On this episode the boys are located on the Saint John River in New Brunswick, one of the most famous salmon rivers in the world, but they’re NOT in pursuit of Atlantic Salmon. Last season Ang and Pete were on the legendary Miramichi River, a couple of hundred kilometers from the St John, chasing down Striped bass, an extraordinary sport fishery that they were introduced to by good friend Jeff Wilson, an east coast tournament promoter and avid angler. On that trip he also advised them to experience the exceptional smallmouth bass fishing here, on the Saint John river… our boys usually don’t need much convincing!
So now you know why we’re in this neck of the woods again, the question is why are all these bass here in a “salmon” river and why didn’t we know about it sooner? Well as it turns out, Smallies have been in these waters for a hundred years or so, but in typical east coast fashion whatever fisheries research money and time available went to trout and salmon, so the smallmouth fishery sort of flew under the radar. What we do know is that in the 50’s, after the government dammed up the Saint John River for hydro power, the lakes that subsequently formed were perfect ecosystems for our little bronze friend to flourish. From there the smallmouth population literally exploded up, out and down this entire watershed.
Of course where ever you have bass you eventually have bass tournaments complete with hard core bassaholics and New Brunswick is no exception.
Although bass tournaments seem to have been a local secret here for about 30 years or so, with relatively small fields and purses, today the cats definitely out of the bag with big events boasting 50-60 boats with up to 16,000 dollars in cash and prizes up for grabs.
The plan for Ang and Pete was to explore this river and its little tributaries and see what all the Smallie hubbub’s about. Home base for the shoot was the Best Western in Woodstock; a good central location to work from, plus it’s a very well known Smallmouth area.
The first stop was up river to the Hartland Bridge, which is the longest covered bridge on the planet and is as impressive as its title. Beyond the bridge is a fish sanctuary, so that was as far up river as they could go.
The area was loaded with bass, but most of them were on the small side, not exactly what they drove all the way to the east coast for. With so many fish in one area though… strange things always seem to happen… and with that Ang had his jerkbait smashed by 2 small but very aggressive Smallmouth… and landed them both by the way!
Their next spot was a beautiful little offshoot of the main river. The problem with a spot like this is, they were totally distracted by the gorgeous scenery. It’s hard to believe that such a sweet little honey hole could harbor a whole whack of Smallies… which it did by the way!
As is quite typical in the Maritimes, the temperature changes come fast and furious, so you find yourself constantly changing not only your clothing but your presentation as well. It’s an ongoing struggle trying to figure out what the fish are feeding on, but every once in awhile the fish gives up another piece of the puzzle. Believe it or not, Ang caught a Smallmouth with a brown/orange Senko and low and behold… his next fish had a Crawfish in it’s mouth EXACTLY the same colour as the bait. If the Smallies are eating orange and brown critters, guess what, cast something orange and brown and you can’t go wrong.
The Saint John River and its tributaries, was a huge surprise for us. The quantity and quality of the fish in that water is staggering. That there’s so little fishing for these Smallies is even more remarkable. But if Jeff Wilson does what he does best, and our viewers see this, the New Brunswick Sportfishing Association better be ready for an onslaught of phone calls and emails!
New Brunswick has once again proven itself worthy as a prime destination for anglers of all preferences: Blue water for tuna, moving water for Stripers, and now fresh water for smallmouth bass.
Bravo New Brunswick!
GETTIN’ THERE with RAM TRUCKS
Today’s fast and furious Smallmouth fishing took place on the St John River in New Brunswick.To get there, we pulled the big Princecraft eastward on Hwy 401 to Hwy 20 in Quebec. We next turned southeast on Hwy 30, which eventually joined back with Hwy 20. Next we turned south on 185, which turns into 85, and then to Hwy 2. Finally exited the highway on 550 and arrived at our final destination, the Best Western Plus in Woodstock, New Brunswick.