the old times, new times, and of past fishing experiences. BUT! With the first shout of "FISH ON" all conversation ceases with anglers manning their "Casting Stations!"

Night time is DEFINITELY the right time for spending a few nocturnal hours catching fish, especially speckled trout. Back in the yonder years, night anglers, such as I, would rig Coleman lanterns to poles for spreading out a cone of light across the water. This light would soon attract baitfish, which in turn attracted the predator fish, such as trout, which then became targets for anglers to catch. A really cool way to spend a cool evening after a hot day of harsh summer heat.

But now, those $25 Coleman's have been replaced by the more sophisticated gear of $50 to $125 powerful light systems operated by $300 to $500 high tech portable generators. The soft yellow glow of the Coleman has given way to high intensity beams of light which probe deeply within the depths of our fishing waters. Airplane landing lights became popular back then, but now most anglers prefer high intensity stage lights.

"I started fishing rollover pass with my parents about sixty years ago, informed Paul, fishing from the bridge catching croaker and reds. And I learned a lot from watching my dad. Twenty five years ago I saw anglers fishing at night with lights catching 'tons' of speckled trout. So I began fishing under lights myself and was hooked forever!"

"Most of my saltwater fishing is done at night now, due in large part to the excessive Texas summer heat experienced during daytime hours. Mostly my day-time summer fishing is limited to wade fishing the bay or the surf at Rollover, another way to catch great stringers of trout, flounder and reds at the Pass."

"My favorite baits are Mirror lures in a variety of styles and colors, stated Paul, but lately they've been taking small soft plastic baits resembling glass minnows in light green colors with light-weight jig-heads tandem rigged. Fin-S and Bass Assassins are my favorites but there are a number of other quality baits available that work just as well. My travel from Toledo Bend is about 165 miles to the cut, but it is always worth the long drive. Not only is the night fishing great at the pass now that I have my own 1,000 watt light setup, but I also get to meet some of the nicest people fishing here as well."

Paul Hayes, a Viet Nam Vet and Commander of V.F.W. Post 8557 on South Toledo Bend, is retired now from his Toledo Bend tackle business, now spends more time with his wife, Connie. "We actually met, Paul noted, at the old Pure Oil Beach cabins on Bolivar Peninsula, formerly located across the highway from the old Faggard's store, if you can remember that far back. I hope to take my grandchildren fishing to Rollover so they too can enjoy what I, and so many others, have enjoyed for so long."

"Rollover Pass is a very unique and incredible place to fish, Paul finalized, and I surely hope the Pass will be here for my grand children's children to enjoy. I strongly support the "Help Save the Pass" endeavors of the Gilchrist Community Assn; for saving this historical facility for all who've learned to fish here at Rollover with their fathers."

This night, with generators sputtering away, starts slow at first, with a trout here and there coming over the rails. Each time when they do, anglers quicken their efforts to hook up. The water is active with finger mullet scooting against an outgoing current, as button shad and shrimp flit the surface. You can spot an occasional trout swirling on a bait, hearing the 'POP' when they do. It's 11pm now, and anglers, full of beer and old jokes begin slowing their efforts, catnapping here and there. Then it suddenly happens!

At 1:am the speckled trout finally move en-masse through the cut, snapping up finger mullet, shad and shrimp with gusto! Wide awake now, anglers start speed casting baits and lures into the melee of feeding fish. Nets are kept busy landing most of the trout, but a few break off, swimming free for someone else to catch. An hour passes with most coolers loading up fast with limits. Excitement fills the air with the sights, and sounds of happy anglers having fun catching fish. All to soon though the action begins to fade as the school of specks diminish with most chilling in the coolers. It's back to SLOW again with but a few landing nets working the air for the few trout being caught. Tired, but happy anglers start to fade as well with catnapping snores competing with the WRRR of the generators.

The above shows a typical night of fishing action at the Pass, some nights it's better than most while some nights it's worse, with yet other nights downright incredible! But, as they often say, "A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work!"

But during summer I'll have to rephrase that to "A COOL NIGHT of fishing is always better than a HOT day at work!"

Located on Bolivar Peninsula, TX, about 8miles west of High Island on Hwy-87, Rollover Pass can also be accessed by crossing the Galveston Ferry to Port Bolivar, then driving 26miles east to Gilchrist, OR as we "Gilly's" put it, Paradise. Don't let this become a "Paradise Lost", join the GCA to help us save the pass!

Fishing at Rollover Pass is free and open to all who honor the rules of this privately owned facility..... Compliments of the Gilchrist Community Association.

For more info contact the rolloverpasstexas website. For fishing updates at the pass call Miss Nancy's Bait Camp at 484-560-9323 -or- go to Face Book/MissNancysBaitCamp
Paul Hayes with one of his prime trout catches of the night
Photo by Ed Snyder
A handfull of prime night-fishing baits.J
Photo by Ed Snyder