'The Au Sable River, the birthplace of Trout Unlimited, is one of the best trout rivers in the United States. It offers many and big trout, varied thick hatches, and overall excellent fishing.
The best trout water runs from Grayling to McKinley, but the fringes around that stretch offer trout, as well.
At Stephan Bridge, population surveys have shown about 200 8-inch or larger trout per acre, with many more smaller fish. And a few much larger fish.
From Burton's Landing to Wakeley Bridge, it's fly-only, no-kill water. It's artificials only downstream to McMasters Bridge.
The mainstem, North Branch and South Branch are open to fishing year round. Part of the year, sections are catch-and-release only, however.
Angler's can expect excellent hex hatches in the right season, particularly between Wakeley and Parmalee. Other burrowing mayflies (brown drakes and ephorons) hatch here, too. Good Hendrickson and other hatches keep anglers busy when the big ones are not around.
Above McMaster's Bridge, wading is easy. Down of McMaster's, anglers might want to consider a boat.
Canoes or the famous Au Sable River boats are best for floating the trout water. You'll be able to use more of the primitive launches with smaller boats. Drift boats are usable below Foote Dam Pond.
Below Mio, the Au Sable is big, but wadeable water. Between Mio and McKinley Landing, the river is managed for trophy trout. As a rule, there are fewer but bigger fish in this section.
Floating from Mio to Comins or Comins to McKinley makes for a nice day trip.
For most intents and purposes, the quality flyfishing water diminishes downstream of McKinley.
From September through May, anglers can target anadromous fish below Foote Dam.