Fishing & Boating News

The Gator Specks of Rollover

by: Ed Snyder, Ed Snyder Outdoors

Chuck Meyers Released this 30 inch, 10 lb gator speck caught on a T-28 MirrOlure.
Photo by Ed Snyder
George Bryant with a Big Speck he took while wade fishing the surf.
Photo by Ed Snyder
(Jan 16, 2016 - Rollover Pass, Bolivar Peninsula,TX.) Landing and releasing two nice speckled trout made my early morning fishing a plus factor with major adrenalin rushes. Flipping out another cast and retrieving my awake was suddenly jolted by a violent “TIC” !! The implosion of water that followed showed a shaking head of a big fish in the middle of the tidal splash. A huge trout had latched on to my lure, but before I could adjust my drag for the fight the huge fish quickly lunged northward with my lure heading southbound! I had just hooked and lost one of the largest speckled trout I had ever seen!

Stunned, I quickly reeled in.With shaking hands and quivering heart my attempt for another cast fell short as trembling hands refused to cooperate. And that's how these huge Gator Specks can affect you, from their savage strikes to their incredible fights. Catching, fighting, and landing one of these trophy sized sea trout will leave lasting impressions for future story tellings.

I've hooked, fought, lost and landed many a trophy fish in my lifetime which include Chinook Salmon, Silver King Tarpon, Line Sider Snook, Bull Redfish, and Peacock Bass to name just a few, and I can honestly place Gator Mouth Trout among those heavy weights we treasure among our trophy catches.   

One angler, Donnie Lucier, has fished Rollover Pass most of his life and holds several Kudos among fellow anglers as being among the trout elite. On one such fishing occasion at Rollover Pass, Donnie managed to hook, land, and weigh a legal 2003 ten trout limit weighing more than 65.35 lbs. Donnie caught these gator-specks on Bass Assassin soft plastic lures, which are still his “go-to” baits to this day. He'll often “match the hatch” by changing colors to match the color of the bait-fish or shrimp that the specks are actively feeding on. His best catch to date is an 11.7 lb trophy speck.

Donnie Lucier; “Winter and early Spring are the best times to have chance for catching a trophy trout of from 6 to 10 lbs. I spend about 95% my fishing time at Rollover Pass. The method of fishing changes completely during this period that differs from the hot weather months. Lure selection for me consists of throwing tandem rigged soft plastics such as Bass or Saltwater Assassins and twister type lures.
I use 3/8 and 1/4 oz lead head jigs about 12 inches apart on a tamdem rig with the heavier jig on top rigged on 12 lb test mono fishing line. I prefer Berkeley big game 12 lb solar collector on my reels. That kinda gives me an added advantage on windy days where I can see the line jump before I can feel the strike. I mainly let the tidal current do the work which allows me to fish slow and as close to bottom as possible. It takes full concentration when doing this or you'll miss most strikes which could be that 10 plus lb trophy trout you're hoping for.

 I'm not a guide, nor do I own a boat but I'm still able to catch big trout thanks to the cut. February and March are the two best months to have a chance of catching trophy trout, up to and over 10 lbs. Remember the larger fish are like people, the older we get less energy we want to waste. That's why its such a challenge to catch gator trout of 8lbs or bigger.  

My top three largest trout weighed 11.7, 10.4, and 10.6 lbs all were released in 1999. I also had a legal 10 trout limit weighing 65.35 lbs caught in 2003. The following year parks and wildlife changed bag limits on trout to 10 at 15 inches with only one over 25 inches per day.

Mike and Darlene Keen;  Husband and wife  anglers who like fishing together as a team, Mike and Darlene, informed that they like to wade the surf for large gator specks. “This is a real thrill for us , they said, and can't say enough about the excitement that comes when hooking up to a large speck in surf, then watching your line burn off your reel as the speck makes sizzling runs and leaps. This kind of action will max out your adrenalin and test your fishing skills, they advised with a smile.

We  mainly wade-fish Rollover Pass surf at Gilchrist beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, where the trout action is outstanding when the large specks come in.. We like to hit the surf in June/ July, fishing the incoming tide movements. This is when the water is nice and warm, and the trout action can be absolutely awesome.

If you see birds diving and feeding bait fish in the surf, there should be specks around feeding on bait-fish as well. We mainly  like to fish Mirror lures (T-28s) in the surf as the MirOlures can cast great distances. The action that they produce generates the kind of action by  hooking up to something that most anglers only dream about. Sometimes the wave action can get a little hairy, but as long as you wear a life jacket, and keep your footing being careful of the tidal currents, you can be safe and have a blast.

Working the bait is not that hard to accomplish for a larger speck to gobble it up. We mainly try to cast toward the channel that flows water in and out of the pass, this is mostly where the these specks are usually running.. Reel somewhat fast and give it a twitch from time to time, then hang on to your rod and reel when these big trout hit as they can yank your rod right out of your hand when slamming your lure.

Safety factor when fishing the surf, They advise to be careful of large waves/ current (undertow) and flopping fish with sharp hooks dangling out of their jaws.  And sometimes when “the gray ghost” (sharks) brush up against you. Try not to freak out and just stay calm and still, and they'll swim off. This may sound scary, and it is, but the sharks are all a part of this  fantastic style of fishing.

Sharon and Felix Barker; Night fishing under lights is one way to catch big trout. The use of a good light system and generator is how to get started. We use two stage lights, 1000 watts each and a 7500watt generator.  While that may seem like overkill to some, it has enough amperage to run the lights and the coffee pot the next morning after staying up all night fishing.
The lights attract bait that attracts trout.  Be ready to stay up all night because you never know when they are going to “turn on”. It could be at dark or 3:00 am in the morning, depending on the tide and the bait in the water.  Your lights should be pointed about twenty or thirty feet from the Bulkhead with a dark area or shadow between them.
We have caught trout at night on soft plastics and live shrimp mostly.  The big trout are almost always in the shadows and near the bottom.  The majority of trout we caught have been on tandem rigged soft plastic lures, chartreuse grubs and glow-baits.  At times, live shrimp on a popping cork seem to be the only thing they will hit. Cast your bait against the tide and slowly retrieve it thru the lights feeling the bottom. Don’t be surprised to see someone ten feet from you pulling them in every cast and you can’t even get a bite.  All you can do is try the same color and technique they are using, or do like my wife and go fish under their lights. (I DID THIS ONE TIME AND ILL NEVER LIVED IT DOWN- LOL)
We have found March and April to be the prime time for catching big trout, although summertime has been productive too.

Ed Snyder   Regardless of the way you enjoy fishing, Rollover Pass provides the opportunities for catching big trophy trout. Whether you wade-fish the surf, bay, or just like to park next to your favorite fishing spot at the pass to bank fish, your chances of  hauling in a trophy of a lifetime can be had here.

Personally, one Spring at Rollover I managed to hooked up and land nineteen (19) speckled trout of twenty eight (28) inches or longer weighing 8lbs or better, releasing all but one of them for conservational reasons. That's not counting the 5 to 7 lbers I caught during the same period of February thru May. These trout were caught on soft plastics, mainly Saltwater Assassins during February and March, then switched to the hard-baits such as MirrOlures or Rat-L-Traps in April thru June of 2013.

This type of fishing takes a little skill and practice to achieve those learning skills and techniques needed for working the lures to catch big trout. My recommendation for learning this would be to watch the semi-pros who fish Rollover's waters for speckled trout. You can learn a lot just by watching and learning what they use, how they use it, and what type of fishing gear is being used.

The term “gator-speck”  is given to a speckled trout of 25inches, or more, with large mouths bearing large, almost canine like teeth, that dominate their image. The term “Gator” is given to them out of respect for their size and aggressive attitude when hooked and fought. I release just about ALL of these huge, hard fighting fish due to the fact that these big fish are egg laden females that harbor the future of our trout fishery. The only ones I keep are those trout that are damaged to the point of being unreleasable.   

Inexpensive spincast or spinning gear can be used, but the more expensive baitcasting gear with sensitive 7ft rods is reccomened. I use 7 to 7 ½ ft medium to light action rods and at least 6 ball bearing reels, spooled with 12lb test mono line tamden rigged with ¼ oz jigheads and Saltwater Assassin soft plastics, or T-28 MirrOlures. This gear has provided many exciting fishing experiences for me and will continue to until my final cast......IT's time to go fishing folks!!! 

EdSnyder/Outdoors Sponsors; Miss Nancy's Bait Camp- Crystal Beach Local News.Com- The Beach Triton, Fishing World.Com-
Trout Wrangler Gary Fruge hand landing an 8 lb class gator speck caught while wading the surf.
Photo by Ed Snyder