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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
2.7 ft³/s
Parmalee Bridge
2.2 ft³/s

September 4 : Au Sable and Manistee River Report

It’s here.  September has always been and will forever be one of my favorite months.  And it’s finally here.

The virtues are many.  There’s really nothing not to like, and the schedule is jam-packed, so the wilds are not.

The weather is generally perfect.  We’ll have Summer-like days and cool, comforting nights.  And we’ll see Fall-like days late in the month that will allow for fine daytime fishing and all day grouse hunting.  September will give a nod to Summer and a prelude to Fall.

Kids go back to school.  And as much as they say they don’t like it, IMG_4479going back to school is tons of fun.  There are all those friends they haven’t seen and piles of sports and games under the Friday night lights.  Even my teacher wife, who loves summer break as much as anyone should, has been positively giddy this past week.

The undergrads get back to business as well and that means college sports.  Whatever colors bleed from your veins, you get to scream and cheer for college football this month.

That’s just the kid’s stuff.  NFL football kicks off in September, so that makes Sunday afternoons particularly lonely on the stream.  And is there anything better in sports than September baseball?

For the Michigan sportsman, September is a harbinger of good things to come.  Lots of great stuff starts this month.  We have early goose and teal seasons already open.  The kids will get a crack at deer hunting with the youth whitetail season.  King Salmon, Coho’s, and Pink Salmon will continue to push into the rivers and provide fishermen with angling opportunities that otherwise really only exist in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.  The Steelhead will follow those salmon runs and offer up yet another excellent Fall game to play.  The brook trout will color up and begin to stage for the spawn by the end of the month.  The bow hunters will finish up their scouting, set stands, and finely polishing their accuracy.

Most importantly, September 15th is the opening of grouse season.  There’s nothing quite like a good dog on point and grouse exploding from cover.

Yep, it’s hard to complain if you’re in Northern Michigan during September.  There’s so much to do and everyone scatters to all corners of the state and to all sorts of activities.  It gets awfully, wonderfully lonely on the trout streams.

The fishing report is “go”!  I wouldn’t fret about every little hatch.  Yes there’s still Tricos and Olives and White Flies below Mio.  And there are Orange Sedges and White Millers and #18 Brown Caddis.  So take your fly box with you and keep your eyes open for all of that stuff, but really try to hit the Flying Ants if you can.  They’ve been great this year on both the Au Sable and Manistee this year.  It’s been a big insect year and a big fruit year in our Northern Michigan rain forests, and that has, seemingly, carried over to the Flying Ants.

Now don’t go expecting them to be there every day.  They, generally, won’t show up in huge numbers on cool or wet days, and we’ve got a lot of those.  Predicting them reads sort of like a J.R.R. Tolkien prophecy, “Expect the skies to darken with flying ants at noon under the first sun after two days of rain”.   “Darken” is heavy handed but the rest of the stuff is pretty right on.  They come heaviest in the afternoon on the first sunny warm day after they’ve been suppressed for a while.

The fall ISO’s are getting started as well.  Pull out one and use is as a prospecting fly at any time from now through the rest of the season.

You should also start thinking streamers.  The water is up and at the best levels I can remember for this time of year.  We’ve had a lot of cloudy, rainy days and those make for great streamer days.  Take the subtle clues that Mother Nature gives—if rain is hitting you in the head, tie on a streamer.

The guys in boats continue to greatly out-fish everyone else right now.  We’ve been catching good numbers of small fish but the guys in the boats are finding better trout.  Those bigger fish have been eating in the daytime a little, but it’s been tough to wade close enough to them without putting them down.  And those are just the fish we see rising, you have to believe that those same fish are out in the drift looking to feed even when they’re not rising.

214542424140830_clean-upPlease don’t forget to sign up for the Manistee River Clean-up September 20th.  Just shoot me an e-mail at and show up at the shop at 9 AM.

Also, if you haven’t been grouse or woodcock hunting in a while, or have never been, and would like to get out there for a full or half day trip, give the shop call . . . we’re offering guided hunts behind seasoned setters this year.  I’d be happy to introduce you and your family into the world of shotguns and upland bird hunting.  Shoot me an e-mail at for more information.

Thank you and I hope you can all get out there this September,


Audio Report

Check out the audio report here or click the picture of Orson!


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