When do Arctic Grayling Actually Spawn?

Written by Dane in Fishing
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The spawning cycle of the arctic grayling is a natural and harmonious event in the colder climates of North America. 

Whether you intend to reel one of them in on a fishing line, or would just like to observe their shimmering scales in the water beneath you, this easy guide will help you reach your goals.

Where and When do Arctic Graylings Actually Spawn? In order to find Arctic grayling spawn beds:

  • Start your search in the cold-water river runoffs from the Arctic Ocean
  • Seek Arctic grayling beds during the spawning season, which takes place from mid-March to mid-June
  • Look in rocky and shallow streams

Arctic graylings are springtime spawners, so naturally, the best time to look for their beds is from mid-March to June. These cold-water dwellers are found predominantly in medium to large rivers and lakes. 

If you're on the hunt, you'll have no problem finding the gorgeous swimmers in any body of water. Keep reading to find out more.

When do Arctic Grayling Spawn?

Spawning Definition:

  • Process that aquatic animals go through to reproduce
  • Mating process
  • Fertilization period
  • Underwater incubation

Spawning Process:

  • Males arrive at spawning bed first
  • Males mark territory on spawning bed
  • Mates arrive to location
  • Mating activity causes underwater stir, disturbing sand
  • Thousands of eggs are laid on the spawning bed
  • Sand hides newly hatched eggs from predators
  • Adult graylings leave their eggs in the same location and leave to hunt

When Do They Spawn?

  • Toward the end of their life cycles
  • Usually during Spring and Summer

Spawning is the process of reproduction for aquatic animals. 

Spawning instigates by a mating process and fertilization period before a natural underwater incubation. For the Arctic grayling, the males, as mentioned, arrive at the spawning bed prior to the female graylings.

During this waiting period, male Arctic graylings mark their territory in an act of defense from their like-minded peers by proudly displaying their colorful dorsal fin. The larger the fish, the higher the capacity of domain dominance over its peers, making the well fed fish a premiere candidate for mating.

As mates arrive, the initiated mating activity causes an underwater stir, which actually incurs a natural protection measure. As sand from the floor of a stream is kicked-up, disturbed, and distributed throughout the shallow water, the grains end up settling back down on top of the freshly laid eggs.

The thousands of grayling eggs are hidden from hungry aquatic vagabonds and predators during the week it takes for an egg to hatch.

On average, a female grayling lays anywhere from 1,500 to 30,000 eggs every mating season. 

Unfortunately, only 10 percent of the hatched eggs end up growing into adulthood and reproducing, which is why so many eggs are laid at all.

Aquative spawning, for most underwater species, is often not an intimate occurrence, and this is true for Arctic grayling.

Through a process called "broadcast spawning," conceptualization of offspring is entirely external, requiring no closeness in physical contact like mammals and other species. Broadcast spawning begins when both the female and male Arctic graylings arrive at the spawning bed.

The two genders swim nearby each other. Simultaneously, females release their eggs as males release their sperm into the water, then swim in a frenzy to agitate the water and grainy riverbeds. The external fertilization occurs when the sperm and egg collide in the stirred water.

While most fish are naturally drawn to water currents with more depth, the Arctic grayling still prefer the lesser depths of streams. Surprisingly, this vulnerability doesn't encourage the graylings to guard their eggs while they incubate.

Just like many other aquatic animals, the spawning process occurs towards the very end of their life cycle, the Arctic graylings disperse back to their previous habitats and continue through the seasons.

The protective measure they do take is minimal, which is, as mentioned, allowing the disturbed sandy riverbed that was kicked up during the mating process settle over their grayling eggs to act as a camouflage tactic.

Where do Arctic Grayling Spawn?

You will find beautiful Arctic grayling spawning in various regions of North America. While, predominantly, and natively, located in Alaska, Canada, Idaho, Montana, and The Great Lakes, Arctic graylings have been introduced throughout, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and the Pacific Northwest.

You can also find other pools of Arctic grayling swimming around southern pockets of the United States in various cold-water runoffs. If salmon spawning grounds are nearby, you may find some graylings in the area hungrily anticipating the upcoming salmon spawning season.

During the winter months, you'll find these scaly swimmers in the depths of deeper water which won't freeze in sub-zero temperatures. Your best luck, whether spawning or not, is up north, nearby runoff from the Arctic ocean.

During the spring, when water temperatures rise to about 50° F, you'll find a school of male Arctic graylings waiting patiently for their female counterparts to arrive and initiate the spawning cycle over the rocky and sandy floor of shallow water.

If you're interested in catching up with Arctic graylings, skim through the list below to learn where you might be able to find these interesting creatures.

Where To Find Arctic Graylings (States):

  • Alaska (South Central)
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Rio Chama
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Where To Find Arctic Grayling - Water Bodies:

  • Bighorn Lake
  • Big Sandy
  • Clarks Fork Yellowstone
  • Medicine Bow
  • New Fork
  • Popo Arie
  • Snake Headwaters
  • Upper North Platte

After reading through this quick and easy guide, you should be able to figure out how to locate Arctic Graylings while they are spawning in the body of water in which you choose to find them.

As you can see, there are several different bodies of water that can be found throughout the states where you will be able to locate this unique species of fish, whether they are hunting or spawning.

Using the valuable information provided in the previous sections about the most common seasons for spawning as well as the signs to look for, fishing for Arctic Graylings or simply watching them put on a show form under the surface of the water will be easier than ever!

So, pack up your fishing gear and remember everything you’ve learned when you head out on your next adventure in the water.

How Long Does it Take for a Grayling Egg to Hatch?

In the Spring months, it will take a grayling egg an average of approximately 3 weeks to completely hatch. After hatching, the grayling will appear like a small strand of larvae, almost as thin as a small piece of thread, and will only extend about half an inch long. Extremely small during this stage, the only visible feature will be its two eyes.

How Many Arctic Grayling are Born a Year?

Since a female grayling can lay anywhere from 1,500 to 30,000 eggs in one year, and continue spawning annually until they die. On average, only 10% of hatched fry make it to adulthood. It is safe to assume that tens of thousands of Arctic grayling are likely born every year, but thousands of them will grow to maturity.

Where Should I go Bed Fishing for Arctic Grayling?

When scouting for a prosperous grayling fishing position, Springtime should steer you towards shallow and rocky streams of water. You'll have your best catches at the head of the pool, where the largest fish claim their domain. This is due to the fact that the biggest prey usually live upstream, and adult graylings are fit for this type of hunt.

About Dane

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