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Just got back from a Labor Day, long weekend trip to upper central Michigan. Went up to the Grayling , MI area, staged in a cabin on Squaw Lake Fredrick, MI. The lake is private, but the lake adjudicate (Indian Lake) is open to the public. Both lakes full of large mouth, big pumpkin seed and pike. To sum it up – they bit on just about anything ya cast out there. Poppers were very fun in the morning and late evening, foams, and streamers in the early afternoons. But – we wanted some moving water – so we hit the well-known Au Sable River.

The Grayling area is known worldwide for trout fishing. Two famous streams, the Au Sable and Manistee, along with various branches provided awesome fishing for brook, brown and rainbow trout.

We hooked up some intel from a local shop (awesome stream side shop – with its own fishing area) Ol’Au Sable Fly Shop. The staff educated us quickly about the 9-mile section known as the Holy Water, from Burton's Landing to Wakeley Bridge, is catch-and-release fly fishing only section. You won’t encounter anything but fly fishing – all other tackle in this stretch is forbidden.

The Holy Water (the name fits the area) is one of the most famous and most productive stretches of trout water in the country. The river gets big as it moves downstream and picks up tributaries, but the deep runs and deep pools hold lots of fish. Maintained by local fly fishermen, clubs, volunteers and the state DNR – it’s an awesome site and I highly recommend a visit. If ya haven’t gone, and plan on going – contact me, and I’ll give ya some info of where to park and exit the water. Can be a tad bit confusing for first-timers.

Flies we used: Rusty Spinner, Adams #20 (a fly devised on this river), Sulphur DunMichigan Caddis #22 (imitates the Hexagenia limbata), Trico#22, Blue Winged Olive #20, Hendrickson, Pale Evening Dun, Light Cahill, Muddler Minnow, Soft-Hackle wet flies, Hare's Ear, Matuka, Ants, and Bees. Nymphs of the emerging hatch were effective, too. 3WT's and 5Wt's, high float line (RIO Trout LT) with 4X to 7X tippet - as a "new guy" its was an experience using that fine of tippet my first time in a real trout stream. Awesome!!

Your going to catch fish - lots of fish! It's was like a freak'n trout frenzy. Brooks, Browns and Rainbows - we saw and caught all of them. Ours were small, not huge trophies but, I'll give up size for all day fishing and catching, anytime! To each his own, this place offers ya both worlds- ya can catch fish (which is all I'm about), or walk around look'n for the big ones - you have it all in this place.

The Au Sable is easily the best trout fishery in the Midwest and ranks in the top 20 in the nation. The atmosphere of the river, the tree-lined banks, and the easy, lazy flow, all add up to an awesome serene backdrop, topped off by the chance (and probability) of landing heavy wild trout.

If ya go – expect LOTS of kayaks and canoes. Best to start early and return after 5pm - this way, you’re in the water before the main launch’s arrive (around noon) and after last launched float by (thinned out around 5pm). It was a blast when the large groups arrived. Offered us beers and quick friendly conversation. We met folks from others states, and other countries - very fun. Again - stop by the fly shop - best intel for success, when's and when not's, where's and where not's. Plenty of water to fish in this stream - locals are great and very accommodating to visiting flyers.

Easy weekend trip – about 6hrs - straight up 75N to 23N, get off at Grayling. Cabela’s is a great halfway stop. There are tons of lodging options and campgrounds, awesome downtown with small shops and great food. We caught fish, had great food, met tons of like-minded fishing folks and an all-round great trip for all. Already planning a trip in mid/late spring of 2014!
 

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For the big browns, night fish using mouse patterns. the big boys stay hidden during the day away from all the traffic. and spend your day fishing elsewhere. i prefer the north branch.
 

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1 fish is a he!! of alot more than none.
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My buddy and I fished there at end of May for the first time. WE usually go to Oil Creek in PA that time but all the water in PA was rained out so we changed direction and went North. We also had a great trip, our last night we managed to get into the Drake hatch as it was starting on the North branch. I also loved the wild trout and catching fish all day and evening. We will probably be going there again next year. We caught a few fish in the 18 inch range but my only regret was not finding a streamer that worked consistently during the day. I'd be happy to compare notes with you, especially if you plan to go next year around the end of May/ early June.

best,
Rickerd
 

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Team NuCanoe
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I just got back from military training up in Alpena so instead of heading home directly south I dog legged to the west and then came down stopping at the Au Sable and Rifle River. Those rivers looked so inviting I am definitely going to head back. Thanks for all the info
 
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