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Weather and Moon Phase
Weather and Moon


Stream Flow Data
Stream Flow Data

Fishing Report

Fishing Report


Sign Up For Clean-Up:

Saturday, September 6th: Come help us clean the Au Sable River! This annual event is one of the dates that we highlight on the calendar. The big floods of 2014 have rearranged the trash, uncovering old stuff and sweeping cans and other garbage into the river. One angler reported seeing "a couple of dozen" beer cans on his wade down the South Branch. What makes the river beautiful in the spring is the efforts of everyone in the fall. Please join us both above and below Mio (there are two separate clean-ups) on Saturday, September 6th. Lunch is included. It's a great day on the river.

To clean the upper river contact me at: [email protected]

To clean the river below Mio contact or send an email to the address above and I'll forward you to Tom.



Guest fishing report by John Bebow, 2nd VP, Anglers of the Au Sable
Otis McCurdy and I found the Brookie Hole almost a decade ago, back when his green Dodge fish truck was far more than the snow-holding lawn ornament it is these days. Whenever the hatch was off – which, for us, was most of the time – we’d get in the Dodge and follow the sand two tracks to their conclusions. The best trails were too narrow and ended at moving water. We called these “Huck Finn trips.” Gator called them “earning it.” As the seasons piled on top of each other, we steadily charted the cartography of secret spots.

If we ever make a calendar of those River Pirate secrets, the Brookie Hole will be the September photo. I like to think if John Voelker ever got trapped below the Mackinac Bridge, he would’ve found his way there, pulled out his tin cup and made an old fashioned while sitting on the huge downed pine which marks the spot.

White fly brown from the river below mio

The Brookie Hole drew me in a few days earlier than normal this year. The calendar says it’s still August, but there’s an autumn whisper in the Crawford County breeze. A few of the maples way up on the hilltops have taken that first turn toward deep red. The shadows in the pine forests grow longer, earlier, each evening. And the sunsets are alive – soft clouds absorbing the last rays of summer in a dozen or more pastel shades.
We’re in the seasonal transition, another inflection point in the timelessness of the rivers. That spells complexity for anglers. It means frustration and bitching for those lashed to the tyranny of memory – the ones who plan trips to replicate certain hatches on certain days in certain years past. Or, it means the joy of fresh discovery for those freed by creativity – the ones who just get out there and cast no matter the conditions. I’ll admit to bouts of both personalities right now.

Conner connected this week

Over that first cup of coffee I’m a bitcher. Late August is usually the big-fish fourth quarter in Pirate Camp. It’s a time to pad the stats, rack up the trophy numbers, go back to those Wilburs who fooled us during Hex season and get the last laugh with gurglers well after dark. Call it merely anecdotal evidence, but the fishing log shows the new moon week of August is the most productive week of the year for catching Board Fish in the middle of the night. August after August, all it takes to fill the net with hogs is a handful of Tank Ron Specials, water you know by heart and can stumble through in relative safety, and a night temperature over sixty degrees. It’s why I’m always up here at this moment in the year. But it’s been an odd year, all year, and late August is staying in character.

Greenberg and I went out to one of his money spots the other night. We’d worked the run for half an hour. Josh was stunned. Not a single explosion. He started to mumble soft bitches with each cast. Then, finally, he got a grab from a decent fish in a patch of soft water. But that was it. The bend that always gives it up didn’t. There was a strong scent of bear, but no hogs. A couple nights later Shop John and I hit the Upper Manistee in the drifter. Big rain that morning. Rising temps and humidity late in the day. Fog gripped the river. We drifted for hours, silent but for the occasional wet rhythm of back rows in the bends and the whoosh of flying mice and gurglers. The fog was so thick if felt like rain on our arms and camouflaged each sweeper. But the mist curtain opened twenty feet above us, revealing all the stars. Foggy stars. No trout.
The flows feel high for this time of year. Some combination of heavy water and softer summer temperatures seems to be depressing those big browns’ penchant for late-night surface frolic. But the guides are still doing it best, still picking up the occasional bruiser on their night floats. If the night bite is your thing you just gotta keep donning the waders and flinging the big uglies until the first frost. As Chef Matt muttered the other day after making his 4,000th Hex burger of the season, “It’s gotta go one of these nights.”

So, I bitch over coffee until some point late in the morning when Big Fish Terry turns up for his daily iced pop in the shop and reports the tricos are still going and the brookies are still eating them and the afternoon looks good for olives.

A switch flicks, the bitching evaporates, and I’m the Discoverer at High Noon. I start dreaming about how good it’s going to be below Mio next spring, what with all the cool water this summer and that strain of browns already holding over so well. Those dreams led Happy Greg, Jordan and me down there for a streamer float on what was supposed to be a gray day. The clouds parted as soon as we put the boat in below the dam. We let out long casts until our shoulders throbbed just to flash a couple medium-sized trout. There was one big explosion in some swampy water. The fish went deep and took line. “Whoa!” Jordan sputtered. “That’s a big one.” Then I saw its mouth as it charged downstream. A pike. I landed it on 2X tippet on a five-weight rod only because the second hook in Jordan’s articulated streamer caught the flesh in the corner of his mouth – a safe distance from all those line-cutting teeth.

There were other strange and wondrous encounters in recent days. The white flies have been going strong below Mio and Tank Ron somehow hooked a good one in a pool matted with naturals the other night. “I have no idea how that fish picked out my fly in all those bugs,” he giggled. I suggested he buy a Mega Millions ticket before his luck fades. Chef Matt took a trip on the lower river, picked up some plate-sized rock bass, and somehow landed a 26-inch sucker on a streamer. Weird.

So the discoverers are getting it done, so much so that the shop ran out of purple patriots yesterday. I whined at the vice until Steve pushed me aside and tied up several much better than mine and I headed to a stretch of the Manistee I hadn’t visited in years. It’s one of those prehistoric spots deep in the cedar forest where the sand flats drop off into bottomless pools. I told myself I gotta get back there one of these nights over Labor Day weekend – but I’m not going into that deep and tangled water alone. I’d hoped for some patriot and hopper action in the high sun. But even the little ones refused me. Refusals on the Manistee rank high among the many tragic comedies of this pursuit of ours. How the hell do you get refused deep in the cedars of the Manistee where the trout rarely see even a kayaker, much less a fly? I stood on the bitch border yet again, until I remembered the Brookie Hole.

It took a while to drive there, but I had the time. I’m intentionally aimless at the end of summer, resting my mind for the no-break work rush from September to Christmas. My truck doesn’t handle the sand potholes and root wads on the old two track nearly as well as Otis McCurdy’s old Dodge used to. But I made it and immediately noticed the bankside wildflowers bursting in the sunlight at the top of the pool. I’m always careful to lightly shut the trunk and then climb over the familiar downed pine on the shady side at the bottom of the pool. The creek is littered with cedar snag after cedar snag. It’s damned near impossible to wade and cast, even with my six-foot two-weight. It opens up ever so briefly at the Brookie Hole but only a suicidal fool would step in there. The creek flows inches deep at the head of the pool, then drops into four feet of dark water made darker by an endless muck bottom. Two steps in there and it’s quite likely the hole would swallow you and you’d be dead in five minutes, eaten alive by the narrowest of shallow creeks, your grave forever marked only by wildflowers. But the brookies love it. It’s like brookie Mardi Gras in there, all the fish parading about, earning pre-spawn beads. You can see dozens of them making mischief down there in the middle of the day.

But you don’t fish the Brookie Hole in the middle of the day. You wait for the warm low light of late afternoon. There’s no need to crawl along the bank like you see those maniacs doing on the Montana spring creeks. I gotta believe Voelker would spit whiskey venom at such overwrought stealth caught on camera. I can’t believe Voelker would’ve ever crawled along the boggy banks of Frenchman’s Pond. Hell, crawling would’ve required him to put down that tin cup. Naw, at the Brookie Hole all you gotta do is wear green and blend in with the fly-catching pines that frustrate your back cast.
Make sure you have a 6X leader, at least nine feet. Tie on any attractor pattern, though nothing works even remotely as well as the patriot skunk. The little fish are posted closest to the bank you’re standing on. A dollop cast over the wildflowers will bring up the first one. If you’re greedy you might try to pick off one in the middle of the pool. Problem is those brookies shark to the fly, take it deep, and race through the pool like drunks careening down Bourbon Street. It takes only a few writhing fish to spook the entire pool and shut it down for the day. But if you’re really greedy you’ll straddle the line between pine shadow and bright sunlight, get high enough up the bank to steer clear of the last tree behind you, and let out a forty-foot curve cast to the sharp drop off at the far end of the top of the pool.

That’s where the bigger brookies reside. They are perfect. Darkened by the muck where they live. Fins enflamed in pre-spawn orange. Spotted in daisy yellows and bull’s eye blues and reds.

If you’re lucky, you’re the first one to the pool this year, the brookies haven’t yet seen a single man-made insect, and you land a half-dozen of these gifts before the pool shuts down. It never takes more than ten minutes. It is the best ten minutes of fishing of the year. Every year. Better than the one time you actually witnessed a full henny spinner fall. Better than the night that monster straightened your hook on the North Branch during Drake season. Better than that one last rising fish in the sparse last night of Hex. Better than all the giants landed in the dark on all those gurglers.

If you’re really really greedy, you’ll keep casting long after the party is over. The take, and the fight, and the Technicolor brought to hand is just too addictive to stop casting until you’re absolutely certain even the dumbest brookie has figured you out and you know there will be no seventh fish.

Yesterday I was lucky. And really really greedy. I earned it.


Michael Delp and Chad Pastotnik: a poetry reading by the river

September 5th, 5:30-6:30 pm, Gates Au Sable Lodge

Gates Lodge is happy to host renowned poet Michael Delp and printmaker Chad Pastotnik for an evening of poetry along the Au Sable river. Mike and Chad have collaborated on The Mad Angler Poems, a book of 24 poems with 5 hand-colored wood engravings and an introduction by Jack Driscoll.

Jim Harrison has called Delp the "King of moving water." His poems are accessible and exciting -- the kind of poetry that folks who "don't read poetry" will read, enjoy and profit from.

This book is beautiful. It was written by the water, and printed by Chad in his funky little studio (check out Chad's studio and work at

This is a great event for those attending the 20th Anglers of the Au Sable River Clean-Up on Saturday, September 6th. Timed so you can fish the ants in the afternoon, or still make the white flies below Mio

Michael Delp is a writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction whose works have appeared in numerous national publications. He is the author of the following five books from Wayne State University Press – Over the Graves of Horses (1989), Under the Influence of Water (1992), The Coast of Nowhere (1997), The Last Good Water (2003), and As If We Were Prey (2010) in addition to six chapbooks of poetry and being the co-editor of the Made In Michigan book series from Wayne State University Press. He taught creative writing at the Interlochen Arts Academy, has twice been the winner of the Passages North/NEH Poetry Competition, and has won a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award.


Here We Go Again! Terrible oil and gas nominations require anglers comments

The last time we needed to save the Holy Waters -- now it's the whole river. The latest nominations for oil and gas leases by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) includes such treasures as Hartwick Pines State Park, the headwaters of the South Branch, the Manistee below M-72, and in and along the Holy Waters (including a parcel beneath Gates Au Sable Lodge). If that sounds bad, it's because it is.
Despite many of these parcels being listed as non-development, Anglers believes even putting such sensitive parcels on the auction block is contrary to the credo of the Michigan DNR. We also believe that such listings could potentially be reversed, contrary to assurances from the DNR.
Assurances aren't enough.
Last December we thought that our position had been made clear: These are special places let them stay as they are. With regard to The Holy Waters, DNR agreed and crafted a set of guidelines toward that end. Unfortunately these latest actions give us pause for concern.
A recent article in The Bridge illustrates just how much is at stake.
The sheer amount of acreage up for auction in Crawford and Roscommon Counties is disheartening. It isn't limited to just a few parcels here and there, this auction is for thousands of acres in and around our beloved rivers and forested areas. There are numerous parcels very near Higgins and Houghton lakes as well and while those lakes are not in our watershed, the number of parcels in that area and the Hartwick Pines parcels shows a blatant disregard of preserving the state's recreation resources. Again, not just a few key parcels, enormous areas some of which are literally in the back yards of area residents. The fact that it seems to incorporate so many of our waterways makes responses from those receiving this email, and your friends, families, and conservations groups, all the more essential.
Let's be heard.
Contact info:

Written comments may be sent to

Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Minerals
Management Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952.

Email comments to: Julie Manson, [email protected]

Let them know that you absolutely oppose the parcels highlighted by the Anglers of the Au Sable in our public comment to the DNR.


Sign up for the Clean-Up: It's time to clean the river. And it needs it. From Grayling to below Mio, from Lovells to Parmalee, and from Smith to Conners. It's a top-to-bottom scrubbing to make the river look the way it should. From Rusty's poking sticks, to friendships and hard work, to a fine barbecue, this is one of the best days of the year. Saturday, September 6. No one ever has a bad time at river clean-up!

To clean the upper river contact me at: [email protected].

To clean the river below Mio contact or send an email to the address above and I'll forward you to Tom.


Manistee River Clean-up, September 20

The last project scheduled for September is the Manistee River cleanup and cedar tree planting sponsored by the Upper Manistee River Association. Volunteers will meet at 9 AM on Saturday, September 20th at the Old Au Sable Fly Shop. Food will be waiting for you upon your return. Contact Andy Partlo at 989-348-3330 or [email protected].


The River: a movie all about the Au Sable

To View the Trailer:

To order, visit our online store at:


Truthfully, I wasn't really interested in writing a fishing book, but I had the opportunity to do something with Lyons Press, which had been a dream of mine in high school. Dreams and feelings change, but four years ago there was little indication I'd be owning a fly fishing lodge and lots of indications that I wouldn't. So I signed on for a book. Several extensions and kids later, it's done. And I hope those that buy it feel I did this very special region proud. It's available now with free shipping on the Gates Fly Shop website: