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Old AuSable Fly Shop


Currently in Grayling, MI:


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River Flows:

Mio Dam
1220 ft³/s
Smith Bridge
286 ft³/s
Parmalee Bridge
1080 ft³/s

July 24 : Au Sable and Manistee River Report

Saturday July 26th is the Au Sable River Canoe Marathon. On that Saturday, thousands of fans and canoe enthusiasts will gather around the gentle waters of the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers with great anticipation and excitement for the 67th annual marathon.

They’ll rent and/or bring boats to enjoy the rivers while waiting for the main event at nine o’clock Saturday night. The traffic on the river will be huge . . . you’ll see virtually every kind of craft that floats.

For the solitude seeking, simple trout fisherman, this prospect is terrifying. But, believe it or not, it doesn’t need to be.

"Fish Around the Traffic"

There’s something cool that happens on our Rivers—they seem to take care of anglers. While the early season hatches favor afternoon and evening anglers, July and August fishing tends to favor the early bird, the evening rise aficionado, the warm-water lake angler, and the after dark trout ninja.

RR7.244 (404x420)In essence, you can fish around the boat traffic. It’s a function of being aware of the conditions and, right now, part of the conditions includes the hatches and the human condition.

When it comes to the hatches, it’s sort of like nature knows what we need as trout fishermen in the canoe season time of year. We’re on early morning Trico and Blue-Winged Olive hatches nearly system wide. Those little flies bring up scores of little rising brook, brown, and rainbow trout in the lifting morning light.

The time varies with the temperatures, but generally you can find plentiful, selectively feeding trout around 7:30 a.m. and the rise can last for a few hours when it’s good. Usually, that means the best fishing ends right about when the canoes begin to show up.

Once the boats show, pull out and head to your favorite blue gill lake, blueberry patch, small creek, or back to the family vacation.
I spent the afternoon of my day off this week picking blueberries with my good boy Jack. The good news is that there are billions of berries here in Crawford County this year. The bad news is that Jack is not a guy that likes to bring blue berries back for a pie. It’s not that he doesn’t like pie, exactly.

JacksPickingBBerriesIt’s just that he doesn’t, as a two year old, appreciate the finer points of patience with the harvest. To him, blueberries don’t mean pie, they mean manna from heaven that shouldn’t be wasted on another day. I thought, for a bit, that his 22 month old need to pick things up and put them in containers might make for a helpful berry pie gatherer. I was wrong. At one point (he’s just getting too smart) he realized there were more berries in the bucket than could be had pulling them one at a time from the bush. That little guy must have ate handfuls. It made for a great day and for the promise of a bad diaper.

So, like the smarter and smarter Dad I’m becoming, I left a well satisfied family to go fishing.

After that sort of deal, its head back out for the evening rise of Olive spinner, Cahills, ISO’s, and Yellow Stoneflies. And, stay late for your chance at big trout on mice patterns after dark. Be sure to take a Hex or two with you—they just keep showing up here and there.

RR7.241 (640x595)The fact is that big fish rarely feed in the middle of the day here during the height of Summer. They are highly predated and fear activity. Maybe it’s not so much that fishermen don’t like crowds, maybe we’re just that tuned into what the fish want and so we seek what the fish want. Probably the right way to play the game.

Maybe we seek solitude because our quarry does. Maybe we have much in common with trout. Maybe they shape us much more than we shape them. I hope so.

I suppose our commonalities are why we’re here in the first place. It’s certain that we care more for them more than they care for us.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you on the river . . . at least the one in front of the shop,


Audio Report

OrsonWellsListen to this week's audio report here, or by clicking the picture of Orson.


  • Jeff Hibbard

    Andy, you are the best! Thanks for the river reports. I especially enjoy the ones that are more about reflection and love for the rivers than techniques and bugs (although I love those too). Also, kudos on the new website design. It rocks!


  • Greg Baughman

    You write a good column Andy!

  • Gene Williams

    Another great read!

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