On this Fish’n Canada episode, Angelo heads to the province of New Brunswick with his good buddy and Muskie fishing nut Steve Niedzwiecki (owner of Chaudiere Lodge, Upper French River) as they seek Canada’s number one predator… the Muskellunge. You read it correctly, there “are” Muskie in NB and they are thriving in the waters of the St John River… one problem though; in this water, they’re considered an invasive species and many of the old school locals want them eradicated!
Ang and Steve try to bring new light to this magnificent sport fish and open up the eyes to the entire country, saying: “These Muskie are here to stay, so let’s embrace and take full advantage of this relatively new and exciting east-coast fishery”!
If anybody can find a Musky in a haystack, it’s this combo of anglers.
“I guess you could say one mans trash is another mans treasure” says Ang “finding musky in the St. John river is like finding gold in the Yukon”.
To many, this is such a true statement, but then again, those anglers are both young and ready for new challenges, or are seasoned veterans that accept changes in the past and look forward to the present, and more importantly the future.
Ang is one old-timer who is ready and willing to embrace this exciting new fishing opportunity, and Steve (being a few years younger) is just plain eager to go!
The Three Muskellunges!
While the Muskellunge has taken over the position as the apex predator in these waters, they aren’t completely without danger, and it comes in the form of “MAN” and some narrow-minded thinking.
To our knowledge, as an invasive specie, Muskie are not allowed to be transported up river to new waters after being caught in the live fish traps at the Mactaquac Generating Station dam. Instead, either they are released back below the dam (we have heard some people there have a kind heart) “or” as is written, they are to be destroyed… as in killed. Apparently, this is a government initiative!
Be that as it may, there is still a growing fishery for this mighty species of fish.
Ang and Steve decided, with the help of some local Muskie experts, to troll the breaklines of the St. John, always keeping an eye on the Garmin fish finder screen for huge concentrations of Gaspareau… a local Alewife baitfish that all gamefish in the area love to chow down on.
Crankbaits were the trolling baits of choice, and a smaller size (around 8”) seems to be the best bet as per the locals. They aren’t running the giant baits out east just yet, but that is subject to change as time moves on. Silvers, whites, and other similar shad colors work best, trying to imitate the Alewife.
By running a series of trolling passes along fast breaking contour lines, all within the proximity of baitfish, the guys managed to pull up three Muskie, all of varying sizes.
Since this is a relatively new fishery, those numbers aren’t too bad. The future looks good.
Incidentally, all three fish caught were as expected… fat!
St. John Muskie Facts:
- First discovered in around 1988, Muskie in the St. John River are now considered both a game fish, as well as an invasive species. Many people want then gone because they believe Muskie are part of the “apparent” decline of Atlantic Salmon.
- Local Muskie anglers love the fact that these fish are not pressured and they are big. In fact, studies have shown that St. John Muskie are 11+% heavier than any other Canadian based Muskie. This is probably due to the Gaspareau (Alewife) population in the river, along with Bullhead, Yellow & Silver Perch.
- Studies have shown that a fat 40″ St. John Muskie is 5lbs heavier than an average 50″ Ottawa River Muskie.
- Mid June to mid July, and mid Sept to mid Oct, are best times to fish.
- Casting is more effective in the summer, while trolling out-produces all during the fall. The locals troll break lines of the riverbed.
- A Muskie was found dead that was an impressive 52″ X 27″… that’s a very FAT fish!
St. John River Facts:
- Approximately 673 km (418 miles) long.
- Located principally in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, but also in and arising from the province of Quebec and the U.S. state of Maine.
- It forms part of the Canada–United States border in two different places along its length.
- The river drains an area of approximately 55,000 square kilometres (21,000 sq mi), of which slightly more than half is located in New Brunswick.
- Along that portion of the Atlantic shoreline of North America that lies between the St. Lawrence River and the Mississippi River, the Saint John River is the second longest waterway; only the Susquehanna is longer.
- It has been nicknamed the “Rhine of North America” for its scenery.
- The river is regulated by hydropower dams located at Mactaquac, Beechwood, and Grand Falls, New Brunswick.
GETTIN’ THERE with RAM TRUCKS
Today’s Muskie show took place on the St. John River in the province of New Brunswick. To get there, Steve and I drove eastward on Hwy 401 to Hwy 20 in Quebec. We next turned southeast on Hwy 30, which eventually joined back with Hwy 20. Then we went south on 185, which turns into 85, and then joins Hwy 2. We then got off on hwy 550 east and arrived at the town of Woodstock, located right on the St. John River.