Where Are Arctic Grayling Found?

Written by Dane in Fishing
Image Credits: Pixabay.com

There are many fish in the sea (and in other bodies of water), but there are some fish that one may want to focus on more than others. It’s possible that you’ve come across this issue in your fishing escapades, and it’s possible that there are some fish that you prefer to fish for over others. One such fish might be the arctic grayling.

Where are Arctic Grayling found? While there are plenty of states where you can find Arctic Grayling, some of the best places include Alaska, Montana, Missouri, and Michigan.

What is the Arctic Grayling?

The arctic grayling is an elusive fish, located in many places like Northern California, Russia, and in Canada. It’s a fish that prefers the colder, freshwater lakes and rivers, and there are different subspecies, depending on where you’re at.

The grayling is a cousin of salmon, but is smaller than them. Most are around 10-13 inches long, but there are some graylings that are much bigger, this being rare. In this article, we will be giving you all of the information that you need about the best places to catch one of these interesting fish.

Best Places to Catch Arctic Grayling - A Complete List by State

As previously stated, there are a variety of places you can travel to where you can find the arctic grayling. Of course, there are some states where there are more, but it isn’t impossible to find them in other locations as well.

In this section, we will be revealing a complete list of all the states where you can find Arctic Grayling.

Where Can Arctic Grayling Be Found? A Look at All 50 States


Will I Find Arctic Grayling?

A Specific Location if Yes

Alabama

No

-

Alaska

Yes

Willow Creek Confluence

Arizona

Yes

Arizona White Mountains

Arkansas

No

-

California

Yes

Lobdell Lake

Colorado

Yes

Joe Wright Reservoir

Connecticut

Yes

Housatonic Drainage

Delaware

No

-

Florida

No

-

Georgia

No

-

Hawaii

No

-

Idaho

Yes

The Snake River System

Illinois

No

-

Indiana

No

-

Iowa

Yes

The Coon-Yellow River

Kansas

No

-

Kentucky

No

-

Louisiana

No

-

Maine

Possibly

No Specific Locations Recently Recorded

Maryland

No

-

Massachusetts

No

-

Michigan

Yes

Ford Lake, Lake Michigan

Minnesota

Yes

Twin Lake

Mississippi

No

-

Missouri

Possibly

No Specific Locations Recently Recorded

Montana

Yes

Glacier National Park

Nebraska

Possibly

No Specific Locations Recently Recorded

Nevada

Yes

Steele Lake

New Hampshire

Yes

Long Pond

New Jersey

No

-

New Mexico

Yes

The Canjilon Area

New York

Possibly

No Specific Locations Recently Recorded

North Carolina

No

-

North Dakota

No

-

Ohio

No

-

Oklahoma

No

-

Oregon

Yes

The Umatilla River System

Pennsylvania

No

-

Rhode Island

No

-

South Carolina

No

-

South Dakota

Yes

The Missouri River System

Tennessee

No

-

Texas

No

-

Utah

Yes

Lakes, Streams in Cache County

Vermont

Yes

Caspian Lake

Virginia

Yes

Smith River

Washington

Possibly

No Specific Locations Recently Recorded

West Virginia

No

-

Wisconsin

Yes

The Wolf Water System

Wyoming

Yes

Big Sandy Reservoir

A Deeper Look at Where Arctic Grayling Can be Found

The most notable of all items on the table above are Alaska, Montana and Michigan. However, as you can see, the arctic grayling is also found in a lot of other states. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Arctic Grayling in Alaska

Alaska is known for its habitat being ripe for the arctic grayling, and fishermen will travel far and wide to Alaska to catch one. They’re very common there and local fishermen are consistently catching them. They’re also common to our next door neighbor of Canada, who frequently catches them in their own country.

Alaska is one of the spots where bigger graylings, some of which that can get up to 30 inches, dwell. Because of their abundance, it’s easy to find graylings anywhere there, and of all different sizes.

Where Arctic Grayling May be Found in Alaska

Due to the fact that the arctic grayling is a freshwater fish, they’re found in freshwater locations, such as cold lakes, rivers, and the like. Alaska’s naturally freezing waters makes for the perfect location for the arctic grayling.

There are some areas of Alaska where the grayling isn’t common, such as Kodiak Island or Southeast Alaska, but there are some in lakes in Southeast Alaska that had graylings introduced to it.

It’s the perfect place for finding the arctic grayling, and you’re sure to find some, if you go looking for them with the intent of finding one.

Overall, Alaska is a great place to start when looking for arctic grayling, as they can be found all over the state. It’s one of Alaska’s most popular sporting fish, and you’re bound to find plenty, if you plan a trip there! It is recommended that you take a jacket out on the water, due to the cold.

Arctic Grayling in Montana

Montana arctic graylings are found in a variety of places around the state. In fact, Montana is known to be the home of a different type of arctic grayling, called the “Montana arctic grayling.” It’s a subspecies of the arctic grayling and is native to the Missouri River.

The Montana arctic grayling is native to its location, and was given its name because of it, as they’re slightly different than regular arctic graylings. Montana arctic graylings are incredibly colorful, even if they seem more on the darker end, at first. In fact, early fishermen of the Montana arctic grayling called it a white trout, rather than anything else.

Where Arctic Grayling May Be Found in Montana

Arctic grayling can be found in a multitude of lakes and rivers across Montana, but the most notable are the Missouri River, Beaverhead river, Red Rock Lake, and Big Hole River.

Throughout the years, however, state officials have been introducing the grayling to different locations in Montana. They’re becoming more widespread throughout the state, but are still mostly located in those rivers and lakes mentioned.

It’s easiest to find Montana graylings in rivers, as they aren’t as common in lakes as they are in rivers. 

They are more native to rivers, which is why they’re usually found there instead. Due to their popularity, they were introduced to lakes around Montana and Michigan.

The Population of Arctic Grayling in Montana

The population of the Montana arctic grayling seems to be declining, and there are some calls for the state to reconsider its stance on the fish being endangered. Back in 2014, they considered calling the grayling extinct, but denied it.

In 2018, some started to call for the state to reconsider this, though, due to the rapid declining of the fish in Montana. The state was able to bring their population back from their near extinction, and experts are hoping to do this again, so as to keep their beloved fish.

Arctic Grayling in Michigan

Michigan is another state that once had its own subspecies of grayling, called the “Michigan arctic grayling.” However, it has since gone extinct. There are still graylings in the state of Michigan, but that subspecies is no longer one of them.

Their native grayling went extinct long before any of us were born, sometime in the early 1900’s, due to overfishing. The arctic grayling is found primarily in Lake Michigan and rivers and lakes surrounding it.

The Population of Arctic Grayling in Michigan

The main species of the grayling was introduced back into these waters, and it has been slow going, to say the least. It’s taking many, many years to get the fish to be reintroduced to the environment, but it is happening, and the fish that are being introduced are beginning to show signs of thriving.

In fact, this initiative to bring the grayling back to Michigan has been government funded, and scientists and fishermen are doing their best to try and get the grayling to stick with their lakes, once more.

The story of the Michigan arctic grayling has actually been infused into Michigan culture, and many hold the subject close to their hearts.

The native grayling of the area was a sight to behold, and it was something that the people of Michigan mourned, when the last one was caught. It’s something that fishermen across the state will tell you about and the initiative is something that’s very important to many, many people in the state of Michigan.

Arctic Grayling in Other States

For Wyoming, Utah, Washington/Oregon, California, and Arizona, the grayling isn’t a native of those waters and have been, instead, introduced to suitable habitats in those states.

Due to habitat concerns, there are only a few places in each state where they’re located. However, experts are hoping to bring graylings to more locations across each of these states, to the delight of fishermen in each state.

Arctic Grayling in Wyoming

In Wyoming, they probably have the widest variety of places where the grayling dwells, including lakes and rivers around the Rocky Mountains and the Teton Range, such as at Toppings Lake.

Arctic Grayling in Utah

In Utah, the arctic grayling are also found around the Rocky Mountains, as well as around the Uinta and Wasatch Mountains.

Arctic Grayling in Oregon and Washington

In Washington and Oregon, the arctic grayling can be found along the Cascade Mountains, introduced to lakes and rivers surrounding. The Umatilla River system in Oregon is also said to have them.

Arctic Grayling in California

Similarly, California has graylings around the Cascade Mountains, as well as the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Arctic Grayling in Arizona

Arizona has a large introduced populations of Arctic graylings, also surrounded by mountains. They’re typically found in the rivers and lakes in the Lee Valley, as well as around the White Mountains in that state.

Arctic Grayling in Colorado

Colorado houses the arctic grayling in Zimmerman Lake, North and South Platte rivers, the Rio Grande headwaters, the Eagle and Frying Pan rivers and the Arkansas drainage.

Arctic Grayling in Idaho

Idaho has the arctic grayling at the Kootenai, Spokane, Salmon, Bear, and Snake river systems. These river systems run all over and throughout the state.

Arctic Grayling in Connecticut

For Connecticut, there are graylings in the Housatonic drainage. Iowa has some in the Maquoketa and Coon-Yellow rivers.

Arctic Grayling in Minnesota

Minnesota has graylings at Twin Lake in the Rainey headwaters, and several lakes in the Arrowhead region, including Musquash Lake.

Arctic Grayling in Nevada

Nevada is another state with quite a few, having some fish in high elevation lakes in the northern part of the state, Desert Creek, Ruby Valley and Steele Lake in Elko County.

Arctic Grayling in the Rest of the States

The other states listed all have a spattering of graylings in only one or two lakes, and it’s best to check with your state’s government to see which lake or river the grayling exactly resides in.

As you can see, there are quite a few arctic graylings across America, and most of them have been introduced to these environments.

Graylings are incredibly popular amongst fishermen, and they’re very beautiful, which is why so many places have had them introduced to their lakes and rivers. Most of these introductions were done without considering ecological changes, but the waters with these fish have still managed to prevail, despite it.

The Best Times to Catch Arctic Grayling

When it comes to fishing for any species of fish, there’s the right time and place to catch them.

There is quite a variety of places that the arctic grayling is located, so it’s easy to assume that there are certain times that are more likely to get a fish in your hands. It varies by state and location, but there are definitely the right times to catch them in each.

The Best Seasons to Catch Arctic Grayling

Seasons have a huge effect on when it’s best to catch arctic grayling. The best seasons to catch arctic grayling are:

  • Spring, especially late
  • Summer, especially early
  • Early to mid fall

Some of the best seasons to catch the arctic grayling is right after the cold of winter. Late spring and early summer is generally the best time to find them, after the ice from the lakes and rivers they live in has thawed over. They tend to be in shallower water around this time of year, and they tend to stay together.

In fall and winter, the fish start to go into deeper waters, and are generally harder to catch, which is why it’s recommended that you go to find them in the spring and summer months. This isn’t to say that it is impossible to find them in the winter months, but that it’s much more difficult to find them and get them to bite on your line.

The Best Time of Day to Catch Arctic Grayling

It’s easy to fish for them at any time of day, but it’s generally recommended that you go looking during the daylight, as it’s easier to see and not as cold in the places you’re looking for them. There’s no particular time in the day that’s best for finding them, but it’s important to look at the seasons to know where exactly the fish will be located.

Another good reason why fishing during the day is a good idea is that they tend to jump out of the water for flies, making them popular amongst fly fishermen. Fishing for arctic grayling during the day gives easier visibility, and you are more likely to be able to catch one, especially if you’re a fly fisher, during the daylight hours.

7 Tips For Catching Arctic Grayling

The arctic grayling can be harder to find and catch, especially due to their migratory journeys. It’s easy to miss out on finding them, and even easier to mistake them for other fish, if you’re newer at hunting them. There are always tips out there, however, that will help you find the fish that you’re looking for!

Tips for Catching Arctic Grayling

We’ll discuss these tips in depth below. Here’s an overview of the tips for catching arctic grayling in virtually any location:

  1. Know when the arctic graylings are most prominent - late spring and early summer.
  2. Graylings are fighters, and, while they might not fight on your line as much as other fish, they’re definitely more slippery.
  3. Ultralight rods are regarded as the best type of rod to catch arctic grayling.
  4. It’s important to have a strong line while fishing for one, but you need to be aware that the grayling has a softer mouth, and that could affect the type of line and hook that you use for it.
  5. Graylings like to feed on eggs, as they’re omnivores, so it’s good to look near egg nests, where they might be hiding in plain sight.
  6. Because of their appetite and because they’re omnivores, it’s good to have a lure that would attract their attention, as in something that they might like to try and take a bite out of.
  7. Graylings will often jump out of the water to get flies, so it’s good to know the best spots for where they do this, if you’re fly fishing them.

These are just a few tips to help you try and catch an arctic grayling. In the end, the best way to figure out how to catch an arctic grayling is by going out and trying to catch one yourself.

Arctic Graylings Are Fighters - Prepare to Catch Them

Trying to find the graylings in the time that’s recommended is the best way to know that you’re on a closer path to catching your own grayling. It is good to know and be aware that the graylings are not an easy catch and that you might have to get creative, while trying to reel one up.

Lighter Fishing Rods are Recommended

The lighter rod is recommended due to their smaller size, and because of their fighting style. In addition, graylings like to hop out of the water for flies, so a fly rod would also be effective in catching one.

Find Arctic Grayling by Finding Where They Feed

It’s good to keep in mind the fish’s anatomy before going into fishing for this one blind. They have a fairly ravenous appetite, so it’s good to know where the best sources of food for them are, to have a better chance at catching one.

Smaller Lures May Be Helpful

You’ll want to use a smaller lure, though, as the graylings have smaller mouths, due to their smaller size. Knowing that they jump out of the water will also help you decide what kind of lure would be best, as a smaller one that looks sort of like that would be helpful.

Arctic grayling might be elusive in some cases, but they aren’t impossible to catch. It’s important to keep in mind different factors that will help lead you to an arctic grayling, as there are a multitude of them.

All In All...

Arctic graylings certainly are an interesting fish, and they’re reportedly very tasty. There are a variety of places out there where you can find them, whether they were introduced to that area or if they are a native.

Knowing your prey is essential in finding one, and, with the right knowledge, you’re on your way to finding one yourself!

The best thing to do to find an arctic grayling, however, is going out there yourself. Go out looking in whichever spot you think is best, and you’re sure to find one, eventually. Happy fishing!

About Dane
Hi, I am Dane. I am one of the regular contributors to BonfireBob. I Write about all things, that I find Interesting. I live in Texas with my wife and 5 kids, and love everything outdoors, especially activities where I can spend time with my kids.

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