Free Shipping On All Orders Over $50, Every Day.

Old AuSable Fly Shop


Currently in Grayling, MI:


° / °

mph "


° / °

° / °

° / °

River Flows:

Mio Dam
1080 ft³/s
Smith Bridge
211 ft³/s
Parmalee Bridge
939 ft³/s

June 18 : Au Sable and Manistee River Report

Whipoor-will will will.

The old timers call that particular bird call at dark the curse of the whippoorwill.
Whippoorwills are often heard Michigan natives that are seldom seen, well camouflaged, elusive and rare birds. They are bug eaters that forage around Northern Michigan streams right at dusk. While rare in many parts of their range, the whippoorwill seems to do well around our rivers ripe with rich with insect life and thick bank cover.

Doing it in the moonlight. Doing it in the moonlight.

If you want to actually see one, pay attention when you’re driving the gravel, wash-board roads out from the river after dark. You’ll see glowing eyeballs on the sides of the road and the bird will hop a short flight down the road and settle again. If you give him some room and pull over short of where he’s landed, you can get out and nearly walk to the critter. You’ll get a good look in the car lights. Of course, be careful that you don’t stop on a bend in the road—if you’re leaving the river lots of other guys probably are too. Don’t get squashed out there just to see a bird. Whippoorwills are neat but don’t die to see one.

They are cool birds. But when you’re a trout fisherman, waiting on the bank in the failing light, that distinctive bird call, theoretically, means those bug eaters are on the bank talking instead of out there actually eating bugs. I’m not totally on board with the curse of the whippoorwill. You see fishermen do the same thing sometimes . . . spending more time talking about fishing than getting out there and doing it. I’ve actually seen some pretty nice angling with those birds on the bank complaining about no bugs.

The McKellip brothers found some time to fish together this past week. The McKellip brothers found some time to fish together this past week.

But like most wives’ tales, there’s just a little bit of truth to the whole deal. This particular one has had some merit on local streams the last few days. We are finding ourselves just a bit between hatches.

The Brown Drake hatch is, sadly, winding down in the Grayling area with heavy spinner flights now the exception rather than the norm. The Northern tier streams like the Black, are still experiencing bugs, but most of our many miles of blue-ribbon trout stream are moving on to the Isonychia hatch. The Iso’s or Mahoganies as they’re commonly known, are a meaty, size ten fly that bring nice trout to the surface and will be in the mix through the end of the June.

Iso’s are good news. Even great news. Not only should we get a few good nights of fishing with this hatch, fishing to these insects is flat how you get the first night of the gloried Hex fishing in any given stretch of river.

Those McKellip boys know how to get 'em. Those McKellip boys know how to get 'em.

That’s right, the fabled Hex hatch is nearly here. That’ll lather anglers. We’re finding them on local lakes for nearly a week now, so that means we should have bugs any day on the river. The lake Iris’s behind the shop have bloomed and that just strengthens the hope that the Hexes are imminent. We’ll certainly see them this week. So get out there soon.

Things are happening up North. It’s June and you just have to go as often as possible.

Lots of folks think you need the right gear and the right fly and the right spot. Mostly what you need in June as a trout angler is a great and understanding wife. Or at least a wife that doesn’t like you too much.

Gotta love those brook trout. Gotta love those brook trout.

And you need to be understanding, too. Hex fishing brings out the best in the trout fishing and can bring out the worst in the fishermen. “Do unto others” should be the credo. Number one rule is to talk to the anglers you meet on the river. “You working a fish?” is a nice question. “Would you like me on river left or river right?” is another. An answer like right, left, North bank, South bank doesn’t cut it. You may be fishing upstream and left or right doesn’t mean anything to a guy that can’t see you in the dark. North bank or South bank doesn’t mean anything to a guy that barely knows where he’s at in the first place. And fishing pissy doesn’t cut it either. We’re all excited and all want the same successes. Mostly, give a guy a hole and some yards of river to fish. And just don’t fish through someone. That’s not cricket.

It’s a fun sport, so do your best to keep it that way.

There’s lots of room out there . . . I’m sure I’ll find mine.

Get out there.

Iris in bloom. Iris in bloom.

I'd also like to remind everyone that we do gear swap every day. You want that new rod? Just bring in your old rod/rods and we'll make a deal. Need new waders? Your old waders are worth something to us. If you're not using it, trade in in toward something you will use.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you on the river.


Wait . . . there's more . . .

I wrote this Tuesday night and am posting it Wednesday morning. I opened the shop this morning with a few Hex on the window. Then Jamie sent me this pic from late Tuesday night. This doesn't mean we have bugs system wide. It just means some came off the old mill pond in town, which is warmer than most of the rest of the stream. But I'd say a few bugs on the window is a pretty good indicator . . .

Lots of cahills but there's a few big ones, too. Lots of cahills but there's a few big ones, too.


  • yes we do know how to get em. i"m the real half of the "brothers" The ONE! who did the bulk of the restoration from the start, and mark knows it...

Leave a Reply