Pronounced “kah-poo-long,” the Capoolong Creek in New Jersey’s Hunterdon County — flowing between the hamlets of Pittstown and Landsdown — is perhaps the least recognized high-quality trout venues within the confines of the Garden State.
Situated along the serpentine 61-acre Capoolong Creek Wildlife Management Area, this 7-something-mile swim plays host to spawning population of brown trout and is also a holdover haven for brookies and rainbows.
“The problem with the Capoolong, if you want to call it a ‘problem,’ is that it is in the same area as the South Branch of the Raritan,” says Sean Krause, a biologist with the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries.
“Even though the Capoolong Creek is generously stocked each spring, and has both holdover and native populations of salmonids, the fact of the matter is that the South Branch gets much more attention from anglers.”
Generous isn’t quite the word. This boulder-and-rock-strewn venue was dosed with 3,410 trout by the third week in May.
Its riffles, pools, undercuts and eddies provide perfect holding water, and the fishing borders on the frenetic, especially when the token pressure wanes after Father’s Day weekend.
You can expect trout over 13 inches throughout the entire run, with the occasional 17-inch drag-screamer a very distinct possibility, especially in the deeper holes and riffles leading into the pools.
Bait blows ’em up here (read: garden worms, fathead minnows, Atlas-Mike’s shrimp eggs, butter worms), and No. 1 Mepps Black Fury and Aglia Long spinners (sans tail) do significant damage too.
There are a few Capoolong big-trout hunters who utilize a No. 2 Mepps, the rationale being they are not bothered by “little 10- to 11-inch stockies.”
The same theory is pressed by, again, the “two, coupla three” assassins maneuvering miniature plugs such as the Yo-Zuri Pin’s Minnow, Goby, Arms Minnow Micro and Snap Bean.
They play on the penchant for a mouthful, and it’s connect on contact.
The daily limit is four trout, with a minimum length of 7 inches. Hey, should you catch a brown between 7 and 8 inches, although legal, please release it.
Chances are it is a wild fish. No matter the tactic, pinch the barb(s), as this makes release exponentially easier and far less damaging to the trout.