Episode 549: 2023 Miramichi Striper Cup

So, this Fish’n Canada episode along with one more to come this season, was very special to us. As you’ll read in a moment, it was an ultra-unique episode that helped people in need and it brought some new, great people into our lives.

For this show we traveled to a familiar area, but we added a bit of a twist.

Normally you see just Ang and Pete appearing in most Fish’n Canada shows. Yes, Steve and Nik sub in occasionally and, at the odd time, we’ll even feature a fishing guide. On this show, however, we did something completely different.

Early in the year, and well before our shooting season even started, we attended the Eric Lindros Celebrity Hockey Classic. Eric puts this on every year and raises all kinds of money for Easter Seals Canada… such a class act. How we got involved was, while interviewing Eric on an Outdoor Journal Radio Podcast, he mentioned his charity event and asked if Fish’n Canada would like to get involved. We quickly responded with a yes.

Pete and Ang mulled over ideas as to what would be the best contribution at the event and came up with a live auction give-away for two people to be guests on a Fish’n Canada episode, on New Brunswick’s Miramichi River, all while teaming up with us to compete in the Miramichi Striper Cup.

And when all was said and done, Ben Logan and Kurtis Evoy from Peterborough, Ontario, were the highest bidders in our live-auction package. Their generous donation not only helped the Easter Seals foundation, but it also got them return airline travel to beautiful New Brunswick, full accommodations and meals at the Rodd Miramichi, a chance to go pre-fishing with Ang and Pete, and of course an entry into the 2023 Miramichi Striper Cup event… all expenses paid!

The City of Miramichi, the largest city in northern New Brunswick, is located close to the mouth of the Miramichi River where it enters Miramichi Bay. You couldn’t pick a more perfect waterfront location to build a city.

Miramichi River Road Trip / #ExploreNB / Tourism New Brunswick

It has a population of over 17 thousand people, whom by the way & in typical east-coast fashion, are some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet.

The city was formed in 1995 through the forced amalgamation of two towns, Newcastle and Chatham, as well as several smaller communities nearby.

The Miramichi area’s economy is partially focused on mining, forestry, tourism, and of course fishing. This used to be an Atlantic Salmon mecca, however, lately, it has become one of the most productive Striped Bass fisheries along the entire North American east coast.

The “Hay Day” of Miramichi Salmon fishing

And speaking of Striped Bass, well, that’s exactly why we were there, to compete in the 2023 Miramichi Striper Cup. This one-of-a-kind fishing tournament is run by New Brunswick fishing fanatic Jeff Wilson

Jeff has been fishing tournaments for years now and has come to learn the do’s and don’ts of these large-scale events… and man has he done a great job at the Striper Cup.

From organization to finding volunteers to building a massive competitor base and, of course, to pulling in an array of amazing prize packages, this tournament is like no other. Honestly, you don’t just come here to try and win, it’s the entire experience that will keep you coming back year after year.

The Miramichi Striper Cup has been running since 2015 and in such time, it has grown exponentially. What started as a fun idea, has now turned into a huge success. Contestants from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and even a few from the US, chomp at the bit come springtime in anticipation of hitting the Miramichi and seeking that rewarding first prize, along with an array of other prizes totalling some $150,000!

For those of you who have not fished in a competitive tournament, you need to realize it’s more than just catching fish. It’s the hype beforehand…

It’s getting up early with a ton of nervous jitters…

It’s launching the rig before daylight hits… 

It’s sitting among fellow combatants, 224 others in our case, while waiting for the “go” signal… oh, and that signal just may be the most exciting part of the entire day. 

Modern-day tournaments normally use what’s referred to as a trickle start, letting boats go one at a time. Jeff however has gone old-school with the Striper cup in having a “blast off”… and man what a rush it is! It’s a combination of a boat race, and heading out to your fishing hole all in one. 

Will we get to our #1 spot first? 

If not, is it because someone else’s boat is faster than ours? 

Did we stray off course? 

Has someone found the exact fish in the exact area that we did…  Trust us, all of these have happened many times, not only to us, but to probably anybody who’s entered a high-end event.

Now as for our new teammates, well these boys are in for a treat. But before we can transform them into Striper annihilation mode, we needed to top up their skill level. 

Baitcasting Lessons

Ang loves teaching people how to use baitcasting gear… an essential tool when fishing big, burly Striped Bass!

Kirtus and Ben both caught on to baitcasting like it was second nature. It was obvious to Ang that they had previous fishing experience and being two Peterborough boys, they’ve probably fished their whole lives.

Next, it was time to pre-fish, to cover as much water as possible and try to seek out schools of bigger than average-sized Stripers. It would be SO nice to find an area full of 10 – 15 pounders but quite honestly, these fish move so much that what we find today, could well be gone by tomorrow.

Registration Night

As with all tournaments that Pete and Ang have fished, there’s always the Friday night registration to take place. Not only is it necessary to solidify your entry to the event, but it’s a great time to look around at sponsor products as well as the prize packages, and of course meet your fellow competitors.

So, there we were, in the wee hours of the morning, coffee in hand and launching the boat. There are a few launches in the Miramichi area in which thankfully, everyone split up to use. With 225 boats, that’s a lot of launching.

And next was waiting, in anticipation of the blast-off. Our game plan was set and now we needed to execute. We found a few schools of Stripers but no big ones. Hopefully, a new wave of fish will push through and we intercept them. It’s strange how things can change overnight here

With very little time left on the clock, it’s time to make the boat ride back to the weigh-in area. Most tournament anglers leave very little spare time here, it’s balls to the wall and push it to the limit.

Since Jeff has a 2-fish limit in the Striper Cup, you would think that getting that “limit” would be a piece of cake right? Remember though, fishing is fishing. When you deal with Mother Nature, she can sometimes play nasty in the sandbox!

Luckily team Fish’n Canada had a 2 fish limit on day one. Both Ang and Pete really wanted the boys to experience the weigh-in procedure. From pulling up to the dock, to bagging the fish, to walking up to the weighmaster, to reading the weight and then getting to have a chat with the tournament director and getting a picture taken. It really is an awesome feeling. Almost like everyone’s a winner.

Well, day one’s in the can and guess what… we get to do it all over again. The second tournament day usually has a more relaxed feel. Yeah there’s still the crazy blast off and the “will we catch some fish” and if so “can we find some big ones” going on, but with a day behind us, there’s a better sense of calm among us. We just hope Kurt and Ben are still as pumped as yesterday!

We found day 2 to be much tougher than day one… which is quite typical in tournament fishing. We normally go to all of our “best stuff” right off the bat and then work down from there. Since our day 1 was only mediocre in our total weight, it means we really put the pressure on all of our potential areas. And remember, we’re not the only ones in this event. Another full day on the same spots… we need all the luck we can get. 

With the final weigh-in and all competition done, now comes the “big gala” of the event. The piece de resistance as they say, the prize presentations and the closing ceremony. Just as the opening ceremony a couple days ago, this certainly was a breathtaking event. It is so rare to get a crowd this large at any Canadian fishing tournament but at the Cup… this place is packed!

And it’s packed for good reason. Not only are the prizes for the best catches to be given out, but there’s an array of door prizes as well. And of course, the main reason everyone is hanging tough with great anticipation, the biggest draw prize of them all, a fully rigged boat, motor and trailer package. As long as you enter the tourney, you have as good a shot as anyone else to win… that’s insane & that’s awesome!

Congratulations to each and every prize winner, and a big Kudos to all who participated. And we don’t just mean the participants, we mean the entire staff, the City of Miramichi, all who volunteered, and of course the man himself, Mr. Jeff Wilson… Well done brother!

TV EXTRAS

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