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Old AuSable Fly Shop


Currently in Grayling, MI:


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River Flows:

Mio Dam
917 ft³/s
Smith Bridge
321 ft³/s
Parmalee Bridge
1050 ft³/s

August 15 : Au Sable and Manistee River Report

A little bit of cool weather moved in this week as a precursor to Fall and gave us a “heads up” of things to come. If you’re like me, and I know you are, fishing and playing way too much all season long, you’ve got a hoard of stuff to do. It’s become crunch time already and you don’t even know where the Summer has gone. Neglected Summer chores have piled up and those eves need painting, the deck needs a new board, gotta clean that garage, and on and on . . .

What are you gonna do? The chores are mountainous.

Well, I took a clue from the Fall-like weather, shirked the chores, scouted bird cover, and ran the setters.  After all, unless you’re falling through the deck, that board is okay. And, hey, garages are like a junk drawer catch all on steroids. That job is ongoing - a thing to achieve someday. For me, it’s a lifetime goal.  We live in Northern Michigan and there’s important stuff to do. It’s about priorities really.

It’s time to get the dogs in shape and my inventory of grouse covers is super positive. The birds seem to have nested well and all the rain we’ve had this year has berries on all sorts of bushes. Of course, raspberries and blue berries are doing well, but even the choke cherries have lots of fruit. I’ve only seen that a few time in my bird hunting life. I think it’s going to be a good bird season.

And there’s more. If you want a whitetail doe permit you’ve got to apply ASAP. The deadline is now.

And There's Still Fishing

There’s tons of fishing to get in as well. Wakeley Lake closes August 31st. If you’ve never fished this catch and release warm water lake, you’ve missed out. It is one of the great treasures of Crawford County and of Northern Michigan. The lake is a jewel. It’s a walk-in, motor-less, artificial lure only lake and a must do every fishing season. If you can string a couple of days together, hike in with a gear filled canoe and spend the night out there. The camping area is ultra-quiet and the lake is nothing short of mystical at night. You’ll feel like you’ve been dropped off be a float plane.


And then there’s all this Au Sable and Manistee River stuff to do. Tricos and BWO’s are still doing their thing in the mornings, but like always, you have to pay attention to the nighttime lows to gauge the morning rise. If it’s really cold, sleep in and get out there by mid-morning. If the nighttime temperatures are near 60, then you need to be out there to catch the rise and a bunch of brook trout around 8 or 9 AM.


Pay extra attention to ALL of the rising trout and try to make a game plan to effectively angle to everything. Always look for the better trout. Watch the log jams carefully. A small bubble might just be a hint of a bigger trout. That teener brown trout pic is one Jamie’s client caught rising to the small morning flies. That fish is as good a fish as I’ve ever caught on the trico . . . so it happens and just might for you.

The best of what we have happening is the rubber-legged attractor and grasshopper bite. It’s just fun.  There are actually a lot of hoppers this year and that along with the cold water has made for good, overall, angling. The best thing about this type of fishing is the active aspect of it. You should think of terrestrials as living insects struggling on the river’s surface and you should fish them as such. Poke that fly wherever you think it needs to be, let it ride a bit, and then give it a twitch. Make those legs kick.  Make it live. It makes all the difference.

pic2I’d also recommend that you push that fly as far away from you as possible when fishing the middle of the river. Fish the center stream. Control your fly over the cover up close and don’t neglect the wood, but do not neglect the mid-river. Okay, that’s three times in three sentences, so please regard it as a powerful hint. It’s tough for a wading angler to keep the fly far enough downstream for this sort of fishing to be effective, but the guides have had some very good success hanging a fly far below the riverboat.

Just look at that huge brown John caught in Donny’s boat.

pic3I guess it’s the higher and cooler than average rivers, but whatever the reason, some nice trout are sliding to the mid-currents and hanging in feeding lies.  Wading fishermen kick sand and debris downstream so keeping your fly in front of that mess is essential. Push your skills and you may just be rewarded.

The best moon phase of the year for night fishing is coming right up. August 25th is the New Moon and some great trout will be caught. If you haven’t considered a guided fly fishing trip yet this year, now is the time. The New Moon in August promises great possibilities.

One of the reasons that we all love fishing is that we all love being outdoors. Just by being out there we get to witness all sorts of neat little wonders of the great outdoors. And sometimes you get to see something bigger and worthy of a Marty Stouffer or Wild Kingdom episode.  That’s what one of our friends, Greg, saw the other day. He came in and asked if I wanted the long story or the short story and I took both.  The long story is much better but it’s his.  The short story is that he saw a mink attack and kill a heron on the Manistee. And he got a photo. Maybe it’s just me, but this picture is pretty cool. I didn’t even know this happened. Thanks for the photo, Greg.

pic4That’s about it for now. Remember that the Manistee River Clean-up is scheduled for September 20th this year at the shop. The more the merrier!

And don’t forget about the “Gear Up” weekends in August. You’ve got old stuff you’re not using and we want it. Bring in those old rods and reels and trade them for something new that you’ll use. Bring those leaky, old waders and we’ll trade them toward a new pair that promises to keep you good and dry.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at our shop on the river,


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