Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Franklin North Carolina

smallmouth bass fishing in Franklin North Carolina

Fishing for smallmouth bass in Franklin North Carolina

This article will completely cover smallmouth bass fishing in Franklin North Carolina. Smallmouth bass are a very popular species in the western part of the state, trailing only trout as the top targeted species. The medium sized cool rivers with good flow and cover are the perfect habitat for smallmouth bass. In Franklin North Carolina, the top water by far is the Little Tennessee River.

fishing Little Tennessee River

The Little Tennessee River starts as a small stream In north Georgia and flows north until it empties into the Tennessee River. The portion of the river in and near Franklin offers anglers excellent smallmouth bass fishing opportunities. The best fishing is between the dam that crates Lake Emory and Fontana Lake. There is very good access along most of the river.

Read my comprehensive article on fishing in Franklin North Carolina

Smallmouth bass fishing in Franklin North Carolina

The first public spot to access the Little Tennessee River is at Prentiss Bridge. This stretch is really canoe and kayak water. The stream is narrow and swift and has small smallmouth and rock bass. It flows through private land. The next access is at Tasse Shelter on the Greenway. The Little Tennessee Greenway parallels the river, offering good access all along. There is a very nice surfaced ramp for larger boats in town.

Map showing access to Little Tennessee River

fishing for smallmouth bass

Most anglers fishing for smallmouth bass in Franklin North Carolina do so from the dam downstream for 20 miles or so. This is a perfect smallmouth stream. It can be floated (particularly from the dam to the Tellico Creek Bridge. Wading becomes a great option from Tellico Bridge to Fontana Lake. Needmore Road runs alongside with many spots to pull off and get out and wade.

Smallmouth bass fishing tackle

Fishing for smallmouth bass is really pretty uncomplicated. for the most part, light spinning tackle is perfect. The lures and baits used are not heavy and the fish are mostly of modest size. I like a 6 1/2 foot light rod with a fast action paired with a 1000 series reel and spooled with 6 pound line. I usually use monofilament, but braided line is fine for those who prefer it. Light baitcasting outfits can be used.

Smallmouth bass are definitely a favorite among anglers fly fishing as well. I like a pretty light outfit, usually using a 4wt. However, some anglers go as heavy as a 7wt, which does cast bulky flies more easily. Floating lines are usually used, along with a 9′ tapered leader. I normally use a 5X leader. Fly selection is pretty basic. A handful of #6 white poppers, #4 to #8 black wooly buggers, and #4 chartreuse over white Clouser minnow flies is all an angler needs to catch fish.

Best lures for smallmouth bass fishing

Anglers do not need a large selection of lures in order to be successful smallmouth bass fishing in Franklin North Carolina. If I had to pick one lure to use for smallmouth bass, it would be a jerkbait. I like the #8 Rapala Husky Jerk and X-Rap lures. Best colors are olive and white. The lure is cast out and retrieved back in using a sharp jerk (thus the name) followed by a pause. Jerkbaits cover a lot of water, geberate good strikes, and do not hang up a lot.

Franklin NC smallmouth bass

Topwater lures are great fun and are productive smallmouth lures as well. I prefer the Heddon Tiny Torpedo, but there are plenty of other good baits as well. The Whopper Plopper would be my second choice. It is important when using a topwater bait to wait until the weight of the fish is felt before striking. I really don’t think color matters that much,

Small spinnerbaits are also effective, easy to use, and relatively snag free. My personal favorite is the 1/4 ounce Beetle spin in black. The best retrieve is slow and steady. It catches a ton of fish and is economical and easy to use. There are many other good spinnerbaits on the market. The Strike King Mini spinnerbait would be my second choice.

Soft plastic baits on a jig head are perfect smallmouth baits. Tubes are very popular and effective. Of late, fishing a stick worm on a ned rig has become popular. I like the simple 2″ to 3″ chartreuse Mister Twister on a 1/8 ounce jig head. The best presentation is to bounce it along the bottom, Anglers will certainly hang up, however these baits are fairly inexpensive.

Fishing for smallmouth bass using live bait

Most anglers prefer to use lures or flies when chasing smallmouth bass. They allow anglers to cover more water and are more convenient. However, live bait certainly produces fish and some anglers prefer using it. The top live baits are worms and nightcrawlers, minnows, and crayfish. Unfortunately, the only live bait readily available for purchase is nightcrawlers and worms. They are available at the Walmart as well as a couple convenience stores and other stores.

fishing little Tennessee River

Anglers wishing to fish with crayfish or minnows must catch their own. Check local regulations before doing so. A metal minnow trap will catch both minnows and crayfish. Bacon is a good bait for crayfish, as is a can of cat food. Bread will bring in minnows.

I like to use a #4 short shank bait holder hook when fishing with nightcrawlers. I hook a whole crawler in the head, allowing it to wiggle freely. I usually free line the bait, but will add a split shot if need. At times, a float will be used to keep the bait up off the bottom. Minnows are hooked through the lips, crayfish through the tail.

Floating and wading in Franklin North Carolina

Anglers fishing the river can choose to wade of float the stream. Those fishing in the lake portion will do best with a small boat; Jon boats are perfect. Floating is more complicated as it involves a boat (raft, canoe, or kayak) along with 2 vehicles. Shuttle services can be arranged at Smoky Mountain Fish Camp. They also have several private spots along the river that their customers can use. The main advantage of floating is the ability to caver a lot of water and to fish spots that shoreline anglers can not access.

Little tennessee river fishing

Wading is a much simpler way to fish. In most cases, waders are not even needed as the best fishing for smallmouth bass is in the summer when it is warm and the water is refreshing. By far the best area is the wider, shallow portion along Needmore Road. There are plenty of spots to pull over and get in the water. I like to use a little waist pack or fanny pack to keep pliers and a bit of tackle. The best spot are the slower, deeper pools between the riffles. Eddies behind big rocks are good as well.

More smallmouth spots near Franklin

While the Little Tennessee River gets most of the attention from smallmouth bass anglers, there are other lakes a rivers within an hour that produce fish. These are often larger as well. The Little Tennessee River is more about numbers and action.

Lake Nantahala

Lake Nantahala produces some big smallmouth bass. It lies 45 minutes or so west of Franklin. It is very remote and the road to it is winding and a bit difficult, especially when towing a boat. It is deep and clear. The best approach is fishing points with jerkbaits and crankbaits. Once fish are located, a switch to a slower soft plastic lure works well.

Lake Glenville

Lake Glenville sits 40 minutes east of Franklin. It is a pristine mountain lake. In fact, at 3500 feet it is the highest lake east of the Mississippi River. It is deep and clear. It does get a lot of recreational traffic in summer. Fall and spring are best times to fish. The dam, points, and docks are the top spots.

Lower Tuckasegee River

The lower Tuckasegee River produces some larger smallmouth bass. However, anglers do have to work for them. The river just does not produce numbers. This section needs to be floated, it is dangerous wading.

In conclusion, this article on smallmouth bass fishing in Franklin North Carolina will help anglers catch more fish!

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