New Brunswick Tournament Bass Fishing and More with Donald Patterson

New Brunswick is one of the most underrated places for smallmouth bass fishing. Often overshadowed by trout and salmon as reasons to fish New Brunswick, the smallmouth bass fishing can be amazing in this Province. I have also been hearing that the competitive bass fishing scene in New Brunswick is quickly growing. I found Donald Patterson on Twitter and listened to some of his Podcasts. Donald is an avid competitive angler in New Brunswick. In this interview, we discuss competitive bass fishing, conservation, his fantastic sponsors and maybe most importantly an incredible charity fishing tournament that he helped to start called Fishing for Memories.

Your Twitter page sticky post states that your 2015 season was a roller coaster. How would you describe your 2016 season?

2016 was a much more consistent season, and very encouraging. My tournament partner, Jason Belyea, and I have been learning new water and/or experiencing familiar water but at different times of year to what we are traditionally used to, so there definitely has been a learning curve, and we saw steady improvement over last season, culminating with our two best days of the season during the New Brunswick Sportfishing Association Championship, earning us a top 20 finish in only our 2nd year on that tour.

What do you consider your best/favorite New Brunswick smallmouth bass waters?

Best and favorite can definitely be two different things. My personal favorite stretch of water in New Brunswick to fish is the Lower Saint John River and the Oromocto River. This is the closest thing I have to a “home” body of water, and it’s an area that I could never get tired of fishing. The best, which for means where we’ve performed the most consistently would be the Upper Saint John River, aka Beechwood Headpond in the Perth Andover area. This is an area where only once have Jason and I ever come to the scales without a limit, and it has generated some of our best tournament results.

What do you consider your top 3 go to baits on these waters?

Go to baits for those waters are very similar, but at different times of year. Matching the hatch is definitely critical to success, and especially in waters like these where crawfish are a major food source, being aware of your color choices based on seasonal changes is the difference between a full livewell and an empty one. Natural colors for tubes and Senkos are my two most primary choices, and my 3rd option to trigger strikes and fire up some activity is a half ounce spinner bait.

donald-p-03You fish competitively in New Brunswick. How would you describe the level of competition among bass anglers in a province where the focus is often trout and salmon?

I am a member of the New Brunswick Sport Fishing Association, a not for profit organization that promotes conservation efforts along with running a highly competitive tournament series. 2016 saw the series average roughly 50 boats per event and the level of competition gets higher and higher every time we hit the water. New Brunswick anglers have been making an impression by traveling to events like the Berkley B1 and posting quality finishes against some of the best anglers in Canada, including an 11th place finish at this year’s B1 by NBSFA anglers Keith Cormier and Jason Gogan.

Speaking of trout and salmon, I can tell that you are not only an avid bass fisherman but also a conservationist. New Brunswick has some historic salmon and trout fisheries. But striped bass have been blamed for some of the declines on waterways of the salmon populations like on the Miramichi River. Recently, rumors of smallmouth bass on these waters have surfaced. I know this topic can be controversial but where do you stand on these issues?

There is a lot of rumors which unfortunately gain way too much traction and all of a sudden, they are no longer rumors in the eyes of many. Also unfortunate is that many of these rumors are fueled by “staged” pictures or pictures presented to be from a particular location when in actuality, they are from somewhere all together different. Multiple sources have pointed the finger away from striped bass, but certain anti-bass groups choose to hype the staged pictures and false reports instead of discussing the scientific research that has been presented.

That being said, there is always the potential for irresponsible handling of any species, and we know that on at least one occasion, smallmouth have been illegally moved and placed in a lake in the Miramichi region. Luckily, thus far, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, they have not breached that lake and moved into any other water in the area. It would serve us all as anglers to work together to benefit all species and water systems, but unfortunately for now, there still seems to be an “Us vs Them” mentality.

Back to your tournament fishing, I found your podcast very interesting about prefishing for tournaments and mistakes that anglers make. Can you summarize your thoughts for my readers on this topic as I thought you made some very interesting points?

Prefishing can be a very touchy subject with some anglers. It is a very useful tool when done properly, but it can also ruin the day for yourself or other anglers if you do it wrong, or irresponsibly. I hear many people talk about how many fish they catch during their prefish. I can’t wrap my head around that. When prefishing, your best approach is to not catch fish at all. With a tournament around the corner, why would you want to sting up potential spots? Use your prefishing time to locate fish, throw baits but no hooks. They will bite and you will know that they are there, but you won’t risk stinging up the spot.

The other issue is unethical prefishing. Anglers who intentionally go looking to burn spots that other people will be fishing. Although technically this may not break any rules, and is very hard to prove, it is one of the lowest moves that a true tournament angler could ever do.

donald-p-01You have a number of great sponsors. What can you tell us about each and what makes you proud to represent them?
I am lucky enough to have some great companies that I represent.

Fishbum Outfitters is a groundbreaking apparel company that has really elevated the design game for jerseys, jackets, hoodies and just about anything else in the way of fishing lifestyle clothing. And for me, getting to work with such a leading edge Canadian company makes it even more special.

Carrot Stix Rods have got to be some of the most amazing pieces of hardware that I have ever picked up. Signing with them this season was truly an honor. Lightweight, super sensitivity and casting ability in all models, strengths and setups. Truly impressive rods that I am loving mire every time I go out.

Southern Yankee Baits is a small, custom bait maker out of North Carolina, and I have been proud to represent them for the last 3 seasons. Having someone who will not only make top quality, hand poured baits, but will customize them to my own color specifications is just irreplaceable in tournament fishing.

Northern Michigan Outfitters is an amazing company, as the name would suggest, based out of Michigan who’s main focus is to promote outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing by establishing partnerships with guides, suppliers and outfitters all across Canada and the US. For anyone looking for advice on how to arrange some true bucket list hunting and fishing adventures, contacting Northern Michigan Outfitters would be a one stop shop for almost all of your needs.

Hooked on Canadian Angling is a media group who’s main purpose is to promote fishing throughout Canada. With the use of Facebook pages and other online tools, we do our best to keep Canadian anglers informed about what’s happening across the country and to help promote the sport in any way possible.

New Brunswick winters can be long for a bass angler. What are 7 things you will be doing over the winter to prepare for 2017?

New Brunswick winters can be terrible long, and preparing for the upcoming season is critical. Seven things I will be doing are:

1. Dry land training. As in any sport, conditioning plays a role. Maintaining or improving your fitness level can go a long way to making you more effective on the water.

2. Map work. Research is key to success on the water. Spending time going over maps and charts for the bodies of water you will be fishing can give you insight that you don’t always get from the deck of a boat.

3. Family time. Tournament fishing takes a lot of time and effort during the season, and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your family pay the biggest price. Most of us are weekend warriors, and we should never take for granted how much our loved ones sacrifice for us to take part in the sport we so love.

4. Maintenance. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about your boat, electronics or rods & reels, there is always a certain amount of maintaining that needs done. Take advantage of the downtime. The more meticulous you are during the off season, the more reliable your gear will be when you hit the water.

5. Stocking Up. We all know that this sport isn’t cheap and it truly can cause a financial strain on many. Winter is a great time to ease that burden by stocking up on baits, line and other supplies that you use throughout your tournament season.

6. Product Research. I’m always looking for new baits, scents, colors or any other product that may be a worthy addition to my tackle box. Fishing is constantly evolving, and we need to evolve as anglers to improve and stay competitive.

7. Relax. Many of us are obsessive about our sport. As difficult as it may be, it’s important to disconnect from time to time. No matter how passionate you are about something, you have to take a break every now and then to keep things in perspective.

Finally what is Fishing for Memories? What is your involvement with it? And is it something others can get involved with?

Fishing for Memories is something very close to my heart. It is a charity fishing tournament founded by myself, my wife Lelanda, my tournament partner Jason Belyea and his wife Cindy. We raise money for the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick with a single day Chain Pickerel Tournament on the Saint John River in Hampstead, the community I grew up in. We have grown into one of the largest fishing tournaments in the province, averaging over 150 anglers annually, with our high being 185 in 2016. Since inception in 2012, we have raised over $21,000 for the Alzheimer Society, along with awareness and social media presence that cannot have a value attached. Anyone who would like to know more, I would encourage them to look up our Facebook page, or email us at fishingformemories@hotmail.ca for more information.

Thank you Donald for your great perspective on bass fishing in New Brunswick. Also, thank you for the work you do in raising money to fight Alzheimer’s Disease. 

You can learn more about Donald through his Twitter page.