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Au Gres - Rifle River Watershed

Groups That Work in the Watershed | Projects Sub-Watersheds | Lakes Greater Than 20 Acres Surface Area of Lakes Greater Than 20 Acres
Road/Stream Crossings


The Au Gres – Rifle River Watershed drains approximately 1024 square miles (655,824 acres) of land directly to Lake Huron. The watershed includes Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco and Arenac counties.

The Au Gres River originates in the forests of eastern Ogemaw County and flows 45 miles in a generally southeasterly direction before reaching the City of Au Gres, where the river drains to northern Saginaw Bay. As the Au Gres flows into Iosco County and through Arenac County agricultural activities become more prevalent. The East Branch Au Gres historically joined the Au Gres but has been diverted east via the Whitney Drain to its outlet to Lake Huron at Singing Bridge road crossing.

Twelve miles of the East Branch Au Gres River, from the confluence of Hall Creek and Smith Creek to Whittemore Road, is designated a blue ribbon trout stream by the Michigan DNR. This stretch is characterized by excellent insect hatches, wild resident trout stocks, and water quality, making it a great spot to try some fly-casting. The lower East Branch Au Gres River historically joined the Au Gres River, but since the 1920s it has been diverted to Lake Huron via the Whitney Drain.

The Rifle River is identified as the highest quality tributary to Saginaw Bay, and is one of Michigan’s 16 Designated Natural Rivers. The main branch flows undammed for 60 miles, joined along the way by 140 miles of tributary streams. Recreational opportunities abound. The Rifle River Recreation Area, managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, lies within Au Sable State Forest and is a great place to paddle, fish, hunt, camp, bike, hike and view wildlife. This recreation area boasts 10 scenic lakes and 14 miles of pathways. In the winter snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are popular activities. Further downstream in the small city of Omer, the “sucker capital of Michigan”, anglers gather from near and far to line the banks of the Rifle each spring and fish a mighty run of spawning suckers. The Rifle River is one of the most heavily used streams in northern Michigan, making conservation both a high priority and a big challenge.

A number of small headwater streams originate in Huron National Forest and flow east before turning south, eventually flowing into Lake Tawas, which is the largest lake in the watershed at over 1,600 surface acres. Below the outlet of Lake Tawas, the Tawas River flows along the coast through East Tawas and Tawas City for three miles before draining into Lake Huron at Tawas Bay. At the river mouth, anglers enjoy fishing for yellow perch, salmon and steelhead. In Lake Tawas bluegill, northern pike, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are pursued. Much of the Tawas River Watershed is poorly drained, creating wetland areas that attract waterfowl and other wildlife. The Tuttle Marsh Wildlife Area is a great spot to view wildlife, including many species of birds and mammals.

Groups That Work in the Watershed


AuGres - Rifle River Sub-Watersheds

  • Bear Creek-East Branch  Au Gres River
  • Big Creek-Frontal Lake Huron
  • Cedar Creek Drain-Au Gres River
  • Cooke Dam-Au Sable River
  • Dead Creek
  • East Branch Big Creek
  • East Branch Tittabawassee River
  • Eddy Creek-Rifle River
  • Flower Lake-West Branch Rifle River
  • Guiley Creek
  • Hale Creek
  • Headwaters West Branch Big Creek
  • Hope Creek-Au Gres River
  • Houghton Creek
  • Johnson Creek
  • Klacking Creek-Rifle River
  • Kunze Creek
  • Lake Huron
  • Lake Saint Helen-South Branch Au Sable River
  • Loon Lake
  • Mansfield Creek
  • Mason Creek-Frontal Lake Huron
  • McMullen Drain
  • Middle Branch Tittabawassee River
  • Molasses River
  • Oyster Creek-Rifle River
  • Perrin Drain-Au Gres River
  • Pine River
  • Plains Creek-Big Creek
  • Porterfield Creek-Au Gres River
  • Prior Creek
  • Sage Lake-Au Gres River
  • Saverine Creek
  • Schnitzelbank Creek-Frontal Lake Huron
  • Scott Drain-Au Gres River
  • Silver Creek
  • Silver Creek-Rifle River
  • Smith Creek
  • Smith Creek-Au Sable River
  • South Branch River
  • South Creek-SouthBranch Au Sable River
  • State Ditch-Au Sable River
  • Tawas Lake-Tawas River
  • Townline Creek-Rifle River
  • Tuttle Ditch
  • Wells Creek
  • West Branch Rifle River
  • White Feather Creek-Frontal Lake Huron

Lakes Greater Than 20 Acres

  • Arrowhead Lake
  • Bass Lake
  • Big Norway Lake
  • Big Williams Lake
  • Birch Lake
  • Boughner Lake
  • Bush Lake
  • Cabin Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Cranberry Lake
  • Devoe Lake
  • East Stylus Lake
  • Elbow Lake
  • Feeding Ground Lake
  • Flowage Lake
  • Floyd Lake
  • Forest Lake
  • George Lake
  • Grebe Lake
  • Grousehaven Lake
  • Hale Lake
  • Hardwood Lake
  • Henderson Lake
  • Hewey Lake
  • Houghton Lake
  • Island Lake
  • Jenkins Lake
  • Johnson Lake
  • Laird Lake
  • Lake Augustina
  • Lake Ogemaw
  • Lake Solitude
  • Little Island Lake
  • Little Long Lake
  • Londo Lake
  • Long Lake
  • Loon Lake
  • Mills Lake
  • Mud Lake
  • Mud Lake
  • North Dease Lake
  • Norway Lake
  • Ogemaw Lake
  • Peach Lake
  • Prior Lake
  • Rifle Lake
  • Round Lake
  • Round Lake
  • Sage Lake
  • Sand Lake
  • Skidway Lake
  • South Dease Lake
  • Stylus Lake
  • Tawas Lake
  • Twin Lake (east)
  • Twin Lake (west)
  • Welcome Lake
  • West Londo Lake
  • Withey Lake

Surface Area of Lakes Greater Than 20 Acres

8896.7 Acres

Source: Huron Pines, NEMCOG & EPA





Last updated on Friday, November 8, 2019

Watershed Facts


Au Gres
East Tawas
Rose City
Skidway Lake
Tawas City
West Branch



Recreation Areas

Au Sable State Forest
Huron National Forest
Tuttle Marsh Wildlife AreaRifle River State Recreation Area

Major Tributaries

East Branch Au Gres (historically)
Silver Creek
West Branch Rifle River

Watersheds Upstream

Lone Lake – Ocqueoc
Au Sable

Watersheds Downstream

Kawkawlin - Pine

Road/Stream Crossings

196 Au Gres River

243 Rifle River

Streambank Erosion Sites

420 (Rifle River)

Northeast Michigan Council of Governments
80 Livingston Blvd. | PO Box 457
Gaylord, MI  49734
(989) 705-3730 | nemcog.org

Great Lakes Restoration Northeast Michigan Council of Governments US Environmental Protection Agency

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