Update: Three smallmouth bass caught in Southwest Miramichi

Contact: ncrabbe@asf.ca

Sep 3, 2019
ASF's Nathan Wilbur with three smallmouth bass caught in the Southwest Miramichi on Sept. 1, 2019. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
On Sunday, September 1st, ASF’s New Brunswick program director Nathan Wilbur angled three invasive smallmouth bass in the Southwest Miramichi, the first known smallmouth ever caught and retained from the river.

Wilbur targeted a stretch known as McKiel Pond after a video taken last week by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) snorkelers revealed a smallmouth bass in the area. McKiel Pond is approximately 2.4 kilometers upstream of Tent Pool, where first smallmouth bass ever confirmed in the Miramichi river system was photographed on August 22nd.

The three fish were caught almost immediately after Wilbur arrived. A fourth bass was hooked and lost. Afterwards, Wilbur spent five more hours fishing through all of McKiel Pond Pool without hooking any more smallmouth bass. They appeared to be concentrated in a small area.
The three smallmouth, all around nine inches in length, have been delivered to Mark Gautreau, an expert in fish analysis at the University of New Brunswick. Early results indicate they are comprised of two females and one male. Further analysis is expected to reveal whether the fish were sexually mature, and through stable isotope analysis, how long they have been in the river environment. On Thursday, September 5th, the samples will be delivered to DFO’s Gulf Fisheries Centre in Moncton.

Following confirmation of smallmouth bass in the Southwest Miramichi, on August 28th a team of DFO and Miramichi Salmon Association staff arrived at Tent Pool in an attempt to capture the photographed fish and search for others. Seining techniques were used in an to sweep fish laying in the pool into a fyke net trap installed just downstream.

The pool was seined twice, turning up 46 adult salmon, almost 300 suckers, but no smallmouth bass. Snorkel surveys and videography were conducted by DFO biologists in five additional pools upstream and down, with the results eventually leading Wilbur to McKiel Pond.
A satellite view of the Southwest Miramichi headwaters shows the location of important sites so far in the search for invasive smallmouth bass. Google Earth
Further work is planned for this week. Wilbur, along with a team of biologists from the province of New Brunswick and UNB, will use electrofishing and angling techniques to canvas the ten kilometer stretch of the Southwest Miramichi from the outlet of Miramichi Lake, where smallmouth bass were illegally introduced more than a decade ago, and Tent Pool.

Twelve environmental DNA samples collected by Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff last week from a wide area of the Southwest Miramichi river are currently being analyzed in an attempt to determine the extent of the smallmouth bass invasion in the river. Known as eDNA, scientists use detritus in the water to detect the presence or absence of species in an area. Results are expected on September 4th.
Three smallmouth bass were caught on Sunday, September 1st in the McKiel Pond Pool of the Southwest Miramichi River. Among the group were two females and one male. Nathan Wilbur/ASF

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