The Au Sable River is one of the best known trout streams in the world. Most people are familiar with the upper Au Sable where the Holy Waters, South Branch, and North Branch make up classic trout water. Our focus is on the lower Au Sable, the “Big Water” as it is called locally. Broken down into three segments based on dams, each features a different kind of fishery and has its peak seasons at different times.
The Au Sable River – Mio Dam to Alcona Dam
The Au Sable River from Mio Dam to Alcona is approx. 30 miles of trophy Trout water. The river is 100-150 feet wide with an average depth of 4 feet. The river has a medium gradient with deep riffles and pools that will float your hat! More trophy trout come from this stretch of the AuSable than all other Michigan rivers combined. The Trophy Waters from Mio to Mckinnly is open year round to trout fishing. Streamer fishing for trophy browns is best in Spring (April/May) and in the fall (Oct-Dec).
There are several major hatches:
- Hendrickson (late-April/early-May)
- Brown Drake (late-May/mid-June)
- Isonychia (mid-June)
- Hexagenia limbata (mid-June/early-July)
- White Fly, Ephron (late-August)
The Au Sable River – Alcona Dam to Foote Dam
Smallmouth bass becomes the fish of choice throughout the warm months of July and August. This is one of the most scenic and under-fished stretches of the Au Sable. Where else can an angler catch two dozen smallies with a chance at a trophy trout on the same trip?
This is also great Hex water. We offer an overnight trip to fish the Hex at night and smallmouth the next day.
The Au Sable River -Foote Dam to Lake Huron
The last stretch of the Au Sable from Foote Dam to Lake Huron is most famous for its great Steelhead and Salmon fishing. Au Sable steelhead are in the river 8 months of the year. Spring time gets the biggest run of fish – peak time is March, April and early May. In the fall Salmon first show up in September and early October. Steelhead follow with peak months being October and November. Our newest excitement is an Atlantic Salmon run from October to December.
The Hex Hatch on the Au Sable River
The heat of summer June, July and August – night time is the time for big brown trout! It all starts in June with night time dry fly fishing on the Brown Drake, Isonychia and Hex Hatch. As dark falls, you wait to hear the big fish line up to feed. The rises to the 2″ Hexagenia mayflies can be thunderous splashes or dainty sips. The Hex Hatch provides one of the greatest challenges in fly fishing–casting in the dark to a fish you know is huge then waiting for the rise. Pause. Don’t set yet. Let the fish inhale it. Then set! It tries the nerves of even the most experienced fly anglers.
Once these hatches are over in mid July then its time to break out our mouse patterns and surface streamers.
South Branch of the Au Sable River
We also fish the South Branch in the famed Mason Tract Wilderness area. The South Branch, despite its small size, holds some large trout and has excellent hatches. Many anglers find the South Branch to be the crown jewel of the Au Sable system and the solitude it provides is priceless.