Grayling and the AuSable (Summer 2008)

Part 1   Wakely Lake Frenzy with the Flygirls

I just got back from two glorious weeks in Grayling Michigan.  It was sort of a mixed bag holiday all focused around fly fishing.  We  (my husband and I) stayed at Canoe Harbor Campground, situated on the South Branch of the AuSable River.

   It has been an unusually wet June.  Good for keeping fires at bay, like the one Grayling suffered a few weeks before.   (photo by Barry Fisher on April 24)  You can see the scars and how scary close it came to wiping out a town when driving up that way.   It was within a few feet of a gas station, and it was able to jump I-75.   Hats off to the fire fighters for a job well done. 

This will be the last season the Canoe Harbor campground will hold Jack Pine.  They are going to be selectively logging this part of the Mason Tract and clearing the Jack Pine  to make way for the Whites, Reds and maples .  Its for the health of the area but it will change it’s current character. 

Next year this will be 80% open meadow behind our tent as far as you can see.   This too will  be gone:

I heard about the clear cutting done down below Chase Bridge by a private land owner to the ire of the locals and those who love the area.  I haven’t been down to take photos…but I’ll try to get down there in September.

With all the rain they have been getting, it has made for some challenging fishing.  Where I was used to ankle to knee deep water, it was waist deep, tannin stained and running fast.   I saw Hex but couldn’t wade to the sound of a rising fish…if there were any to be heard.  There was a long line of anglers on a favored spot, spaced out in  40 – 60 yard intervals .  They start arriving at 7 PM to claim a section of water for the hatch that will not appear until sometime after 11 PM.    I was hoping to be able to sit out on the side and sip some beers until then but it doesn’t work that way.   There is an army of wading anglers walking down the river ready to claim your spot, so, You get in and wait.    For what?  I’m not sure.   At about 10 the smaller fish started rising to  ???  Iso’s .   I decided to play with them and did ok with that.  No one was catching much.     The big Hex spinners started down the river at about 11:30 though it was not the blanket hatch I was expecting to see…I guess I got spoiled living near the shore of Lake St. Clair during my youth.  Now that was a blanket hatch.   I did manage a couple of fish on the big flies but nothing really worth bragging about.     Actually it took me two weeks to figure out how the hatch works.  Next year I might actually be able to figure out where to park my carcass at the right time and place.   No one wants to give up their spot so info is not that forthcoming.  It’s definitely a "keep your ear to the ground" and mouth shut kind of lesson in fly fishing.   This time, the weather was a big factor.  It was more often than not, too cool to stimulate a hatch of any kind.   That’s fishin’!

I learned that taking photos of fish in the dark doesn’t work very well when you are by yourself.   I guess I can be thankful for NOT getting that  trophy  after all.   Here is photo of a 17 inch brown caught at 12:30 AM. 

If I had my head lamp on…all you would have seen were bugs…..BILLIONS and Billions of bugs.  Night fishing is definitely not for wimps!  

The best part of all this night fishing stuff, is not what you catch…but what just happens.  I stood there, speechless just watching a bald eagle , lazily fly over my head so close I could have touched it with my fly rod.  I was too stunned to think about getting my camera out.  It’s one of those things you just take in and savor. 

On Friday, the Flygirls started to show up for the Wakely Lake Frenzy on Saturday morning.  We started with an evening gathering at Kris and Tina’s cabin.  We compared fly rods and flies, talked and had a good time.  I ran into Kelly earlier when I went down to Keystone for some fishing.  It was nice to have someone who knew the water and to wade with for a change.    It rained on and off all day and night however, just adding to the load already in the river system.  I guess I was too busy talking and dodging the rain as I don’t have any photos from that day.   D’uh!

Saturday started early.  The sun peaking out for a few minutes.


It was cloudy for most part and storms would roll in, in waves.   It was fun hearing and watching the rain work it’s way across the lake and turn to lake into a froth of popcorn.  Thankfully, the lightning held off until the afternoon.  It didn’t seem to interfere with the fishing or the fun that much. 

You should have seen the one that got away!!!   


Then it was time to leave and head over to Dennis Potter’s for an exquisitely prepared meal at his place.    Dennis is quite the cook!  YUM!!! 


A REALLY wild thunder storm rolled through as we were leaving.  I heard it took out several trees at Tina’s and Kris’s place.  I also noticed a large area of trees blown down at Keystone campgrounds.  The ride back to camp was a real treat with lightning slamming down a couple of times right in front of the car.   It also drove the rivers up several  inches.    A few of us tried to fish later in the evening but we were chased off the river AGAIN by another T-storm and high  water.   

That’s Michigan!! 

Clicking on the photos will show you a larger size image.  

If you would like to see more photos in a slide show format click:  Wakely Lake Frenzy 2008    

For a full look at ALL of the photos  & additional edits, with links or for download, click here:    and the guest password is ;  bearchaser

Part 2 coming shortly….FAOL Michigan Fish In



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