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Old AuSable Fly Shop


Currently in Grayling, MI:


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River Flows:

Mio Dam
0.8 ft³/s
Smith Bridge
2.6 ft³/s
Parmalee Bridge
2.3 ft³/s

September 11 : Au Sable and Manistee River Report

There’s been plenty of water all year here in Northern Michigan and the rain this past week continued that trend.  This has been a great water year and our rivers have had strong flows all Summer long.  The trout have had a nice season and are fat and happy.


Area Rivers

Area streams are in fine condition though the Au Sable mainstream, running a bit high and dirty, is the one exception. With a largely dry ten day forecast in our future, I expect that river will be back in fine shape shortly.

alex boardman

The best bet for trout fishing in the coming days will be on the South and North Branches of the Au Sable and on all reaches of the Manistee River. Those streams look fantastic with good flows and just enough stain to keep the trout comfortable in the mid-stream, feeding currents.

Dry fly fishing is holding up nicely with hatches of small Blue-Winged Olives, Tricos, White Millers, ISO’s, Flying Ants, and the Giant Orange Sedge. The latter of which, makes for perfect searching patterns in the absence of actively rising fish. You are essentially prospecting with the ISO’s, Ants, and Orange Sedge’s using them as attractor patterns.  Simply, if the fish aren’t rising, you’ve got to give them something to eat.  So why not use a fly they may have recently seen hatch.

Other Fly Strategies

That said, rubber-legged, foam flies are still picking up Trout as well.  Especially when fished mid-river with a nymph dropper for Brook Trout.  Cool water temperatures have those Brookies thinking romance; they are active and beautifully colored up for the spawn.

Be sure to bring your wet flies with you from here on out, too. Little naturally toned flies in olive or black have been the ticket lately and have taken both Brook Trout and a few nice Browns, but small brightly colored streamers will certainly have their place in the coming days.


Jamiie4The huge, harvest moon isn't helping out the night fishing any.  The full moon along with the higher than average flows and cooler than average temperatures continue to suppress the “mouse fishing”.  It’s been on the slow side.

Salmon are the story on the Lake Michigan streams.  Recent rains have enticed a nice push of silver fish into the rivers. It’s a good time to get a big tug on a Michigan river.

Electro Results & South Branch Fishing

The electro fishing survey results are in for the South Branch.  It shows that the numbers and size are just slightly down from 2010. You can take a look at them by clicking here.

This has been a great Summer for the Trout on the South Branch. We finally had a year with great flows nearly all season long - low water was not a major problem on that stretch of the river. I’d like to see an electro-fishing survey again next year and every year that could speak to annual stream flows and weather events. In a perfect world, we should have a spring and fall survey every year so we could better understand the impacts of severe seasonal events and so, better understand how to better manage, protect, and help out our Trout fishery. This is especially true on the South Branch of the Au Sable River that is too often dewatered by the dam at Lake St. Helen.

Jamie3The South Branches obstacles and problems are not exclusive to just that river. The lessons learned there could help Trout stream managers across the county better understand what Brown and Brook Trout need under the duress of low water and extreme seasons.

We’re conducting a Manistee River clean-up and work bee on Saturday September 20th.  We’ll meet here at the Old Au Sable at 9 AM, break into teams, and head to the River pick up trash, repair landings, and plant trees. Then it’s back to the shop for a well-deserved and delicious barbeque. We could really use your help. That River has been good to us, so let’s be good to it. Please shoot me an e-mail at to register.

Finally, the State of Michigan has suspended Grouse season for the first three days in Crawford County and, it seems, I’m the only one allowed to partake in the opener.  So we’ll see all you bird hunters after I have first crack!

Hope to see you all soon,



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