Stories of Incredible Fishing

More than 240 fish caught and released in one day

The one thing an outdoor writer is never supposed to experience is a loss for words - but that is what I am facing.  

Honest truth, no matter how many superlatives I use, no matter how much I appear to exaggerate, I can't do justice to the striped bass fishing I experienced last week on the Miramichi River in New Brunswick.  

It was incredible, amazing, astonishing, mind boggling.  The single best day, from a fish numbers perspective, that I've ever experienced. 

In fact, are you ready for this - buddy Jason Gogan and I landed over 240 striped bass up to 20-pounds in less than 7 1/2 hours.  

The reason we know how many fish we landed is that Jason had a clicker around his neck to record the numbers, but he stopped counting well before noon when we reached the 75 fish mark, because when I'd catch a fish and he would stop reeling in his lure to punch the clicker, a striper would nearly rip the rod out his hands.

A couple of other times, we set the stop watch for ten minutes to see how many stripers we could haul over the gunnels and averaged eight, or nearly one a minute.  And we're talking about fish that averaged four to six pounds with scores of 8-, 10- and 12-pound fish. 

And the striper schools we spotted, swirling on the surface, feeding like piranhas, were unlike anything I have ever seen before.  Here is a very short video of two of those striper schools, but when you click on the link and watch it, listen to Jason and I.  There are so many fish bursting and feeding on the surface that we're delirious and can't stop laughing.  Just for fun, too, count how many times Jason says, "Oh, my god, I hope I am recording this".

Something else you'll not believe - the water where we're fishing is only a few feet deep.  Literally, three, four, five feet deep.  So, there is no possible way you can throw out a lure and not have the fish see it and attack it. 

Jason nabbed a magnificent 20-pound striper - our biggest of the day - but I had a giant striper savagely strike and immediately take off for Moncton when I set the hook.  I've caught muskies up to 57 1/2 pounds and they didn't streak away, pull drag and tear off like this fish did, so I have no idea how much it weighed.  But I am guessing in the 30-, 40-, maybe even 50-pound range.

And talk about a success story.  

In the 1980s and 90s the striped bass fishery along the east coast was on its last legs due to commercial and sportfish overharvesting.  But smart, modern, conservation regulations were put in place including the use of single barbless hooks, a tight one-fish per day slot limit and a catch-and-release only season and the fish have not only bounced back, they've returned with a vengeance. 

The only unfortunate part of the story is that the best fishing lasts for only about a month in the spring - from roughly mid-May to mid-June - which means that if you are anywhere near the Miramichi River over the next week or two, drop everything on your agenda and wet a line for stripers. 

Trust me, while you may find yourself at a loss for words at the end of the day, you will not be disappointed. 


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16 year old wins top prize at Miramichi Striper Cup
It was the chance of winning a big prize that made a woman buy two registrations for her husband and son for the inaugural Miramichi Striper Cup. And it paid off, as a shiny new bass boat from Cabano Marine has a new home with a lucky 16 year old in Miramichi.

The last thing that was done at the closing ceremonies of the tournament was to draw the name of the person who won the grand prize. Anyone who paid to enter the tournament had a chance to win. 840 people paid $20 to enter the individual category, along with 114 teams who paid $150. Each individual got one ballot, each team got four. So with over 1200 people with a chance to win, the lucky person was  Shawn Doucet of South Esk.

Shawn and his parents were not at the ceremony, but were called shortly after they won, and came right to the curling club to pick up their prize. Jeff Wilson, the co-organizer of the tournament, said the Doucet were speechless. He said Shawn didn’t believe him, and when the phone was passed to his father Fernand, who also thought someone was pulling his leg.

 “I told my mom, and she screamed and said “What!”. Then I told my dad and he screamed and said “What!” Then we started rushing around to get ready to come here to get the prize,” said Shawn

Shawn said they fished at the enclosure during the tournament, but will be fishing from that boat next year. “My friends won’t believe this,” Shawn said, “I image they’ll be whooping and roaring.”

Winning Team Says Knowledge of River And Special Inspiration Are Reasons For Victory
A team of 3 men and one woman captured the Team title and the $5000 cheque at the Miramichi Striper Cup on Sunday. Each team weighed their biggest two fish on both Saturday and Sunday, and the highest two day total determined the winner. The winning team got hot, and beat the nearest competitor by almost ten pounds.

The team members were from McKees Mills, St. Antoine, and Bouctouche: Rejean Basque, Luc Allain, Marcel Goguen, and Renee Allain.

“We didn’t know where the big fish were exactly, but we know the area. We have been fishing bass in Miramichi for 4 or 5 years, and we know where the fish hold. And we can tell you that Renee is the one who caught all the big fish.”

“We are here every weekend, because my parents have a place in Blackville,” said Rejean. The team claims all their equipment comes from a family owned fishing store in St. Antoine, and the store is actually the team’s name: Basque Fly Rods.

Renee hinted that the team might have had a little extra help in the tournament. “There are two of our fishing buddies that passed away, and we said to them,” Renee said, looking skyward, “and before we started fishing we asked them to be with us.”

Rejean said it wasn’t hard to keep their hot spot a secret, as a lot of other boats were fishing where the bass were spawning, with lots of activity on the surface of the water. Rejean said they didn’t think fish would take there, and decided to try their luck nearby, hoping to catch some big stragglers that were looking for a meal.

“We found where we were catching bigger fish, they were all big fish. We were throwing back 10 pounders all day long,” said Rejean. “