Thursday, November 26, 2009


Gilchrist showing Rollover Pass
after Hurricane Ike in 2008
(Note that the lone house standing as shown in the picture above is the Yellow House referred to in the blog post below. It is not shown in the second picture but would be located to the right halfway between the Gulf beach and the highway)

Gilchrist showing Rollover Pass before Hurricane Ike

The Houston Chronicle had an article today that caught my eye and immediately caused me to feel sad for the loss of another great fishing locale on the Texas Gulf Coast. Rollover Pass is going to be filled in by the Texas General Land Office (GLO) because the GLO has "determined" that this pass, which was built in 1955, is greatly aiding erosion on Boliver and Galveston Isles.

You can read (read it and weep) the Chron article here

Whatever. As always the comments are often times better than the articles.

I've fished Rollover numerous times. At one point in my life, between the ages of 18 and 22, I fished it quite regularly, camping nearby with friends on several day long fishing camp adventures. We always caught lots of fish. Redfish, specks, sandtrout, croakers and the occasional small shark. We crabbed during slow times and often caught flounder during the evening hours.

I like Rollover a thousand times more than San Luis Pass or the Galveston Jetties. It's just a unique fishing locale and one with a lot of places to set up camps nearby

Fish in Texas saltwater love moving between the bay and the ocean during certain times of year. We will be altering what has been the eco-system now into the whole of East Galveston Bay and the many connected water and marsh and bay systems up that part of the coast. I wonder if anyone has done a study to see if there are any endangered wildlife species that closing the pass would affect? I wish the Gilchrist Association had the bucks to file a lawsuit claiming a lack of environmental studies have been conducted to fully assess the impact of closing the pass.

I know everyone remembers the iconic photo from Gilchrist, which is where Rollover Pass is (was) located, showing the lone yellow house standing after Hurricane Ike hit. That's right near Rollover. Mr. Warren Adams, the owner of said yellow house, had a builder build a house that was as close to hurricane proof as a house could be. I read that in the papers last year after Ike hit and destroyed every structure around the yellow house. You can easily find many more pictures of it online. Just google "yellow house Gilchrist Ike" and look at the images and read some of the articles. Here's one

Here's an excerpt from the Chron article at the link above:

Before the channel was dug, Rollover Pass was a natural washover that was occasionally breached by storms. There are reports of small boats being able to cross the peninsula at Rollover Pass during high tide. The Handbook of Texas says the pass got its name from smugglers rolling barrels of contraband across the narrowest part of the peninsula.

I'll be doing some web searching tonight to read some other perspectives on this latest action by the GLO. Maybe the GCCA (Gulf Coast Conservation Association) or some other entity has an opinion on this.

Right now, at first blush, I'm calling it a mistake and a boondoggle. Those who say the fishing is not worth keeping it open need to read the entire article. If the Corps of Enginners is having to spend $1mil a year to dredge because of the sand, how much will they have to spend when washover occurs?

There are so many different opinions on Texas beach erosion that I'm skeptical at once when beach erosion is mentioned as a reason for doing anything. I've read some historic works on the subject as well as more modern studies, and despite what men and women who brainstorm projects like this think, Mother Nature has other ideas. You don't get to tell Mother Nature what to do. She has been shaping and forming and altering the islands and bays and coastlines and beaches of Texas for a mighty long time.

Native Americans were here hundreds if not thousands of years before the invasion, er, settlement of Texas by Europeans and Americans. They knew that forces of nature couldn't be controlled, and they didn't try. They accepted that it was foolish to build houses for long term occupation on or "with a view" of the beach. Not a good idea. Storms come. No one knows when. They devastate and destroy.

Despite that, I'd love to have a small weekend home in a place like Gilchrist. Hell, as long as I had someplace to go on the mainland when a storm was coming (and to keep all the stuff I don't want destroyed), I'd love to live there. But Rollover Pass would be one big reason to have a small home there.

Back in the day, when I was a kid, people didn't build swankienda beach houses. Oh, some were nice and fancy but none like the mainland style McMansions these folks build just feet from the crashing waves on West Beach.

Back in the day, folks had sort of ramshackle but sturdy cabins built on poles, elevated for when the flooding occurs. Nice, sturdy but built for rugged salt water winds and water. People knew that storms were gonna come and that their beach weekends were going to bring sand into the home, no matter how careful they were or how much they cleaned. Sea breezes were gonna bring sand and salt corrosion inside every home. Everything, and literally I mean everything from pipes to wood to metal to air conditioners and nails and siding and roofs suffer and deteriorate much faster than they do in milder climes. Inside and out, beach weather is hard on houses.

Which is why not too many old timers in places like Galveston or Gilchrist lived feet from the water. They were nearby, by virtue of their locale, but they were built to last and with some common sense. Because one day, they knew that house was gonna have water in it.

I say all of this about back in the day to say that I think you takes your chances when you build a home at the beach.

The people who have fished Rollover Pass the past 54 years have contributed millions of dollars to the state in terms of fishing licenses. Add the amounts spent in their local communities to gear up and what they spend in Gilchrist and you're talking some serious money generation in lots of ways.

So clearly I'm opposed to this, and I'm gonna contact Mr. Adams as a starting point and I'll report back on that later.

So I support the Gilchrist Association and urge you to do the same. Even if you don't live near Houston or Texas or even the good ole' USA. It's a small town that has been enriched greatly from the building of this pass, and this decision should be by the voters not some administrative agency or the legislature.

I'm gonna write more about Rollover Pass and the fact I obviously have to go there soon. Real soon. Like in a few weeks soon. I WILL fish the Pass before it is destroyed. I already know Billy Ray is going to be very unhappy about this. I know he and be delaying going rainbow trout fishing for a week or so because I'll say with all due certainty that we'll be at Rollover at some time in the next three weeks, possibly week after next.

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