Virtually every inch of the Miramichi and its tributaries holds brook trout – actually a char. During the warm parts of the summer these fish move out of the main stem of the Miramichi and into cooler tributaries or locate spring holes. The average riverine trout are relatively small with very few larger than 12 inches in size. Some of these fish become sea-run brook trout, and these can attain sizes as large as 7 pounds. Generally speaking, the sea-run trout migrate down to the estuary, and enter tidewater after spawning in October. After feeding in the estuary for the winter they return to the Miramichi and its tributaries in May. They spend the summer in fresh water in anticipation of fall spawning.
Many large sea run trout are caught during the April and early May kelt fishery. Some are also caught during the summer in cool areas of the headwaters. During the fall many are caught on flies fished for salmon.
The Miramichi River system has a native spawning population of striped bass. Striped bass spawn in late May in the lower reaches of the Northwest and Southwest Miramichi. These fish grow to be large with some individuals reaching up to four feet in length and over 30 pounds in weight. Most striped bass go out into the ocean from June through September. Several of the Atlantic salmon outfitters offer guided striped bass fishing during May and very early June before the salmon runs get busy.
The Miramichi River system has a native spawning population of striped bass.
In recent years, the striped bass population in the Miramichi region has exploded, and accompanying this explosion, has been a corresponding increase in the number of anglers enjoying this bountiful and productive fishery. In the early 1990s, the striped bass population in the Miramichi estuary was in significant decline for reasons unknown. By 1993, the number of striped bass inhabiting Miramichi estuary had dropped to only 5000 fish. In recent years, however, due to a number of different factors including warming water, the decommissioning of a large pulp and paper mill on the banks of the Miramichi estuary, and a ban on commercial fishing, striped bass populations has surged into the hundreds of thousands. This significant resurgence has created a fishery that is among the most productive, if not the most productive, in New Brunswick.
With population of striped bass skyrocketing, it is possible to spin cast for striped bass from shore with a heavy weight spinning rod. Competition for food is steep in this ecosystem, so you are bound to catch something on any given day during the season - which runs from April 15th until October 30th
During this spawning time (generally 5 days between the end of May the beginning of June) fishing for stripers is suspended. Check local conservation organizations websites like the Miramichi Salmon Association (MSA) for up-to-date information on closures and bag limits.
Although fun to fish from shore, for real action and bigger fish most people turn to fishing from boats. This is generally done by trolling with an artificial sand eel lure; however, striped bass seem to take just about anything you throw at them. A friend of mine caught one last year with a half-digested chicken leg in its belly. For the fly-fishing purist, it is also useful to note that striped bass will readily take a fly. In my experience, large streamers work best, although I’ve witnessed stripers taking small buck bugs or even classic hair wing flies – fly selection seems of little importance. If you are good with a spinning rod and you have a knowledgeable guide, some excellent top water popper action is available to those who can find the fish. Often bigger striped bass in the 70cm to 85cm rage are boated using this method – if your guide has the scoop on where the big guys are hanging out.
It is no exaggeration to say that during a typical striped bass outing you can expect to catch upward of 20 or 30 fish per angler – if your timing is right and you have a good guide. Most outfitters will allow 2 or 3 anglers per boat and provide a captain with a fish finder to do the navigating. There is a three fish bag limit and a slot size of between 50cm and 65cm. Finding fish in the slot size that you can take home for dinner (delicious) can often be a challenge as many of the fish are either too large or too small. I recommend that you keep your keepers when you catch them and resist waiting for a marginally better fish to come along.
If you are interested in striper fishing, a number of salmon outfitters have incorporated this exciting fishery into their line up of activities. Outfitters that offer striped bass fishing include Wilson’s Sporting Camps, Country Haven and Upper Oxbow Adventures. Please see their respective FishPal pages for booking options.