|Saint John River smallmouth, caught in Fredericton|
|Click to visit Faces Fredericton|
The reactions are varied, ranging from mild shock (“Fredericton?!?”) to receiving a look one might get if they had just sprouted a second head from their neck. Once I explain myself, however, they’re usually asking me to take them fishing.
Sadly, it seems some people here in Fredericton view the Saint John River only as an obstacle to get across during rush hour, but unbeknownst to many residents of our fair city, the waters of the Saint John River hold big fish. Trophy fish, such as four-pound smallmouth bass, muskie over a meter long, and the powerful striped bass, some weighing over forty pounds.
Smallmouth had big fans way back in the day, too: “Inch for inch, pound for pound, (they are) the gamest fish that swims,” wrote Dr. James Henshaw. Back in the day in this case means 1881, that is.
I can say not much has changed in how much fun can be had chasing smallies on the fly rod. And I must not be alone, for even super-high-end rod manufacturer Sage makes a $550 rod for them...and it’s on its second, updated version!
Smallmouth bass are native to the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and the upper Mississippi River, but due to stocking programs in the late 1800s, they are found in all ten provinces and every state except Alaska & Florida in the USA.
New Brunswick was first stocked with smallmouth in about 1870, and they have since thrived here. In fact, prolific smallmouth angler, guide and author Tim Holschlag consistently puts the Saint John River in his list of top 100 smallmouth locations in North America, and we’re regularly featured in Outdoor Canada’s annual list of top fishing spots in Canada.
If you’re a new to fly fishing, or attempting to help someone get started in fly fishing, smallmouth bass are the answer, for two main reasons:
1. they are (usually) very willing to eat.
2. they fight like green demons once they’re hooked, with multiple jumps and rod-bending runs for cover.
Besides, if you only have 4 hours to fish after dinner, do you really want to spend two of those hours driving to & from Boiestown or Doaktown?
Save the gas money & give fly fishing for smallmouth in Fredericton a chance; once you’re hooked up with a couple pounds of bronze fury, you won’t regret it.