Rollover Fish Pass
A Bank & Wadefisherman's Dream

by Robert Sloan

 

 

 

Rollover Fish Pass, located on the upper Texas coast, on Bolivar Peninsula, is one of the most fisherman friendly places you'll ever visit.
 
The reason why is simple. You don't need a boat. It is either bank fishing, or wadefishing. And guess what, it's loaded with trout, reds, flounder, croaker and sandtrout during the fall. What more could you ask for?
 
Rollover Pass is just that. It is a pass linking East Galveston Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. It's been there for years, but recently it got a face lift. The concrete walls forming the pass have been replaced. There are rails to keep you from falling in the water. And it's handicapped accessible.
 
Thousands of anglers converge on this fishing hotspot throughout the year. But the fall months offer the peak times for angler visitation here. The reason why is simple - fish, lots of them.
 
The big draw is the flounder run. It cranks up in October and continues into November, depending on the amount of cold weather we get. The migration of flounder from East Bay through the pass and into the Gulf creates quite a draw for fishermen to Rollover Pass.
 
I've been fishing the fall flounder run at Rollover for decades and can say from experience it's great. This is one of the few places where anglers can fish from a lawn chair and catch one of the tastiest fish this side of Mars.
 
And catching those flounder is easy. The most popular method is to rig up with a bottom rig that's baited with either a live shrimp, mud minnow, finger mullet or shad. All can either be caught with a cast net or purchased at one of the bait camps adjacent to the pass.
There are two tactics to use when fishing a bottom rig. One is to use enough weight to keep it on one spot. The other is to use just enough weight to allow the bait to bounce along the bottom with the current. If there is a crowd at the pass, you are better off using enough weight to keep your bait in one spot so you don't tangle with other lines. (Reference the Wells Forecast for times of currents. Editor)
 
Dead shrimp fished on bottom is an excellent way to catch an assortment of fish such as golden croaker, whiting and sandtrout. These are all great eating fish. But the trick to making them taste great is to put them on ice quickly. Do not let them dangle from a stringer in the water. They lose a lot of flavor that way.
 
A lot of redfish are caught in the pass by anglers soaking dead and live baits. A few trout are caught as well.
 
The way most anglers catch trout is by wading and using either live baits or lures. There are two very popular areas for trout fishing. One is in the surf. The other is in the back bay on the north end of the pass.
 
Fishing the Surf
The surf can be a tricky option, depending on the amount of current moving through the pass. By the way, current is something that is a factor in the pass. It's good for fishing, but life threatening if you don't treat it with respect. Definitely, you don't want to swim in the pass. Conversely, wadefishing is a very good option. You just don't want to throw caution to the wind.
 
Wading the surf and the back bay is one of the best ways to catch a mixed bag of flounder, trout and reds. However, fishing the surf, where the pass meets the Gulf, is definitely the hands down best tactic for catching big trout.
 
Again, be warned, the currents in the surf can be very strong. Don't wade out too far. If you can feel the sand being peeled out from under your feet, it's time to back up closer to the bank.
 
Mullet imitation plugs are deadly on surf run trout. Last fall I saw some incredible stringers of trout caught at the mouth of the pass. Most were caught on slow sinking MirrOlures. One of the best was the Catch 2000 in green/white.
 
That's a color combination that looks a whole lot like a mullet. Other good color combinations are black/white, bone or white/chartreuse.
The best time to fish the mouth of the pass is on an outgoing tide. That's when all sorts of baitfish will be moving into the Gulf with the current. What I like to do is set up on the west side of the pass and cast a lure up current and slowly twitch it as it moves into the surf. Quite often you can find trout bunched up in the guts adjacent to the mouth of the pass. Generally, where you catch one trout, there will be plenty more.
 
The unique thing about fishing the mouth of the pass is that the trout are normally pretty chunky, as in the 3 to 7 pound class. So go prepared to catch some hard fighting trout that have the current to back them up. I like to use a bait casting rig in that situation.
 
My favorite is a Pflueger Trion bait casting reel, seated on a Pflueger Trion rod that's 7 feet long and set up to fish 15 pound test line. The reel has a silky smooth drag, that is definitely an asset when big trout take off in the surf. The long rod is perfect for making long casts to pods of baitfish or trout slapping the surface. Plus it's got enough backbone to handle the bull reds that roam the surf along with trout.
 
To catch those bull reds you'll do best by soaking a chunk of a fresh dead mullet. Surf fishing ace Terry Harris has caught a ton of bull reds at Rollover Pass. His favorite bait is the head portion of a mullet. He says it puts out more scent than the tail half.
 
The fall bull red run can be outstanding at the mouth of the pass, especially on outgoing tides. If you've got a storm in the area that's creating a strong tidal situation the bulls will go on a major feed.
 
Fishing the Bay
Wadefishing in the back bay area of Rollover is one of the best ways to catch trout, reds and flounder. On either side of the pass you'll have 2 to 3 foot deep flats. On a high tide the flats can be loaded with flounder and reds.
 
However, your best bet is to wade the flat and fish the channel drop. More often than not you can see the drop, it'll have green water flowing through it. Don't wade into the channel. That could be a problem.
 
Soft plastic jigs are best along the drop. I like to rig up with a 1/4 or 1/8 ounce jig head. My favorite soft plastics on the Rollover flats are the Yum Houdini Shad, Samurai Shad and the Croaker Curltail. The Samurai is especially good since it looks just like a finger mullet moving through the water.
 
A Mansfield Mauler (or similar rattle float rig) is deadly when worked on the flat during an incoming tide. Actually it's best when worked right where the flat drops off into the channel. The slush and rattle noise made by this rig is deadly on trout, reds and flounder in the pass. I like to fish Samurai Shad or Croaker Curltail jigs about 18 inches below a Mauler. You want to work this rig with a stop-go-stop retrieve. The noise of the rattle float will attract the fish. And the slow sinking jig will catch them. It's deadly.
 
Another very good option in the pass is night fishing. Some of the best anglers here know that trout fishing under the lights can be fantastic. What they do is set up lights and fish live or artificial baits for trout. Small soft plastic jigs are good on a green tide. Live shrimp are best on a sandy tide.
 
Rollover Fish Pass is a bank and wadefisherman's paradise. It's good year round, but it really turns on during the fall. See ya there!

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