Just How Big Are Arctic Grayling?

Written by Dane in Fishing
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

They're hefty and tasty, but if you're going out to catch one you'll want to bring some muscle. Arctic grayling are the premiere catch of Alaska, but are they one-handers, or over the shoulder? 

We did the research for you, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about these Arctic fish.

Just How Big Are Arctic Grayling? Arctic grayling, on average, measure 12-14 inches, making them just longer the average forearm, and normally weigh in at 1-2 pounds. Canada and Alaska share the most sizeable populations.

Throughout their total life span, Arctic Grayling fish will go through several development stages from birth to adulthood. 

In this article, you will find out the average sizes to help you prepare for your next fishing trip.

Arctic Grayling Adult Sizes

Arctic Grayling Sizes - Adult Life:

  • Length = 12-14 inches
  • Weight = 1-2 pounds

The average size of a grayling tends to sit around 12-14 inches, and weigh in the range of 1-2 pounds. 

On the North slope, fisherman and researches have caught multiple Arctic graylings up to 19 inches in length.

Interestingly, the graylings on the north slope grow larger and live longer despite the harsher climate. 

Even when it comes to growth, the northern Arctic grayling take an additional two years longer than the average southern peers.

The largest reported adult Arctic grayling caught measured to 30 inches and a whopping 6 pounds. 

However, this was never recorded in the IGFA. Officially the longest Arctic grayling measures up to 19 inches, (a common size on the North slope) and a thumping 5lb 15oz weight.

How Big Are Arctic Grayling When They Are Born?

Arctic Grayling Sizes - Early Life:

  • After hatching = 1/2 inch
  • End of summer = 2-4 inches

Arctic grayling hatch after a lengthy incubation period post spawning. 

After digging into the sand and gravel at the bottom of a stream, for at the very least 7 days, an almost thread-like grayling, 1/2 inch in length, emerges from the egg.

This is an incredibly vulnerable period for the graylings, as they're easy for local aquatic predators to catch and eat.

By instinct, graylings immediately move toward warmer waters near land. 

In ideal conditions, as they hatch just before summer, the Arctic graylings grow in warm water where, hopefully, there will be enough drift to feed on so the larva grayling can grow. The mortality rate is still high for graylings at this point in their evolution.

By the end of the summer season, Arctic graylings graduate in size to a juvenile length of 2 to 4 inches. 

Continuous growth occurs over the years, and if the grayling can continue to find warm waters in the warm months with a minimal food:grayling ratio in their pools they'll grow at a fast rate.

The first three years of an Arctic graylings life proclaim the highest potential results in terms of growth. Rapid growth continues until the Arctic grayling matures sexually at around 4 to 5 years old.

They immediately move toward the calm and warm shoreline waters where they grow quickly; reaching a length of 50 to 100 millimeters, or 2 to 4 inches, by the end of summer. 

When they've grown in age and size, graylings start spawning and lose the accelerated trajectory of their initial growth spurt.

Some graylings have been documented to start feeding themselves the day they hatch, while others, particularly in Alaska, have shown to wait up to four days before they grow hungry enough to eat.

The ascension from larvae to juvenile is assisted by the mouth. 

The more a grayling consumes, the larger the mouth diameter increases. 

The bigger a grayling's mouth is, the more options appear on their feeding menu. 

Variety, in the grayling's evolution, is paramount to successful growth.

An Arctic grayling cannot grow if it isn't in a habitat with enough food, especially in the initial stages. 

This is one major factor impacting the differences in size for graylings in the continental United States when compared to the Alaskan and Canadian populous.

The differences in food supply even extend farther north around Alaska's north slope, where the largest and most healthy graylings are found.

While food availability is an important factor when it comes to growth, we discovered that male graylings are, on average, longer and heavier than their female counterparts.

The research found showed reports that male graylings grow marginally faster than female graylings. 

Arctic graylings have notorious territorial mantras, but males are highly dominating of the spawn pools and feeding domains.

Is this a factor in the growth gap between male and female graylings, or is it strictly gender genetics? Researchers haven't answered that question quite yet.

Does The Weather Play a Factor in Arctic Grayling Growth?

Most people would be surprised to learn that the weather plays a factor in the growth cycle of the Arctic Grayling fish. To be more specific, the summer time is the season of growth for these fish. 

This season is so fleeting in the great northern mountains and valleys of Alaska and Canada.

Why Summer Is Ideal For Arctic Grayling Growth:

  • More opportunities for food
  • Energy boost
  • Higher oxygen density in the water

Arctic graylings, while viciously fight for the best feeding spot, are also looking for the warmest weather they can obtain for as much growth as possible. 

There's reports of tagged grayling traveling nearly 100 miles just for feeding season.

Warm weather does two things; provide more opportunity for food, and boosts a fish's energy by enabling grayling to rise to surface levels and shallow stream pools where there's a higher oxygen density in the water.

Most of the cold months in a grayling cycle send the fish deeper into bodies of water, which they have an evolutionary knack for. 

Unfortunately, Arctic grayling are one of the only animals in their habitat which can do this, so feeding is much more scarce, resulting in a period of stunted growth.

Now that we’ve established the average sizes of Arctic Graylings, does their size matter? The answer is yes. Arctic grayling are a reportedly aggressive species of fish. With a some pockets of population that can be described as rife, grayling take on the natural defensive manners of territorial claiming.

When it comes to feeding, the larger fish are found at the head of a pool, where it's practically an insect buffet. 

You can easily suppose, as well that the larger fish claim more mating territory in the Spring time just by imposing its size alone.

Female graylings are more secluded in nature. 

As their more flamboyant counterpart flaunts it's claim of aquatic property, the male fish leaves the leftovers as the nutritional option for female graylings hiding underneath vegetation.

In the natural hierarchy of Arctic grayling, your size is a direct and powerful representation of your influence on the social ladder.

How Big do Arctic Grayling Have to Grow to Catch?

Alaska has no size or weight requirement for keeping Arctic grayling. Though, if you don’t have a catch longer than 12 inches, you should try for a larger fish.

Where Can I Go for a Good Chance to Catch an Arctic Grayling?

Arctic graylings are in abundance within the Alaskan freshwater river systems. There are many resorts offering great spots with 4lb grayling swimming through their water. Though, as long as you’re by a shallow stream at the head of a pool, you’ll have great chances of a sizeable catch.

About Dane

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