Au Sable River, Michigan

Michigan, An Angler's Paradise

by Mark Karaba
Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Fishing Journal
January, 2015 Issue
I grew up in Michigan. Curiously, I find myself lately,trying hard sometimes with closed eyes,to recall that moment in time
that drew me into that world of streams and rivers and spotted fish. It seems I have always had my head in the north.
Growing up, my family spent a week or so camping in northern Michigan every summer, and later in my life, my parents
purchased a cottage on a lake  For many years I enjoyed the world of lake fishing and particularly, fishing for walleye,
but it seems that I was always drawn back to the moving water and trout.

About the time I first became interested in trout fishing, I also started to take an interest in birds. I do recall the older
gentleman that inspired that particular outdoor pursuit. We spent many hours together identifying birds and actually
traveling to destinations for just that reason. Trout fishing and birding eventually became a natural dual hobby that was
convenient. The streams are a wonderful place to observe bird life, that is, when you get to a point that you have
fished enough to actually look away from the stream. There becomes a time that your not afraid your going to miss
something in the water. This takes time to accomplish and may actually fall into the category of "multi-tasking".

After all these years of fly fishing for trout and smallmouth bass, I believe I have the same passion and drive that I had
when I was in my earlier years. I fish hard and stay on the water for long past my predetermined, "I will be home in a
couple hours" promise. There is just something about being on or in the water that pulls on me and keeps me on or in
the water much later than I expected. I get caught up in the solitude and lose myself. I always know that the best fish is
holding at the next log jam.

When wading, I will often pick out a particular spot, a tree, a bend in the river, or a deep run just ahead as the place to
call it quits but only to see a downed tree, or large boulder just beyond there and re-adjust my stopping point. This
planned stopping process can take place several times.This is referred to as the "one more cast" syndrome.

I have fished in many different types of water, from the very far north of Canada, to the mountains of the Smokies. All
offer a different approach to present a fly, and different wading challenges. The streams of the southern Smokies tend
to have a steep gradient,and can be tricky to wade. Most of the streams in my home state of Michigan, are of a gentle
flow and gravel bottom. The exception to that is the many rivers in the upper peninsula that are very similar with flows
and rocks similar to the southern rivers I have fished.

The Au Sable River is I suppose, the river that any sensible angler would design or create if that was a possibility. It
has all the ingredients of a classic trout stream and is very diverse from it's beginning to its end. There are three
separate stems or branches,Two of the three, the North Branch and the South Branch of the Au Sable, connect to the
main branch within a few miles of each other. This river has wild trout throughout its length and hasn't been stocked
since the nineteen-eighties. It has prolific hatches and a very stable flow that's fed by ground water re-charge due to
the fact that the soil in the region consist primarily of sand. It is possible for one to be disappointed about the fishing
opportunity due to a heavy rain and slightly stained, high water levels, but it usually recedes and clears up within a day
or two.

To the west of the Au Sable only a few miles lies another great trout stream, the Manistee River. It has the same basic
ingredients as the famed Au Sable. Both rivers form in the same general area, north of the town of Grayling. Both
rivers flow south a good distance before heading in slightly different directions. The Au Sable heads east to its final
destination in Lake Huron, and the Manistee makes it's way west to Lake Michigan.

Michigan is blessed with a huge amount of both trout and smallmouth bass water. It is unrivaled in its diversity as to the
types of water and numbers of places to fish. From the Great Lakes and all it's tributaries, to the more than 10,000
inland lakes, Michigan offers the fly fisher so many choices, it's almost impossible to have enough time to enjoy all it
has to offer. I'm still working on my "life list" of Michigan waters I want to fish. To sample as much of it as possible, I
have a giant river map of the state and all the rivers I have fished are highlighted in yellow. At a glance, there is a lot of
yellow showing, and many voids and rivers are not marked in yellow, but I'm not finished yet!
really cannot remember how or why I started trout fishing. I can remember that the initial bug struck me around the
year 1970 or 1971. I did not have a friend or family member that trout fished, though it seemed everyone fished for
About the Author and The Fly Factor Guide Service:
The Fly Factor is owned and operated by Brett Riser and Mark
Karaba of Marshall, Michigan. They are licensed by the state
of Michigan to guide and carry passengers in a boat. They
have a combined nearly 35 years’ experience fly fishing. Their
experiences has taken them to Montana, Alaska, several
Canadian provinces, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, to name a few. Their main
focus is the great state of Michigan - the best of the rest. Their
main focus for their customer base is the fantastic smallmouth
fisheries that abound all over the great state and mainly the
Kalamazoo River area around Marshall. They fish drift boats
and incorporate wading into a trip where it makes sense. They
both tie their own flies and enjoy creating patterns that work
well for smallies and brown trout.
The Fly Factor is capable of supplying all rods and flies for an outing, though most established fly fisherman prefer
their own gear. One of their goals in the guiding business is to give customers a quality experience that offers insight
to all a river system has to offer as a living entity - such as sharing information about ecology pertaining to bird life,
aquatic insects, and all flora and fauna that exists along the river that's unique to the stream. Some people just want to
fish, and that's also okay. Others are interested in learning something about the stream and it's diversity that they may
not have been shown before. The bottom line they strive for is catching fish, having fun, and working hard to bring the
best out of each client. Some guides are satisfied with merely taking a client for a float down the river, but for
Mark and Brett, that’s not enough. They want to provide an experience that the client will remember and can’t wait to
go back and do it all over again with the Fly Factor. Contact the Fly Factor at: