Game Fishing > Freshwater Fish > Grayling fish

Grayling fish

Grayling fishThe American grayling, like the mascalonge, is confined to the Middle Western States, more particularly to Montana and Michigan; notwithstanding the many efforts to plant them in Eastern waters. I know of no place in Eastern waters worthy of being called "fishing" for grayling. The family consists of three species: Michigan grayling, Montana grayling, and Arctic grayling, the latter having the great dorsal fin much larger and more highly colored, the two former being very similar in both appearance and game qualities. It is a graceful, trimly built, and delicate-looking fish, colored more like "mother of pearl" than any fish I know.

Its habit is to lie at the bottom of deep, slow-moving, clear cold water, and it rises to the fly many times, swiftly darting back without taking it. The leaping of the grayling is extremely graceful, both on the hook and in play, when not disturbed.

As a gamy fighter it is equal to the trout, though it takes the fly much more quietly, most often while the fly is under water; then, in a flash, turns, like a somersault, fighting every inch its hardest to get back to the bottom. In size it rarely grows more than two pounds in weight, the average being about a pound, but, with careful angling, quite a number may be caught from the same pool, as they invariably lie in schools together. Its food is mostly insects and their larvae, small minnows, crustaceans, and other small creatures. They coexist with the red-throat trout, each seeking out such portions of the streams as are best suited to them. In fishing for grayling the smallest possible flies should be used. One, or two, can be placed on the cast, which should be exceedingly fine.

Good flies are black gnat, coachman, gray hackle, black hackle, iron-blue dun, red ant, and cinnamon. The rod, line, and leader can be exactly similar to those used for trout fishing. Cast down stream or cast across stream, letting the fly float down to the foot of the pool. When the fly has passed by, the fish darts up swiftly, and back to the bottom, often a number of times, seemingly as if afraid to touch it. But it is game, and the fly is at last taken; the same method is pursued; up goes the great fin to plunge it downward, fighting stoutly to get free.

A good deal of careful work is necessary in handling and playing the grayling. Gently keep the line taut all the time or it will surely get off; the slightest jerk will lose it, the flies being so small, and its lips somewhat tender; for that reason many fish get away. The grayling repeatedly breaks water after being hooked, and it makes an excellent fight beneath the surface, being much aided in its resistance, by its tall dorsal fin. The Michigan grayling may be found in the Au Sable, Manistee, Marquette, Jordan, Pigeon, and other rivers in the northern part of that State.

It may also be found in the river Boyne and Pine Lake. The Montana grayling is found only in the tributaries of the Missouri River, above the great falls; in Sheep and Tenderfoot creeks, tributaries of Smith River, in the Little Belt Mountains, and the three forks of the Missouri - the Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson rivers. But the ideal home of the Montana grayling is in several tributaries at the head of the Red Rock Lake, in the upper reaches of the Madison, where the water is rapid, though unbroken; also the Beaver Creek, in the upper canon, is an ideal stream.

The best season for fishing Grayling is in September, October, and November.