Arctic Grayling are known as the sailfish of the north, and quite appropriately so. They have beautiful fins that pop with hues of blue, green, and silver. The video above showcases an arctic grayling’s large and colorful dorsal fin. Grayling are normally considered a smaller fish but can reach lengths of over twenty inches. The normal size for an arctic grayling is ten to twelve inches. Arctic grayling are found in Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Montana. Below are some tips for catching arctic grayling specifically in Alaska. They are quite abundant in interior Alaska streams and not very picky, but there are a few things to keep in mind when fishing for these beautiful fish.
Don’t Give up
I have experienced an arctic grayling eating the same fly over and over again more than once. In remote locations, many grayling rarely see fishers and are unaware of getting caught. Arctic grayling tend to mouth flies before eating them, unlike rainbow trout that normally devour. Considering that, don’t feel down if you miss one a couple of times because it’ll likely eat again.
Mosquitos & Dry Flies
Interior Alaska has an insane amount of mosquitos, and they are ruthless. It is highly recommended to wear a head net and bug spray. I use the Original Bug Shirt and it has saved me from thousands of mosquito bites. Although mosquitos are evil to humans, grayling love them, along with other bugs. Dry flies work great on arctic grayling and it is incredibly fun to watch a grayling eating anything on topwater. Parachute Adams, red humpies, and Caddisflies are all known to be effective for grayling.
Nymphs, Leeches, and Eggs
Grayling in deeper holes might be more interested in a nymph such as a copper john or prince nymph as opposed to a dry fly. For especially deep holes use nymphs with bead heads to get a bit deeper. Grayling are also known to occasionally eat egg sucking leeches or smaller size eight/ten leaches. Where salmon and grayling live amongst one another, egg patterns and beads can be quite useful. Be sure to bring a few different bead colors and be observant to match the actual salmon eggs.
Time & Location
June and July are the best times to catch grayling in Alaska, summer is short so they are gorging themselves to survive the long winter. Grayling are territorial and occupy large pools in creeks and rivers. Because they rely on floating insects for much of their diet, these pools provide slower water that allows them to eat easier. Cold and clear water is also where arctic grayling thrive the best.