Au Sable River


Located in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, the Au Sable is known for its high-water quality, scenery, recreational opportunities, cold-water fishery, and historic and cultural significance. It may just be the finest brown trout flyfishing east of the Rockies. If that were not enough reason to visit the river, the Au Sable is also one of the best canoeing rivers in the Midwest.

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Designated Reach

October 4, 1984. The main stem from the Mio Pond project boundary downstream to the Alcona Pond project boundary.

Outstandingly Remarkable Values


The Au Sable is known for the premier cold-water fishing by local and non-local fishermen. While springtime is the best season to try and hook a brown or rainbow trout, it is not uncommon to find a dedicated fisherman wading the river in the twilight hours after a hot summer day. Fish cover for adult trout is good. This portion of the river sustains a population of brown and rainbow trout. Growth analysis of brown trout indicates excellent growth rates. Management activities along the river corridor strive to enhance the spawning and rearing habitat requirements. At times, the state stocking program supplements the number of trout.


Historically, the local people have used the Au Sable as an inland link for trapping, trading, and transit between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. In the late 1800's, the river transported logs downstream to sawmills and shipping yards in the towns of Oscoda and AuGres. After logging era, hydroelectric dams were built during the 1920's for power generation. Today, recreational use is the most popular commodity on the river.


It may just be the finest brown trout fly-fishing east of the Rockies. If that were not enough reason to visit the river, the Au Sable is also one of the best canoeing rivers in the Midwest. Several canoe liveries rent watercrafts. Fishing guides are also available in the area. Camping is permitted only in designated sites and fees are required at some of the campgrounds.    


Scenery is the most noted reason visitors are attracted to this portion of the river. Site-seeing while floating the river or taking a drive or hike along the roadways and trailways that parallels the river are very popular activities. The river channel is wide with well-defined undulating banks that vary from just one to eighty feet above the water level. The river corridor contains aquatic, wetland, and upland habitats that support a variety of wildlife with viewing opportunities. The vegetation, as seen from the river, appears natural and undisturbed. There are large, isolated red and white pines, along with open grassy areas adjacent to the river's edge. A couple of roadside or trailside river sites provide a panoramic view which considerably enhances and adds to the scenic values, especially as the fall colors are revealed.

Managing Partners And Contacts


Scenic — 23 miles; Total — 23 miles.
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The excitement of fly fishing is not in the casting, it's in the challenge to make a connection. When you connect with that particular fish you've been trying to catch, the mood changes from quiet and calm to a spectacular dance that's electric to experience.