Atlantic Salmon fishing AuSable River

Atlantic Salmon in the AuSable River

Atlantic Salmon fishing AuSable River

Atlantic Salmon Fishing in the AuSable River

Atlantic salmon are one of the world’s most sought after and prized gamefish.  Fly fishing for salmon is now a fantastic and exciting late summer/early fall angling option for Hawkins Outfitters on the Lower AuSable River. Let us help you pursue these unique and aggressive (close relative to brown trout) fish while providing another high quality angling experience on new water. If you have ever wanted to see an Atlantic Salmon chase down and crush your streamer, or swing through a nice run and have your line come tight with the thrash of a nice fish, now you can.

AuSable River

Located at the terminal end of the fabled AuSable River, there lies a much different AuSable than the fabled Holy Water. This section of river is just outside of the towns Oscoda and AuSable. It is fishable from Foote Dam to the mouth at Lake Huron. Foote dam was constructed in 1918 and bears the name of Consumers founder, William A. Foote. It stops all migrating species. This section of the AuSable is stunningly beautiful. It boasts large scenic overlooks, slow meandering deep outside bends and nice gravels runs. Fly anglers dream about water  like this. This area along the lower river also provides primitive campgrounds, hiking trails and some walk in/wading access.


Atlantic Salmon  are a relatively new addition to the lower AuSAble River. Following the crash of baitfish and chinook populations in the early 2000’s, fisheries managers decided to attempt introduction of Atlantic Salmon once again. There were other unsuccessful attempts, most notably in the seventies. Recent plants of 30,000 Platte River smolts were introduced in 2013. Returns the first few years after stocking were less than impressive. However the last two years have made up for it. Large numbers of Atlantic Salmon are now returning to the AuSable. Hopefully they are here to stay!

Atlantic Salmon in the AuSable will enter the system as early as late September, with peak numbers during the months of October and November. These fish are repeat spawners, and typically begin to reproduce during mid to late November depending on water conditions. While pursuing Atlantic Salmon in the AuSable, we are likely to encounter steelhead and an occasional lake run brown also.

 Atlantic Salmon Fishing AuSable River

Atlantics  are aggressive and diverse feeders, much like steelhead. A variety of techniques can be utilized to target them, they will readily eat flies. Some of our favorite methods are stripping medium sized articulated streamers or swinging flashy or natural looking leaches and baitfish patterns. Best colors for strip flies seem to be a blend of natural looking and obscure. Natural colored bodies finished with bright pink, purple and chartreuse heads have produced. I like to use the Sonar 25 Cold or Sonar 30 Cold from Scientific Anglers either throwing the 200 or 250 grain, with a  9′  7-8wt fast action rod when stripping streamers for Atlantic’s.

Swinging Flies

Swinging flies on the other hand seems to depend more on water conditions.  Just like when we swing flies for steelhead the Frieght-liner Skagit is my go to choice for lines.  Especially when the water is up and stained when bigger, brighter and flashier swing patterns works best. However when the water is lower and clear I pack my floating line Skagit . In these conditions smaller more natural baitfish patterns like gobies, sculpins and leaches are needed to produce grabs on the swing.

Atlantic  prefer to reside near structure including drop offs, deep bends and large woody debris. They can also be found in shallow ambush positions as well. Nymphing with more traditional nymphs and eggs under indicators can be used to target more selective fish in long runs and tailouts. The lower River is typically clear and once Atlantic Salmon in the AuSable begin to spawn, we will target only pre or post spawn fish. The hope is that natural reproduction will occur within this fishery. Spawning fish need to be left alone.

As a very unique alternative next fall, consider stripping streamers or swinging flies for the newest addition to the AuSable River.  To book a trip contact us via the web or give us a call (231) 228-7135  to book a trip.

Stephen Pels