The French Broad River: North Carolina's premier smallmouth bass fishery
The vast majority of our trips are on the main French Broad River, considered by many to be North Carolina's premier smallmouth bass fishery. The river flows 213 miles from Rosman, North Carolina, to its confluence with the Holston River at Knoxville, Tennessee. That point is the beginning of the Tennessee River. 117 of these miles are in North Carolina. Quality fishing, for smallmouth as well as other species, can be had all along the way. "The best spot" is often a matter of personal preference for the style and taste of the angler. For us, the sections in Buncombe and Madison Counties, North Carolina, are the perfect mix of quality fishing and pleasant river float. These areas have the great structure in the riverbed that smallmouth love, plus some fun small rapids as a bonus to the float.
Here are some interesting general facts about the river:
- The French Broad River watershed provides a drinking water source to over 1 million people, serving 25 municipalities.
- The French Broad River was named by white settlers centuries ago because it flowed into land claimed by France at that time.
- It is one of a few rivers in the world that flows north.
- By continuing to the Tennessee River and then the Mississippi River, it is possible to float from Asheville to New Orleans.
- It is speculated that the French Broad River watershed is home to the largest Great Blue Heron population in the world.
- The French Broad River watershed is home to the endangered Bog Turtle.
Here are some smallmouth bass fishing facts about the river:
- North Carolina's state record is 10 lbs 2 oz. The fish was caught in 1951 in Hiawassee Lake, and it is the oldest record catch for a warm water fish on the state logs.
- North Carolina Angler Recognition Program standards are 3 lbs or 19 inches for smallmouth bass.
- On average, it takes a smallmouth bass 5 to 6 years to reach 12 inches in size in North Carolina streams.
- On average, it takes a smallmouth bass 8 to 10 years to reach 2 pounds in size in North Carolina streams.
- Streams in the southern Appalachians are naturally low in nutrients. As a result, streams with nutrient inputs from agricultural runoff, wastewater treatment plants, etc. are often better at growing big fish than similar pristine streams.