Fishing Lake Emory Franklin NC

Fishing Lake Emory Franklin North Carolina

In this article I will cover fishing Lake Emory in Franklin, North Carolina. It was vreated by building a dam on the Little Tennessee River at the north end of town. It produces both largemouth and smallmouth bass in decent numbers. Fishing for sunfish can be very good in the summertime. Even the occasional trout will be caught in the lake.

Lake Emory is not very wide. The entire lake is a “no wake” zone. This makes it ideal for canoes, kayaks, and small fishing boats. Canoes and kayaks can be launched at the Tassee shelter, at the main boat ramp, and at the dam. There is a nice surfaced ramp on the river right in the downtown area. Anglers without a boat can access the lake at many points via the Franklin Greenway.

Fishing Lake Emory

Lake Emory is a very easy lake to fish. This does not mean the fishing is always easy or productive. However, almost all of the cover is along the shoreline. The primary technique is simply casting lures, baits, and flies near shoreline cover. The fishing is nearly all visible, negating the need to fancy electronics. Much of the middle of the lake is silt with little structure.

Conditions are very important when it comes to fishing Lake Emory, as it is in most angling situations. The main issue with the Little Tennessee River and Lake Emory is high, dirty water. Rain, which the area gets a lot of, will quickly muddy up the water and raise the level and current speed. Fishing is tough during this time and it is best to try smaller streams for trout or other species at this time.

I consider Lake Emory to be from the dam up to the Tassee shelter, which is just a bit upstream from where the Cullasaja River joins the Little Tennessee River. At this point, the lake is really more like a river with rocks and a decent current.

Lake Emory fishing techniques

As mentioned earlier, fishing in Lake Emory is not complicated. I like to cast flies and lures, but bait is certainly effective, particularly on panfish. The primary technique is to simply cast the offering as close to the shoreline cover as possible. Anglers should keep moving until fish are located, then that area should be covered thoroughly.

fishing with lures

Lures allow anglers a couple of advantages, the primary one being the ability to cover a lot of water more quickly. My favorite lures are topwater plugs, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, and soft plastic baits.

Topwater plugs are excellent choices for bass, both largemouth bass and smallmouth. I like the Rebel Pop R and Rapala Skitterprop. Both are proven baits. They are best worked slowly and as close to cover as possible. Bass will often hit the bait as it sits motionless; don’t be in a big hurry!

I really enjoy fishing with jerkbaits. I like the fast pace and strikes that they produce. My favorite bait is an olive Rapala X-Rap Extreme action slashbait. The Husky Jerk is good as well, and is a bit cheaper. The lure is cast out and the rod tip is jerked sharply. The angler then points the rod at the lure, putting slack in the line. This causes the bait to suspend there motionless, seemingly helpless. They will catch bass, trout, and even larger yellow perch.

Soft plastic lures are effective lures on just about every species. For panfish, I like a tiny 1″ or 2″ curly tail grub on a 1/8 ounce jig head. This lure catches all sizes and species of fish. Anglers can go larger when targeting bass. A 6″ plastic worm hooked Texas style or wacky rigged is the top bass lure.

Spinnerbaits are effective lures that are really easy to use. I love casting a 1/16 ounce black Beetle spin spinnerbait for panfish. I go larger, up to 1/4 ounce, for bass and other species. Larger spinnerbaits are good for bass. I like chartreuse skirts with a gold blade.

fishing Lake Emory with live bait

Live bait works very well in Lake Emory, especially when chasing panfish. The number one bait by far is worms . Wigglers and nightcrawlers can be purchased at Walmart and several convenience stores in the Franklin area. Live minnows work, but are not available for purchase, anglers will have to catch their own.

I like to use a #8 short shank live bait hook when fishing with worms for panfish. I will often use nothing but the hook. This allows the bait to flutter through the water column very naturally. I may add a small split shot. Of course, anglers can add a float 3 feet or so above the hook. This adds casting weight, suspends the bait, and gives a visual indication of a strike.

Fly fishing in Lake Emory

I really enjoy fly fishing on Lake Emory. I like to cast poppers and deer hair bugs for bass on an 8wt outfit with a floating line. I keep the leader short, around 7 1/2 feet with a 12 pound tippet. I also really anjoy catching panfish on fly. The same rod used for trout works fine, I like a 4wt with a floating line and 9′ 5x tippet. #10 poppers and foam spiders are great. When they won’t hit on top, I like a #10 black wooly bugger.

Species caught in Lake Emory

Lake Emory has a variety of species than anglers can catch. Here is a list along with a little information on each species.

Smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass are available in decent numbers in Lake Emory. Jerkbaits are very effective, as are curly tail grubs. Some larger fish can be found for persistent anglers.

Largemouth bass

Lake Emory has to good sized largemouth bass, they are just not easy to catch, like big bass everywhere. A large plastic worm pitched into cover will produce nice fish. Topwater lures are fun as well.


There is quite a nice variety of panfish in Lake Emory. Redbreast sunfish are the most plentiful. Bluegill, yellow perch, crappie, rock bass, and redear sunfish are also available.


Though not known for it, there are trout in Lake Emory. Most come down from Cartoogechaye Creek and are caught by accident when targeting other species.


Channel catfish are found in the lake, though not in great numbers. Bottom fishing near the dam with nightcrawlers works best.


There are some big carp in the lake. The best bet is to sight fish the flats when the water is high. Worms and corn will produce.

In conclusion, this article on fishing Lake Emory in Franklin North Carolina will help anglers be more successful on this body of water.

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