The Gaspereau Run: A New Brunswick Tradition

This curated experience is written by Joni Burtt. Joni lives in Central Blissville, New Brunswick, with her husband, two children, and black lab. She is a lifestyle and documentary photographer in southern New Brunswick and has a passion for local history and landmarks.

My Story

Several years ago, my husband suggested that we take our children to the river that winds through Fredericton Junction to see the spring migratory spawning of the gaspereau, a herring-like fish that lives in the Atlantic Ocean but spawns in freshwater. We found out what we needed to know in advance – a bag limit of twenty fish, a fishing license required for my children who are older than sixteen, and a dip net restriction between Friday at noon and Sunday at 8:00am. Then we pulled on our rubber boots and headed to what is known around here as Gaspereau Falls. I expected it to be much like our other fishing excursions: fun, but ordinary.

If you’ve never witnessed this spectacular display of Maritime tenacity, you are truly missing out. For a week or two every May (depending on water temperatures and levels, it’s usually in the early part of the month), hundreds of thousands of gaspereau make their way inland, swimming against the current, leaping through rapids, teeming in shallow pools. In one small spot, my husband counted one hundred fish passed by in sixty seconds. It was breathtaking to watch.

Family-Friendly Experience

My children were fascinated by these thousands of silver fish wriggling and leaping and discovered very quickly that they can be hand-caught and released with ease. From a parenting perspective, I loved that they were able to witness this event but also participate in local folklore, in this time-honoured tradition that dates back to the Maliseet settlements along the South Oromocto River. They can chat with the local fellows who set up their chairs and catch and clean their fish right on the shores. They are excited to pair our catch with fresh-picked fiddleheads for a true Maritime supper.

Where to go?

The best area to view the gaspereau run happens to be extremely interesting and accessible. Visitors can park at the end of Currie Lane in Fredericton Junction, the site of the Currie House, the local historical society. Behind the Victorian house and barn is a trail system filled with wonderful carvings by local artist Robin Hanson, as well as information-stopping points to read more about local folklore and Maritime history. Additionally, there is a natural playground at the mouth of the trails, and a self-serve log-rolling challenge set up along the path.

The easiest way to get to the falls area is to approach the river from the trailhead at the left of the barn and access the riverbank to the left of the trail before crossing a bridge and pond. Then you can travel to the right along the riverbank to the rapids. Because of the dip-net restriction previously mentioned, the best time to view the gaspereau run is on a Sunday afternoon or Monday since commercial nets downstream must be lifted during the weekend.

My children are already eagerly anticipating many trips to the river this spring to watch the gaspereau run - I highly recommend an afternoon spent enjoying this phenomenon on the banks of the river, learning and sharing in new experiences.

This is one of many outdoor fishing opportunities in the Fredericton Capital Region that will leave you with long-lasting memories. With so many outdoor activities available in the Fredericton Capital Region, you're sure to find the perfect way to make a splash during your visit! For more ideas on how to make waves during your visit, see our activities page.