Saint John River Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Saint John River Smallmouth Bass Fishing
Zach Winn with a Saint John River Smallmouth Bass

New Brunswick smallmouth bass fishing may take a back seat to trout and salmon in the province but it should definitely not be ignored. Zach Winn shares with us about Saint John River smallmouth bass fishing. He gives us some insight on the river and his favorite methods for catching smallies.

How long have you been Saint John River smallmouth bass fishing?

I’ve been chasing smallmouth on the Saint John river for about 4 years. Moved to the area for work. I fish tournaments from northern parts of the river such as the Woodstock area down to Oromocto, which is where I live.

I typically fish the Oromocto/Fredericton area of the Saint John river and it’s major tributaries in the area the Oromocto River and the Nashwaak river. I love the river because I live about 5 minutes from it and can be into good smallmouth fishing shortly after launching.

What is the popularity level of smallmouth bass fishing in New Brunsiwck on the Saint John River?

Smallmouth fishing is pretty popular in New Brunswick, but trout, salmon and striped bass are more popular as a whole. Our tournament series, the New Brunswick Sport Fishing Association, typically has between 40 to 50 boats at an event. We have such a big river and small population that you rarely see a lot of other people fishing. In terms of smallmouth fishing. it is a strong catch and release mentality.

How would you describe Saint John River smallmouth bass fishing to someone who has never been there?

The Saint John river is packed full of healthy Smallmouth. And you don’t have to travel far on the river to find some.

What is considered a big fish for the river?

Any bass over 4 pounds is considered huge. Typical 5 fish tournament winners have 15 to 17 pounds. Biggest I’ve caught is about 3.75 pounds drop shotting a finesse tube off an exposed rock pile.

What kind of kayak are you fishing out of for the river?

I typically fish out of a Pelican kayak. I like that when kayak fishing you can approach a piece of cover from many different angles. The thrill of the fight of a big smallmouth in a kayak is unreal…having them make runs behind the kayak and jumping.

Saint John River Smallie on an Imperium Impact Stick
Saint John River Smallie on an Imperium Impact Stick

I see that you catch a lot of fish on the Imperium Impact Stick Bait. What are the keys to being successful with this bait when Saint John River smallmouth bass fishing?

The Imperium Baits Impact Stick is a Senko style bait made in Ontario, Canada. I typically fish it wacky rigged and have most of my success fishing it around fallen trees and skipping it under docks.

Imperium makes a whole line of plastic baits. What are some of your other favorites out of their lineup for Saint John River smallmouth bass?

Imperium makes a wide variety of great baits for both largemouth and smallmouth. The prodigy tube is another great one used to imitate crawfish which is a popular forage on the Saint John. The Drop Kick worm in black is probably my favourite bait they make. Fished on a drop shot to imitate a leech, smallmouth go crazy for it.

I recently fell in love with the Z-man Ned Rig for smallies here in Pennsylvania. Looks like you may like them as well. Where does this bait rank for you for Saint John River smallmouth bass fishing?

The Ned Rig produces a lot of bites from fish of all sizes. I’ve got everything from a 5” smallmouth to a 19” smallmouth on it. I’ll pretty much fish it anywhere in the river and just drag it on the bottom.

When are the times you detour from plastics and throw cranks or topwater for Saint John smallmouth bass fishing?

I typically use soft plastics when I’m trying to really focus on a spot. I think that’s where a drop shot shines the most. To cover water I typically use a Eco Pro Tungsten Rapid Fire spinnerbait. We have a a lot of bait fish in the lower Saint John river so it’s great for that. Other baits I like using to cover water are Strike King’s KVD 1.5 squarebill and jerkbaits.

Overall, what advice do you have for anyone Saint John River smallmouth bass fishing?

My best advice for fishing smallmouth on the Saint John river is look for obvious structure like bridges or rock piles. The river system is packed full of smallmouth so typically you don’t have to travel far to find them. Tubes, spinnerbaits, drop shot and crankbaits typically work best.

Thanks Zach! Great information.

Zach pro staff’s for Eco Tungsten, Ardent Reels and Imperium Baits. See all of his Saint John River smallmouth bass fishing results on Instagram @zachwinn_fishing.

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