Fishing With Fabel: Chunky Arctic Grayling

This past weekend I was lucky enough to catch some grayling up at 11,300 feet. My destination was an unmarked glacial lake on top of a mountain range in southern Utah. It requires a short hike in and is well worth the bumpy drive on over 12 miles of never maintained dirt roads. Planning on nymphing as I approached the lake I saw some fish hitting the top on the south side. I tied on an E.C. Caddis and sure enough got a hit second cast. That initial catch ended up being the smallest of the day.

Holding a Grayling

I then moved around and caught a bunch more. As soon as the wind would stop the grayling would hit the top like crazy. It was a dry fly paradise that I wasn’t expecting. I have a strong appreciation for grayling because of the environments and climates they endure. They thrive through some of the most brutal winters Mother Nature has to offer and live under hundreds of inches of snow and ice for the majority of the year. I also love the iridescence of their skin. If you truly appreciate the little beauties in fish, including the colors on their skin, you need to go find yourself a grayling and catch one immediately if you haven’t already. Some of them are pretty silver and shinny with some rainbow like colors through their top fin. Others appear purple as soon as they are lifted out of the water and later turn blue and sometimes even have streaks of pink. These colors can not be captured by a camera so it is something you have to experience yourself. Naturally they are a much smaller fish than most other species we target on the fly and that makes catching one of this size (pictured below) a huge success, for Utah at least. It’s not a very dominate fish here but I’m happy that it has been introduced.

Holding a fish

As most people know they are not considered a trout or a char, they are a member of the Salmon family and densely populate drainages of the Arctic Ocean. They are easiest to catch when they spawn in the spring. At that time any flashy nymph will produce a hit and the fishing is HOT. Right now is also a great time to catch them. Since they live at such high elevations they are getting ready to have a layer of ice covering them. So as you can imagine they are feeding like crazy. I switched to a gold ribbed hares ear on 5x tippet with a strike indicator about 4 feet from the nymph. I went around dropping the nymph off ledges in the lakes and got a bunch of strikes that way. Lots of grayling were just waiting for food to drop off these shelves. Grayling fight great relative to their size. They don’t roll like most trout do, yet they dive and try to swim off. It makes landing them super exciting. This was my first time fishing at this lake and it did not disappoint.

Thanks for reading, watch for next weeks blog about Peacock Bass On The Fly!

Releasing a fish

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