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Arctic Grayling

Arctic grayling is a species of freshwater fish in the salmon family.  Often referred to as "Alaska's sail fish" or the "lady of the stream," the arctic grayling is one of the most beautiful freshwater fish you will find in Alaska.  Grayling have been recorded up to 24 inches long, over 5 lbs in weight and up to 32 years old.


Spawning in the Bristol Bay drainages takes place in the early spring.  Adult fish seek shallow areas of rivers with fine, sand substrate and a moderate current. Males are territorial and court females by flashing their colorful dorsal fins; the fins are also used to brace receptive females during the vibratory release of milt and roe.


It's hard to imagine these fishing living over 30 years.  Because grayling live so long they may spawn many times during their lifespan.  Naturally beautiful, arctic grayling are enchanting fish to pursue on a fly rod.  Landing and holding these remarkable fish with such a unique life history, makes targeting grayling in Alaska near the top of the serious fly anglers bucket list.

Fly Fishing for Grayling

Lake, river and stream populations of arctic grayling can be found nearby at the Last Cast Lodge.  The lodge is on 10 acres of private land bordering the edge of Lake Iliamna and the beginning of the Kvichak river.  Grayling feed mostly on insects (black flies, mayflies, stoneflies and caddis flies), salmon eggs, salmon flesh and smaller fish. Some grayling have even been known to eat mice and voles.

Grayling tend to have a hierarchy of placement in a river system with older, larger adults claiming the upper reaches of the river, sub-adults occupying the middle stretches and juveniles occupying the lower portions. Similar hierarchy occurs in feeding areas, with larger grayling forcefully taking over the prime feeding areas, with sub-adults and juveniles left to fight over the less-than-prime feeding spots.

Though fly fishing for grayling isn't all that complicated using one of our guides that knows the specific locations and habits of these fish will go a long way towards landing a trophy on the fly.

The Kvichak River, Lake Iliamna and the surrounding small tributaries are home to many trophy size grayling. Nothing beats catching one of these beauties on a dry fly or mouse!

Recommended Rods & Flies for Arctic Grayling

Use one of our custom "Walton rods" or bring your favorite 3, 4 or 5 wt rod, some trusty bugs - dry flies, nymph, streamers, egg patterns and flesh patterns. At the lodge we have experienced guides who would be happy to teach you how to tie our favorite flies for these cold water trophies.

Arctic grayling captivate fly anglers from all over the world. Thousands of visitors come to Alaska each summer in pursuit of these marvelous creatures and there's no reason not to make them a big part of your fly fishing trip. Whether you use one of our guided trips or chase them on your own in our Do It Yourself programs, we hope you grow to love these fish as much as we have!

Indy Walton

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