By Mike Willis
Have you ever heard of an Arctic Grayling? This gnarly fish, easily recognized by its large back dorsal fin, is found primarily in Alaska. Grayling are very delicate and require pristine cold water to survive.
Some may be surprised to learn that these unique fish are relatives of the Salmon. Upon first glance, they appear to be dark in color. However, closer inspection will reveal a very colorful and beautifully marked fish.
Grayling average between 10-12″, though don’t be surprised if you land an 18-20″ after you get the hang of things. The largest that you can expect to catch is 24 inches long and a whopping five pounds! Though rare, the state of Alaska Department of Game and Fish says they do exist!
Regardless of where you go for Grayling, they are an exciting fish to catch. Much like the beloved trout, Grayling are a gentle yet fiercely-fighting fish. Perhaps the best part about fishing for Grayling is the places that you go to catch them.
Those looking to expand their fishing portfolio should look into the rivers surrounding the Fairbanks, Alaska area. This area produces exceptional numbers and sizes for these unique fish. Be sure to check the regs carefully to identify if you are in a catch-and-release zone. There are plenty of areas throughout Alaska which offer a generous creel limit.
If the surface of the water is free of ice, you can catch Grayling.
When planning your fishing trip, try to get in before fall threatens to give-way to winter. Don’t gamble with the weather in Alaska!
Serious anglers from the Fairbanks area utilize jetboats to navigate the rocky rivers and tributaries. Weekend warriors will try their luck with an outboard and prop.
If you are set on fishing from a boat, the best strategy is to utilize a guide and let them bounce their boat off of the rocky river bottom.
When running an outboard on these rivers, make sure to travel upstream. This is important as there is a good chance of catching a prop on a rock. Experienced watermen travel upriver to ensure that they can float their way back to the boat launch should something go wrong.
For those who like to stay a little more low-key, there is ample opportunity to fish from the shoreline. Grayling are found in lakes and ponds as well.
During the evenings, while back at camp, anglers are treated to the northern lights show. These mystical green gases, most noticeable from mid-August through mid-April, dance across the sky. Awestruck by the wonder, you are sure to feel like the luckiest person in the world as you marvel at the mystery.
Tools of the Trade
To successfully catch the Arctic Grayling, you will need an ultralight rod with six-pound test line. 1- 1.5″ spoons and spinners are very effective. Fly fisherman should come equipped with a three to five weight rod and a handful of dry flies.
Don’t forget to pack your 44. Mag revolver. Hint: it’s not for the fish!
As mentioned in the past, stop waiting to go on that fishing trip of a lifetime. Set a date and make it happen!