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Rivers we Fish

Betsie River

Rising out of Green Lake in Grand Traverse County the Betsie meanders roughly 52 miles before emptying into Lake Michigan at Frankfort. Once considered a great trout stream it is now one of the premier Salmon and Steelhead rivers in Michigan. This is our primary river for migratory fish. Almost the entire length of the Betsie has excellent spawning gravel for steelhead and salmon, providing very high reproductive success. With active conservation groups providing erosion control structures more and more gravel is showing up. What makes the Betsie unique is the size of the fish in small water and beautiful setting. It is also not fished as hard as other streams in the area.

Ausable River

Probably one of the best known and fabled rivers east of the Rocky Mountains. This river and its tributaries are truly a gem for the fly fisherman noted for its large brown trout and spectacular hatches. Unique to the Ausable are the three flies only sections within 15 minutes of each other. Scenery on these rivers (the main branch, south branch and north branch) are breath taking with many historic lodges of the days gone by. The Mason Tract on the S. branch is 8 miles long and is a completely undeveloped, wild and scenic stretch of water that is rare in any part of the US. The Ausable was once a primary waterway for loggers at the turn of the century. The deforestation of old growth white pine tracts and floating of logs down the Ausable decimated the habitat, warmed the water and eventually led to the disappearance of the regions namesake…the native Grayling. The rich history of the Ausable includes the founding of Trout Unlimited on its banks, and stories of entrepreneurs (Henry Ford, George Mason) and presidents (Teddy Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter). Over the past 100 years, conservation efforts have led to some of the best trophy brown trout water in the world. Fishing this river during the spring and early summer can truly be a lifetime experience.

South Branch Ausable River

This river is truly a large brown trout fishery. It plays a major role in the Ausable systems populariy as a trophy trout stream. People come from all walks to try there luck on this river. Some of the best hex hatches and spinner falls occur on the South Branch as well as Hendricksons,sulfurs and brown drakes. Wading can be difficult on this river due to a heavy tannin stained water from cedar swamps in it’s headwaters. A famous stretch of this river 8 miles long is the Mason tract donated to the state by George Mason. With its banks completely undeveloped makes the South Branch a true wilderness experience. The South Branch enters the mainstream just below white pine camp ground.

North Branch Ausable River

This jewel of a river originating around the town of Lovells is a fly fisherman’s paradise. It is best noted for excellent brook trout fishing though a very good population of trophy brown trout also reside here. With limited access and canoe traffic this river makes for a great get-away for anglers. The North Branch supports tremendous hatches of hendricksons and brown drakes. Along the 36 mile run of this river, 21 miles are “flies only “. While the upper reaches dominate with brook trout and scrappy browns, the lower section from Kellogg bridge down produces  larger brown trout. The North Branch enters the main stream roughly one mile below McMasters bridge at Macs Island.

Tittabawasee River

This river and it’s tributaries located in central Michigan offer some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the state. It is not uncommon for the fly angler to catch 30 to 40 bass in a day many of trophy status. With its tributaries largely undeveloped and almost no traffic from canoes and anglers makes for memorable wilderness experience. If you like to cast poppers this may be your river. The bass here are aggressive and seem to always be looking up. The average Smallmouth on this river is 12-14 inches but you will see many in the high teens. Smallmouth get their popularity not only from eating flies but the aggressive take and hard fight once hooked. This is a great float for the beginner to learn the sport of fly fishing based on the number of fish caught.

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