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Winter Trout On White’s Pool
By Rich Johnson´┐Ż

Since we often focus on the winter opportunities in saltwater. I thought it only fair to expose a sweetwater option or two. While some anglers may be a little upset that I’m giving away a rather poorly kept secret, we feel everyone deserves a chance to take advantage of those wintertime opportunities that are available to Island anglers. Hopefully, this article will help shake a few more anglers from their state of hibernation.

Whites Pool is the headwater for the tidal section of the Nissequogue River, White's Pool Brown Troutflowing from south to north and emptying into Long Island Sound. From this pool, I have caught a variety of species, including stripers, trout, sunfish, perch, carp and even herring. There have been reports of snappers having made their way up into the pool also. While many anglers may fish the mouth of the rive at it’s entrance to the Sound, these headwaters can provide very good fishing, even during the coldest weather.

GETTING THERE. Taking Sagkitos Parkway north from Southern State, get off at the Jericho Tpke. Exit heading east. Many of you u may know this route from fishing Caleb Smith State Park. You will pass the park on the way to Whites Pool. The park is approximately three miles from the parkway and parking for the pool is about a mile or so after the park. Once you pass the park, continue on Jericho Tkpe. until you go under the railroad trestle, follow the bend in the road and make the first right turn after the bridge.

You’ll find a small dirt covered lot that will bring you to the rivers edge. Park here to enter the river. You can also put a canoe in here if you desire but that’s the subject of another article.

THE RIGHT TIME. All three species of trout are caught year long in White’s Pool, but may of the real trophies that you hear about are caught during the winter months after Christmas. Every year there are a few 5 pounders and there was even a 10-pound rainbow taken from here a year or so ago. For me anytime is the right time to go fishing, but there is one consideration in deciding when is the ‘right time” to fish Whites Pool. Tides are often a factor here and while the pool is picturesque, fairly deep and any be fished through all tides, a rising or outgoing tide is preferred. The concern here is not necessarily which tide to fish, but the accessibility of getting to the pool during high water.

USE CAUTION. If you plan on fishing the “pool” you must wade to it. Being over six feet will give the advantage to fish the pool under most conditions because you’ll be able to wade through the deeper holes. I have found that fishing the high tide can be treacherous, even for us taller folks. Some spots enrooted to the pool will put the water tantalizingly close to the top of my chest waders, but I’ve yet to ship any water.

Upon entering the river, the first thing to do is cross it. I have found that wading along the far side of the river is preferred in that there are not nearly as many deep holes and the water on the whole, is a lot shallower. As you continue to the left, staying on the afar side, it is a hundred yards or so to the pool. You will pass a small section of water that cuts off to the right. Don’t overlook taking a few casts in here, especially when the water level is up.

At the end of this “branch” off to the right are a couple of holes that will hold fish. On one particular trip I made with Dave Ciotti, we didn’t see much, but the next day Dave coaxed a 5 pound, 23 inch rainbow from this pool on a live killie. Continuing further along this same side of the river, you will come to a bend in the river and the pool will unfold before your eyes. During the summer of fall months, the view can be breathtaking! Although the view may be a little drab during the winter months, the fishing more than makes up for it.

FISHING THE POOL. Whites Pool is a large circle surrounded by walls of fieldstone. The actual size of the pool I would estimate to be 75 feet wide and 150 feet long. All of the surrounding property is private, so there is no picnicking or getting on shore. The homeowner at the head of the pool owns all of the land rights. I would remind everyone that you should respect the rights of the landowner and carry out whatever you carry in.

The pool is deep in the middle, with many of the fish waiting among the right hand wall just ahead of the waterfall to ambush any prey. The wall along the left side can be fished when the tide is high. Other than that this area is a good area to cast from. The waterfall is a high volume affair with a very strong flow into the pool from the lake above. Just the sound o the water rushing is enough to take the stress of any job out of the angler and the addition of quality trout fishing just adds to the fact.

DINNER IS SERVED. As with any type of trout fishing in moving water, allowing the bait to drift naturally with the current is imperative. You should use just enough split shot to keep the bait bouncing along the bottom, but not so much to cause it to catch bottom. This is usually the case when fishing worms or salmon eggs.

The water in the pool does not flow as quickly as it does further downstream, but there is some movement coming from the waterfall. Many times, an eddy will form and cause the flow of water to come back into and around the fall. This will usually depend on the flow rate coming from the lake above and adjustments should be made to the situation at hand. When fishing live killies, I’ll use a bobber rig with the killie one to two feet below the float. I like to use the smallest float I can get a way with. The reason for this? The smaller the bobber, the less resistance it has against the surface of the water. This in turn minimizes the pressure felt by the fish when he takes the bait. Another method employed when fishing live killies is to use a small one-eighth or one-quarter ounce bullet weight 18 inches above the hooked killie. With this rig the killie is fished along the bottom, with a very slow movement of the rod upward. Reel in the slack line and you repeat this movement and are ready for the strike.

Casting your bait to the base of the fall and allowing your offering to drift with the current, is a sure way to catch some good trout. Worms, salmon eggs and live killies are some of this authors favorite morsels to tempt the wily trout from his lair. Artificials will work well here too. Small sinking Rapala type plugs are effective, as are twister tails or some of the new power baits on the market. Small Mepps spinners and Rooster Tails have also accounted for some nice trout in the past.

TACKLE. I arm myself with small light action tackle and 6-pound test line. Even with the chance of a large fish, this line test should be enough to handle the action. The pool is round in shape and a fish can burn himself out running in circles. If he does happen to get by you and head downstream, well… you’ll see just what kind of fisherman you are! Small light action roads, in lengths of five and one half to six feet should do just fine here. I prefer spinning tackle for most of my fishing here, but will occasionally go with a five or six weigh fly rod. Small streamers and nymphs are a good choice here when fly-fishing.

POPULATION. The Nissequogue has superb population of wild trout. From the Sound up into its headwaters, there are many areas to fish. White’s Pool is just one of these. For the last three years or so, the DEC has stocked 10,000 brown trout into this section of the Nissequogue every fall. These fish run about six inches in size and are fin clipped for identification.

This is especially important for the Cooperative anglers coldwater diary Program. This diary is handed out by the DEC  for the purpose of having fishermen record detailed fish catches so the Dec can make future decisions on stocking and management. Each year will have a different fin clipped to identitify the year class. In the spring they stock another 1,000 fish, which consists of a mix of rainbow and brown trout. During this stocking the fish tend to run larger in size. Especially the rainbows, which run anywhere from 10 to 12 inches in many cases.

GETTING OUT THERE. I hope that this information has proved helpful in getting a few of you anglers off the sofa. As you can see, the potential for some fine winter fishing is available for the taking. Just remember that there is a nine-inch size limit on tidal trout on Long Island and the bag limit are five fish per day. Please take only what you can use and take the time to release your unwanted catch with care and respect this fine fish deserves.


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