The past two weeks, I've introduced you to grayling. I've
also taken you to their "transplanted" homes in some of the
mountain lakes on the Kenai Peninsula. Now it's time to visit
them in their native home: the cold, clear waters of the interior
There are many places to fish for grayling in Alaska (including
the large fish of southwestern Alaska and Nome), but those places
require airfare! For my purposes, I'd like to focus on the fish to
be found on the road system.
Grayling begin to appear in the tributaries of the Susitna River
about 70 miles north of Anchorage on the Parks Highway. But,
to get into real consistent fishing, one generally has to go further
north. For "serious" grayling fishing, that means the Glennallen
area, the Denali Highway or the Fairbanks area to me. In any of these
areas, you can count on grayling living in ALL of the clear streams:
any stream big enough that you can't step across (and even some
that you CAN!) will hold grayling.
A few things to keep in mind. First, the smaller the stream, the more "hit and miss"
the fishing might be. Grayling spawn in the spring. In the spring, they will run into
the clear streams (from lakes or even from glacial rivers) to spawn. You might catch
them as they "pass through" or you might catch them in the summer "holding waters".
(The waters that grayling winter in are sometimes fairly "hostile" - silty or oxygen
deprived - and are not usually the same places to find them once the ice is off.
Grayling have adapted to go into almost a "hibernation-like" state in the winters
and require very little oxygen or food. This lack of activity also explains why even
though they are VERY easy to catch in the summer, they are seldom caught by ice
fishermen.) To return to the point of actually catching these fish, just because
you caught 50 fish from a hole one day, doesn't mean that there will still be any
fish there a month later. You may have just found them "passing through". As I said
before, this is even more common in smaller streams.
Second, if there ARE grayling in the area, they'll probably be feeding!
As we saw in "Part 1", they're very active feeders during the summer.
And just because you don't see anything taking dries, don't be
bashful about throwing a dry into "good looking water". You may have just
started your own hatch! The grayling will often give themselves away. And finally,
if you don't see any fish (in the water, actively feeding or chasing your flies),
MOVE ON! If you don't see any fish, there's usually no sense in just pounding the
water - they're not there. It sometimes only means moving on to the next bend in the
stream. Other times it means moving quite a ways further.
Oh, one other thing to remember! Grayling generally are most active on bright,
sunny days! (And you wonder why I love them?) Remember, in Alaska, a sunny day
might get up to 70 degrees. Notice I said UP to. It's not warm enough on many
cloudy days for the bugs to hatch. And since grayling feed by sight (not scent),
we need those bugs. So, there's no trade off between good "fishing weather" and
So where to fish?