French Broad River
French Broad River Fishing Report
TVA is still pushing a ton of water through the French Broad River below Douglas Dam making it unfishable at present. The good news is that the generation schedule has been throttled back significantly and the lake level is only a foot or so above TVA's expected elevation range. This bodes well for float-able/fish-able flows by the weekend or early next week. At present, the small mouth are still a little confused with respects to what they're supposed to be doing with all the water and cold weather we've been having here in East Tennessee this spring. The free stone rivers associated with the French Broad drainage are holding significant numbers of trophy small mouth in a variety of stages from pre-spawn to spawning to post-spawn. Expect them all to move into a post-spawn mode in then next two weeks and drop back down into the main river. When that happens, hold on.
If smallmouth fishing is your game, then look no further than The French Broad River and its tributaries. This 213 mile river meanders out of North Carolina into Tennessee, skirting through the region of The Cherokee National Forest before impounding into Douglas Lake. This river was a huge factor in the settling of lands west of the mountains of western North Carolina. During the frontier days a steady flotilla of flatboats came down stream as people began to settle what was then the wild west of Tennessee.
Wading opportunities are somewhat limited on the French Broad as it leaves TVA's Douglas Dam due to private ownership and shorelines that can be somewhat silty in nature. However, if you have a watercraft you are in for a real treat. This river moves slow and lazy and the scenery is beautiful. A canoe is the ideal transport for the angler who is in search of a good outing.
The best plan of attack for the beautiful smallies on the French Broad is a six or seven weight rod with sinking line and a box full of streamers that could pass for crawdads. Find a small feeder creek, tie on a wooly bugger or similar crawdadish fly and cast just beyond the point where the feeder enters the river, letting it drift back. And hang on.
As you head further downstream, the river deepens and enters an industrial area on the fringes of Knox county. If you are fishing that low on the river, you would be well advised to be aware of large commercial watercraft that frequently are bringing goods and material up to the park. Beyond that lies the confluence of the Holston and French Broad. The point where these two rivers meet is a swirl of conflicting currents and a popular gathering spot for feeding fish. Shortly after sorting the pecking order, these currents settle down and become the mouth of the Tennessee River system as it grows and pushes through Knoxville and beyond.
Archived French Broad River Fishing Reports:
Douglas dam has the taps off for the next couple of days. Provided that the Little Pigeon has flushed itself from the recent rains, the fishing should be off the charts with the cool nights and warm water. The big fish are schooling up and looking for a feed. With the water low, however, your going to need a long leader and a stealthy approach. Try downsizing your flies and tippet.
I managed twenty or so nice small mouth bass early Sunday morning on the lower French Broad just above town. Every fish I caught regurgitated their lunch (no stomach pumps needed) and showed that the fish are gorging themselves on a healthy supply of bait fish. Bait balls are visible in the shallows and the bass are taking advantage. Fly anglers will find themselves in advantage when compared to their gear brethren if they choose to throw small (size 4 to 6) clouser minnows and work them slow in the shallows and behind structure. By in large the generations schedules look favorable but you will definitely want to try and find the low flow during the early or late part of the day in order to catch the fish in their best moods.
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