As a fly-fishing instructor and Registered Maine Guide, I have it pretty good at home. Living in southern Maine, I used to think I had the best river-bass fishing in the world. In the spring, it's not hard to hook over 100 pounds of smallmouth bass in a day. With a fly rod. Once a year, I would drive to the Penobscot River drainage above Bangor and spend three days catching lots of big bass.
I began reading about great the fishing in the St. John River about ten years ago. In 2015, eager to see if what I’d read about the St. John was true, I finally crossed the border and began my fishing just above Hartland, then above Florenceville/Bristol, then above Bath, and finally all the way up to Grand Falls. What I found dazzled me.
One day in June 2016, I stopped counting at 82 smallmouth, all on flies. They ate streamers, small jigs, and large poppers: They ate everything. They ate out in the current, they ate in the countless small coves along the shore. My arm started hurting so I had to stop hooking them. By the end of the day, I was content to just watch them eat the fly without hooking them. Making another trip in late June, I had an afternoon when I hooked 54 large bass in 3 ½ hours. Incredible!
My favorite fishing is in June because the river is open to spin angling. (It becomes fly-fishing-only on July 1, and fishing near the tributaries is closed to protect any Atlantic salmon that may be in the river.). In 2018, I brought friends from Kentucky and Montana to join me for three days. We stayed at the delightful Shamrock Inn in Bristol which, in my limited experience, is the epicenter of St. John River smallmouth fishing. We were shuttled by the great people who run Riverview Outfitters out of Florenceville. We’d float a few miles of the river each day in our float tubes, and Riverview’s Brent McKay would drive us back up to our cars. If I lacked float tubes, I’d rent a kayak from Brent and float that way. If I had limited knowledge of the river, I’d ask Brent to arrange a guide for me.
There are two impoundments on the river that host bass tournaments. For someone with a power boat, those are the places to fish. There’s a boat ramp above the Beechwood dam, from which you’d fish mostly up-lake, and one in Hartland under the great covered bridge, from which you’d fish down-lake. If you have a canoe, kayak or float tube, I’d suggest any of the water from Beechwood Dam down to Hartland. The river nearer Grand Falls is incredibly beautiful, but I catch more fish from Bath to Hartland.
In addition to smallmouth, there is a small population of very large rainbows in the river. I’ve hooked only a few—I don’t target them when smallie fishing—but they’ve all been Big. If you do hook one, please put it back in the river for others to enjoy. Their rarity makes them special. You also could hook a musky. My friends from Montana hooked two in three days while fishing with little crankbaits for smallmouth.
I always stay at the Shamrock Inn in Bristol when I go. It’s a delightful but peaceful place with a homey feel. Everything is immaculate and lovely: the grounds, the Inn, the rooms. And the staff is exceptional. They welcome you as if you were their own houseguest. The kitchen is great: I cook a myself a nice breakfast each day with the fine fixings that are always in the fridge. And I just stroll down the drive to dine in town in the evening.
You’ll never forget a trip to this region. The fishing is Awesome, the river valley is beautiful, the accommodation is perfect, and the people who live there are as warm and inviting as you’ll find anywhere.
It was an extremely stressful time relocating to Florenceville for work a mere few days after writing my last exams. Had to juggle multiple things at once, and was faced with new costs & tasks I hadn't ever had to deal with in my life so far.
Sonya from Shamrock Suites went above and beyond in doing her best to accommodate me, gave me (super) early check-in, helped me apartment-hunt, moved my belongings for me ( remember, I was literally moving my life from one place to another) to save me time and help me meet some deadlines, was flexible with the time stayed and and and. I could go on.
The place is nice, but the service (Sonya), is excellent. Definitely the place to stay if you're in the Carleton County area.
This Carleton County Heritage home has been meticulously rejuvenated and restored to offer luxurious down-home comfort with all of the amenities to professionals, travelers and visitors to the area.
This home has been known locally for generations as the Marich House. The Marich family, who were successful merchants in the dry goods business, lived in this generous house with its expansive view of the Saint John River Valley between 1895 and 2007.
The Marich Family operated their store in bustling Bristol in the large brick building on the Main Street, Route 105. After retirement Mary Findlay, proprietor, opened Marich II on the ground floor of this house and continued serving customers here for a number of years. The house passed from the Marich family in 2007 and was purchased by proprietor Pamela Brennan and has undergone a series of renovations, upgrade and expansions to the original business of Shamrock Suites.
Joseph Phillips, a first cousin to Winifred, originally built this house in 1895 for Winnie and his wife May Phillips. Built on 54 acres overlooking the St. John River the house featured a large veranda on the front that was screened in with windows for viewing at the river and the extensive activity along the river road.
In the mid-twentieth century this home had the distinction of housing four generations at one time. Three of the four generations were merchants: Winifred (Alfred Windsor) Phillips (1865-1940) & (Annie) May (Noble) Philips (1869-1961), Edgar Robert Marich (1896-1946) & Mona Emeline Phillips (1895-1981), Mary Phillips Marich (1924-2013) Sidney Edwin Findlay (1920-1976) and their offspring, Cynthia J (1948), George E. (1950) and Nathaniel (1955).
This house was built in a style or floor plan sometimes called foursquare, based on its shape and the floor plan which is balanced and features four large rooms upstairs and down. The inviting central doorway leads to a foyer and elegant central staircase. Many of the original woodwork and fine features of this century home have been replaced throughout numerous restorations over the past 125 years but maintains the classical elegance and stature that it began with.
Pamela Brennan purchased the home in 2007 and renovated it to house a five bedroom bed and breakfast with living quarters, lobby and central entrances on the main floor. The house underwent renovations again in 2018 to incorporate the first floor into guest suites and a small apartment. The name Shamrock derives from the Brennan family’s Irish roots and coincidentally alludes to the four square style of the home.
In 2018 Shamrock Suites grew again to become Shamrock Train Inn & Suites with the addition of two suites in rail cars located at Shogomoc Railway Site in the centre of the town. The Bristol Shogomoc Railway Site and the Marich House/Shamrock Suites were both declared historic heritage properties in 2008 by Parks Canada and the Local Historic Places Program. The Shogomoc Railway Site includes the restored 1914 Florenceville Canadian Pacific Railway Station, approximately 610 meters of track and three CPR passenger train cars. Next door is the Welcome Centre, which offers a gift shop filled with local products, souvenirs, artisan crafts and artwork throughout the summer months.
Shamrock Suites opened its doors the same year as the Shogomoc Railway Site in Riverside Park, and Fresh Fine Dining so it is only fitting that we join forces and combine services to host visitors and provide that something extra for your vacation get-away, wedding parties or an adventure with friends or family. The Town of Florenceville-Bristol has worked diligently to promote its services and facilities and provide a glimpse into the bygone era of railways. This collaboration with the Town allows us to invite visitors to stay in one of these train cars completely fulfilling their romantic dreams of railways and a sense of adventure.