North Carolina Smallmouth Bass

NC Matt JonesWhat? Smallmouth bass in the Carolinas?

Heck yea! Everyone knows about the smallmouth bass fishing in Tennessee, right next door, so it makes sense that there are some great smallie fishing opportunities in North Carolina.

On average, it takes 5 to 6 years for smallies to reach 12 inches in North Carolina. This can vary depending on the location and elevation. It is mostly related to temperature as in some areas where the water temperatures are higher, longer, the feeding and growing season is longer.

The most popular smallmouth bass fisheries are the New River, French Broad and The Little Tennessee.

The New River is one of the most well known North Carolina rivers for smallmouth bass. It has a North and a South Fork.

The South Fork is the more popular. Its most fish-able area starts in the New River State Park near Jefferson and then flows northward for more than 50 miles. There are several road right-of-way access to the water along this stretch.

The New owes much of it productivity to its low drop and mild rapids. Conditions are ideal during early summer but good year round. Shoals empty into long pools and these pools are where the best action for smallmouth. Also fish the current where they may be good drop off and similar structure. Float trips are fabulous fishing and beautiful as well. Float trips will also offer many good stop and wade areas near some very good pools.  Source

The French Broad River flows east to west starting in Western North Carolina and flowing into Tennessee.

It is a larger water than the New and often will yield bigger smallmouth. The French Broad is large and often deep. It contains many boulders and has numerous gravel bars and sand bars. This habitat is why the French Broad contains so many smallmouth. Two pound fish are not totally uncommon and 3 to 5 pound fish are caught. For these bigger fish try crawfish imitations and minnow imitations (crank baits) in the slacker or deeper pools. This is very productive.  Source

Josh Taylor French Broad Beauty


In Northwest North Carolina:

Here’s a quick synopsis (without providing to much detail in case one of these is your favorite ).  The Yadkin has the potential for big smallmouth anywhere below W. Kerr Scott Reservoir that has habitat (think rocks!), but I personally prefer the stretch between the Mitchell River and the HWY 67 bridge in Donnaha.  I know that’s a long stretch, about 40 miles, but I guess my point is there’s plenty of room to spread out.  In addition to the Yadkin, the area around Wilkes and Surry County contain numerous fun smallmouth destinations.  Practically all of the sizeable tributaries of the Yadkin hold smallmouth.  The Elk, Reddies, Roaring, Mulberry, Mitchell, and Fisher all offer some great fishing opportunities.  They all have numbers, but a few have some nice surprises for the angler willing to give it a trip or two.  Maybe just as important, these rivers along with the New (Ashe and Alleghany County), Watauga (Watauga County) and Dan River (Stokes County) have some gorgeous areas.  The numerous tall, hemlock bluffs on the Dan River are worth a float trip even if the fish aren’t biting!  Source

North Carolina is an often overlooked resource for smallmouth fishing in the east.

If you have experience fishing for smallies in NC, please feel free to leave your comments in the section below. We love to hear from our readers and appreciate your input.

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