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

Old AuSable Fly Shop


Currently in Grayling, MI:


° / °

mph "


° / °

° / °

° / °

River Flows:

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

September 19 : Au Sable and Manistee River Report

What a week!  The Michigan Grouse and Woodcock season is underway.   Now, I love fishing . . . no doubt.  I fish enough that a reasonable judge would grant my wife a heavy-handed but well deserved and clean divorce.  And the fact that I rev up even more for grouse season must mean she either loves me or flat realizes the settlement wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

The night before season, September 14th, is like Christmas Eve for grown men with bird dogs.  There ought to be a Charles Dickens (or whomever the literary minds have finally decided authored the thing) poem about it. “Twas the night before bird season, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a Grouse.”   There might not have been any grouse stirring, but I can attest that the bird dogs and I were plenty twitchy.

Those dogs have been lying around on the couch, looking out the window, and barking at things that aren’t there for the last ten months.  And man, they know what time of year it is.  I swear they could feel the bird-tricity I was laying out in the room.  Their eyes rolled left and right, watching my every move as I went around the house gathering and laying out gear for the coming morning.

Everyone who has bird dogs knows how smart, in tune, and excited they can be, so you’ll appreciate that I rolled up every bit of orange and tried to hide the small bundle under my arm as I stowed my gear.

IMG_20131002_190144_511It worked, mostly, until I pulled out my old bird hunting boots.   We’ve all got a pair—scuffed toes, frayed laces, oddly worn heels, and mine have small chew tears near the top where my now 5 year old once puppy left his mark.  They remembered those boots and what they mean and that had them pacing the hardwood all night long.

So I spent the first few days of bird season in the woods with broken in boots and broken in dogs and had a fine time.  It’s nice when it goes easy and comfortable.

The first day we flushed about one grouse per cover.  The second day we found two coveys.

It’s shaping up to be a fine bird season.  We’re at the bottom of the ten year cycle but it looks like the birds nested well and the wet year has a good wild fruit crop in the forest.  The grouse won’t be easy to find just yet, though.  The cover is extra heavy, there’s food everywhere, and the birds are still in coveys, so plan on walking a long distance between flushes.

Don’t forget—Woodcock season opens September 20th.

No good cast and blast would be complete without an actual fishing report in the fishing report.

The Rivers

Fishing has been tough on the Rivers over the past week.  The cold and wet weather got to be just a little too much for good fishing.  We’ve struggled with water temperatures and even the water below Mio is running in a cool 50-53 degree range; the fish have had a tepid response to our artificial offerings.

Sure we’ve picked up a few fish on dries and a few more than that on wet flies and streamers, but as is usual, unseasonable weather makes for below average fishing.

So that’s the bad news.  The good news is that things may just pick up with the warm up this weekend.  We’ve got temperatures hanging out right around seventy and that could just put our fishing right back where it should be for this time of year.

Be prepared to throw streamers no matter what the weather forecast holds.  It’s just that time of year.  Think small streamers for brook trout and mid-sized or even big bugs for browns.  Rubber-legged, “twitch” style streamers may be the most productive bug in your box.

The hatches continue to dribble and could become much more significant this weekend.  Be aware of the Fall Olive on whichever stretch of stream you choose.  Same goes with Flying Ants—we could see them during the heat of the day this weekend.

There are White Millers (Caddis) most evenings system wide.  You won’t likely see fish steadily feeding on these flies, but if you prospect with it, you’ll probably pick up a fish or two.

For me, it’s all about the ISO, Orange Sedge, and Coachman style flies on the upper rivers. Flies the fish that seem to make for the best attractor patterns when the going gets tough.  If you spend the day on the river, you’ll probably see a couple of ISO’s and one or two Orange Sedges . . . hardly fishable hatches, but the fish have seen them and will better recognize them as food.   And the segmented body on the Coachman style flies works to loosely imitate ants and adds a deadly trigger to that pattern.

My advice is to fish the Upper Au Sable during the day and then head to Mio for the evening rise.  The rainbows down there are running about 12-13 inches long and not only will they eat the small Olive spinners, there are still some White flies down.

Whatever you do, get outdoors this weekend.  Friday looks great and Saturday has early morning rain before turning 74 degrees.  Remember last winter?  Get out and enjoy Northern Michigan as much as you can right now.

River Clean Up This Weekend

We’re conducting a Manistee River clean-up and work bee on Saturday September 20th.  We’ll meet at the Old Au Sable Fly Shop 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.  I could really use your help. The river has been good to us - let’s be good to it.  Please shoot an e-mail to to register.

Hope to see you soon,




Leave a Reply