The AuSable River – Birthplace of Trout Unlimited
The Main Branch of the AuSable “the holy waters” continue on 72 East out of Grayling (heading towards Mio) and closely observe the road signs on your left. the quality water (or special regulations water if you prefer) starts at Burtons Landing. the roads go as follows: Burtons, Louies, Keystone, Thendara, and Stephan Bridge rd. I always enjoy fishing in this area and so does everyone else. A “must fish” area if you’re into fly fishing history. Very easy access at all the road sites with a little difficulty. Catch and Release. Easy walk and wade. 1st time there? Pick Keystone, get in at the end of the road wade down and walk the Path back through the campground. Watch out for the canoes on weekends.
The south Branch of the AuSable “The Mason Tract” George Mason’s generous gift to fly fishing. Continue on M-72 East past Stephan Bridge road to chase Bridge road (it’s Chase to the South and Wakely to the North) the full service intersection with the campground, bar, and Larry and Joan’s Party store.
For the Lower Mason Tract Waters – Continue East on M-72 until you see the sign for “Canoe Harbor” campground. Turn Right and follow the trail past the campground and after a bit, pick a pull-off and take a path to the river. Easy walk, medium exertion, beautiful waters.
My choice for a longer, scenic, walk/wade – follow the above directions until you find (about a mile from Canoe Harbor) a small, fenced (kinda) parking spot (don’t be expecting much). This is “Downey’s Stone wall”. A fine picnic spot with much history. Walk the pathway upstream, past the steps, until you come upon a small bench where Thayer Creek enters the S. Branch. This spot is called “Baldwin’s”. Wade downstream, stopping at the Mason Chapel, pass the steps, and exit back at Downey’s. Moderate effort.
For the Upper Mason Tract waters – Turn Right on chase Bridge Rd. continue to Chase Bridge itself… the Mason tract trail was the left turn before the bridge so back up and enter the tract there. Be sure to stop and read the sign… pick one of the first few pull-offs and take a short walk to the river, wade downstream and you will find paths on the left to get back to the trail. Easy wading and walking.
The Mason tract is a quality fishing area with either limited creel allowances or catch and release. Let’em go anyway. I’d like to catch them again when they’re larger. It’s a natural area with a marked path along the river. A fine place for a hike. No camping is allowed within the tract. This is a beautiful and peaceful place, but expect plenty of canoe traffic on weekend days…pick your times accordingly.
You’ll want to stop at the Old AuSable fly shop on the river in downtown Grayling and Gates AuSable Lodge on the main branch at Stephan Bridge for more information, flies, equipment and just because they’re both there…