Great fishing means different things to different people. Whether it refers to the quality of the fish available to be caught or the number of different opportunities that exist at a certain time, in a certain place. I’ve spent the better part of the last 25 years travelling across North America to experience “great fishing”. So when I say that Fredericton, New Brunswick ranks as one of the greatest fishing destinations I have ever been, I mean it.
Fredericton, or “Freddy Beach” as the locals call it, is in the south-western part of the province. Nestled in the Saint John River Valley, it marks the beginning of the last and final leg of the mighty Saint John River as it meanders its way towards the Atlantic Ocean without any more dams to obstruct its natural flow. With countless streams, creeks and brooks that feed into it, the Lower Saint John River is quite simply the epicenter for a myriad of freshwater species and certain saltwater species to live and thrive.
A Multi-Species Playground
Smallmouth Bass – Potentially one of the most common and widespread species found all around Fredericton, these feisty and uber-fun aquatic gymnasts provide some of the best and most accessible angling opportunities. They can be caught with a variety of different tackle options, part of the reason they are so popular as a sportfish. I would recommend throwing soft plastics such as stickbaits (wacky-rigged) or tube jigs near areas with rocky bottoms. The mouth of the Naashwaak is a tremendous area to check out from late May through July as schools of smallmouth will stack there. Another high percentile zone is the Oromocto River. A great area to explore either from shore, kayak or boat. You’ll be sure to find some smallies ready to play at every turn and corner. In general, bass can be found throughout the Saint John River with 2lb to 3.5lb specimens being the average.
Muskellunge – Although not an officially recognized sportfish at this time, the Lower Saint John River is home to some of the meanest, fattest and most ferocious musky anywhere. This apex predator can be found hanging around the various bridge pilings found in the Fredericton area. You’ll need a boat for best results, but this fish of a million casts is readily available for targeting. Specimens north of 45” are common as are multiple daily catches.
White Perch – Not only are White Perch incredibly abundant around Fredericton, but they are JUMBO sized. Probably some of the biggest White Perch I have ever encountered in fact. What’s more is that they are absolutely fun to catch and delicious as table fare. Casting for Whities couldn’t be simpler. I suggest either a basic spinner rig tipped with some nightcrawler or my personal favourite, a small plastic swimbait on a 1/8oz jighead, usually white in colour to mimic the local forage. No fancy techniques, just cast out and retrieve. Check out the Zealand Causeway at the top of the Mactaquac Stream Basin just minutes past the Mactaquac Dam for some amazing White Perch action and fun for the entire family.
Chain Pickerel – These predators love hunting around shallow weedy bays, ready to ambush their prey. Chain Pickerel can be found throughout the Saint John River and easily caught from shore. On calmer days, try topwater presentations such as plastic frogs or poppers near weedlines or in back bays and hang on for that surface attack. Also try larger plastic paddle-tailed swimbaits or spinnerbaits to cover water quickly. Pickerel do make great table fare as well but be careful handling them as their small but sharp teeth will shred up a finger placed the wrong way. Make sure to check out the Swan Creek area near Gagetown for the ultimate Chain Pickerel playground.
Striped Bass – The lower Saint John River is also tidal water and home to some of the biggest Stripers in the Maritimes. Not necessarily known for quantity but rather quality, the Stripers of the Lower Saint John River are heavyweight trophies by any standard.
Other Species – There are many other species available worth noting as well. Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Yellow Perch, Bullhead Catfish, Sturgeon, Brook Trout, Brown Trout and Salmon just to name a few!
The City of Fredericton offers multiple options for those who want to put their boat in the Saint John River. Here is a list of boat launches in the greater Fredericton area.
Thatch Road Launch – End of Thatch Road in Lower Lincoln
Mactaquac Marina – 1033 NB-105, Mactaquac, NB E6L 1B3
Oromocto Launch – 1 Wharf Road, Oromocto, NB E2V 2R6
Professional Fishing Guides
If you’re looking to use the knowledgeable services of a fishing guide, there are 2 that I would highly recommend. Both are incredibly well equipped with the appropriate equipment as well the right experience to get you hooked up.
Strikeback Sport Fishing | https://strikebacksportfishing.ca/
Adam Foster – Offers both an in-boat full service on the Saint John River or an adventurous kayak fishing experience.
Saint Johnny Sox | https://stjohnnysox.wixsite.com/guide
Marlon Prince – Get ready to hook into chain pickerel, musky or bass with this seasoned guide. Choose from either traditional fishing tackle or improve your fly-fishing game, Marlon is the man to get you there.
If you are looking for information on licenses, fees, locations, or general FAQ’s, please visit the Government of New Brunswick Website for all of the required information. Last but definitely not least, if you are planning on fishing the Lower Saint John River, there are NO FISHING LICENSES REQUIRED! This is just a great added bonus since that part of the river is tidal.
If you’re interested in exploring the incredible fishing opportunities around the Fredericton area, there certainly are many to choose from! Hope to see you on the water this season!