Au Gres Saginaw Bay Walleye Fishing Travel Guide

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A Fisherman's Guide for People Traveling to the Au Gres Area

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Au Gres - Saginaw Bay Walleye Fishing Travel Guide

Article By: Michael Veine

Saginaw Bay is the walleye capital of the world and Au Gres is the best walleye port on the Bay, bar none.

Map of Au Gres on Saginaw BayThis author has been a hard core walleye fisherman on Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie for over 20 years running thousands of fishing charters during that period. Years ago, Lake Erie claimed the titled of: "the Walleye Capital of the World," however in recent years Lake Erie's walleye population has declined some while at the same time Saginaw Bay's walleye numbers have exploded. Now, Saginaw Bay has many times more walleyes per square mile than Lake Erie (or anywhere else in Michigan) and the quality of the Saginaw Bay walleye fishery is unsurpassed as well. A quick check of the Michigan Master Angler records shows the Saginaw Bay watershed has produced more trophy class walleyes than anywhere else in Michigan by far.

Over my 20+ years of walleye fishing on Saginaw Bay, I've launched from all the major ports around the Bay and unquestionably, Au Gres is my overwhelming favorite. Au Gres has convenient, year round access to a world class walleye fishery and the area really caters to fishermen too. According to DNR statistics, the port of Au Gres consistently leads the state in the walleye catch rate. Located where "Up North" begins, Au Gres provides a laid back, small town atmosphere where anglers can really kick back and enjoy their fishing trips. Saginaw Bay is the walleye capital of the world and Au Gres is the best walleye port on the Bay, bar none.

Au Gres Area Lodging

The Au Gres Inn is located right on US-23 in the middle of town close to the DNR State Marina. This is the nicest motel in the Au Gres area.  They have ample parking for boat/trailer rigs, so you won't have to unhitch your trailer for parking unless you want too. This motel was completely renovated in 2013 so it is like a new motel.  Au Gres Inn, 324 E. Huron (US-23), Au Ges, MI 48703, 989-876-2000. 

There are a several nice lakefront resorts with motel units and cottage rentals north of Au Gres that are right on Lake Huron:

The Cozy Cove Resort is only five miles from Au Gres and has three cottages and seven motel rooms. They have a fish cleaning station, swim beach, boat dock, paddle and row boats, gas grills, volleyball, fire pit and more amenities.  They also offer a charter fishermen discount for Trophy Specialists Fishing Charters customers.

Whitestone Pointe Cabins is a really nice place right on the water about eight miles north of Au Gres. They have five cottages and amenities include Wifi, large decks, swim beach, fire pit, volleyball and more.

There is only one Bed and Breakfast that I'm aware of in the Au Gres area:

Rooster Inn Bed and Breakfast is just a couple miles outside of Au Gres on Tonkey Rd. The Inn opened in 2001. The upper level of the historic, 100+ year old farm house is now the Inn. There is a sitting area at the top of the stairs with a refrigerator, board games, small library and movies in the rooms. They have three rooms and two private baths. The Sawyer  offers a queen size bed, AC, TV, and coffee pot. The Brianna Mae offers two full size beds and a roll-away, AC, TV, and coffee pot. The Madison Kay offers a twin bed, TV, fan and coffee pot. Enjoy the outside in our gazebo, courtyard with fireplace, perennial gardens, and horseshoe pits. The Chicken Coop Gift Shoppe is on the premises and has been opened since 1999.   There is plenty of parking for truck/trailer rigs.  The Inn is set in a scenic farming area in the country.

There are some houses for rent in Au Gres:

A Place to Stay in Au Gres is a privately owned rental property located right in Au Gres on the scenic banks of the Au Gres River.  This house will comfortably sleep up to eight adults.  It has a living area and deck overlooking the river.  It even has a fish cleaning station too and has a long driveway that can easily accommodate a large boat/tow vehicle combination.  Daily, weekend and full week rentals are available.  Customers that mention that they are fishing with Trophy Specialists Fishing Charters will receive a rental discount.  Call 616-293-1309 for information and reservations.  

 

Au Gres Area Camping

Trophy Walleye Caught on Saginaw BayAu Gres has one of the best camp grounds in Michigan right within the city limits. The Au Gres City Park is located right on the banks of the Au Gres River and offers 109 camp sites with choices of water, sewer and electric hookups and daily, weekly and monthly rates. There is a centrally located shower facility and a dump station. The park features a family picnic and day use area with barbecue grills, playground, gazebo, fish cleaning station, tennis courts, volleyball courts, basket ball courts, baseball diamonds, shuffleboard, horseshoe pits and a lighted riverfront walkway with a bridge over the river that connects to the downtown area. There are several bars/restaurants/stores within a short walk and the park connects to a river walk where you can walk for miles all the way to Saginaw Bay.

The Point Au Gres Marina and Campground is about five miles from Au Gres located right on Saginaw Bay off Point Au Gres. They have 75 campsites, 80 boat slips and cabin rentals. Electric hookups are available and there is a modern bathhouse. They also have a fish cleaning station, RV dump station, and marine fuel at the dock along with fire pits and other amenities.

Au Gres Eateries and Bars

Au Gres is blessed with some very nice eateries and drinking establishments indeed. In fact, every restaurant in town has great food at reasonable prices and every bar serves good food too. Here's a breakdown of places to eat and drink in Au Gres:

  • The Town and Country Lounge is located about one mile north of Au Gres right on US-23. This establishment is extremely fisherman friendly and is the home of the Arenac County Walleye Club. They have ample parking for boats/trailers rigs and feature a great restaurant menu along with a full bar.  They have Bud Light and Amber Bock draft beer along with a lot more selections on tap too like specialty draft beers from Bells and the Keweenaw Brewing Company.  They have the best pizza and burgers in town, but they also serve up some awesome steaks, seafood and other delectable too. They are open for lunch and dinner, but serve customers into the night as well. Town and Country has a big parking lot that is perfect for boats/trailers rigs.
  • Ali's Up North Restaurant has a quaint Irish theme. They have one of unique, curved, wooden bar.  They also have a great restaurant too with delicious Irish meals including the best Rubin I've ever had. Dunleavy's also has awesome steaks, seafood, Italian food and a complete menu for both lunch and dinner selections. Dunleavy's is located on US-23 about ¼ mile south of the Au Gres River with a big parking lot for boats/trailer rigs.
  • H&H Bakery and Restaurant has the best baked goods I've had anywhere in the country (they are that good!!) They are open early enough to stock up with goodies before a morning trip too. They even pack boxed lunches for fishermen to pick up. H&H also has an excellent restaurant too with  full breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Their menu is very complete with great pizza, seafood, steaks, burgers, pasties and everything in between. H&H participates in the Catch and Cook program where they will take your freshly caught fish from a fishing charter, cook it to your preference and serve it family style with side dishes for a very reasonable price.  Every meal I've ever had at H&H has been awesome and I can't say that about many restaurants.  They serve bottled beer, but no draft beers.  They are located right on US-23 just north of the Au Gres River and have good parking for boats/trailers rigs.
  • B's Family Restaurant is located right in the middle Au Gres about ¼ mile south of the Au Gres River. B's features top notch, home cooking at reasonable rates. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and are a local favorite. They have the friendliest staff in town and their deserts are to die for.  B's has a paved parking lot that fits most small to medium sized boat/trailer rigs.
  • Mug Shots Bar is located on US-23 about ¼ mile south of the Au Gres River. They have a full bar and serve up some good food too.  Their menu consists of good sandwiches, burgers and deep fried foods, but they also have pizza too on weekends. They serve food until about 9:00 p.m.
  • Zanners Ice Creame Shoppe is located right on US-23.  They advertise 32 different flavors. 

Au Gres Boat Launches

A pair of dandy, big walleyes from Sagainaw Bay Au Gres has four main boat launches that are open to the public. By far, the best launch on the entire Bay is the Au Gres DNR Boat Launch. Located at the end of Main Street (turn south off U.S. 23 at the H&H Bakery and Restaurant) this facility has eight launching lanes and ample parking for up to about 200 rigs. The boat launch is at the mouth of the Au Gres River and receives regular dredging and is maintained to a depth of around 10 feet. This launch provides the best access of any launch on the Bay during shallow water periods. I've seen boats to 40' launch at the site, but longer boats have difficultly due to the shorter length of the docks and ramps. Boats 30' and under should be fine. Some of the docks are handicapped accessible. There's a no wake law along the ¾ mile run from the launch to the open waters of Saginaw Bay. The access site is well maintained by the DNR and has pit toilets. There is no fish cleaning station. This is a fee use site covered under the DNR's Recreation Passport system. The site is regularly staffed by the DNR.

There are three decent, private boat launches available to the public at Au Gres:

  • The Northport Marina boat launch is operated by the North Port General Store, where fees are collected. The site is located about one mile north of the Au Gres city limits. This launch has good parking and the channels are dredged for the passage of larger vessels. I've seen 50' boats in there, but the launch will likely only handle boats to around 30' without trouble. It's about a ½ mile, no-wake run from the launch to the open water of Saginaw Bay. There is a fish cleaning station at the Northport General Store, but you have to pay to use it.

  • The Au Gres Yacht Club has a two lane boat launch on the Au Gres River, which is dredged. It's located at 3225 Midshipman Drive on the south side of the river. Parking is limited at this site and the launch is suitable for boats to perhaps 25 feet long. It's about one mile to open water from the launch.

  • The Point Au Gres Marina and Camp Ground  has a boat launch in their dredged harbor. It will handle boats to about 25 feet, but the buoyed channel that leads out into the Bay can be a bit dicey at times and should only be navigated by shallow draft style boats. There is a fish cleaning station at this facility.

Au Gres Marinas/Boat Dealers/Marine Mechanics

There are several Marinas in Au Gres including the Au Gres State Docks located where US-23 crosses the Au Gres River. Unfortunately the DNR really bungled that project when they built that marina. They built it during a high water period and didn't allow for lower water levels, which we have been experiencing in recent years. As a result, this DNR facility is not officially open for business and is not staffed or maintained and the buildings are locked. The gate is open though and people do still use the facility, but the docks are way above the water line and the depth there is too shallow for larger boats. The good news is that there are no fees there at this time.

There are several private marinas in Au Gres that have boat slips for rent and gas docks open to the public. The Au Gres Yacht Club has slips and gas as does the Northport Marina and the Point Au Gres Marina.

There are two boat dealers in Au Gres and several places that do marine mechanical work; however Au Gres Marine (989-876-8587) is by far the best, so there's no point in listing the others. In fact, of the dozens of other Marine dealers and service centers I've used in Michigan and Ohio, Au Gres Marine is the absolute best.  Au Gres Marine exhibits an extremely high level of customer service that is unheard of in the marine industry these days.  Au Gres Marine is conveniently located on US-23 about 1/2 mile north of the Au Gres River by North Port.  They sell new boats and have a good selection of used boats too. They are an authorized sales and service center for both Evenrude and Mercury outboards along with MerCruiser, OMC and Volvo stern drives. They also sell and service inboards as well. They offer trailer sales and service and perform lift ins/outs along with launching services. Au Gres Marine will travel to your boat to perform service and repairs too. They have a well stocked marine store with one of the best marine parts and sundries inventory in the area. They also offer indoor and outdoor boat storage too.  

Au Gres Bait and Tackle Stores

Young Men With a Huge Saginaw Bay WalleyeThere are two stores that sell minnows and shiners: The North Port General Store and The Au Gres Rivers Edge (located on US-23 on the south side of the Au Gres River) have tanks with live bait and they also sell night crawlers too. Both stores have a decent inventory of lures, tackle and fishing sundries. Check out Writes Sports Store for the best selection of tackle in town though. Wright's is located on US-23 about ¼ mile south of the Au Gres River. Wrights also has night crawlers and spawn too.

If you are looking for the best store in Michigan for walleye bait and tackle, then look no further than Franks Great Outdoors in Linwood. Franks has a huge inventory of tackle including the hard to find stuff too. They also have all sorts of live bait too. Northwoods Wholesale Outlet in Pinconning is another huge sporting goods store that has a big selection of bait and tackle. They have had the lowest priced night crawlers in the region too.

Au Gres Food/Gas/Beverage Stores

***** The Au Gres IGA closed during 2012 and is currently out of business *****
The Au Gres IGA is a well stocked super market that has a good selection of food and beer (no liquor). They have a deli too. The IGA is located on US-23 about ¼ mile south of the Au Gres River.
 ***** The Au Gres IGA closed during 2012 and is currently out of business *****

Kelly's Party Store is the only place in Au Gres that I know of that sells packaged liquor. They are located on US-23 about ¼ mile south of the Au Gres River. Kelly's also has beer, wine and food too.

The Au Gres Rivers Edge is a good place for fishermen to get gas in Au Gres with a big parking lot and easy to access pumps for boat/trailer rigs. They also sell beer, pop and food there too and are located on US-23 right on the Au Gres River. The North Port General Store has gas and fills propane tanks. They also have beer and food too and are located on US-23 about one mile north of Au Gres. The Au Gres Shell Station is located on US-23 on the southern edge of Au Gres. They have Subway Subs, beer and food items too.

Things to do and places to See Around Au Gres

Au Gres is located right were "up north" begins. The topography to the south is flatter and predominated by agriculture, but to the north, the landscape is more hilly and forested. Some of the nicest beaches in the state are located just north of Au Gres and most of it is accessible to the public. A lot of roads dead-end at Lake Huron to the north of Au Gres. Each one of those road endings allows public access to the lake and there are dozens of them between Au Gres and Tawas. State law stipulates that people can use the Great Lakes shorelines up to the high water mark (generally where the big trees begin). This means that among other things, you can walk, swim and fish anywhere you want along the Lake Huron shoreline. One of the more popular of these access sites is locally called "the Cemetery". It is about five miles north of Au Gres and there is a rather tight parking area on an access road just north of a cemetery. Another popular spot is the Singing Bridge Park at the mouth of the East Branch of the Au Gres River. This beach is sprawling and the parking lot is huge too.

Shore and stream fishing opportunities abound in the Au Gres Area. One of the more popular spots is the DNR access site at the mouth of the Au Gres River. This spot is developed nicely with a big parking lot and a break wall where anglers can access about ¾ mile of the river mouth. You can also wade into the shallows of Saginaw Bay there too. Walleye, bass, pike, catfish and panfish are caught in abundance there and steelhead also run up the river during the fall, winter and spring. People also fish a lot by the State Marina along the Au Gres River. There is also surf fishing opportunities mainly north of Au Gres. The Singing Bridge Park is a popular fishing spot for surf fishermen.  Tawas City and East Tawas both have beaches and fishing piers too.

A youngter With a Giant Saginaw Bay WalleyeThe Au Gres area has some of the finest trout fishing streams in the country  nearby. The Au Sable River is considered by experts to be a blue ribbon trout stream. The Rifle River is another top rated trout steam too. Both of these rivers have lots of public access through thousands of acres of state and national forests. In addition to those larger rivers, there are also a numerous smaller streams in the area too that provide lots of excellent trout fishing opportunities.  There are also dozens of smaller inland lakes in the area with public access where anglers can find plenty of bass, pike and panfish.  

There are three excellent, 18-hole golf courses close to Au Gres. My favorite is the Singing Bridge Golf Course located about 8 miles north of Au Gres. A small section of the course runs along US-23, but the clubhouse is accessed by taking US-23 to Turner Rd. heading west only a short distance to Nobel Rd. This reasonably priced, yet extremely well maintained course is long and the front nine is somewhat open, but the back nine is a little tighter and more challenging. They have a nice driving range available too.

Another favorite of mine is the Knoll View Golf Course located on US-23 about four miles south of Au Gres. This course is somewhat short, but still very challenging with lots of cool features including an island green. Pricing is very reasonable and they also have a good driving range.

The Huron Breeze Golf Club is regarded as one of the nicest public courses in Michigan. It's located on US-23 about five miles north of Au Gres. As of this writing, this author has not played the course, but I have checked it out. It is long and challenging for sure, but it is also one of the most beautiful golf courses I've seen. Golf digest and Golfer Magazine have both honored the Huron Breeze with awards. This course got a good value award from Golf Digest and I found their pricing surprisingly reasonable.

For a unique experience, try the Charity Island Dinner Cruise.  The cruise shoves off from East Tawas and takes guests on a 10 mile cruise to Big Charity Island, which is in the middle of Saginaw Bay.  You'll see breathtaking scenery along with lighthouses, unique plant life, archeological features and wildlife.  There are gourmet dinner cruises, bird watching cruses, adventure cruises and sunset cruses.  The boat is a 45' catamaran with a 15' beam and an enclosed sitting area.  Drinks are served both on the boat and during dinner on the island.  These cruises are extremely popular and space is limited, so reservations are usually necessary.       

Hiking opportunities abound in the Au Gres area. There are thousands of acres of state and national forests there with hundreds of miles of hiking trails and other paths to roam on. Popular hiking spots are the Corsair trail system and the Au Sable River Pathway.  There are dozens of other designated hiking trails near Au Gres.  Here's a link to Hiking Trails around Au Gres.

Canoeing and kayaking is available on the Rifle River and the Au Sable River. Both offer some of the best canoeing in the state and have abundant rentals for canoes, kayaks and inner tubes. The Rifle River is faster with some white water to negotiate. The Au Sable is more sedate, but is very scenic and is the longest river in Michigan. Both have excellent trout fishing too. There are other area rivers and lakes where canoeing or kayaking is possible too.

Au Gres does not have much tourist-type shopping in town, but it's just a short drive (15 miles) north to Tawas and Oscoda you'll find shopping in great abundance. In fact, there's enough shopping there to keep non-fishing members of your fishing party busy for days. Tawas and Oscoda are really geared up for tourists with all kinds of amenities like parks, walkways, theaters and of course lots of beaches too.  You'll find lots of boutiques, antiques and shops galore there.

Here are some additional links to places worth seeing/doing in the Au Gres area:


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