The headwaters and mainstream of the AuSable River flow within easy driving distance of Grayling. The beautiful AuSable River is one of Michigan’s most desirable destinations for kayaking, canoeing and fishing. There is no better place to fly fish than the AuSable River’s clean and cool waters. There is one section of the river, about nine miles long, that fishermen call the “Holy Waters”, because of the incredible abundance of trout. The “Holy Waters” is regulated by year-round fly-fishing only and catch-and-release only. The river flows through scenic woodlands, perfect for spotting all kinds of wildlife and birds that makeup this diverse ecosystem. Perhaps the best way to see the true wilderness is to use a canoe or kayak, which can be rented at the various nearby liveries. Each year in July, the AuSable River hosts the AuSable River Canoe Marathon that draws hundreds of competitors. The 120-mile competition is fierce-intended for athletes in top shape who are expert canoers, and continues nonstop, through day and night until the finish line at Lake Huron.
The 232-mile Manistee is one of Michigan’s best fly fishing rivers for catching steelhead, salmon and trout. It runs through Northern Michigan entering through Lake Michigan at Manistee. The deep sandy bottom of the river provides a constant and stable flow and the clear and cold waters make it perfect for fishing, kayaking and canoeing. Kayakers who put in upstream can enjoy a nice float as the elevation drops from around 1300 feet down to 582, dropping about 3 feet per mile. Besides the fly fishing, the Manistee is considered the third best smallmouth bass river in Michigan, producing bass between 2 and 4 pounds. The Manistee is also ideal for wildlife watching and scenic photography. A canoe or kayak is the best way to obtain the wilderness experience although scenic wonders can be had at any woodland area bridge that spans the river.
There are numerous lakes in the county. Some are well-known for fishing, others are popular for boating and swimming.
- Lake Margrethe is one of Grayling’s larger lakes and is known for its great fishing, boating and swimming. The crystal clear lake is filled with bass, perch, pike, walleye, bluegill, tiger and muskie. Lake Margrethe offers up ice fishing in the winter.
- Kneff Lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout and offers a variety of recreational activities including camping, swimming and picnicking. There are 27 campsites available for rentals that include tables and fire rings. A serene and very beautiful lake, a must see while in Grayling.
- Wakeley Lake is a beautiful, scenic and slightly more remote location where you can peacefully fish or float in quiet solitude all day long.
Other fishing and recreation lakes in the area include:
Big Creek Impoundment, Bradford Lake, Bluegill Lake, Bright Lake, Connor’s Marsh, Glory Lake, Hardgrove Lake, Hartwick Lake, Higgins Lake, Horseshoe Lake, Howes Lake, Jones Lake, K.P. Lake, Lonesome Lake, Lost Lake, May Lake, Pickerel Lake, River Lake, Sandhill Lake, Section One Lake, Shupac Lake and Wakeley Lake