The AuSable and Manistee Rivers with their numerous tributaries make Grayling, Michigan famous. These rivers are favorites for fly fishers, canoeists and kayakers.  Both rivers are fairly shallow with a sandy bottom, clear water, and a slow current. There are no rapids or whitewater in the Grayling area so these rivers are “user friendly” for even novices. There are logs and trees that need to be navigated around, but the current is slow enough that if a canoe or kayak bumps into an obstacle, it’s usually not a big deal. Some visitors choose to paddle like mad, shortening up the trip; others use the river’s current and lazily drift toward their “take out” point.

Canoe liveries (where visitors can rent canoes and kayaks), have vans that pick guests up from the “take out” areas; most of the time personal vehicles are left at the canoe livery. It’s probably smart to leave car keys at the canoe livery with their staff so if the canoe or kayak tips over, (accidentally or on purpose), there is no chance that the keys could be lost in the river; sort of like using valet service at a motel. There are a number of other suggestions for visitors. Lists can be found at Borcher’s Canoe Livery and Penrod’s AuSable River Resort

Most liveries have limits as to how much alcohol is allowed; river etiquette calls for sober river users. “Rafting”, or tying canoes together, is frowned upon, as is loud music and profanity. Trespassing onto private property is of course prohibited, and littering is strictly forbidden. Various volunteer groups hold river clean-ups every year to pick up garbage that visitors leave behind.

Because fly fishers need quiet in order to have successful fishing, it is requested that other river users pass behind the fly fishers and try not to splash when near them. The philosophy here is that the river is big enough for all users, as long as they’re all being courteous. The one disappointment that families with children might have is that there are very limited areas on the rivers that allow “bait fishing”. Many areas are “flies only” and “catch and release”. If visitors are planning to bait fish, or catch fish for their supper, make sure to read up on the numerous rules and regulations for fishing on these rivers. If visitors have children and want easy fishing, dock or shore fishing on one of the area’s lakes is recommended.

The beauty and serenity that visitors find on both the AuSable and Manistee Rivers makes this area a unique vacation spot, and keeps them returning year after year.