The Saint John River Chapter is very proud to be one of the newest chapters of Muskies Canada and the only one currently in the province of New Brunswick.
In late 2004, muskies were found in sufficient numbers to angle for in the mid Saint John river. Unprotected by angling regulations, in spring of 2005, Competitive bass anglers Henry Arsenault and Clark Rayner formed a website with a forum section dedicated to catch and release angling for muskies. With a background of catch and release angling for smallmouth and striped bass, the two anglers already knew what can happen to fish populations when numbers of anglers get involved in angling for a species and do not practice catch and release, especially with the larger specimens.
With huge success and many participating anglers, the first event was held in late June, 2005 under the title of “MuskiesNB” derived from the club’s website www.MuskiesNB.ca. The event consisted of a day angling for muskies and a special guest speaker, Richard Collin from Muskies Canada. The event was a huge success.
The club continued to grow and so did the sport. In spring of 2006, the group was granted a Muskies Canada chapter. The name of the chapter became “Saint John River Chapter of Muskies Canada”. The Name was suitable since Muskies are only found in the Saint John River and its tributaries and it covers all of the anglers who fish muskies and are chapter members. To date the chapter has members in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine. The club holds a series of catch and release muskie events throughout the season where the weights are formulated through accurate measurements of length and girth of the fish before photographing and releasing. Prizes are awarded for the largest muskies as well as yearly awards.
The Saint John River Chapter still operates through the muskiesNB website where it has a photo album for provincial anglers who have caught and released muskies to post a picture of their catch. The forum boards contain a general section for the public to register and ask questions as well as a chapter section only accessible by chapter members. The chapter welcomes all conservation oriented anglers who are interested in learning how to catch muskies and teaches proper handling techniques as well as methods to catch the fish of 10000 casts more effectively. Since muskies are hard to catch on a good day it is not uncommon to fish days without even seeing one. Even then, it is common to only have one follow your lure to the boat and never be seen again.
To date the chapter members and their guests have caught and released many of the top muskies in the province, including the current NB record caught and released by chapter director Steve Eldridge at 52 inches with a 27 inch girth weighing in at 48 pounds. The largest muskie taken in a chapter event was a beautiful 50 inch x 26 inch specimen taken by Gordie Snyder in the 2008 fall event held in October that weighed over 42 pounds. Several other muskies have been released by members that have weighed between 30 to 42 pounds.
Since the Muskie is not considered a sportfish in the province and remains unprotected, the chapters initial goals were to educate anglers how to catch muskies effectively with the importance of catch and release angling on this amazing sportfish and have been extremely successful in doing so. Muskies are now angled on a regular basis on the whole Mactaquac headpond as well as the lower section of river below Mactaquac, with almost all anglers releasing their catches. Provincial muskies are drawing a lot of attention from other states and provinces and are starting to bring in bookings with provincial guides. There is a great economic potential for the province and the chapter is hoping for more reasonable regulations in the future. It has been proven that the river can produce trophy muskies, of which a 50″ fish or larger is considered a