Viewpoint: A great day for the river

While the Au Sable River is, for many, the center of Crawford County life, sometimes young people in the community grow up without really understanding the importance of the river and how it can enhance their lives.
On Monday, July 31, the day after the conclusion of the canoe marathon, Crawford County staff, local Grayling kids, and Anglers of the Au Sable members gathered to clean up trash at the McMasters, Wakeley, and Stephan Bridge landings. This the third year in a row that the Anglers have joined Crawford County officials to organize this opportunity for young people.
Before the hard work began, a discussion with the kids was held on the importance of the Au Sable River to the Grayling community. The river is not only beautiful but it creates jobs in the form of restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, art studios, gas stations, fly shops, sporting goods stores, souvenir shops, biologists, real estate agencies, and canoe liveries. To maintain these job opportunities, the river’s beauty must be preserved.  With this knowledge imparted upon the kids, all the volunteers set about picking up trash. The bridges and landings were picked up over five hours.
Angler board member and biologist Nicole Watson brought equipment to view the river bottom and allowed the children see the abundance of life living under the pure flowing waters of the Au Sable. The kids saw many different insects, critters, and fish through the use of an underwater viewing tube, seine nets, and holding tanks.  
Angler volunteers broke the kids up into groups and showed them how to fly fish. At one point, Watson saw a fish rise, and moments later, one of the youngsters heard the call, “fish on.” The trout came to hand amidst cheers and smiles. There is no doubt in my mind that we have cultivated some future fly fishers. The exact location will not be revealed so as to protect the secret fishing spot.  
At the conclusion of the day, each child was given a brand new Orvis Encounter fly rod, reel, flies, and t-shirt for participating, courtesy of funds raised through Anglers. The smiles on their faces said it all. It is hoped that the kids learn to cherish and respect the river while they enjoy its special waters. Perhaps one of these children will grow up to become the next Rube Babbitt, Rusty Gates, Joan Wulff, Art Neumann, or even Ernest Hemingway to name a few famous fly fisher people.
Crawford County personnel Annalee Umlor and Ryan Parrot assisted in organizing the kids and their transportation. Anglers of the Au Sable members Jim Shiflett, John O’Neil, David Smith, Marie Harrington, and Tom Watson all took time out to walk with the kids, picking up trash, and showing them how to fly fish.
It was a great day for the river, kids, and future generations of fly fishers. Anglers plan on conducting this project again next year.  If you would like to donate to support this program or participate, send an email to to receive further information.
The Anglers of the Au Sable mission statement is to preserve, protect, and enhance the Au Sable River System for future generations of fly fishers. We are pleased to collaborate with Crawford County personnel in a way that fully satisfies our mission.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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