Game Fishing > Grayling Familiy, Thymallidae > Arctic Grayling

Arctic Grayling

Arctic GraylingThe Arctic grayling was first described by Sir John Richardson, in 1823, from specimens collected at winter Lake, near Fort Enterprise, in British America. He named it signifer, or "standard-bearer," in allusion to its tall, waving, colored dorsal fin.

It is presumably the oldest and original species, and it is not unlikely that it was transported to Michigan and Montana on an ice-field during the glacial period. It is often called Bach's grayling, in honor of an officer of that name who took the first one on the fly, when with the Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin, in 1819.

The Arctic grayling abounds in clear, cold streams of the Mackenzie and Yukon provinces in British America, and in Alaska up to the Arctic Ocean.

This boreal grayling has a somewhat smaller head than the other species, its upper outline being continuous with the curve of the back. The mouth is small, extend­ing to below the middle of the eye, which latter is larger than in the other graylings, while its dorsal fin is both longer and higher, and contains a few more rays.

The sides are purplish gray, darker on the back; head brownish, a blue mark on each side of the lower jaw; the dorsal fins dark gray, splashed with a lighter shade, with rows of deep blue spots edged with red; ventral fins with red and white stripes. Along the sides are scattered a few irregularly-shaped black spots.

A friend of mine, an ardent angler, returned recently from Cape Nome and the Yukon, in Alaska, where he resided for several years. He informed me that the grayling is very abundant in the streams of that region, and that he had taken thousands on the fly; but not knowing that they differed from the Montana grayling, he did not examine them closely.