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Interview with Andy Partlo, owner, Old AuSable Fly Shop.
For people who aren't familiar with your part of the world, talk to us about the types of water your customers access locally?We’re lucky to live and fish in a very special area here in the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Here, in Grayling, anglers ply the water of the Au Sable and Manistee for wild brown and brook trout. The Au Sable and Manistee watersheds are sister rivers; flowing from separate but juxtaposed springs and paralleling one another until turning toward their respective ends. The 190 mile long Manistee makes its turn just west of Grayling and flows to Lake Michigan while the Au Sable turns easterly right in front the Old Au Sable Fly Shop to continue its 139 mile journey.
These watersheds are comprised of multiple branches, the most notable being the North and South Branches of the Au Sable. Our waters are spring creeks. Enormous spring creeks filled with log jams and overhanging cover. Rain water is filtered and purified through clean, sandy soils and flows over a bedrock of limestone where it picks up the nutrients that make for some of the best hatch match dry fly fishing in the country.
The best fish live their lives in brushy tangles; only coming out for good hatches, to ambush a streamer, or to eat small trout, frogs and mice after dark. Patience, endurance, and accurate casting is a must. Top end trout here are big and difficult. Fun place to fish.
We have many, many miles of wadable, cool running streams. And so, anglers here live in waders 12 months of the year. We beat the hell out of ‘em. Waders without Gink stains and a foul smell are rare here. Simms waders wear nicely for us.
But that’s not all. Within 100 miles of our town, anglers can catch nearly every fresh water fish that swims. The great lakes are home to everything from Atlantic and Pacific salmon and nearly everything else that swims on the continent.
Your logo incorporates a grayling. Talk about the allure of this lesser known fish. Our town is named for the long extinct Michigan Grayling. The last known Michigan grayling was caught in 1936. Habitat destruction and overfishing both played rolls in their demise. The grayling is a constant reminder to us of conservation’s importance. Trout Unlimited was formed on these banks and we hold those values tightly everyday. Take care of the habitat and the fishing will take care of itself.
If I were to come in to the shop on a Saturday, what music would I be likely to hear? We listen to great music. You’ll likely hear the blues, bluegrass, alt country, and, of course classic, rock. Depending on how the fishing’ been, we’ll probably be singing along.
Any specialty flies in your area that the rest of the world should know about? Our area is a hotbed of fly tying and innovation is everywhere. Nearly all of our hatch matching dry flies are tied locally. We carry just over 1000 patterns. Many of the flies from Northern Michigan are familiar in some way to fisherman everywhere. The Adams was created not far from here. More recently, articulated streamers and saltwater type flies for trout found at least part of their beginnings here.
You seem to have a connection with the Arkansas River down South. How did that come about? On tip from a couple of buddies, a number of years ago a couple of my guides pulled their drift boat down to Arkansas and found a great streamer game to play during our winter. It stuck. Big flies, big bites, big fish.
What is your most requested Simms product? Boots and G3 waders. And lots of laces.
Old AuSable Fly Shop
200 Ingham St.
Grayling, MI 49738