The Lastest on the Grayling Fish Hatchery

The article in the Crawford County Avalanche

David Smith's Letter to the Editor

Here We Go Again!

The last time we needed to save the Holy Waters -- now it's the whole river.  The latest nominations for oil and gas leases by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) includes such treasures as Hartwick Pines State Park, the headwaters of the South Branch, the Manistee below M-72, and in and along the Holy Waters (including a parcel beneath Gates Au Sable Lodge).  If that sounds bad, it's because it is. 

Despite many of these parcels being listed as non-development, Anglers believes even putting such sensitive parcels on the auction block is contrary to the credo of the Michigan DNR.  We also believe that such listings could potentially be reversed, contrary to assurances from the DNR.

Assurances aren't enough. 

Last December we thought that our position had been made clear: These are special places let them stay as they are.  With regard to The Holy Waters, DNR agreed and crafted a set of guidelines toward that end.  Unfortunately these latest actions give us pause for concern.

A recent article in The Bridge illustrates just how much is at stake.

The sheer amount of acreage up for auction in Crawford and Roscommon Counties is disheartening. It isn't limited to just a few parcels here and there, this auction is for thousands of acres in and around our beloved rivers and forested areas. There are numerous parcels very near Higgins and Houghton lakes as well and while those lakes are not in our watershed, the number of parcels in that area and the Hartwick Pines parcels shows a blatant disregard of preserving the state's recreation resources. Again, not just a few key parcels, enormous areas some of which are literally in the back yards of area residents. The fact that it seems to incorporate so many of our waterways makes responses from those receiving this email, and your friends, families, and conservations groups, all the more essential.

Let's be heard.

Contact info:

Written comments may be sent to Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Minerals

Management Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952.

Email comments to: Julie Manson,

Let them know that you absolutely oppose the parcels highlighted by the Anglers of the Au Sable in our public comment to the DNR.

Anglers of the Au Sable has joined more than 25 other leading environmental groups in expressing to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grave concerns about proposed rules governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Michigan. Read the letter to the DEQ here for details.

Here is the Press Release

Thank you to those who have sent individual letters opposing the current rules. You can make your position known by emailing before July 31.

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


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
Here are some places to purchase the film:


The River DVD (standard) $30

The River DVD (BluRay) $35

Michigan Retail Outlets:

Gates Lodge (Grayling)

Old AuSable Fly Shop (Grayling)

Fullers NBOC (Lovells)

AuSable Angler (Mio)

Nomad Anglers (Okemos & Grand Rapids)

Schultz Outfitters (Ypsilanti)

Little Forks Outfitters (Midland)

Pere Marquette Lodge (Baldwin)

RW Summers Company (Traverse City)

Other Midwest Outlets:

Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters (Chicago)

Lunds Fly Shop (River Falls, WI)

Driftless Fly Fishing Company (Preston, MN)


standard $33 shipped

BluRay $38 shipped



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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