Arctic Grayling Fishing Guide

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Introduction – Where is the Arctic Grayling Found

The Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) is a freshwater fish species native to Scandinavia, northern Europe, North America, and Asia. The species’ name comes from the Latin word “arctos” meaning Arctic region, referring to its distribution in these regions. 

 In Finland, Norway, and Denmark, the fish is called boreal charr. The grayling is often confused with the European grayling, Thymallus thymallus, and T. baikalensis.

They are a very popular sport fish due to their large size and the high number of strikes they provide anglers. The scientific name for the Arctic grayling is Thymallus arcticus.

Difference Between Artic Grayling and Whitefish

The Arctic Grayling is also called the Kamchatka grayling or Whitefish, but this can make them easily confused with a different fish species that share that name. The two fish also look very similar so it would be easy to confuse one for the other

They are considered trophy class fish, as well as eating and fighting fish.

The two fish also look very similar so it would be easy to confuse one for the other. Arctic graylings have a large mouth with teeth, while whitefish do not.

Arctic graylings also have olive-green back coloration, while whitefish are silver on their backs and green on their sides and bellies. Both species can be found in mountain streams and lakes where they feed on aquatic insects such as mayflies, stonefly nymphs, and beetles.

Arctic graylings are a popular sport fish, and they can grow up to 10 years old or even more. However, they rarely live longer than 5 years in the wild.

Arctic graylings are found in the northern parts of North America and Asia. They have been known to travel as far south as Wyoming, but these fish prefer cooler water temperatures (60 degrees Fahrenheit).

Arctic grayling spawning

In North America, the graylings spawn between May and July in lakes and streams where their food, aquatic insects, are abundant. Spawning occurs at night. Males display territorial behavior by biting females with their teeth while circling them. Females have bright red eggs. 

Then, the mothers lay their eggs in shallow water beds. These beds are created by vegetation and rocks. After the eggs hatch, the larvae drift downstream to larger bodies of water. 

As the population grows, these graylings are caught by anglers. This creates a market for both recreational fishing and commercial fishing. Commercial fishermen use nets and traps to catch adult graylings. 

Sometimes anglers use dynamite to create holes in ice-covered waters. Anglers may also use air rifles to shoot the fish out of the water.

After hatching, the young fish migrate downstream to feed on insects for about two months before returning to their natal streams to mature.

In South central Alaska, Arctic grayling spawn as early as April 11 and as late as July 30, with most occurring from late May through June. Spawning occurs in fast-moving water of 35 to 60 degrees F temperatures.

The females lay their eggs on the bottom of ponds or lakes and then cover them over with rocks, gravel, or other debris until they hatch later in the spring when food becomes available again.


The popularity of the arctic grayling comes down to its adaptability. The arctic grayling’s range extends throughout much of Canada, Alaska, Russia, Scandinavia, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Austria. In addition to being widespread, the arctic grayling is one of the most abundant fish in Canadian rivers, making it one of the most commonly caught fish.


Arctic graylings live in fast-flowing streams that have cool water temperatures (between 4 degrees Celsius and 11 degrees Celsius). They prefer clear, open creeks with little or no vegetation. The arctic graylings’ natural predators are eagles, owls, otters, ravens, bears, foxes, raccoons, mink, minks, lynx, wolverines, weasels, wolves, coyotes, and humans.


Arctic graylings eat insects, crayfish, worms, small fish, frogs, salamanders, and aquatic invertebrates. They also eat algae and roots. Their diet varies seasonally depending on what is available. In winter, they may only eat insect larvae. 

When food becomes scarce, the grayling will move upstream to places where there are larger numbers of prey animals or insects. Grayling usually begin feeding in late fall and peak in size between January and March.


To reproduce, male arctic graylings gather together in shallow pools to meet females. Females deposit eggs in these shallow pools. After spawning, female arctic grayling leave their eggs unattended until they hatch. 

At that point, the fry swims out of the nest and seeks shelter under overhanging rocks or logs. As they get older, the fry becomes independent from their mothers and begins eating insects.

What Does an Arctic Grayling Look Like?

arctic grayling

Arctic Grayling Fish

 A lot of people have seen these beautiful creatures swimming along rivers, streams, and lakes. These fish live in cold, fast-flowing waters, including the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence River system. Their average size is about four inches long, though they may reach lengths of up to eight inches. Two different species of graylings coexist in the same waters. Both species have dark spots on their bodies.

 North American Grayling Fish

 These fish range in length from five to ten inches. Though both the species look similar, they differ in coloration and habitat preferences. Unlike the grayling fish, the North American grayling prefers slow-moving water habitats and feeds primarily on crayfish.

 European Grayling Fish

 This fish grows to between six to nine inches in length and is native to Europe. Like its North American cousin, it also favors slow-moving waterways. However, unlike the North American grayling, it doesn’t eat crayfish. Instead, it consumes algae, insect larvae, small zooplankton, and some aquatic vegetation.

What Lures to Use for Arctic Grayling?

If you could have any lure at hand to catch fish and make them bite down on your hook it would be the red worm. A red worm is just what its name suggests; a reddish-brown worm created from a small baitfish called a leech. These worms are quite effective but if you don’t know how to present them correctly they aren’t worth much.

The Red Worm Is An Effective Bait

 The red worm may not seem like a top choice in fishing lures. But it does work. Most anglers will go out and buy some sort of lure to try out. And after using many different types of baits and lures they discover what works best for them. That’s what I did. And today I want to share my experiences and tips on how to catch fish using the red worm.

Small fish

Depending on their size, small fish will provide the necessary nutrition and protein for the survival and growth of young arctic graylings. In addition to serving as food, the eggs and fry are also good for live bait for larger fish species.

Small insects

Small insects may not have enough nutritional value to survive alone, but they can certainly provide some protein for young arctic grayling when added to their diet.


Crustaceans are small marine animals that make for good natural food for young arctic graylings.

Small fish eggs

For those who want to provide their young arctic grayling with a variety of different foods, the eggs of small fish can offer them a great option.

Fish meal

Fish meal is high in protein and contains omega-3 fatty acids. Since salmon is rich in these fats, it is useful for providing arctic graylings with adequate nutrition.

Insect larvae

Insect larvae are sometimes called maggots. These are larval forms of certain types of insects, including flies and beetles. Larvae are generally smaller than adults and less nutritious, but they can serve as food for young arctic graylings. Larvae of certain flies, such as the black soldier fly, are packed with nutrients.


Clams are often eaten by shore birds. They do not have much meat, but they are high in protein and fat. Young arctic graylings find them tasty and enjoy eating clams from time to time. 

When to Fish for Arctic Grayling

The time of year determines whether to go fishing for Arctic Grayling. If you’re getting ready to go on a vacation, chances are you aren’t going to want to spend hours trying to find the right spot to catch some of these delicious fish, so we have put together a list of dates that work best for catching them.

 July 15th – July 19th: Catch them after they spawn! You will probably need to bring along a friend who knows where to look.

 August 1st- August 10th: After this date, the fish start entering the river system to migrate south. You might be able to get lucky if you are near a body of water that still has ice. Fishing at night is also recommended.

 September 1st – September 11th: These days, the fish are traveling north toward their wintering grounds, so make sure you know what river you should be targeting before heading out!

 October 1st – October 31st: These are the months when you should expect to find the fish, especially if you are close to the ocean. If you do not plan on bringing any gear with you, just use a rod and line and try to keep the line off the bottom.

 November 1st – November 30th: Make sure to target the area where the fish were found last season!

 December 1st – December 31st: This is the time of year when the fish are beginning to leave the area and head back towards the ocean. Try to stay away from the open ocean. When searching for a place to fish, make sure to know the tide times as well.

 January 1st – January 31st: The fish are now heading home for the cold weather. This means that the temperature will drop and the wind and waves will become stronger, making it harder to cast your bait.

 February 1st – February 28th: The fish begin to hatch eggs, so you should be able to find plenty of trout and salmon. However, the conditions will be much colder than usual, so don’t forget to pack extra clothes.

 March 1st – March 31st: The fish will continue to lay eggs until May 1st. Stay away from the spawning beds, otherwise, you could damage the habitat.

 April 1st – April 30th: The water levels will begin to rise because of the snow melt, and the fish will begin migrating upstream to prepare themselves for the summer. Be careful while walking around the banks, as the fish may be swimming.

 May 1st – May 31st: The fish move downstream again. This is the safest time to try and catch a few. Most of the fish are no longer breeding, so they will be easier to catch. Just be sure to check the map carefully before setting out.

 June 1st – June 30th: The fish begin moving back down to the sea to spawn once again. Try and fish near the edges of the streams.

Arctic Grayling Fishing Tips

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Fish the right species

 For arctic grayling, choose a clear river, stream, lake, or pond. In these bodies of water, arctic graylings are often found holding tight to rocks along the bottom, while feeding on aquatic insects and small crustaceans. When choosing between a rock-holding fish and a fish that lives freely, opt for the first option. If you’re using live bait, use a minnow or larval leech. You may want to try switching up your baits every couple of days. Different types of lures work best at different times of the day. Make sure to experiment and figure out what works best for you!

Target the right habitat

Arctic graylings reside in fast-flowing waters where the current moves quickly. Choose a spot that is near the shoreline and not too deep (if possible). Avoid stagnant areas, especially those with debris floating in the water. These areas tend to hold fewer fish since they attract algae and decaying matter.

Cast wisely

When casting, make sure you cast just above the surface of the water. Casting below the surface means you’ll have less chance of hooking a fish. Also, keep the line taut. A slackline will cause your lure to sink. Once you’ve caught a fish, wait until the angler releases the catch before you reel in the line.


It is important to know what it is like to fish for the arctic grayling so that you can prepare yourself mentally and physically for this type of fishing.

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