North East Michigan Steelhead Fishing Report - March 2nd
March is here but Spring is not! Been a very cold week here in Northern Michigan but still some good steelhead fishing in the lower Au Sable River. Normally by now some melting has started but not yet this year. The good news is there are good numbers of steelhead in the river now with a mixture of darker Winter fish and some bright silver ones just showing up. The lower river is in true Winter mode right now (low and clear) and look for fish in the typically cold weather holding water. Those big slow sand holes with some logs around them are the most productive places right now. Currently the lower half of the steelhead waters is full of ice but the top portion of river is in good shape. There is shelf ice but the holes and runs are still very fishable and it is not much of a problem. At the Rea Rd landing part of it has been plowed and so has the boat ramp. I would still not use this ramp without 4 wheel drive and best to have some salt/sand with you. Whirlpool landing is all plowed out but that boat ramp is pretty much all iced in and shelf ice is very bad in that area of river - from there to town. Weather forecast looks like a couple more nights of sub zero weather but then it shows a warming trend and more normal March weather next week. I have had to reschedule a few trips of late due to this very extreme cold weather but right now the plan is to start going again late this week. With the all the snow and ice around this year I would plan on the Spring run of steelhead lasting thru a good portion of May. In past years when colder Winters were a bit more common that was always the time frame for the lower river - mid March thru May! What has been working best of late in these cold temps is bouncing small egg patterns on a deep water nymphing rig or fishing small egg patterns or nymphs under a large indicator. Steelhead love to feed in the head of these holes or in the run coming into them when the bite is on. Swinging sculpin and leech patterns on sink tip fly lines can still produce but its has gotten tough of late with the extreme cold river temps.
For those looking for steelhead float trips this Spring I do have dates open. Any questions just email or call: email@example.com
February 25th - Had good fishing this afternoon with 3 nice chrome steelhead in the net. The top half of the steelhead waters were in good shape today and nice to see some bright fish coming up. That means Spring is almost here!!
Here are some of the fly patterns that have been very productive of late on the lower Au Sable River steelhead fishing. With the water being very cold and clear now - small and natural is the key. When that water starts to warm a little later this month we will be mixing back in some larger sculpins and leeches. We do have a good stock of steelhead flies now and they can be shipped right out: Steelhead Flies Online Sales
February 13th - Got to fish with Erik & Tanner today and had a great time. Fishing was very good and there are good numbers of steelhead in the river now. Forecast is showing a nice warming trend coming next week and spring is not far off now! Days on the river really start increasing now and we get back to doing some guided float trips next week.
February 5th - Its Winter today but not for long as our Spring steelhead & trout season kicks into gear here very soon as March is coming. Looking so forward to our spring steelhead fishing on the Au Sable! Since late last fall there have been good numbers of steelhead in the river and size has really increased this year for these Lake Huron fish. I will be using my 18' Stealthcraft power drifter this spring for all of our float trips and it has been just the prefect boat for the lower river this winter. One thing new I do have to offer this spring for those that like to fish and a long day on the river - half day in the steelhead water and then a half day upstream in the trout waters stripping streamers for big brown trout. For these trips plan on meeting first thing in the morning at the Whirlpool landing near Oscoda and we will put in a good 5 hours plus of steelhead fishing. Then a short break with about a 20 minute truck ride and nice shore lunch while we are launching boat into the trout waters upstream. Finish with a good 5 hours plus of streamer fishing for big browns in the best trophy waters of the Au Sable River. Hard to beat some nice steelies in the morning and then some big brown trout in the afternoon! We will be offering this trip at the same cost as our full day float trips at $395 - will provide all the gear for both types of fishing, flies and a nice shore lunch.
January 26th - Cold and snowy here on the Au Sable River but some good steelhead fishing! We were down a couple miles below Foote Dam here and there is shelf ice but still very easy to fish around it. Some beautiful chrome fish in the river now and look to the slow sand holes in these current temps. This one ate a small Hex nymph which is a top winter producer on the Au Sable River.
January 18th - Just a great afternoon of winter steelhead fishing today on the Au Sable River - hooked 8 and put 5 into the net! River is in excellent condition now and all of those ice jams and shelf ice are gone now. Water temps remain very cold and fish are in the deep slow water now. Best flies of late have been very small. Our micro egg clusters (chartreuse, orange and salmon), Streamside Hex and Hares ear have been our top patterns of late. Just love seeing the rebound of this fishery the last couple years and now Lake Huron is growing some wonderful steelhead!
January 18th - The best boat ramp on the river at the Au Sable River Store! Owner Lynn Davis did a wonderful job on it of late. For those looking for truck shuttles or steelhead tackle Lynn is always open. Rea Rd and Whirlpool are what I call useable ramps but be prepared with salt/sand, shovel, 4 wheel drive and some rope is not a bad idea.
Jan 4th - Enjoying the day of winter steelhead fishing on the Au Sable River!
Jan 4th - Conditions were very icy today and bite was bite slow but we still found a couple nice steelhead to grab our flies! Small egg patterns and nymphs having been working the best is this very cold water of late.
Jan 4th - Some major ice jams formed when all the shelf ice started to move. Maybe for some terrible conditions to get back to ramp. Greg did a great job with the oars on that ice and my Stealthcraft power drifter got thru that mess with no damage!
Jan 4th - Here is the Whirlpool Ramp and the ramp has been very useable but be ready for lots of ice if your going to use it! Got an email Jan 7th that the Michigan DNR was going to plow ramp at Rea Rd. Have not seen it yet but hopefully that one is usable also now.
Jan 3rd - Ross and Greg fixing up the ramp for us - thanks so much for helping. Out goes all that ice and in goes my boat!
December 28th - Here is a link to some great information on the new Atlantic Salmon stocking program for the Au Sable River and Lake Huron. With the way our steelhead have rebounded I just can't wait till next fall when some of these Atlantics start coming back to the Au Sable River!!!
December 28th - Excellent steelhead fishing today on the Au Sable River! Put 8 in the net and the bite was really on. One a Foxy Swinger and others on egg patterns & hex nymphs. Water was up a bit and had a slight stain today which is not that common in the lower river. Bright egg patterns in Chartreuse and large hex nymphs. Good numbers of fish in the river now and even in the cold weather should have some good steelhead fishing all winter long.
December 28th - Swinging sculpin & leech patterns are still productive in the winter months. Here is a new pattern that I have been fishing this fall and winter - The Foxy Swinger. It was tied by Pat Cohen and is combination of some of our other very productive patterns with a much better hook design on wire so it does not tangle. All Au Sable steelhead should be released - just like this one!
December 28th - Foxy Swinger in our 3 most productive colores.
December 28th - Winter steelhead rods - all custom built with Recoil snake guides (these don't ice up much) and 11' to 12'. Setup for deep water nymphing/egg patterns with lead, swinging streamers with a skagit line & sink tip and a indicator rod when floats are needed.
December 14th - Enjoying Winter in North East Michigan! Had some excellent steelhead fishing today on the Au Sable River and put 6 nice adult fish in the net. River has some good numbers of bright silver fish in it now but conditions are cold. This weekend was the late duck season in this region and had a great time doing some hunting also today on the river. Felt a little wrong not being able to bring Abbe with us but temps were too cold for her to retrieve.
Dec 10th - Had some good luck this afternoon in some very cold weather with high temps in the lower teens. There are good numbers of steelhead in the Au Sable now but conditions are very cold. Hitting lots of spots is the key right now and when you find a biter you typically find a few in row. With the short days and cold temps we are offering a winter rate on our guided float trips for those that want to give the winter fishing a try. This time of year what seems to work best for many is 6 hour trip with quick hot meal to warm everyone up (typically chill or soup) and lots of hot coffee. Rates for these trips with two anglers is $275 and all gear and flies is provided. We will also have heaters in the boat to keep those hands warm!
November 20th - Scott and his dad with some nice steelhead today in the lower Au Sable River! That big rain was just what the river needed and fish numbers have sure increased this week.
November 18th - The Rifle River is in excellent shape now and has a good number of steelhead in it. Great place to steelhead fish in the late fall!
November 16th - Todd with a nice Au Sable River steelhead!
October 21st - A beautiful steelhead from the Au Sable River today! Hooked 4 today and there are some nice adult fish in the river now.
Winston new BIII TH two handed rods are coming out late in October! We got a few on order and can't wait to fish the 12'9" 7wt in November. We will be stocking these for those looking for a new two handed rod.
THE BORON III TH series was designed with input from some of the finest spey casters in the world and successfully builds on Winston's two-handed tradition of handcrafting perfectly balanced, responsive, high-performance rods. Built with advanced Boron III technology, this series is more powerful, more responsive, smoother casting and has faster recovery than the incredibly popular Boron IIx two-handed series it replaces. This rod is also lightweight and allows an angler to present a fly with incredible accuracy and cast long distances, with ease. The Boron III TH is the ideal selection for any style of two-handed angling and can easily transition between Touch-and-Go, Underhand and Sustained Anchor techniques. No matter if you're fishing Traditional Spey, Skagit, Scandi or Switch lines, this series will meet the challenge. Offering extraordinary power, responsiveness and accuracy, the Boron III TH is perfectly balanced to enhance line delivery and minimize fatigue. This series has unquestionably set a new standard in the world of two-handed rods.
▪ Ideal selection for any style of two-handed
FEATURES▪ Action: Fast
▪ Grip: Two-handed
▪ Sections: 4-piece
▪ Color: Winston green
▪ Guides: TiCH finished stripper guide with nanoplasma ring casting, chrome snake guides
▪ Reel Seat(s): Anodized aluminum, down locking
▪ Storage: Premium graphite rod tube with logo tech rod sock
▪ Rod Specs: 6wt.-9wt. and lengths of 11ft.-15ft.
October 21st - This is great time of year to swing flies for steelhead. Here are some of our most productive patterns on the Au Sable.
These photos are from a couple years back but this is what we are waiting for in late Oct/early Nov!
November 1st - Brad with a very nice steelhead on the Au Sable River that just crushed a scuplin pattern being fished on a sink tip. The two handed & switch rods are very effective with time of year and just ideal to swing flies with the Rio Skagit lines and sink tips.
Three of our most productive late fall sculpin patterns for steelhead in the lower Au Sable.
Photos Below From Our Spring Steelhead Season 2012 On The Lower Au Sable.
May 1st - Rodrigo with a beautiful Au Sable River steelhead! Still good numbers of bright fish in the river and they seem to just keep coming. Water temps have moved up into the upper 40's and fish are much mover active. Got one to crush a large flashy leech pattern swung on a sink tip today.
April 28th - Don with a very nice steelhead on the lower Au Sable. Feeling like spring is here in Northern Michigan finally!
April 27th - Rich with his first Au Sable River steelhead!! Had some very good fishing today.
April 26th - Tom with fresh run steelhead right in from Lake Huron. Good fishing today with double digit hook ups!!
April 25th - Roger from USDA Wildlife Service has been such a huge help over the years taken care of the Cormorant problem in the lower river. This used to be a completely out of control problem in the lower river with these birds completely destroying all the young steelhead in the lower river. With lots of work the last 5 years from first volunteers for a Cormorant harassment project to now lethal control of problem birds this problem is really under control. As these trash bird numbers dropped in the lower river steelhead numbers have risen very sharply. Thank you to all those who have helped and it sure could not have been done without Roger and his shotgun!!
April 17th - Nick with a beautiful Au Sable River steelhead! Good fishing today and with the higher water they are starting to get a bit harder to land. With the high water of late bright colored large egg patterns in chartreuse have producing the most hook ups. Also black stones and some larger hex nymphs.
April 16th - Greg put some awesome steelhead in the net today! Water levels are very high but still 6-8' of good visibility.
Been the most enjoyable spring steelhead on the Au Sable in a long time for me - our adult fish are finally back in good numbers!!!
April 11th - Mike and Randy with nice chrome steelhead on the lower Au Sable River. Had some decent fishing today and put 6 in the net. Weather did not help with hard north east winds coming in off Lake Huron and lots of freezing rain. The river is at an extreme high right now and this is bringing good numbers of steelhead into the river now! Should have the best steelhead fishing of year over the three weeks.
April 10th - Love to see all the attention the Michigan DNR is giving to the lower Au Sable the last few years and watching this steelhead fishery continue to rebound with wonderful adult fish returning now. Here is DNR shocking boat yesterday survey steelhead in the lower Au Sable! First truck load of stocked steelhead were released at Rea Rd today and the fish looked to be such a nice size and so health. On top of this starting a new Atlantic Salmon program! A huge thank you to all those involved and to the our Michigan DNR!
April 10th - Mike and Randy with some wonderful steelhead on the Au Sable River today and put 6 in the net! Water was rising fast all day and one float gate came on. Floated river but still some decent fishing. Large chartreuse egg patterns, black stones, hex nymphs have been working the best of late.
April 4th - Kevin and his son Logon floated the Au Sable River today with river guide Erik Peterson. Had some good steelhead fishing today with some bright silver steelhead put in the net and number of them that broke off. Good number of fish are around now and look to the deep slow water.
April 2nd - Finally after all of these years of talk about stocking Atlantic Salmon in the Au Sable River they are finally here!!!! 30,000 one year old Atlantics were stocked today and all seemed to go so smooth. Above Anna put the first scoop of them in the Au Sable and these young salmon seemed to just love the current cold water. The current plan by the Michigan DNR is continuing these Atlantic's till 2018 and then evaluate the program. Currently Atlantic's are doing so well in Lake Huron and what they like to eat is what Lake Huron is full of - all types of shiners. So looking for to the first run of these in the next couple falls. Should make for excellent shoreline streamer fishing in the spring and fall. A special thank you the Anglers of the Au Sable and the Au Sable Big Waters Preservation Associations for all of their working in helping bring these awesome salmon to the Au Sable River.
March 31st - A bit of slow day but we still hooked a few nice steelhead and Calvin landed this beauty! Water levels are on the rise today and spring is coming.
March 30th - Gil and Bob with nice Au Sable River brown trout and steelhead today in the lower river!
March 29th - Just love seeing these nice adult steelhead coming back to the Au Sable River this year!!!
March 24th - Greg with a bright silver Au Sable Steelhead! River is in pretty a much a winter state with the low cold water but there are good numbers of adult fish around right now. Small flies have produced best of late - micro cluster eggs, hex nymphs, great lakes shrimp.
March 24th - Tanner, Ted and Adam all put beautiful steelhead in the net today. It is so cool seeing the increase in adult steelhead returning to the Au Sable this year!!
March 23rd - Alex with his first steelhead. Always awesome to see angler put that first one in the net!!!
March 22nd - Albert with just an awesome Au Sable River steelhead - today was the day when they all wanted to bite and pushing 20 hookups!!
March 20th - Bright silver steelhead being released on the Au Sable River - like they all should be!
March 14th - Mitch with a very cool looking winter steelhead on the Au Sable River today. He has been floating with Erik the last few days and been putting a bunch in the net every day!!
March 11th - Mitch and Erik had a huge day today on the Au Sable and put some great fresh run steelhead in the net. Still lots of snow upstream in the Au Sable River system and look for a lot of new water the next couple days. Seeing these wonderful adult steelhead in the lower river again is just so cool and so looking forward to the rest of this spring!!
March 11th - Beautiful Au Sable steelhead being released back to the river - like they all should be!!
Feb 24th - Erik with just a beautiful Au Sable steelhead after just getting home from Arkansas. Just some wonderful steelhead in the river now. Erik will be guiding for us this spring on the Au Sable River for steelhead & trout and does have dates open.
Jan 18th - Greg with a nice winter Au Sable steelhead. Bitter cold morning with temps around zero but still some nice steelhead to be caught!!
Jan 5th - Adam with beautiful steelhead in the lower Au Sable! Snow depth in the Oscoda area and in the steelhead waters is very low with just a couple inches. As soon as you go upstream it gets much deeper.
Dec 18th - Ted getting ready to release an awesome winter Au Sable steelhead!
Dec 8th - Barney with a beautiful Au Sable River steelhead! Numbers of adult steelhead remains good in the river and new ones keep coming. Water levels remain low and this can really effect the bite from day to day. Snow is in the forecast and that would be a good thing!
This time of year it is soup or chill and steaks on the river for our afternoon meal on our float trips!
December 2nd - Full range of age classes this year on the Au Sable and just loving the steelhead we have been catching this year!
December 1st - Kris with a couple beautiful Au Sable River steelhead. Had some excellent action in the early morning hours today and put 4 steelhead in the net on today's float.
November 30th - Now is the time for swinging the larger sculpin and leech patterns on the lower Au Sable! Typically our natural or rust colored sculpins are our top producers but today Dolly Llama in purple/white. This new pattern has been ideal for steelhead and big trout with other top colors being black/white and olive/white.
November 16th - Tom fighting a nice Au Sable steelhead that just crushed sculpin pattern below on the left. So many of the Lake Huron steelhead just love these natural or rust colored larger patterns.
Nov 12th - Excellent steelhead fishing today! Best bite was on the larger sculpin patterns and this fly below produced 4 very aggressive hook ups. Fished the new Sage 12'6" 7wt ONE today and just loved it. Fished the Rio Scandi Short VersiTip with a 10' T-8 sink tip on this rod today and it was ideal in the current low water. The next month or so is the time for those that love to swing for steelhead on the Au Sable. Currently the micro egg patterns and small shrimp patterns have been top patterns for deep water nymphing and been producing well of late.
November 2nd - Some bright chrome steelhead are showing up in the lower Au Sable in decent numbers with some good fishing today! November is one of my favorite months here in Michigan it is finally here!!!!
Finally someone got it right - St. Mary's and Au Sable Rivers come first to get Atlantic Salmon this coming spring!! Next in line Thunder Bay River.
Anglers Of The Au Sable support the introduction of Atlantic Salmon into the Au Sable River. Article from The Riverwatch. http://www.michiganstreamside.com/angler-article.htm
Here is some good video of late fall steelhead fishing on the lower Au Sable River. We took Michigan Out of Doors TV for a float down the lower Au Sable for some late fall/early winter steelhead fishing in mid December 2011. It aired recently on there weekly TV show and can be viewed online at: http://www.michiganoutofdoorstv.com/shows.cfm?VideoID=169
Sept 28th - Switch rods and Two Handed rods are ready to go when steelhead start showing up on the Lower Au Sable River in late Oct/Nov. We have a good stock of these rods in the new Sage ONE series and also in the TCX series. For those that are looking to cast them we can sure set that up for you. For those looking to purchase we do offer free shipping anywhere in the world. That 13' 6" 7wt should be just ideal for the lower Au Sable - just a month off now!!!
April 19th - Fred with real nice Au Sable River steelhead! Overall steelhead has been a bit slow of late but we sure found one run full of them today. Hooked a bunch and landed a couple real nice late run steelhead.
April 16th - Ben with some nice steelhead on the Au Sable River! Had to the whole river to ourselves today - I guess most did not want to fish in those 40mps winds. Surprisingly it made for an excellent day of steelhead fishing! Double digit hookups and 7 in the net.
April 11th - Andy with a couple of nice Au Sable River steelhead! Conditions are making it a bit tougher of late but still some nice fish in the river. In need of a good rain to up those water levels and bring in another push of bright steelhead.
April 6th - Paul and his sons with a couple of nice steelhead today on the Au Sable. Had pretty good fishing with a bit of bad luck on the landing.
April 3rd - Brad and John with a couple of nice Au Sable Steelhead today!
April 2nd - Todd and Kurt with a couple of nice Au Sable steelhead. Lots of action today!
April 1st - Andy with a couple of just beautiful Au Sable River steelhead. Had to work for them a bit today but still hooked some great fish today and landed a few!
March 31 - Bruce and Neil had some excellent fishing today on the lower Au Sable River. Great to see some of the guys from the upper river come down to see how our much improved steelhead fishing is going this spring. Also a big thank you Bruce (president of the Anglers of the Au Sable) for showing such concern on the current issues of the lower river and our steelhead fishery!
March 30th - Erik and Albert with a great steelhead on the Au Sable River today!
March 29th - Tom and Dave with a huge day on the Au Sable River steelhead fishing. Double digit hook ups today!
March 26th - Tim fighting, landing and releasing a very nice Au Sable River steelhead! Had good fishing today with 7 in the net! Look to the deep gravel runs right now to be holding good numbers of fresh run steelhead.
March 23rd - Greg with a very cool Au Sable River steelhead! Pretty amazing how well the Lake Huron steelhead have grown the past year.
March 18th - Mark & Jim landed a bunch of beautiful steelhead today on the Au Sable River! Excellent fishing today with summer like weather. Hex nymphs and black stones were the top producers today. Water levels remain high and river is in great shape for steelhead fishing.
March 17th - Calvin & Jacob with some very nice steelhead today on the Au Sable River. Excellent fishing today and good numbers of steelhead holding in the deeper slow holes.
March 16th - Excellent steelhead fishing today! Egg patterns fished down deep in the big sand holes has been producing very well of late.
March 5th - Keith & Cameron steelhead fishing on the Au Sable River! Bitter cold this morning but still landed five very nice steelhead. Warm weather is coming this week and steelhead fishing should remain excellent.
March 3rd - Today was snow storm day in Northern Michigan and it missed the lower Au Sable. Just rain here and some excellent steelhead this afternoon. Small cluster egg patterns have been working very well of late.
Just a beautiful sunset in the steelhead waters of the lower Au Sable and photo was taken by Adam Peterson.
Feb 28th - Found a bunch of bright silver ones today!
Feb 26th - Here some photos from Erik's boat today and they had just an excellent day with double digit hookups!
Feb 18th - A bit of fresh snow and some excellent steelhead fishing this morning on the lower Au Sable! Just got these photos from Erik and they are still on the river.
Feb 17th - Greg with some nice winter steelhead on the lower Au Sable. Excellent bite today and hooked 12! Good numbers of darker winter steelhead are in the river right now and some bright silver ones are starting to show up. Of late lots of different small egg patterns have been top producers but today at least half came on nymphs. Small natural hex nymph was our top fly today.
Feb 17th - Chris was floating with Erik today and they also had a lot of action. Just beautiful a steelhead!
Jan 20th - Dan and Jason with some very nice Au Sable River steelhead. It took a while for winter to get here this year but it was here today with very cold temps starting in single digits and warming to mid teens. Turned into a nice day for some winter steelhead fishing as at least the winds stayed down. Enjoyed the float and even with the less than ideal condition still had decent fishing with 4 nice steelhead hooked. Great thing about cold temps is you get the river to yourself as we did not see another angler today.
Jan 20th - Fighting steelhead with the two handed fly rod setup with an indictor rig and small egg patterns. For having extreme cold, river was in decent shape but levels were falling today and water is very low right now. Shelf ice is growing but not bad at all.
Jan 18th - Some great action this afternoon and I got out for a few hours - hooked 6 and landed 4. Been putting a lot more time into the winter steelhead fishing on the Au Sable this year and looking forward to doing more winter guide trip. As many of you know there have been some rough times in recent years for this section of river but what a change starting this late fall. With so many nice size steelhead and a few different age classes coming back from the Lake Huron now - the future is looking bright!
Jan 16th - Some very low water today on the lower Au Sable. We put in the late morning when water started to come back and had some pretty good fishing. On the lower Au Sable very cold nights typically means low water.
Jan 12th - Albert and Erik with some nice steelhead on the Au Sable River! Good bite today just before the heavy snows started. Last night's snow did put some extra water in the lower river and should be ideal for the fishing.
Jan 11th - Herb with a real nice winter steelhead on the Au Sable. Got to love guys that put the kind of time into winter steelheading like Herb and been catching some nice fish this winter.
Jan 8th - Just a beautiful Au Sable River steelhead being released like they ALL should!
Jan 8th - Albert with a nice steelhead on the lower Au Sable while floating with Erik. The winter steelhead fishing continues to remain pretty consistent! Could use some good snow or rain.
Jan 7th - Excellent winter steelhead fishing continues on the lower Au Sable River! Fished just the afternoon today and we put 5 bright ones in net - just good steady fishing of late.
Jan 6th - Small flies have been the key of late on the Au Sable. Typical in the winter our most productive small flies are natural type nymphs like Hex, Green & Cream Caddis, Hares Ear and Stone Flies. These have been producing but of late our micro egg clusters have been producing most of our hook up. Been a little surprise how hard they have been taking these little flies!
Jan 5th - Adam & Erik got out on the lower Au Sable just for the afternoon and went 4 for 7 with some nice bright steelhead!
Jan 1st - New Model in from Abel with their Chrome Steelhead finish. The Super 9/10N is just the ideal model for the longer steelhead rods! Size and weight is perfect (4.2" diameter & 8.2 oz) for switch rods & small two handed rods. Reel is large enough to hold any of the steelhead lines for these rods. I have been fishing this one on my 11' 9" 7wt TCX and 11' 8wt Z-Axis - my new favorite steelhead reel. Will be keeping one of these in stock along with a good stock of other Abel's with their fish graphics finish.
Dec 31st - Strange to be fishing the last day of year with no snow! Had some good fishing today and landed 3 nice steelhead on lower Au Sable.
December 24th - Good steelhead fishing today in the lower Au Sable! Small flies down deep has been producing the best of late. Lots of different egg patterns - nuke eggs, glo bugs, micro clusters.
Here is the before and after graphs - above Dec 2009 before auto flow system was installed and below Dec 2011 with flows running smoothly with the current conditions.
What a positive change it has made to the river and the steelhead fishery and hopefully it continues!
December 23rd - Corey and Craig with a couple very nice Au Sable River Steelhead - Good action continues!
December 16th - Jordan Browne from Michigan Out-of-Doors TV came today to film some steelhead fishing in the lower river. Lots of changing weather of late and it did seem like the bite was sure not as good as the past few days. Still we hooked 6 and landed 3. Hopefully Jordan will be able to put together a nice piece for one of there up coming shows this winter.
December 15th - Feel like spring had come today with morning temps in the middle 50's! Excellent fishing today with some nice chrome fish around. Here is one being released like they all should be on the Au Sable.
A nice article that Eric Sharp wrote about steelhead fishing on the lower Au Sable River and improvements of our fishery.
December 8th - David with a bright silver Au Sable River Steelhead! Starting to feel like winter today with high winds and cold temps. Small egg patterns produced the best today.
December 7th - David with a nice Au Sable River steelhead!
December 6th - Greg with some excellent steelhead fishing on the Au Sable River today!
December 4th - Tom and John with some nice Au Sable River steelhead today! Bright silver steelhead above just crushed a sculpin pattern being swung on sink tip. Recent rains and warm up were just ideal for this fishery. Lower River is in great shape right now and steelhead remains pretty good!
November 28th - Excellent steelhead fishing in the lower Au Sable the last couple weeks and double digit hook ups today! With warmer than normal November we have had this year river temps are still in the lower 40's and fish are very aggressive with some great fights. Changes in the steelhead stocking and improved flow management at Foote Dam sure seems to be working.
Nov 11-19th - We just got back from steelhead fishing Alaska's Situk River and had good time! Conditions were not as planned and we got pretty much buried in snow. Cut into our fishing time but what a beautiful river and some great looking steelhead. Will be posting more photos in the next couple days.
Sept 28th - Alex with just a huge lake run brown trout! Been seeing a number of these lately coming from Lake Huron tributaries in North East Michigan. Look for steelhead to start very soon!
May 5th - Ben with great looking Au Sable River Steelhead! Had some pretty good fishing today putting 6 in the net. Still bright silver fish entering river and should have a couple more good weeks of spring steelhead fishing.
May 1st - Scott with nice steelhead on the lower Au Sable today! Fishing just continues to keep getting better and finding some nice adult steelhead now. With the high water and some larger fresh run fish getting them in the net was the probably today. Hooked over a dozen today!
April 30th - Scott with a very nice fresh run Au Sable River Steelhead!
April 29th - Some beautiful Au Sable River Steelhead and some excellent fishing this evening! I have cancelled float trips on the lower river since Tuesday due to nasty weather and flood conditions. Went down late this afternoon after flood gates were closed and river is in great shape. Fishing has also excellent! Hopefully more of this continues for the month of May!
April 29th - The water clears quickly below Foote and is in great shape now. One of the best high water steelhead rivers in the Michigan!!
April 24th - Craig with cool looking Au Sable River steelhead! Water was on the rise today and had some great action.
April 21st - Tom and Tom with a couple of nice bright silver steelhead on the Au Sable. Numbers of steelhead in the river continue to increase everyday of late! These guys had a great way to enjoy the Au Sable - steelhead one day in lower river and next day trout in the Big Waters.
April 19th - After a slow start to the spring steelhead run finally starting to see some fish! Water temps finally hit 40 degrees and all ice is off Foote Pond.
April 16th - Long time Au Sable angler Aaron Mastro with as bright of a steelhead as they come! Numbers have been a bit low of late and love seeing this great Lake Huron steelhead released back to river.
April 12th - These young steelhead have become a very common sight since this fall. Spring of 2010 the stocking location was brought back up to Rea Rd at the top of the steelhead water. For the first time in over a decade these fish stayed in the river till mid to late May with out those nasty cormorants eating them. Past cormorant harassment projects worked so well numbers of birds did not come into river and let hope the same for this year. Not really a surprised the number of this sized steelhead shot right up. These fish should be released because they are the future. Stocking starts this week and the same plan as last year is going to happen. Very high water on the river today and starting to see some nice chrome adult fish in the river also!
April 12th - Foote Pond is still completely frozen and keeping the steelhead water very cold in upper 30's. When this ice is gone typically the best numbers of steelhead enter river. With the very late spring look for Steelhead fishing to last most of May.
April 13th - High and still very clear in the top of river below Foote. As you go down stream it does start getting a bit dirty. Water was still rising yesterday after I took this photo. Should be ideal levels late this week.
April 10th - Here is what we are looking for! A bright silver fresh run steelhead. Should be bunch more of these around in the next week.
March 24th - Alex with a nice North East Michigan steelhead and winter is sure back this week. There are a number of smaller streams that feed the northern portion of Lake Huron that do get a nice run of steelhead and typically you will not see another angler this time of year. Going to have to search these streams out on your own as I cannot post these on web!
March 15th - Fighting an Au Sable River steelhead with our indictor method on 11' 9" 7wt custom Sage fly rod. Lower river is still ice cold and very low water of late. The use of small floats is ideal to get a perfect drift in and around all of the logs in the slow deep holes.
March 14th - Water levels are very low right now in lower river and hopefully with the warm temps we get some good run off very soon.
Feb 25th - Spring steelhead fishing is here!
Feb 20th - A bright silver Au Sable River steelhead! Ideal weather today before the snow storm started and fairly good fishing - hooked 3 and landed 2. Spring is not here yet but it is coming soon! We are coming into one of favorite times for lower Au Sable late winter/early spring. This time of year you can have all kinds of different weather from bitter cold winter to a nice spring day. Great time to find bright silver steelhead and not much fishing pressure. We are booking spring trips now and peak spring run would be considered mid March thru early May.
Feb 18th - Enjoyed the morning steelhead fishing with Abbe on the lower Au Sable River! She is growing up so fast and becoming such a good boat dog. She was with me for a week of fishing in Arkansas and now going just about every time on the Au Sable.
Feb 18th - Here are my typically setups for steelhead fishing this time of year on the lower Au Sable River. Two Handed 12'6" 7wt TCX with a Rio Skagit Flight line & T-14 sink tip for swinging streamers, 11' 8wt Z-Axis switch rod with a Rio Switch floating fly line for indicator rig, and 10' 7wt Z-Axis with Rio shooting line for deep water nymphing. Could also add a 9' 8wt Xi3 or BII-MX with a Rio 250 DC 24' sink tip for streamer fishing the very lower end near Lake Huron.
Jan 31st - The last 4 years there has been a lot of complaints about how hydro dams have been operated on the Au Sable River and how they negatively affect the conditions for steelhead & trout fishing on the Au Sable River. In the past most discussions have all been based on justifications for the current plan of operations but today our Michigan DNR is sounding a bit different! Talks of truly looking into the flow problems, looking into how past hydro operations have changed the Au Sable River, and looking for some solutions for improvements. Received this letter today and maybe this is a sign of good things to come for the Au Sable River!
Kelly, I wanted to give you a brief update on where we are at this time in dealing with the issues on the AuSable River. I spent quite a bit of time last week reviewing the AuSable gauge data along CPCo operations information and it is pretty clear that there are some very odd readings coming from both Red Oak and McKinley, given the geology and overall hydrology of the AuSable River. The question is whether these readings are part of the natural river hydrology or the result of man-made perturbations such as historic logging or peaking (Mio was a full peaking operation until 1969). We are going to look at the historic record both the early surveyors' information for channel width information and a series of historic aerial photos to see what we can determine on the root cause of these issues. As you have pointed out to us, there is a lot of unexpected instability in cold water flows that we suspect are the result of an over-wide channel from previous human activities. Since these readings are the root cause of the rest of the system instability and if human-caused, we will focus attention and efforts to move these channels back to something more natural to the system. If human-caused, we will work to get the channel back to a more natural and normal stream shape which may make a large difference in the hydrology of the system as a narrower channel is not as likely to freeze up as the current channel does. We are starting this background work now and will keep you updated as we go. Your observations really helped to point a key hydrology issue that could help the whole system. I would also like to know from your perspective what the specific habitat issues when the flows are low below Foote Dam. Are there particular areas that have problems that we can focus on? We intend to take a detailed look at this reach of river to see what can be done to improve conditions there and really can use your insights to help focus our efforts. This is being driven by the knowledge that the AuSable River does not have a lot of stream power (flow and gradient equal power) to move sediment in the channel from the many, many years of peaking abuses, thus there is a lot of material in storage in the channel and given the lack of stream power, it will take a very low time for the channel to come to equilibrium. We maybe able to take some measures to increase the channel efficiency in moving sediments, increase deeper water even in lower flows, and move the stream to an expected future equilibrium point quicker. We would appreciate your help and knowledge in this area.
Finally, we are also working on some fine tuning measures for the flows below Foote. These will not be wholesale as some have suggested and we need to make sure they are doable. I should know more in the next few days and we will try to get them implemented quickly. We know that the forecast for the week is for very cold temperatures which will create more of the same issues for anglers. I will let you know more here as I do.
In summary, we intend to tackle the channel issues that you and others have pointed out to us. We also will try to make some improvements to the flows in the interim. Your observations and thoughts have been a great help and we will need your detailed experience with channel conditions in the lower AuSable River so we can be focused in our efforts.
Gary E. Whelan
MI DNR Fisheries Division
P.O. Box 30446Lansing, MI 48909
Jan 26th - Here is one angler that sure knows how to catch winter fish - Herb with a very nice Au Sable River steelhead! After some nasty flows last week river is running good right now - steady at 1200 cfs of late. This is ideal for winter fishing and hopefully it continues.
Jan 24th - The Au Sable River and it anglers deserve better! Two years ago automatic system for Foote Dam was discussed in public meeting in Oscoda with concerned anglers, Consumers Energy, Michigan DNR, and other oversee agencies. Consumers Energy stated erratic flows were caused by manual operations and predicting the water coming into Foote Pond. Installing automatic controls on Foote Dam was explained to us as way to greatly improve problem. What a load of Bull Shit that was! Automatic system was attached to the most erratic gauge on river and what happened? Now flows are more erratic and it happens everyday in the winter months - all by design! Anglers that are sick of this abuse need to voice your feeling - we deserve better.
Whelan, Gary (DNRE) [WHELANG@michigan.gov]
Kruger, Kyle (DNRE) [KRUGERK@michigan.gov]
Borgeson, Dave (DNRE) [BorgesonD@michigan.gov]
Here is more info on this issue from the past couple years:
January 15th - Swinging flies on the lower Au Sable for steelhead. Of late this method has been producing some nice fish. Rio Skagit Flight fly line with a 12' sink tip of T-14 has been ideal setup of late. Below are 3 sculpin patters that have all been producing.
Here is link to a youtube video of fighting a nice winter steelhead on the lower Au Sable with two handed rod.
December 30th - Erik with just a perfect Au Sable River steelhead that was caught swinging a sculpin pattern on a sink tip. Had good fishing today hooking 4 steelhead and putting 2 in the net. Water condition were very low but fish were very active and all fish today were on streamers. Hopefully river gets a little new water this weekend and should continue to bring these bright silver fish in from Lake Huron.
December 30th - Two handed fly rods are ideal for swinging streamers and the 12' 6" 7wt Sage TCX is my favorite. Here is rod in action today!
December 30th - This rust colored sculpin pattern has been hot of late and out fished our nymphs and eggs of late! Last 2 floats it has hooked 5 steelhead.
December 26th - Even in cold weather steelhead will just crush a streamer at times! Natural sculpin patterns are the most productive streamers right now. Most productive method of late has been fishing egg & nymph patterns fished down deep under a float. Been seeing more steelhead in the lower Au Sable River that last few days and more nice sized adult fish. Should have some good fishing with warmer weather forecasted late this week.
Dec 21st - We went as far downstream as you could go today on the Au Sable River and fished right thru town and out into Lake Huron. Still good numbers of young steelhead holding in the deep holes right now and some good action. Adult fish have been tough to find of late but we will keep looking! This time of year is just a great time to steelhead fish for those that like to enjoy the winter months outdoors and looking forward to more days on the river over the next couple weeks. Water levels are back to being more stable after very poor operations last week - this should make for better fishing over the next week.
December 17th - Back to some extremely poor operations at Foote Dam and the lower Au Sable's steelhead water. These fall outs have been a major issue the last few winters and in so many ways have been address very poorly by Consumers Energy and our Michigan DNRE. New automatic system at Foote was installed a year ago and was supposed to make improvements to these major flow swing problems during the cold weather months. Has it made improvements in this area? Not in the least bit! Did the current system have a chance at improvements? Never had a chance and those setting it up knew this. What new system has done is smoothed the curves out some and dams on the Au Sable do seem to follow each other better which is a good thing. Over the last couple weeks our DNRE has assured me they are finally working on some changes to this system at Foote that would really address flow issues. Sounds to me like they truly are working on problem right now and have stated should have a new plan very soon. But will there be changes done this winter? I sure hope so because the lower Au Sable River and its steelhead anglers deserve so much better than what is happening currently!
December 15th - Here is what happens to our river when Consumers Energy is allowed to operated Foote Dam as they see fit. Time for those oversee agencies to step up and demand change!
December 10th - Took Abbe on first trip in boat down the Au Sable steelhead fishing today. She did very well but got a little excited when steelhead started jumping around and did ended up going for a swim. At least she was smart enough to head for shore after realizing she could not get back to boat. Fishing has pretty good and hooked 3 nice fresh run fish in just a couple hours of fishing. Sure looking forward to more winter steelhead after this weeks storm blows thru!
December 4th - A young steelhead that just crushed a Conrad Scuplin in the lower Au Sable River. There have been good numbers of this size steelhead around this fall. There are some nice 8-10lb adult steelhead in the river now but numbers are low. Did hook one real nice one today! With the colder weather settling in, look to the deeper sand holes to be holding the most fish. Water levels are pretty low right now but at least they have been stable this week which is typically good for the bite. If the cold weather sticks around this week it is time to break out the nymphing rods.
November 26th - Many are asking what happened to the lower Au Sable on Wed. It is very simple - Consumers Energy made believe it rained on Tuesday and ran higher water at Foote to generate power. Too much water was run off of Foote Pond and then the collapse happened. All of November operations have been piss poor by Consumers Energy on the lower Au Sable. There have been almost daily discussions on this issue this month with personal from our DNRE that are in charge of oversee these operations. All can be assured they are extremely clear on my views and how this is having a huge negative effect on the lower Au Sable steelhead fishery. Yes lack of rain has sure not helped this issue this fall but it is not the cause. The last month Consumers Energy has been releasing data on the levels of the ponds above Foote Dam. It clearly shows throughout the month of November water has been increasing in these ponds and yes Foote Dam has been set too low most days. Then when the first bit of rain comes flows are turned way to make power - regardless of if it really rains or not. This is clearly violating license agreements on how Foote is supposed to be operated. Some do not like it when I state this but I can not help it if the truth hurts some peoples feelings. Time for those oversee agencies to step up and protect our steelhead fishery on the Au Sable River. Steelhead numbers have increased nicely this fall but without proper water levels fishing will be very slow. Will post more info as soon as I have it.
November 19th - A beautiful steelhead from the shoreline of Lake Huron. These fish are very aggressive when you find them and top streamers have been goby and baitfish patterns. With the lack of rain this fall the shoreline of Lake Huron is a good place to look for mint silver steelhead! If we get some good rains look for river numbers of steelhead to increase.
November - Here is assortment of the patterns that I swing for steelhead in the lower Au Sable. We will adding these to our online sales section in the next couple days along with a bunch great new steelhead patterns.
November - Above is excellent two handed rod that I fished last week on the Au Sable River - Redington CPX 13' 3" 8wt. Was very impressed with this rod and it is an ideal two handed rod for our Great Lakes steelhead rivers and at an affordable price. I fished it with a Rio Skagit Flight fly line and 12' & 14' sink tips of T-14 - casted just beautifully! Rod was balanced very nice and just the right weight for a big steelhead. We are now stocking this rod along a number of other two handed & switch rods below - Sage TCX 12'6" 7wt, Sage TCX switch rods, Winston BII-MX switch rods, Sage Z-Axis 12' 9" 8wt, Redinton switch rods and more. If interested, any questions, would like to cast or fish one of these just let me know at: firstname.lastname@example.org We do offer free shipping anywhere in the world on all of our products!
November 16th - River is very low and clear today making for some tough steelhead fishing conditions. It is about time for some good snows also - any kind of precipitation would be a big plus for the river!
November 7th - Dale with a nice Au Sable steelhead. Fishing sink tips and swinging sculpin & baitfish patterns has been the most effective method of late. Fishing was a bit tougher this weekend as river dropped a bit more and bright sunny conditions. River is still very warm for this time of year and steelhead numbers should continue to build with more wet/cold weather.
November 5th - Tom fighting a nice steelhead and below releasing it back to the Au Sable! Had real good action today and put 6 in the net.
November 5th - There sure have been a lot these size steelhead in the Au Sable of late! So good to see and should be excellent for our future fishery. This one above just crushed a natural sculpin pattern. Below are some of the flies that have been most effective of late.
November 1st - Brad with a very nice steelhead on the Au Sable River that just crushed a scuplin pattern being fished on a sink tip. The two handed & switch rods are very effective with time of year and just ideal to swing flies with the Rio Skagit lines and sink tips.
November 1st - Fred fighting a nice steelhead this morning before the sun came up and it was bit cold with temps in the teens this morning. Early start paid off with 2 in the net from the first hole we fished!
October 31st - Ross and Greg hit some steelhead on the Au Sable today!
October 29th - Recent rains and these younger 2 year olds were just everywhere today! Great to see more of these this fall and a great sign for the future.
October 26th - Nick is working some deep pockets behind some gravel looking for steelhead. Storm was coming fast today with high winds and rain. Fishing was a bit slow today. Still mostly younger steelhead in the river.
Oct 18th - Had a great day on the lower Au Sable with some good steelhead fishing and river duck/goose hunting today!
November steelhead fly fishing is coming real soon on the lower Au Sable River. If we get some good rains and cool weather look for fall runs to start in lake October. Photos above are all November steelhead from the past couple years and this is considered prime time for fall fish. Steelhead are very aggressive this month and swinging leeches, sculpins and baitfish patterns can be very productive. When the big flies are not working egg patterns and nymph are always top producers.
Photos below from Spring 2010, Fall 2009 and the past Winter
April 22nd - Fighting a steelhead in clear waters of the Au Sable River.
April 22nd - Eric and Mark with some very nice Au Sable River steelhead! The morning started out very slow but had a good afternoon of fishing.
April 21st - Joe and Larry had a good day of steelhead fishing on the lower Au Sable River. Water levels have been very low of late and the small nymphs & egg patterns did the job today.
April 16th - Summer like weather today and we hooked and landed a couple nice steelhead. As you see water levels are getting very low and river is need of a little rain. In the low water swinging leech & sculpins patterns on sink tips can be very productive this time of year. Should be at least a couple more good weeks of steelhead fishing in the lower river.
April 9th - Good rains with higher water and some excellent fishing today on the lower Au Sable. Double digit hookups!
Cormorants (flying rats) will be coming very soon to the lower Au Sable! This picture is from last spring but look for an early migration due to the early spring. The last three springs USDA Wildlife Services and the Michigan DNR have setup a cormorant harassment project to protect these young steelhead. This project will be going again this coming April and volunteers are needed. To protect the steelhead volunteers are stationed throughout the river where the birds really group up. Flare-type guns are used to shoot pyrotechnics to keep birds on the move. When birds do get very heavy USDA personal do come in and remove some birds with shotguns. The last 3 years steelhead have been put in the river very close to the mouth and this year some changes are being made to the stocking process. Stocking pens are going to be used to hold a good number of the steelhead in the lower river. With the use of these pens young steelhead are safe and will grow & get imprinted to the Au Sable. A good portion of fish will not fit in the pens and they will be stocked just below Foote Dam at Rea Rd. With stocking these young fish 10 miles up from the mouth the cormorant harassment will have to change from past years. Now the problem will be in the upper portion of the river to begin with and volunteers and fisherman are needed to help. Young fish are supposed to stocked in the second week of April and I will post dates when I have them.
I would like to really thank our DNR, USDA, and all volunteers who have helped the past 3 years! So far this year there has been an increase in the number of steelhead returning to the Au Sable and we are seeing larger fish. Not letting these young fish get eaten is huge and hopefully this year goes even better.
Those that would like to help or want more info just email me at email@example.com
March 29th - A beautiful Au Sable River steelhead. Water levels are low right now and good rain is really needed. Even in the low water we have been getting some nice bright silver fish in the deep runs and holes.
March 19th - Ron with a very cool Au Sable River steelhead! Some say it is a little early for steelhead on the Au Sable. Other say it is prime time right now! We have been hooking some very nice steelhead each float down the river of late. If you're looking for some bright silver steelhead in the deep holes in a gin clear river with no pressure now is the time.
March 19th - I just love this photo of Ron releasing steelhead back into the clear waters of the Au Sable. You want more steelhead to catch and larger fish - then do not kill the ones we have!
March 16th - Matt with a bright silver Au Sable River steelhead. Just a perfect day on the river today! Got to love seeing fresh run steelhead like this one. River is in great shape right now - up a bit and running very clear.
March 16th - Went to shoreline of Lake Huron this evening and had some good action with two steelhead on streamers. Right now is the time to fly fishing the river mouths and shoreline of Lake Huron for these big trout - Steelhead, Browns and Lakers.
March 6th - Kris Walley with a very nice Au Sable River Steelhead. Such a nice day on the river today. Perfect weather for March with temp into the middle 40's, almost no fishing pressure and a few nice fresh run steelhead! The river is still running very low and fish are holding in the slow deep water. Today we fished switch rods (Sage 11' 8wt Z-Axis) with floating lines, floats and small nymphs/eggs down deep. Top fly producer were Great Lakes Shrimp and our Streamside Hex. Warm weather is forecasted for the next few days. This should bring water levels up a bit and some fresh run fish from Lake Huron.
Sage Switch rod in action fighting an Au Sable steelhead! These 11'ers are just ideal rods for the early spring steelhead fishing. Float lines and large indictors (just coming out of water in photo) with these longer rods work extremely well for slow deep pools. This time of year that is where the fish are.
Here are some of our most productive steelhead nymphs of late on the lower Au Sable of late. From left to right: Impossihex is new pattern we got this winter from Michael Schmidt and it has been very effective in the clear water of the lower Au Sable. Great Lakes Shrimp, Streamside Hex and 20 incher Stone are all long time favorites for winter and spring steelhead.
March 1st - There have been a lot of young steelhead 18-20" of late caught on the lower Au Sable River like the one above. These fish are the future of our steelhead fishing and need to be released. The last few years the Michigan DNR has been trying to improve the stocking process by putting stocked fish in earlier in the spring and lower in the system. Also volunteers have worked the last three Aprils to protect these young stocked steelhead from the nasty Cormorants that try to eat them. It is so good to now see more of these 2 year old steelhead in the river and hopefully it means more adult fish in the future.
Feb 24th - A very nice fresh run steelhead on the lower Au Sable. There are some nice steelhead around right now and fishing is pretty good for winter fishing. After fishing the very lower section by Lake Huron and I went upstream and hit a couple holes. Hooked two nice adult steelhead in a couple hours using floats and small hex nymphs & egg patterns. I ran into some buddies from Alpena and they had put a couple in the net with this nice chromer above that Chris caught. Spring is coming soon and typically what kicks spring steelhead run into high gear is a good flush of water - which I'm sure is not far off. Weather is looking pretty nice for the coming week with highs in the upper 30's!
Feb 24th - This is still a bit early but with the mild February went looking for one of those giant Lake Huron Brown Trout at the mouth of the Au Sable River this morning. No luck today but mouth of river is in very good shape and it will not be long now. There was some some chuck ice blowing around in the lake but it was not a problem to fish around. This area can produce some quality trout on streamers in March and April - Steelhead, Brown Trout, Lake Trout and even the occasional Atlantic Salmon. Top flies are baitfish patterns (Great Lakes Deceivers, Alewives, Perch) and goby imitations.
January 25th - Good winter steelhead fishing continues on the lower Au Sable River! Today I had the entire river to myself and landed 5 nice steelhead. Deep water nymph fishing with strike indictors produced all hookups today. Hex nymphs, Great Lakes Shrimp, and micro egg patterns all had some action. The river is in great shape right now for winter steelhead fishing. Water levels of late have been at a very normal winter level and did rise a couple inches today from the recent rains. Water temps are very cold right now and bright sunny days have been producing the best fishing of late. There are a few slightly warmer spots in the river and hitting them in the late morning till mid afternoon has been productive.
January 16th - Lisa & Ron Matthews with some very nice Au Sable River steelhead today! Last week finally some much improved flow management at Foote Dam and now much better steelhead fishing. So nice to see those like Lisa & Ron, that care so much about the lower Au Sable, enjoying the river and some good winter steelhead fishing.
January 16th - As you can see from graph above flows sure started to change last week at Foote Dam. Removing these sharp extreme flow changes has sure improved fishing the last few days! Automated system is up and running now at Foote and after the fine tuning it seems to be doing a better job of handling the flows.
January 14th - A bright silver Au Sable River steelhead. Much improved conditions today on the river!! River was running a very normal level and found a few nice fish. Mild weather is supposed to continue thru the weekend and into next week. These winter thaws typically bring more fish and hopefully better fishing continues.
Jan 4th - Water flow was basically turned off yesterday in the lower Au Sable ending any chance for winter steelhead fishing for a bit. Consumers Energy continues to operate Foote Dam in a manner that is very destructive to the our steelhead fishery.
Here is update I got from Consumers today (Jan 4th) on the automated system at Foote. Along with this came a very lame explanation for recent water levels. Hopefully some improvements later this week!
On December 21, 2009 the hardware for the Foote auto-control system was installed. During the remainder of that week the individual components were tested and accepted. The system however was not activated. The control system requires operating data from the existing Hydro Monitoring System and this interface has not yet been tested. Due to the limited availability of personnel during the Christmas Holiday we decided not to activate the auto-control system because we wanted to ensure adequate coverage in response to any glitches encountered during the start-up period. Consumers will begin the final connections and testing on Tuesday, January 5 with the expectation that Foote will be operating with the auto-control system by Friday, January 8.
Here is water flow graph from Foote Dam in December. We were told last year Foote Dam is suppose to simulate "run of river" operations - to mimic flows of the upper river as if the dams were not in place. This is not even being attempted!
Dec 31st - Finished out the year steelhead the lower Au Sable. The river is in great shape right now but fish numbers are low. Had a little action today but no adult steelhead. Fished the bottom few miles of the river all the way to the pier heads at Lake Huron. Did hook one very large Northern Pike on a bait fish streamer but he bite me off right near boat. Above is my new favorite two handed steelhead rod - Sage 12' 6" 7wt TCX. Loaded up with the new Rio Skagit Flight line (550grain) it is the ideal setup for heavy sink tips and big flies.
Dec 28th - A beautiful winter steelhead! The high water from rain on Christmas day has brought a few new silver fish in from Lake Huron.
December 21st - Water levels have been a big issue the last two winters below Foote Dam in the steelhead water of the lower Au Sable River. The past two weeks it has not been good - up and down with some huge spikes and drop offs. This leads to very inconsistent steelhead fishing and that was been the case of late - some days very good but other days you can not find a bite. Hopefully some changes are finally coming!!! A new automated system has been installed at Foote and system will start be used very soon. Here is report from Consumers that I received this morning:
Last week Consumers completed installation of the hardware for the new Foote auto control system. This week Consumers will be performing some initial testing of the system components while the auto control system and the existing hydro monitoring system are tied together. During this testing we may experience some short flow oscillations as the "bugs" are worked out of the system. The Operators will be doing their best to balance flows during the test to try and maintain normal re-regulating flows.
Hopefully some improvements are coming!!!!
Dec 18th - Good action today in the lower Au Sable! Could not find an adult steelhead to bite today but smaller skippers were very active. Using floating lines and small floats have been most productive of late to get long drifts thru the slow deep holes and runs - most of the steelhead are holding very deep right now. Water levels from Foote Dam have been very inconsistent of late and hopefully some changes are coming soon.
December 14th - A nice winter steelhead on the Au Sable River! Nymphs and egg patterns down deep in the slow holes have been producing the best of late. The current cold weather sure does not the help the fishing but those putting in the time have been getting a few nice fish of late.
December 13th - Fished some of the northern rivers that feed Lake Huron today. The Ocqueoc is just a beautiful river this time of year and typically no fishing pressure. Also fished Thunder Bay River. Had some action on both rivers today and was just such a nice winter day to fly fishing. Nuke eggs and small crystal white buggers (perfect minnow imitation) were top producers.
November 21st - Greg Miller with a very nice Au Sable River Steelhead. It did not really feel like late November today on the river. Last year at this time all was starting to freeze up, this year river temps are still in the mid 40's! At these temps steelhead are very active and look for more to keep pushing in from Lake Huron with each batch of new water. The water is very clear right now and the of late key has been very small egg patterns or good size leech/sculpin patterns.
November 19th - A good looking Rifle River steelhead! The lower sections of this river have been fishing pretty good of late. This is a very cool smaller river that gets very little fishing pressure this time of year and produces some very nice steelhead, resident brown trout, and the occasional lake run brown. The key on this river is to fish lots of water. This is a relatively shallow river and best fished with a floating line setup when fishing nymphs and egg patterns. Right now egg patterns will always be good producers but some of the larger patterns will also produce. Leeches, sculpins, buggers, and baitfish patterns can be very effective on steelhead and browns.
Nov 15th - Eric Porath with a couple of beautiful steelhead on the lower Au Sable River. With deer hunting season starting today we had the river to ourselves and did not see another angler!
Nov 6th - Fishing new water with some old friends was a very good time! We hit some small creeks in PA and caught a bunch of Lake Erie steelhead. Much different water than the Au Sable!
Nov 5th - A cool looking steelhead caught with the new Sage 99 series rod and matching fly line. The 99 series was just released by Sage this fall and it is a 9' 9" rod in weights 4 thru 8. Today I was using the 7wt and it makes just the perfect steelhead rod. The matching Sage nymph fly line is ideal when using a floating line and strike indictor setup. The 99 series is designed to cast split shot, indictor, and nymphs/eggs. Rod has more flex and a slightly slower action which is ideal for roll casting and landing big steelhead with light line & small flies. There is only one way to test new gear and that is to fish it. After hooking and landing a number of steelhead today with this rod it will be added as one of our guide rods. We do have the entire 99 series of factory Sage rods and matching fly lines in stock now (shipping is free at Streamside). Also we do have blanks in stock for those looking for a custom rod. The 99 series will be added into our online series very soon but for now if interested in a purchase or any questions just email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov 3rd - Joe Swantek with a beautiful Au Sable River steelhead. High water has been bringing some new fish into the river of late and fishing should just keep getting better.
October 16th - Lots of great places to steelhead on the lower Au Sable River right now. The river is in great shape with the cool October we have been having. Water temps are in the lower 50's and river is running a very normal level. There are a few steelhead in the river right now and fall run is just getting going. Look for fish in the deep gravel runs and in behind old spawning salmon (there are a couple around but not many). Top flies right now are lots of different egg flies - nuke eggs, glo eggs and small cluster patterns. The water is running very clear right now and light colored egg patterns have been best - salmon, cheese, light orange, and egg. This is also an excellent time to start swinging streamers for steelhead. With the clear water of the lower river, steelhead will come a long distance to smash the right big fly. Big sculpin and goby patterns (tan, olive, black) are always good fall producers - Conrad Sculpin, Streamside Sculpin, large buggers & leeches, and our goby patterns.
October 14th - A great place to look for some very aggressive trout this time of the year is right at the mouth of the Au Sable River in Lake Huron. Streamer fishing bait fish patterns can be very productive for Lake Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Steelhead and once in a while a big Brown Trout. Today action was a bit slow on the trout but did find some very nice Lake Huron Smallmouth Bass. Lake Trout have been doing well this past summer in Lake Huron and mouth of Au Sable can be such a good late fall hang out for them. Top patterns are our Great Lakes Alewive, Great Lakes Deceivers, Conrad Sculpin and Murdich Minnows.
Photos below from Spring 2009, Fall 2008 and the past Winter
May 7th - Joe Swantek with nice Au Sable River steelhead. Had a excellent morning today and found some fish with a bunch of hook ups. The afternoon was just opposite and bit a slow. Below Joe and John Sabina are fishing a nice run and you can see the lower river is getting clear.
May 1st - Good steelhead fishing today on the lower Au Sable River. Marc Hoyt and Wayne Swart hooked and landed a bunch of nice fish today. After yesterday's rain good numbers of steelhead were on the move up the river. Conditions are excellent right now with water levels being up and water temp around 50.
April 22nd - Excellent steelhead fishing today on the Au Sable! Tom Olenczuk and Mike Sargent landed 10 and lost some others. Of late cloudy weather and rain seem to be the key to good fishing. On the bright sun days it has been slow. Should have good steelhead well in the middle of May!
April 18th - I got to fish for a hour before our steelhead fundraiser in Oscoda Saturday morning. Fished some large rainbow streamer along the dark river water as it went out into Lake Huron and found some nice Lake Trout. The young steelhead that were stocked are heading toward Lake Huron right now and this does attract some big huge trout!
April 18th - Au Sable steelhead fundraiser was a huge success! Had a great turn out, lots of great food and good time was had by all. This was the first year and the plan is this will be an annual event. Here is list of all who donated to this cause: Fundraiser Thank You.
April 18th - Joe Pilara from the Flint River Valley Chapter of Michigan Steelheaders made a huge donation of $750. We sure thank you Joe, the Flint River Valley Steelheads and all of the Michigan Steelheaders for such a nice donation. This event could would not have been so successful without all the work done by Lynn Davis (owner of the Au Sable River Store) and Shawn Tidball. Both are pictured above with Joe receiving donation.
April 14th - Bob Williams with a bright silver Au Sable River steelhead. Numbers are still low in the river but there are some very nice quality fish around.
April 13th - Bruce Mansfield with a very nice Au Sable River steelhead!
April 12th - A beautiful fresh run steelhead on the Au Sable River. Water temps are increasing to the low 40's and look for steelhead in the deep runs and pools. I still have not seen any spawning activity with makes for some good biting fish. Look for numbers to increase in river with the next rain.
April 12th - Matt Dixon with a very cool looking Au Sable River steelhead. We had great day spending Easter Sunday on the river with an old friend.
April 10th - Ron Matthews with a bright silver steelhead that has just come in from Lake Huron. I would really like to thank Ron for all the work he has done of the current issues on the lower Au Sable! I think all are looking forward to the get together on April 18th at the Au Sable River Store.
April 8th - Shawn Tidball helping with the stocking of steelhead at the Au Sable River store. This past week 125,000 steelhead were stock in the lower Au Sable. The stocking process seemed to go very smooth and cormorants numbers have been very low. It is so nice to see what has happened in Oscoda - so many people taking an interest in the current issues and helping with the protection of our future steelhead. Shawn has put so much time and effort in these projects and all should give him a huge thank you!
April 8th - Jim with a nice fresh run steelhead on the Au Sable!
April 4th - High water on the lower Au Sable and river is still rising! This should really bring the steelhead into the river and look for excellent fishing this coming week.
April 3rd - The flood was starting today on the lower Au Sable! Poor conditions today but river should improve in a couple of days. This big blast of high water should kick steelhead run into high gear! As you can see Foote Pond is still just about completely covered with ice. Ice is finally getting dark and starting to do away. When this ice is gone look for river temps to shoot up and excellent steelhead fishing!
March 30th - Our young steelhead are coming soon to Oscoda to be stocked in the Au Sable River - right near the middle of April. The last two years concerned anglers have been there to protect these future steelhead from the nasty Cormorants. This year's harassment program will be going on again. To raise funds for this program a nice family style get together has been planned for April 18th (Click on above photo for full flier). This is a for a great cause and should be a very good time! If any questions, you would like to help with cormorant harassment, or your willing to make a donation just drop me an email at email@example.com
March 27th - A very nice 12lb Au Sable Steelhead that is getting ready to be released. Lake Huron steelhead have grown a bit of late and are running larger this spring. This is a sign of good things happening in Lake Huron and there food base is increasing. Of late numbers are still low in the river but April is coming and that is our peak month for steelhead fishing. With the long winter this year should have good steelhead runs into the middle of May or even late May. Right now the key for success is covering lots of water and to stay out of the gravel runs. Steelhead are still in the winter mode and the slow deep holes are producing the best.
March 27th - Fly fishing the mouth of the Au Sable River right near Lake Huron. Steelhead numbers have been low up in the river and of late the very lower sections have been holding some nice fresh run fish. Down near the mouth the standard flies (eggs and nymphs) will work well at times but also some larger streamers (sculpins and baitfish patterns) will produce some nice fish.
March 2nd - A good looking steelhead being released on the lower Au Sable River! Bitter cold mornings of late but there are some good steelhead around. Even with the cold temps had pretty good fishing today. Warm weather is forecasted for the weekend and look for more bright silver fish to move into the river from Lake Huron. Nymphs have been the top producers of late.
Feb 27th - A nice winter steelhead from the Au Sable River. Had good fishing today and landed 4 steelhead. All were about the size of the one pictured above. Of late there has been good numbers of younger steelhead in the river and a few good size adult fish. Water was on the rise today after a night of snow, ice, and heavy rains. With spring just around the corner and a good push of water look for more fresh run steelhead to move into the river. Right now water temps are very cold (33 to 35) in lower river and look for steelhead in the slow deep runs. Top flies of late have been small nymphs - Little Black Stones #10, Great Lakes Shrimp #10, Green and Cream Caddis #10, hares ear #10. Also this time of year egg patterns will produce a lot of fish with top colors being cheese, salmon and clown.
Mid April every year Cormorants are a huge problem in the lower Au Sable! Young steelhead are stocked in the lower river at this time and these nasty birds come in by the hundreds to feed on them. The last two Springs USDA Wildlife Services and the Michigan DNR have setup a cormorant harassment project to protect these young steelhead. This project will be going again this coming April and volunteers are needed. To protect the steelhead volunteers are stationed throughout the lower river where the birds really group up. Flare-type guns are used to shoot pyrotechnics to keep birds on the move. When birds do get very heavy USDA personal do come in and remove some birds with shotguns. The time frame volunteers are needed is the last two weeks of April and the first week of May. Those that would like to help or want more info just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb 10th - Meeting with Consumers Energy on the operations of the Au Sable River dams went very well today. It was very nice to see such a large turn out for the meeting and the tour of Foote Dam. Security at Foote Dam was a little creepy but all went very well. I would really like to thank all those that came and for all the organizations that showed they do really care about the lower Au Sable River - Anglers of the Au Sable, Michigan Council of Trout Unlimited, Huron Pines, Au Sable Big Waters Preservation Association, Au Sable Watershed Council and I'm sure there are some I forgot. At the meeting there was discussion on solutions for better flow manage at Foote Dam. Michigan DNR senior fisheries biologist Steve Sendek and Kyle Kruger both present some excellent input on methods for future improvements of the current operations. Consumers Energy also discussed ways to communicate to the public what is being done with this issue. As I get more info on this issue I will post it here.
Feb 1st - Excellent fishing this afternoon on the lower Au Sable River! Landed 4 steelhead and all were bright silver fish. I floated the top 4 mile of the steelhead water and river was in pretty good shape. There is a fair amount of shelf ice in the river but it was not in the way too much. Ice does increase as you head down stream and some of lower water might still be frozen over. Today was such a nice day, compared to weather of late, and temps were pushing 40! Nymphs fished down deep under indictors was the top producing method today. Hares ear and hex nymphs were the top flies.
Jan 28th - Here is picture from the Whirlpool boat landing. As you can see river is getting pretty narrow! Lots of shelf ice in the river right now and some sections are frozen over. The top few miles of river below Foote Dam are still very fishable. As for boat ramps you are on your own - they are not good. Whirlpool has been used but you do need to pull boat over ice a ways. Rea Rd landing I have used of late but it is unplowed and backing down to water is not recommended (I tried it and it did not work out so well). Having tow strap and shovel is highly recommend if your going to use these ramps. Hopefully warmer weekend pushes some of this ice out!
Jan 21st - The top portion of the steelhead water, below Foote Dam, is back to being in pretty good shape! There is shelf ice is some areas but very fishable and there are some nice steelhead around.
Jan 21st - Water temps are extremely cold right now with all of the ice in the river. I did fish this afternoon in the top portion of the steelhead water and had a little action - hooked two and land one. Small nuke egg patterns and small natural nymphs fished down very deep are top producers right now.
Jan 21st - I gave the lower end just up from Oscoda a shot and it did not work out some well! Most of the river was full of ice and river was completely frozen over above the Narrows. Some warmer weather is forecasted for late this week and these conditions can change very quickly.
Jan 4th - The steelhead bite has been a little off the last two days on the Au Sable. I fished the upper half of the steelhead section on the 2nd and lower end all the way to the pier heads on the 3rd. Hooked and landed one fish each day so at least a little action. Yesterday lots of shelf ice was coming loose and really got in the way. Hopefully water levels stabilize soon and that should really help the fishing. Since melt down after Christmas water levels have been up & down but running at a good level right now. Both hookups came on a rabbit strip leech pattern in black.
Dec 28th - The winter months can be an excellent time to fly fish for steelhead in the lower Au Sable. With the right equipment winter fishing can be done on a good number of days and typically some good steelhead or trout can be caught. When very cold temps come stopping rod guides & fly lines from freezing up can be a huge plus. On all of my winter fly rods I use Recoil snake guides and stripper guides from REC Components. These guides flex and do not hold ice nearly as bad as standard fly guides. When it comes to winter fly lines Rio makes some excellent cold water lines that do handle very well in extreme cold temps.
An excellent method for fishing small nymphs/eggs (pictured above) for cold water steelhead is using a floating line and a strike indictor or float (pictured above). Long rods are a huge advantage for this method and my favorites are a custom Sage 11' 7wt or 13' 4" 8wt Z-Axis. When it comes to lines for these rods the Rio WindCutter II VersiTip is ideal for float fly fishing and will cast very nice on the Sage spey rods. With the use of a long fly rod and this line, long controlled drifts are very easy to make.
Another method that can be productive in the Winter is swinging streamers. Again the long rods are a huge advantage and same rods will work just perfect. The lines I use for this method are the Rio Skagit Spey lines. The Skagit lines were designed which a very short heavy head to cast large streamers easily. Line comes with a built in loop and attaching different sink tips for different conditions or runs is very easy. Rio has a T-17 sink line that sinks like a rock and sections of this line make great sink tips (typically 10' to 15' of T-17 works perfect on Au Sable). The combination of the heavy floating head and the short heavy sink tip works just perfect in the lower Au Sable and there is nothing better than the heavy hit of steelhead on a streamer swinging across the current.
One of the most productive methods for winter steelhead fly fishing is deep water nymph/egg fishing with the use of a floating running line and slip weights. My favorite rod for this, on the Au Sable, is a Sage 10' 7wt Z-Axis. Rio makes the best cold water running line (.030 diameter and floating) that I have found. With the use a long leader and some slip weights, nymphs and egg patterns can be drifted right along the bottom thru the deep winter holding water.
These are setups I use for my fishing and on our guided float trips this time of year. Also will have these with me at the winter fly fishing shows that we will be at. Right now the two shows I will be at for sure are Jan 10th Indiana On The Fly and March 7th and 8th Midwest Fly Show in Warren Michigan.
Dec. 21st - Lots of snow & windy today on the river! I fished the very lower section of the steelhead water on the Au Sable River and did have a little action and landed two steelhead. Best boat ramp I found was at the Au Sable River Store and Lynn had ramp plowed and in excellent condition. All hook ups came on hex nymphs fished down deep under floats. The Sage switch rods are ideal for this type of fishing and it is very hard to beat the 11' 7wt this time of year.
Dec. 11th - Winter came a bit early this year on the Au Sable River with over a foot of new snow this week! Good steelhead fishing this afternoon landing three nice silver fish. Steelhead are in the winter mode now and look for them in the slow deep holes. This time of year it is hard to beat a hex nymph (size #8) or hares ear (size #8 to #12) on the Au Sable River. Egg patterns are also a good choice in the winter months with salmon & cheese being top colors on most days. Neither Rea Rd or Whirlpool boat lands have been plowed as of today and are a bit of mess. The ramp at the Au Sable River Store on River Rd is in great shape!
Nov. 25th - Mario with a beautiful Au Sable River steelhead. Lots of snow throughout north east Michigan today but it did miss the Oscoda area. This storm should put some more water in the river which is a good thing for the steelhead fishing.
Nov. 24th - Brandon with a big Au Sable River steelhead. Good action today swinging streamers on a sink tip - landing two and another good hook up. Big steelhead took a Conrad Sculpin and also had action on a black leech pattern.
Nov. 22nd - Ryan Fruchey with a really nice Au Sable River steelhead. Very cold weather today did slow down steelhead fishing but still some good action. Ryan landed three and lost another. Today's top flies were small egg patterns and they produced all hook ups.
Nov. 20th - A little cold and windy today but good steelhead fishing! Landed three bright silver steelhead this morning. Water temps are dropping fast but still in the low 40's and fish are very aggressive. Top fly today was a Conrad Sculpin in olive/tan.
Nov 15th - Here are some of the flies that have been working on the Au Sable. Of late it has been egg patterns (cheese, salmon, egg) fished down deep or swinging streamers (goby patterns or big & black sculpins/leeches) on a sink tips. Today I fished the upper 3-4 miles of the steelhead sections and landed four nice steelhead. It was a great way to spend the opening day of deer and had the river to myself. Three came on egg patterns and one was on a Conrad Sculpin which is a perfect imitation for a goby. Sage has a new Spey rod out this fall and it works just perfect for swinging streamers - 13' 4" 8wt Z-Axis. The line that I line best for the lower Au Sable is the Rio Skagit line with sink tips ranging from 150gr to 250gr. The last week there have been some nice steelhead caught throughout the steelhead water on the Au Sable. Look for fishing to keep getting better with more cool weather and hopefully some more rain. I will be on the lower Rifle in the upcoming week (late November is typically start for steelhead and lake run browns) and will have some up to date reports.
Spring Steelhead photos from 2008
March 1st - March is what I consider the beginning of Spring and one of my favorite times to steelhead fish! After being very sick the last week it was very nice to fish the lower Au Sable this afternoon. The river has been fishing pretty good of late - landed four nice steelhead and very much enjoy my afternoon on the Au Sable. The water is very clear and cold right now. Today the key was fluorocarbon leaders and very small natural nymphs with a #12 green caddis being the top fly today.
March 27th - Jon Wilcox with a real nice Au Sable River steelhead. New fish are moving into the river everyday now. Next batch of some new water should really get this fishery going! Right now with the cold conditions small natural nymphs have been working best with Hex Nymphs being the top producers of late.
April 1st - A beautiful Au Sable River steelhead! Lots of new water in the river today. Heavy rains last night with warm temps made for lots of run off. Fishing was a bit slow today but that should change very soon. We did manage a couple of steelhead and one big walleye. In the higher water today top fly was clown color egg pattern.
April 17th - Mike Sargent with some great steelhead on the lower Au Sable River. Rising water temps have got good numbers of steelhead moving into the Au Sable. Just a few fish are starting to spawn and good numbers are in the fast deep runs right now. Should have peak steelhead fishing the next few weeks
April 18th - Tom Olenczuk with beautiful bright silver Au Sable River steelhead. There are some nice fish around right now and such a great time to steelhead fish. Look for these pre spawning fish in the deep fast gravel runs.
April 19th - Charles Jergler with a couple of beautiful Au Sable River steelhead. Hex nymphs and orange egg patterns have been working best of late. Today fishing was a bit slower on the river but also with being the weekend there were a few more anglers around. Water levels have been dropping the last few days and we need a good spring rain.
April 22nd - John O'Neil with a Au Sable River steelhead. Bright and sunny with extremely warm weather for this time of year. Fishing was a bit slow today but we did get a few good hookups and landed this very nice steelhead. Yesterday's problems at Foote Dam might have had some negative effect on today's fishing.
Lake Huron & Lake Michigan brown trout, salmon and smallmouth photos from the 2005 & 2006 season (click here)
Michigan flyfishing opportunities this season include: