Trout Hunting on Michigan’s Famed Au Sable River

The internet can be a good thing.  I’ve made many great friends with similar passions and neuroses via the means of the information super highway and this blog.  Dale Hernden from Lo Banks has been trying for years to get me to Northern Michigan to see the Au Sable wilderness and the Holy Waters.  I’ve been daydreaming (and threatening) to get out there to chase migrating woodcock during the flights…but, hunting big brown trout during the famed Hex hatch in the pitch dark of night from an Au Sable long-boat was exhilarating!

This was a trip of many firsts for me.  I had my first ever Coney Dogs in Flint (loved em).  It was my first time in Michigan.  It was my first time fishing with a guide or from a boat on a river.  It was my first time to fish at night for browns during the Hex hatch.  It was my first time to catch a 24.5 inch trout!  It was my first time to get swollen lymph nodes from all the damn mosquitos bites even though I was slathered in DEET!   It was my first time to see grouse and woodcock covers and thank the heavens for the wide open prairies and quail!

I absolutely loved Northern Michigan and the history associated with the Holy Waters.  Trout Unlimited was conjured up on the banks of the main branch…where would we anglers be without TU?  I was fascinated by the flies that were developed specifically for the Au Sable River system with my favorite being the parachute Borchers and Roberts yellow drake.  I enjoyed the fly shops in Grayling with my favorite being Gates Au Sable Lodge…the owner and the employees are knowledgeable and very dedicated to anglers on the river.  Our night hex guide, Joe Guild, was a helluva guy with passion and vast knowledge of the river, and I would strongly recommend using his services if you ever get up on the Holy Waters.

The company was grand too!  I got to spend 5 days with my good friend Brandon Racette from the State College, PA area.  Brandon’s enthusiasm for fly fishing is unmatched (although he does enjoy good microbrews almost as much)…I have never met anyone as dry-fly crazy as he!  I learned how to fish a dry-fly from Brandon 5 years ago on his beloved Penn’s Creek, so I was more than thrilled to fish the Hex hatch with him.  Dale’s graciousness and generosity is also unmatched!  I can’t thank him enough for putting up with the two of us and letting us enjoy his fab home on the north branch…Lo Bank’s is heaven on earth!  Dale…now you have to come to Colorado or Kansas so I can reciprocate the generosity and let me show you my quail covers.

Setter Feathers…





24.5 inch bruiser brown being returned to the Holy Waters

Brandon Racette with a fish on during the Hex hatch with Joe Guild


Waiting on the Hex


Hex are on the waterMy 24.5 in bruiser brown caught on a Hex Dun dry-fly



Joe Guild and his Au Sable River Long Boat



Dinner on the Holy Waters 


Hex ON! 


Gates is the best shop in the Grayling MI area


Brandon on the main branch



Hex spinner Brandon tied 


Au Sable River Boat







Brown caught on a parachute Adams on the North Branch


Brandon landing a very nice brookie on the South Branch while we were waiting on the Hex


Home of TU on the Holy Waters


Dale and Brandon at Lo Banks discussing fly patterns


Nice Au Sable brook trout


Henry Ford’s house on the North branch 


Brandon and Jim waiting on the Hex hatch


Lo Banks at night


Lovells Museum…very neat! 






Brandon on the North Branch

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Walter Bruning says:

    Lifetime adventure for sure. Like those mosquitoes? Minnesota has them twice as big and faster. Don’t go there without blood plasma in your kit!

    1. Brenda C. Nord says:

      Is this the Walt Bruning who used to work for Control Data?

  2. Dale Hernden says:

    Don’t worry Shawn, I’ll be out to chase your quail.

  3. sharptail says:

    Is there any dry fly pattern more uniformly useful than the parachute adams? Cool post! and photos! Love the new blog layout as well. One of these days, I’m going to have to pull the trigger, particularly with LinkedIn and WordPress teaming up.

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