Rivers & Lakes in Grayling MI

AuSable River

The beautiful AuSable River is one of Michigan’s most desirable destinations for kayakingcanoeing and fishing. The headwaters and mainstream of the AuSable River flow within easy driving distance of Grayling. There is no better place to fly fish than the AuSable River’s clean and cool waters.  There is one section of the river, about nine miles long, that fishermen call the “Holy Waters”, because of the incredible abundance of trout. The “Holy Waters” is regulated by year-round fly-fishing only and catch-and-release only.  The river flows through scenic woodlands, perfect for spotting all kinds of wildlife and birds that makeup this diverse ecosystem. Perhaps the best way to see the true wilderness is to use a canoe or kayak, which can be rented at the various nearby liveries.  Each year in July, the AuSable River hosts the AuSable River Canoe Marathon that draws hundreds of competitors.  The 120-mile competition is fierce - intended for athletes in top shape who are expert racers, and continues nonstop, through day and night until the finish line at Lake Huron.

Manistee River

The 232-mile Manistee is one of Michigan’s best fly fishing rivers for catching wild trout -- primarily brown and brook trout, though there are a few rainbow trout as well.   It runs through Northern Michigan entering through Lake Michigan at Manistee. The deep sandy bottom of the river provides a constant and stable flow and the clear and cold waters make it perfect for fishingkayaking and canoeing. The Manistee is also ideal for wildlife watching and scenic photography. A canoe or kayak is the best way to obtain the wilderness experience although scenic wonders can be had at any woodland area bridge that spans the river.


There are numerous lakes in the county. Some are well-known for fishing, others are popular for boating and swimming.

  • Lake Margrethe is one of Grayling’s larger lakes and is known for its great fishing, boating and swimming. The beautiful lake is filled with bass, perch, pike, walleye, bluegill, and muskie. Lake Margrethe offers up ice fishing in the winter.
  • Kneff Lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout and offers a variety of recreational activities including camping, swimming and picnicking. There are 27 campsites available for rentals that include tables and fire rings. A serene and very beautiful lake, a must see while in Grayling.
  • Wakeley Lake is a beautiful, scenic and slightly more remote location where you can peacefully fish or float in quiet solitude all day long.

Wakely Lake
Wakeley Lake. Photo by NEMCOG

Other fishing and recreation lakes in the area include:

Big Creek Impoundment, Bradford Lake, Bluegill Lake, Bright Lake, Connor’s Marsh, Glory Lake, Hardgrove Lake, Hartwick Lake, Higgins Lake, Horseshoe Lake, Howes Lake, Jones Lake, K.P. Lake, Lonesome Lake, Lost Lake, May Lake, Pickerel Lake, River Lake, Sandhill Lake, Section One Lake, Shupac Lake.