Fish at Murray Branch Picnic Area on French Broad River

The French Broad River, the third oldest river in the world (behind the Nile and the New River) runs the entire length of Madison County from the Buncombe County line to the Tennessee border. In the 1970s, the NC Wildlife Commission put smallmouth bass and some fingerling muskies into the French Broad River. These fish flourished and at one time, you could easily catch 30 smallmouth bass of the 5-6 pound size in one day if you fished in early fall. The other fish in abundance is the catfish. You can wade in at many points throughout the county.Excellent shoals and smallmouth bass love this. The area from Murray Branch to Paint Rock is easy to access. Murray Branch Picnic area is an easily accessible, handicapped accessible area to fish the French Broad River.

Fish to catch:

  • Smallmouth bass
  • Catfish ( Channel catfish up to 5 pounds; Blue catfish up to 5 to 10 pounds; Yellow & Mud Catfish up to 50 pounds)
  • Muskie (muskellunge)—hard to catch

Tip: White bass—some (about 3 pounds in size) are migrating out of Douglas Lake in Tennessee and you can catch them from the Tennessee line to Redmond Dam. They are good fighters but not good food fish. Some Walleye bass are beginning to migrate from Douglas Lake, too.

Directions: From Hot Springs, take NC Highway 25/70 south and east over the French Broad River. Turn left on River Road and go 4.2 miles to the US Forest Service’s Murray Branch Recreation Area. This is handicapped accessible.

Disclaimer: Refer to the North Carolina Regulations Digest for the most up-to-date information.