The Miramichi River was once known as one of the best Atlantic Salmon fisheries in not only the nation, not only in North America, but arguably on the entire planet! This gorgeous stretch of water cuts through some of the most beautiful eastern-Canadian landscape and ultimately ends up emptying into Miramichi Bay, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
And it’s here that we find the quintessential city of Miramichi, New Brunswick.
If you noticed, we said “once known as” and that’s because in this current era, the Miramichi’s Atlantic Salmon population is only a fraction of what it used to be. The river still has a reasonably healthy, self-sustaining run of Atlantic Salmon but it’s not like the past. Such a sad story as they certainly are an iconic fish.
Some say the decline in Salmon population is due to the rising water temperatures caused by global warming…
Others say it was due to the massive aerial spraying in 1952 of DDT, a chlorinated organic pesticide, mixed with naphtha oil, that was sprayed over the entire Miramichi area. This was done to combat the spruce budworm, a native insect that was considered by many to be the most serious threat to ever hit the forests of eastern Canada.This would become the longest running aerial pesticide spray program in the world, running for almost 40 years. But the real damage of this event wouldn’t be felt until the early 1960’s when it was discovered that aerial spraying had a catastrophic effect on the watershed including the Miramichi river. The DDT had done its job controlling the spruce budworm but, unfortunately, affected all manner of wildlife in its path of destruction including most of the salmon’s food source, and ultimately killing wild Atlantic Salmon.
The ultimate “collateral damage” in the outdoors… so sad!
It’s estimated only 1/6th of the salmon population in the Miramichi actually survived the aerial pesticide spray program. It’s a catastrophe that the Miramichi Atlantic Salmon has never fully recovered from.
There’s also another theory to the salmon decline which is due to predator fish species finding their way to, and migrating up the Miramichi River. One of the main “suspect-species” is the Striped Bass.
Now although this fish is indeed a voracious feeder, we’re having a hard time finding solid evidence stating that Stripers are actually decimating the Atlantic Salmon population. With so much bait in this river like alewife and eel, Striped Bass have a ton of alternate sources of food during their entire migration.
A big Striped Bass certainly is an eating machine however from what we’ve been told, the main food source is alewife and eel.
So, with that all said, on this trip we left the salmon population alone… HOWEVER, since the Miramichi’s Striped Bass population is currently booming, we were going to fully take advantage of these hard-fighting, beautiful fish.
This wasn’t our first trip to the MIramichi for Stripers. We were here back in 2015, in the spring of the year, and let us tell you, the fishing was INSANE!
The inaugural 2015 Striper Cup blast off… awesome!
Along with catching numerous stripers, Ang, Pete, their buddy Joe Anthony and the production team captured the inaugural 2015 Miramichi Striper Cup. A tournament solely devoted to the strongest Bass on the east coast.
Ang & Pete with good buddy Joe Anthony and 6 dinner guests… just another reason to love trips to the east coast of Canada!
Fast forward to this trip, and it was during the fall, AND, we were pushing it to the very end of the open Striper season… that’s a full 180 from our last trip.
The Miramichi kitchen party, such a unique experience.
But before we hit the water on this episode, we thought we could use a little good-luck incentive so… we started this fishin’ trip with some pure east coast flavor by attending a good ol’ Miramichi Kitchen Party… YEE HAW!
So, from what we finally have figured out, a Kitchen Party takes place in the kitchen because:
- That single room is the heart of most homes.
- The kitchen has a relaxing atmosphere.
- The fridge is right there… ummm can you say lotsa’ cold beer?
- Because kitchen’s are often smaller than other rooms in the house, the party gets real cozy.
- Food is just a step or two away. Finger foods and desserts are the deal here.
- And finally, the music. Celtic is the traditional style but honestly, if you request it, these talented musicians will probably know it, and play it… in foot stompin’ style!
FALL FISHING FOR STRIPERS
Now that we had our blessing of Kitchen Party Good Luck, it was finally time to hit the water.
With late fall fishing comes cool air, as well as cool water temperatures.
Through experience, we know how to bundle up for cold, late fall days on a boat; however, we weren’t sure how these Miramichi Striped Bass would be affected by the almost frigid water temperatures below the surface. We’ve fished them in the fall, but never this late.
Dressing warm was a key element allowing us to worry more about catching Striped Bass
We wanted to try a variety of baits and tactics and attempt to figure out the mood and activity level of the fish and hoped that just Maybe… MAYBE we could get onto a topwater bite.
As well on this trip, Fish’n Canada good buddies Steve Niedzwiecki and Jeff Wilson (Miramichi Striper Cup founder) were on a mission. We “employed” them to supply us with the ultimate Miramichi dinner… professionally prepared Striped Bass, also known as Chilean Sea Bass. No, they weren’t going to cook the fish. They were supposed to catch some Stripers in an easy to access and very popular area, using a totally different method than what we were using.
Steve and Jeff were our lifeline to the ultimate east coast dinner
In a perfect world we needed a few keeper fish, which we’d have prepared by a chef, and then of course consumed by the four of us.
If that ain’t icing on the cake, then we don’t know what is!
But first on our agenda was to try and figure out the Stripers in our fishing areas.
WERE THE FISH ON A TOPWATER BITE?
We hit a ton of areas on the river (suggested by Jeff Wilson) and each and every one had fish. Unfortunately these Stripers wouldn’t move up too far from the bottom of the river. Trust us, we tried… again and again. Thus, our pre-planned topwater attack didn’t start as we hoped, it seemed like the fish weren’t properly set up for it. We knew they were there, we could see them on the LiveScope, they just wouldn’t come up for a bait. It may have been that they were a bit too deep.
That’s a whack of Stripers almost under our trolling motor… but with water temps being so cold, and the fish down 12+ feet, they wouldn’t commit to a topwater bite
If we wanted to succeed, we were gonna have to resort to other means. Which meant dropping down below the surface.
On our last visit here in the spring of the year, soft plastic flukes were the big deal, either on a jighead or a big, wide gap hook. Between these and our latest discovery, a big Yo-Zuri Twitchbait, our confidence was still super-high…
Ang holds up one of many “deeper” Stripers we caught earlier in the trip
WE CAUGHT A TON
So we were definitely onto a solid Striper pattern by this time. It was a consistent bite in 10+ feet of water. Seriously, once you find a group of fish here, you need to stay on them and “pound em’”. If you veer too far away from your fish, like magic they disappear.
With all of this great fishing going on, we still hadn’t accomplished what we hoped to do, and that was get them on topwater.
“But don’t stick a fork in us yet” said Ang during the show.
With Power Poles firmly planted into the river bottom, Ang and Pete worked specific areas concentrating on schools of Stripers. They either poled down or used the anchor feature on their Garmin Force trolling motor to lock onto schools of fish. The wind, current and depth warranted which way they needed to anchor.
We were fishing both upwind and downwind during this trip. The reason for this is all about anchor positioning.
If the water was deeper than 8 feet, once we found fish, we used our Force trolling motor in anchor mode to hold us facing into the wind, allowing us to precisely work the school.
If the water was under 8 feet, we dropped our Power Poles, while facing downwind, thus allowing us to freely scan with our trolling motor while viewing our forward facing sonar and again, working a specific group of fish.
Boat control was and pretty much always is everything!
THERE’S STILL HOPE… MAYBE!
Here’s a Yo-Zuri 3DB Twitchbait that has had the hooks modified. It comes with excellent stock treble hooks however the Miramichi River has a “single, barbless hook” law so some modifications were a necessity.
The fishing stayed on fire throughout the day but the boys could only find deeper fish. They just couldn’t find any fish in less than 8 feet of water.
That said, they weren’t counting “topwater time” out. There was still hope throughout the boat for the ultimate in any and all Bass fishing!
“We’re certainly not complaining” says Ang “we’re just hoping”.
In part 2 of this trip we’ll let you onto Steve and Jeff’s boat, show you how a depth adjustment and a change of weather can make a world of difference, and best of all, the ultimate Miramichi chowdown.
You don’t wanna’ miss it.
HOTSPOT brought to you by Garmin
N 46 57.968 W 65 42.197
This episode’s HotSpot is quite typical of not only good fall Striper fishing, but a good river fishing area in general.
It’s at the mouth of an incoming creek.
Locations like this are one of the main fishing areas that we are always on the lookout for. Doesn’t matter if it’s on a lake or river, incoming water is key.
When it comes to Striped Bass at this HotSpot, we love throwing hard baits like Yo-Zuri’s 3DB Twitchbait and Pencil Popper, but we always include some kind of soft plastic and jig as well.
For more HotSpots like this one, check out our Hotspots page on our site.
DEPTH: 5-12 Feet
BAITS: Twitchbaits, Jigs, Flukes
GETTIN THERE brought to you by Ram Trucks
To get to today’s wild Striped bass action, we first traveled east through Ontario on hwy 401.
We next hit Quebec and took hwy 20 to hwy 30 and eventually got back on to hwy 20. Next we turned south-east on hwy 85.
Once in New Brunswick we took hwy 2 south east, and then drove north on hwy 8 at Fredericton.
We finally took 117 into the town of Miramichi, a left on Henderson St. and on to our final destination at the Rodd Miramichi Hotel
This modern day facility is the absolute perfect home away from home for the traveling angler.
The accommodations are excellent, the food is outstanding, there’s a boat launch a block away, and you can literally fish for Stripers directly adjacent to the property.
SPECIAL THANKS FOR THIS EPISODE
City of Miramichi – https://www.discovermiramichi.com/
Province of New Brunswick – https://tourismnewbrunswick.ca/
Rodd Miramichi – https://roddvacations.com/hotels/rodd-miramichi-river/
Jeff Wilson Pro Angler – https://www.miramichistripercup.com/
Miramichi Kitchen Party – https://www.facebook.com/TheMiramichiKitchenParty/