AU SABLE RIVER, MICHIGAN

Friday-Sunda, June 18-20, 2004

Once again the weekend at Wa Wa Sum rolls around. Always eager to get in the river, I waded Friday evening from Whirlpool to the lodge. The water level was nice and full and the weather seemed cooperative at first. After an hour to two, the wind kicked up, the rain rolled in and the fishing was done. It wasn't so hot before it died either. I caught a couple of small fish, a brown and a brookie. Very sporadic hatches and even fewer rises.

The next morning, Greg, Johnny and Larry drove to Wakely Lake - fish on! Lots of good-sized bluegills kept the fishing very fun. We rolled in two canoes and paddled straight across the lake. Over there was the only calm spot. The rest of the lake was filled with whitecaps from the gusting wind. Little poppers cast into likely areas with short tugs were the ticket. If a bluegill was in the area, it was going to hit it. If only those big largemouth bass would have hit something. Usually they hung out under the boat and chased the hooked bluegills.

Saturday afternoon and evening, Greg, Johnny and I floated the Au Sable from Wakely to Conners Flats. I think we pushed off around 5pm and got off the water close to 11pm. All of us picked up some smaller trout as we floated. We only anchored where we could see several fish rising. In each case, one of use would land a fish. As the sun set, we could see the Hex high above us, flying upstream. Just minutes later, they started coming down the stream, twitching during their final moments. Few became fish food. Unbeliveable! Where were all the fish? As darkness fell, we began to hear the big slurp of big fish. This was in the still water a couple bends up from the landing. greg had a couple of nice strikes, but it was Johnny who got the big fish.

Sunday morning, I waded Guides Rest. I goofed by not walking far enough upstream. This cost me an hour of good fishing in some of the better water. At any rate I landed numerous smaller browns and brookies in the likely lies. Gray drakes and caddis worked well. Great sun-shiney day.


Saturday, May 8, 2004

I met up with Greg and Johnny O after their day-long float on Friday with a local guide. In short, they pretty much got skunked. Saturday would be a carbon copy. We floated from Commins to McKinnley, starting in the morning and finishing up around 4pm. We fished very hard -- stripping streamers mostly. I switched to a dropper rig after a while and got a few hits. The streamers got very little attention. Near the end of the trip, we found some brookies surfacing regularily. It was hard to believe these were about the only fish on the surface. For the last couple hours, many mayflies were visible floating down the river. This float wasn't quite as pretty as the river upstream, but was still very nice. Weather started out rainy, switched to overcast all day and was cool.


Saturday, May 8, 2004

I met up with Greg and Johnny O after their day-long float on Friday with a local guide. In short, they pretty much got skunked. Saturday would be a carbon copy. We floated from Commins to McKinnley, starting in the morning and finishing up around 4pm. We fished very hard -- stripping streamers mostly. I switched to a dropper rig after a while and got a few hits. The streamers got very little attention. Near the end of the trip, we found some brookies surfacing regularily. It was hard to believe these were about the only fish on the surface. For the last couple hours, many mayflies were visible floating down the river. This float wasn't quite as pretty as the river upstream, but was still very nice. Weather started out rainy, switched to overcast all day and was cool.


Friday-Saturday, June 20-21, 2003

Back here again on Wa Wa Sum weekend. Saturday evening I fished downstream from Whirlpool to Wa Wa Sum. This is pretty easy wading, even in the dark. I caught several brooks and browns, the largest coming at the same spot as last year in front of Wa Wa Sum. There was a fairly decent drake spinner fall as darkness approached. On Saturday morning, I fished the south branch in the Mason tract. I waded down about a mile to another access spot and then hiked back. The surface action was very slow, but the little guys would still strike at a brown drake. For a long time a targeted a decent sized fish. It wouldn't take my many different offerings, but it did check each one out. I left without every getting it to hit. On Saturday afternoon, I floated down the trophy waters section with five other guys. We saw bigger fish and had numerous strikes, but only landed a few mid-sized fish. Just before dark, we had a decent spinner fall, but the action only lasted 15 minutes. We got back to take out in pitch black. The float down from the dam took about 4 hours. This is an incredibly beautiful section to float, very much like a wilderness setting.


Friday-Sunday, June 14-17, 2002

On Wa Wa Sum weekend, I fished my head off. When I arrived at the lodge on Friday, no one was around. I quickly headed down to the river and ended up catching several nice fish, the biggest at 14 inch brown in the dark. The were taking small spinners and drakes.

Mid-day Saturday I headed to the North Branch where I checked out four on the east side of the river and fished two of them. Each was quite different. One (Meadows?) was deep and silty, but that's where I found the biggest fish. I had several strikes but nothing on the line. Further upstream (Dam 4), was braided and shallow. After going through many, many flies, I finally found that the little fish were taking green caddis from the top. Above Lovells, the river was really wide and shallow. I couldn't see any action. It was quite hot and sunny.

Sunday morning I again fished below the lodge where I caught one or two on spinners. At mid-day I went down to the TU property and waded the whole stretch downstream. I found plenty of fish that were willing to take my sparsley tied drake. There were a couple holes/riffles that were just loaded with fish. Great wading, hot sun, few people.


 

Friday, May 28, 1999

Getting an early start on the Memorial Day weekend, Greg and I floated in my canoe from Stephan Bridge to McMasters Bridge. We left around 3pm and ended at about 10pm, which left plenty of time to stop and fish many of the great spots we saw.

The Holy Waters, which start at Burton's Landing and continue for 8 miles to Wakely Bridge, were worthy of their name to us. The beauty and water quality is hard to match anywhere. Fishing access, from the boat at least, is fantastic.

The water quality below the Holy Waters was noticeably poorer. The change happened almost immediately. We had no doubt that the river below Wakely still held plenty of good-sized trout. It's just that the water quality was cloudier and the there were fewer structures in the water.

With the weather being extremely sunny and unseasonably warm, the trout, as well as the hatches, were off during the daylight. However, following the "Match the Hatch" credo, I caught two browns. One on a brown drake, the other on a sulphur. Greg didn't do well on the fly rod, but had really good success using a double-ought Mepps spinner downstream from the Flies-Only area.

As night began to fall, the hatches picked up for a brief time and some of the bigger trout showed themselves. By then we were too tired and cold to do much about it.

As for crowds, there were none. We talked with several people along the river who owned property. They were all preparing for the coming canoes by enjoying one last day of peace.

Saturday, May 29, 1999

We camped last night at Keystone Landing, and this morning fished from the campground access. Neither of us caught a thing, but it was difficult with the bright sunshine and the regular canoe hatches.

The water was just great for wet wading, and we could see some very nice-sized trout hiding under the stumps and logs, but they had no interest in coming out for a bite to eat.

After we ate a hearty lunch of steak and potatoes, we went back to McMasters Bridge and worked our way upstream where we had had some success last night. The wading was very difficult and the fishing was slow. I believe Greg caught one small trout on a Mepps.

Greg went home after that, and I went on to the South Branch of the Au Sable. Driving along the backroads of the Mason Tract, I stopped at a few of the many car access areas. I caught three nice brookies on a bead head hare's ear nymph, and let them go back into the water.

On the way back to the campground, I stopped by Kneff Lake to see if I could drop the canoe in and fish a bit. Unfortunately, the DNR was doing a lot of construction on the campground there, and had closed off car access entirely.

With that option gone, I drove to Kendara Landing along the Au Sable and fished my upstream as darkness fell. Some big swarms of mating sulphur mayflies buzzed above my head and then dropped to the water. Mixed in with the sulphurs were a few drakes. I tied on a a sulphur spinner and quickly landed three small brookies. I forgot my flashlight, so when I couldn't tie any more flies on, I went back to the tent and slept soundly.

Sunday, May 30, 1999

Waking just after the crack of dawn, I drove to Sand Hill Lake to drop the canoe in and fish for the stocked brookies. Well, I caught one of those brookies, but the small perch and black crappie were much more abundant. The toughest thing was trying to keep my parachute adams away from the splashy rises of the perch. Very peaceful morning. Nice lake, plus an undeveloped camping site. But there is a gate that looks like it might get locked from time to time.

Since I was on this side of Grayling, I fished a couple spots on the Manistee River.

Au Sable Basin Streamlevel Data:

 

Related Michigan Information:

Fly Shops and Guides
Fishing Reports
Dave's Fishing Trips
Fly-Fishing Links
Blue Ribbon Trout Streams
Designated Trout Lakes
1998 Trout Stocking
Hatch Chart
Wild & Scenic Rivers
Muskegon River Map
Pere Marquette River Map
Rogue River Map
Weather
Trails to Trout Home Page
 


Fishing and floating the Au Sable.

 


Dusk starts to fall on the Au Sable near Keystone Landing.

   


An Au Sable brookie is fooled by a sulphur spinner.

BACK TO FLY-FISHING IN MICHIGAN
HOME