Your Action Needed!  Before July 31, 2014!

Michigan’s proposed rules for fracking are inadequate to protect our vital cold water fisheries. We need all who are interested in ensuring the environmental and economic future of those streams and rivers to express their concern about these proposed rules at upcoming hearings set for July 15 in Gaylord and July 16 in Lansing.

The rules are essentially the same as were unveiled in October. Efforts by groups including Anglers of the Au Sable, FFF and Trout Unlimited to provide adequate safeguards to protect against water withdrawals that can damage key headquarters and pollution that could threaten ground and surface waters have met with virtually no change by the Department of Environmental Quality staff.

The hearings are scheduled at 6:30 p.m. as follows:

• July 15, Treetops Resort, 3962 Wilkinson Road, Gaylord in the Superior Room of the Convention Center building

• July 16, Lansing Center, 333 East Michigan Avenue, Lansing

Our hope is that members would attend one of the meetings. We would ask them to respond as concerned citizens and voice their concerns if they wish. Or you can send your concerns to the DEQ at, and write your lawmakers.  Below are some key points we would suggest you use if you come to speak at the hearings, write a letter to the DEQ about the rules, contact your lawmaker or write your local newspaper. Your presence at one of these meetings or voice to lawmakers and the news media would help send an important message to state officials that our vital rivers and streams need protection.

Key points to make when addressing the inadequate rules under consideration:

The Michigan DEQ should strengthen safeguards for clean and plentiful water by:

  1. Requiring testing for water quantity and quality before, after, and during a fracking well is in use for all water sources in a proposed drilling area, not only for groundwater.
  2. Requiring water quality tests to measure more than a small handful of chemicals. Currently, tests do not read for a full list of contaminants used in the fracking process.
  3. Requiring more mandatory site visits and monitoring of fracking operations that plan to use more than 5 million gallons of water, especially if the operation is located near especially sensitive areas such as headwaters or world class fisheries.

The Michigan DEQ should strengthen safeguards for public health by:

  1. Requiring oil and gas companies to publicly disclose information about toxic chemicals used in the fracking process before a well is in use. In the case of an accident, Michigan citizens and first responders need to know how to respond.
  2. Requiring all fracking operations to create comprehensive contingency plans in case a fracking operation goes awry. Currently, contingency plans are only required if the Michigan DEQ deems them necessary.
  3. Housing critical information about chemicals and water use related to fracking operations on the Michigan DEQ’s website. Currently, oil and gas companies voluntarily supply information on an outside website that is not subject to review and not part of a regulatory agency. Consequently, the information is prone to error.

When you send a letter to a lawmaker or the DEQ, please copy us at

Thank you for your participation in this important effort.


Anglers signs on to letter supporting a water crossing survey of Michigan pipelines

Camp Grayling Expansion

Anglers Response to Camp Grayling Not Seeking to Expand into Zones 2, 3, and 5 

Anglers and IFFF-GLC Letter to the State      Preliminary Map of All Zones

Preliminary Map Zone 2      Preliminary Map Zone 3      Preliminary Map Zone 5

DNR Responses to General Questions About Camp Grayling Expansion

Free Press Article on Camp Grayling

Petoskey News Coverage of Camp Grayling Expansion

Pigeon River Dam Update

It has been nearly six years since the Pigeon River endured a catastrophic event of a sediment release from Song of the Morning Dam, killing a half million trout.  After intense negotiation, agreements & disagreements, multiple occasions in Circuit Court, and significant time consuming in the planning of dam removal, sediment management,  and data collection methodology; the Consent Judgment and Collaborative Agreement was reached April 5, 2014.  Click on link for further info.


Detriot Free Press Article on Grayling Hatchery

Anglers' Comments on NPDES Draft Permit for the Grayling Hatchery

Supplemental Concerns

Premier of "The River" is a stunning success!

Scroll down to learn how to order the DVD.

The Rialto Theater in downtown Grayling was the place to be this past Saturday night April 26, 2014, as the Anglers of the Au Sable sponsored the world premiere of Director Robert Thompson's movie, "The River".  Anglers and movie goers showed up in big numbers to watch this beautifully shot movie about the Au Sable River, its history, fly fishers, and its defenders.  Initial estimates indicate that 300 folks paid admission to see the movie.  A portion of the ticket and DVD sales went to the Anglers.  As the anticipation grew, raffles were held and Anglers swag was handed out.  Then the lights dimmed and "The River" began.   The picture opens in the winter as fly fisherman tease a trout into taking their fly.  Thompson then proceeds to take us through a season of fly fishing on the Au Sable, showing us the trials and tribulations fly fishing in the spring, summer and fall.  Hoots and hollering from the crowd could be heard as fish were landed or lost.  Through out the filming of the fishing season, Thompson seamless cuts away from the fishing to, tell the history of this amazing river, chat with folks who make their living on the water and gives a heart warming tribute to Anglers founder Rusty Gates.  If you see one movie this year watch, "The River".  While the movie was rolling an employee of the Rialto was overheard saying that this was the biggest crowd she could remember.  As the movie closed and credits rolled the crowd raucously cheered and applauded. Thereafter, we called the filmmaker up on stage for a few words. RT as his friends know him, graciously thank the crowd for the applause and support.  The crowd then spilled out on to Michigan Avenue.  Where many movie goers went to Spikes and other local establishments for a little afterglow.  In reflection upon the evening, my heart beats with Angler pride as the event not only raised money for Anglers of the Au Sable but in a small way brought some business to the Rialto Theater and downtown Grayling.  On behalf of the Board of Directors for the Anglers, we thank all of you who purchased a ticket, a DVD, donated raffle items, or worked on setting up the event.  We truly appreciate your support.  Finally, a special thank you goes out to the owner of the Rialto, Jordan Stancil for agreeing to let the Anglers host this event at the Rialto. This is a great venue and we hope to be back for future events.  Yes, It truly was a trout opener to remember.
-  Bruce Pregler, President of AOTA

Atlantics Are In!

Second wave of plantings continue the effort to jumpstart the recreational fishery in Lake Huron.  This will be good for both fishers and merchants as Oscoda and the lower Au Sable become home to the fish that many consider the gamest fighter of them all.  Expect the first signifucant run of these bad boys and girls this coming fall - many will be five pounds by then.  Thanks DNR Fisheries for this common sense project that is a win, win, win!

Photo: Streamside Custom Rod & Guide Service

State Bars Indicted Energy Companies From Auctions

Anglers Alert: Watch "The River."  Buy "The River." Help The River!!

Dear Anglers of the Au Sable Members,

Forget brutal winter. It’s trout time. We have just the thing to get you in the mood for mayflies.

Acclaimed filmmaker and Au Sable trout bum Robert “RT” Thompson spent the past two seasons chronicling the lifestyles, traditions, bugs, trout and fishing on the Au Sable. His new three-movie DVD is called “The River.” It includes a full-length movie about the entire Au Sable, a separate profile of bamboo rod builder Bob Summers, and a third profile of a tribe of trophy-hunting streamer freaks in Mio.

You can be the first to own "The River."  And you can be among the select few who will see it on the big screen.


(Store link:

Buy online now and you’ll receive the DVD in the mail before opener – before it’s available for purchase in fly shops. A portion of all movie sales will be donated to Anglers of the Au Sable for ongoing river conservation work. The DVD is $33, or $39 for BluRay, shipping included.


The movie will premiere on the big screen for one night only at the Rialto Theater in downtown Grayling. It’s set for the night of Trout Opener. April 26. Doors open at 7 p.m. Movie showing from 8-10 p.m. We’ll have door prizes, refreshments, and a great time! Tickets can be purchased in advance at Gates Lodge for $10. It’s $12 at the door. Seating is limited. Get in early!

All proceeds from the Rialto showing will be dfonated to Anglers of the Au Sable

Here’s a sneak peak at “The River”… (Trailer link:


Questions? Contact Anglers 2nd Vice President John Bebow at or 734-474-0166. Or contact Josh Greenberg at Gates Lodge.



Thursday March 20, 2014 was an exciting day, not because the NCAA Basketball Tournament had begun, but because it was the day Michigan State University – College of Agriculture and Natural Resources holds its Honors Banquet on campus at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.  It is at this event the Anglers of the Au Sable awards its annual scholarship to high achieving students majoring in Fisheries and Wildlife. 

This year the Anglers awarded its scholarship to senior Rebecca Blundell.  Rebecca is a fisheries and wildlife major with an emphasis on water sciences and is maintaining a 3.67 GPA.  As part of her degree program, Rebecca recently participated in a stream habitat assessment of the Kalamazoo River.  Following graduation, she plans on attending graduate school.  Shown in the photo above are Rebecca Blundell, Anglers Vice President Thomas Baird and Anglers President Bruce Pregler.

When Rebecca is not working toward her degree, she enjoys kayaking, tying flies and, of course, fishing.  Rebecca readily admits she needs work on her fly fishing skills but is intrigued by the sport. 

This year’s scholarship winner is most deserving.  Rebecca is a smart and delightful young lady who is pursing her passion of managing and protecting our State's waters.  The Anglers will continue to award scholarships to fisheries and wildlife student majors as it is these students who will become the future stewards of our beloved waters.  

-  Bruce Pregler, President

HRE Committee continues work on North Branch; Brook Trout telemetry study planned as well

     Anglers’ Habitat, Restoration and Environment Committee has obtained funding to continue work on the North Branch plus conduct an another telemetry study – this time on brook trout.   

   The North Branch project enters Phase Two this season.  The plan has been to improve trout habitat in the river channel through construction and placement of various in-stream fish habitat structures.  These structures have been designed to perform various functions within the stream channel including sand/sediment management – moving and/or containing excess sand bed-load; restoring and enhancing gravel substrates for insect production and trout spawning; and providing in-stream cover for trout and improving recruitment to older age classes…  

Jim Schramm Named River Champion by American Rivers Organization

Read More About Jim Here

"Since the early 1990's Jim has traveled around the state and to Washington DC on behalf of the Michigan Hydro Relicensing Coalition (MHRC).  Since he does not fly this often resulted in being on the road for up to a week.  Many of the trips in state were to the UP and required an overnight stay.  Without his attendance at the meetings he travelled to there would probably not be a MHRC any longer.

During his trips to DC he managed to negotiate funding for the MHRC that kept us afloat financially for a lot of years.  In recent years he has cut back on his long trips  for the MHRC but because of his expertise on Hydro issues he was asked to take on the responsibility of working on the Boardman River dam removal project.  Without his efforts it is likely that the removal of these dams would never have happened.
All of this is in addition to his ongoing efforts on our behalf for the Anglers, FFF, GLC, and other local clubs around the state. 
There is no way to adequately express our gratitude for all of his efforts.  He would likely shrug it off and mention others he has worked with anyway.   It is gratifying to see him recognized by a prominent nationwide river conservation organization.
Many thanks are greatly deserved."
- Terry Lyons, Board Member, FFF-GLC, Anglers of the Au Sable


Schuette Files Criminal Charges Against Energy Firms Chesapeake and Encana

Conspiracy Caused Price Crash in Bidding Scandal; Companies Face Up to $1 Million Penalty 

Conservation groups call for vigorous prosecution in collusion case that could have cost Michigan $200 million

ANN ARBOR, LANSING --- Criminal charges against two oil companies are appropriate and should be pursued vigorously, key Michigan conservation groups said today. Attorney General Bill Schuette has charged Encana Oil and Gas USA and Chesapeake Energy Corporation with collusion. They are alleged to have conspired to hold bid prices down in an October 2010 auction of oil and gas leases.

The groups also called on Schuette and other appropriate state officials to immediately suspend leasing, drilling, and permitting by both companies in Michigan until the issue is resolved. Encana has submitted permit applications to drill for oil and gas, which could permanently contaminate hundreds of millions of gallons of Michigan water.

The maximum $1 million fine associated with the charges is pocket change compared to what the alleged deal cost the state of Michigan. The collusion would have shortchanged the Natural Resources Trust Fund, which supports the acquisition and development of public land in Michigan with revenue from oil and gas leases on state land.

“Attorney General Schuette is on the right track by filing criminal charges, but all of the evidence leads us to believe that Encana and Chesapeake Energy cut a deal that left Michiganders, and our public land, short by hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Patty Birkholz, former State Senator and current West Michigan Director for Michigan LCV. “If found guilty, letting both companies off the hook with menial fines would send the message that repercussions for criminal activities can just be factored into the cost of doing business in Michigan. We simply cannot afford to do that.”

“If Encana and Chesapeake cannot be trusted to play by the rules, they should not be permitted to continue to lease land or drill for oil and gas in Michigan while this issue is being adjudicated,” said Tom Baird, President of Anglers of the Au Sable, a Grayling-area conservation organization. “These companies have access to our prized public land and our invaluable clean water supply. No entity facing criminal charges, with a stack of evidence mounted against them, should be allowed to continue to profit off of extracting Michigan’s natural resources.”

Schuette’s decision comes more than a year after a Reuters News Agency special report [] detailed email exchanges with strong indicators of bid-rigging between the two oil and gas companies. According to Reuters, the State of Michigan may have been cheated out of more than $200 million.  Bids by Chesapeake Energy and Encana dropped from the May 2010 auction average of $1,413 per acre down to $46 per acre at the October 2010 auction with total revenues dropping from $178 million to just $9.7 million, even though the number of acres sold more than doubled.

The Michigan Environmental Council called for the voiding of the rigged bids, should the companies be found guilty.

“If the courts find that these companies colluded in the bidding process, the state should immediately move to void the contracts in question,” said James Clift, policy director with the council. “Michiganders deserve to receive the maximum value for any assets of the state which are sold or leased. That amount can only by established through and fair and open bid process.”

Michigan LCV called for fines to be raised in order to recover the amount lost by the state due to collusion, with the addition of a penalty that discourages oil and gas companies from conspiring.

“If the Attorney General’s office is truly determined to prosecute aggressively, both companies must be held fully accountable,” Birkholz said. “Emails show that they willingly discussed price points and acreage prior to the land auction. They should pay more than peanuts for settling the case out of court or if they are found guilty.”

Revenue from state-held public auctions of oil and gas leases goes into Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund. This is an effective way to reinvest dollars in the protection of the natural resources from which extraction industries draw. Since 1976, about $965 million has come out of the Natural Resources Trust Fund to acquire and develop state parks and trails. Almost 2,000 projects in nearly every county in Michigan have been completed since the Natural Resources Trust Fund’s inception. The Milliken State Park --- a 31-acre stretch of trails, trees, and wetlands along Detroit’s riverfront --- is just one example of Natural Resources Trust Fund dollars at work. Currently, the Michigan DNR is appropriating Natural Resources Trust Fund dollars to link trails across the state into one continuous 924-mile stretch that would connect Belle Isle in Detroit to the Wisconsin border in the Upper Peninsula.

If Encana and Chesapeake are found guilty of collusion, rightfully recovering the amount lost by the Natural Resources Trust Fund could fill upwards of two-thirds of the Natural Resources Trust Fund’s coffers, due to its current cap of $500 million. Directing fines from Encana and Chesapeake’s alleged criminal activity back toward the improvement of Michigan’s public, natural areas for all citizens to enjoy would be a certain step toward justice being served.


Download PDF version

Michigan League of Conservation Voters (Michigan LCV) is the leading non-partisan political voice for Michigan’s land, air, and water. Visit us online at:


Tess Nelkie is presented the “Riverkeeper Award” for 2013

Periodically, the Anglers of the Au Sable  will honor an individual for their tireless effort and exceptional work on Angler projects.  The highest award given by the Anglers is the “Riverkeeper” award.  Past winners of this award include environmental icon Rusty Gates and George Griffith, a founding member of Trout Unlimited.

In September 2013, the Anglers of the Au Sable presented the Riverkeeper award to Tess Nelkie for her outstanding work with high school students of our community and college students.  Tess has been on the Angler’s Board of Directors since 1992.  And for over 21 years, she has chaired the “Au Sable Words Writing Contest”, which is offered to local Michigan high school students. The students submit stories and poetry which is judged by committee with the winners being published in our quarterly magazine.  The Anglers dedicate an entire issue to this writing contest in the “Riverwatch”.  Tess also administers the Anglers college scholarship award project.  Every year the Anglers give a $1,000.00 scholarship to students majoring in Fisheries & Wildlife at Michigan State University and Lake Superior State University.  These scholarships assist students in achieving their dream of obtaining a degree and finding employment working to preserve, manage and improve Michigan’s wild places.

Anglers of the Au Sable, thank Tess for her passion and commitment to Anglers’ projects. Tess’s continuous and outstanding work with high school and college students ensures that our future stewards of the environment possess the knowledge and respect for all things natural.  Congratulations Tess, you are most deserving of this prestigious award. 

   - Bruce M. Pregler - President of Anglers of the Au Sable



Our founding president, Rusty Gates, has been inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Hall of Fame.

Since 1985 there have been only 70 inductees.  Among the criteria for membership in the Hall of Fame is the requirement that the inductee “must have made substantial contributions to the sport of fly fishing on a national or international basis….”

Rusty joins luminaries such as Ray Bergman, Stan Bogdan, Ernest Schwiebert (whom he once guided on the Au Sable), Gem Skues, Helen Shaw, Frederick Halford, and many other of the most significant contributors to the sport.

Alan Diodore, Director




 The Au Sable lost the best friend it ever had. Calvin “Rusty” Gates Jr., "Da Gator" to his legion of acquaintances, passed away on 19 December 2009. Things in this beautiful valley will never be the same.

Once in a lifetime there is someone that touches your life in so many ways. Rusty Gates was one of those people. His spirit and tenacity had an affect on everyone involved in environmental causes, from hikers to hunters to the many of us who came here to cast a fly far and fine. He was a fighter and it was the good fight that he chose to engage; catch and release on the Holy Waters, National Guard noise pollution on the North Branch, oil wells on the South Branch, and toxic chemicals on the Big Water. Da Gator led the way. A tap on the shoulder, a glance from those blue/grey eyes, a short conversation; that was usually all it took. We set to our tasks with a brio, partly from the cause, partly not to let him down.

He had all the connections and could accomplish more in a phone call than anyone else could do in six months of work. Where would we be without him these last 20 plus years?

A man of character and courage, he brought both, as well as his wry sense of humor, to his final battle. In the end, only his body gave out, Rusty’s spirit remained indomitable.

Rusty Gates has left us as a leader, but left a legacy as big as the river. The vigilance that he began will go on!




John Russell of Great Lakes Images is the official photographer for Anglers of the Au Sable.  Our sincerest thanks to all that have contributed pictures.  With this note we acknowledge each and every one of you and appreciate your contribution.



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