Au Sable River

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MikeT
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Au Sable River

Post by MikeT »

All,
Well, after the first boat being cancelled, we decided to go back to Sylvania Wilderness and, guess what, the lakes are still ice covered! So, we are now on plan #3: we are going to paddle the Au Sable River from Roscommon to Lake Huron. I have eyed this river for years, but never been on it. If anyone has any insight on must sees, must stays, or tips in general, could you please share them here or in an email.

Thanks!
Mike T.
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Re: Au Sable River

Post by hooky »

Mike, how was the trip? A buddy and I are trying to decide on this or the Current down in the Ozarks for an October paddle.
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Re: Au Sable River

Post by JavaHiker »

Hate to interject, but the Current (or the Buffalo in NW Arkansas) can be mighty fine in October...
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Re: Au Sable River

Post by hooky »

No need to worry about interjecting. I appreciate the input.

A fishing buddy who lives down there suggested the Current over the Buffalo at that time of year. He thought that the Buffalo would be too skinny and recommended the Current since it's got a more steady flow due to being spring fed.

I'm definitely leaning towards the Ozarks in October. I've never floated either one. Another fishing acquaintance splits time between Montana and southern MO, so we may have up to a 4 boat fleet if we head south.
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Re: Au Sable River

Post by hooky »

Finally got around to paddling the Au Sable last week 10/2 - 10/8. We put in at Grayling around 2 on Saturday afternoon and took out in Oscoda just after 5 on Friday for a total of 120 river miles.

Fishing was slow, but the weather put us behind right out of the gate and we were always chasing. It didn't allow for much time to really fish it like we should have.

Sites were:
  • Night 1 - Keystone on river mile 7. Rain from 4 pm until sometime around 3 am. Had to put up a tarp to eat dinner ( rehydrated ground beef, corn and beans in a tortilla) and ended up pitching our tents under it one at a time before moving them out with the fly on to avoid getting them soaked on the first night.
  • Night 2 - White Pine (should have pushed to Luzerne or even Rainbow despite the weather) river mile 17. Rained in the morning after we broke camp and we took advantage of a break in the weather to set up camp instead of pushing and possibly setting up in the rain later.
    The rain held off for the rest of the day even though it looked like it would pour at any moment. Instead, the bourbon was the only thing that poured that afternoon as we drank 2.5 days worth of our ration to get us caught up and a little ahead. Dinner was Italian sausage, mashed potatoes and zucchini. Started raining at 7pm, so we retired to the tarp as the rain came straight down. Skeeters sent us to the tents before 8. Even the cigar smoke under the tarp wouldn't keep them at bay.
  • Night 3 - State park at end of Mio Dam Pond (N side) river mile 44. A really long day in intermittent rain to get us caught back up on mileage. Chicken and noodles was the perfect meal in the cold foggy mist that was settling in.
  • Night 4 - Bear Island mile 62 (favorite site) river mile 62. Pictures below. A great sunny day to paddle on the wild and scenic portion of the river. High bank campground with a breeze to keep the bugs down. It was a great night for a fire and clear skies for star gazing.
    Steak on the grill that night and it was delicious.
  • Night 5 - unknown site just ahead of Loud dam pond as water started slowing (high bluff, river left on a short bend) rive mile 79ish. Pictures below. Another nice day to paddle with a mix of sun and clouds, but an ENE wind had picked up around noon. As soon as we the back up from Loud Pond, it was noticeable and made paddling the big wide aluminum rental canoe on the pond's flat water a chore. Dinner was chicken breasts on the grill with mashed potatoes and broccoli.
  • Night 6 - Cooke pond campsite 59. Heavy fog in the morning had kept us in camp until 10 and horrible headwinds starting around noon made the going difficult on the pond. River mile 97ish
  • Night 7 - AmericInn Oscoda mile 120. You can bushwack up out of the canal to within 100 feet of the hotel. We broke camp in the rain and it kept coming down until around 12:30 when we hit the last dam portage of the trip. Our friend the ENE wind was with us for the 3rd straight day as we pushed through the last 2 ponds, which were also the longest. We had hoped to paddle out past the breakwalss and onto Huron, but with the wind in our face and small rollers coming upriver, we decided to save that for another day. No Taxi or Uber in Oscoda, so it was G's Pizza delivered to the hotel and beer from the package store that was about a half mile walk each way. Austin's Old 45er IPA was a great choice with the Meat Lover's pzza.
The Shuttle picked us up the next morning and off we went on the drive back to our vehicle in Grayling. We used Carlisle Canoe Livery in Grayling for a boat and shuttle. Janice and Paul were great to deal with and Paul was wonderful company on the hour and forty minute shuttle.

We saw lots of eagles, blue herons, ducks of all sorts, osprey, otters, beaver, trout, salmon below the last dam, great egrets, trumpeter swans, mute swans (based on the orange bill, but not sure), cormorants, geese, and hardly any people unless we were on the ponds.

There were moments I hated the trip, but those were mostly when we were paddling that barge into the headwind on the ponds. If I was going to do it again, I'd put in below Mio and spend 3 or 4 days paddling and fishing the Wild and Scenic portion of the river and take out somewhere on Alcona Dam Pond.

Grayling to Mio is "big home on the river" country and after a while, I got tired of all of them. After Alcona, you're basically paddling ponds that you're sharing with boats and I can do that here.

Bear Island campsite
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Loud Dam Pond campsite

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