Also known as
American grayling, grayling, bluefish, Back's grayling, sailfin, Arctic trout, tittimeg, poison bleuBack to Top
What they look like
Arctic grayling are distinguished by its very large sail-like dorsal fin with a small head and mouth, which has fine teeth on both jaws. In adult males the fins, especial the dorsal, are larger than females. Grayling caudal (tail) fin is deeply forked, with the lower lobe often longer than the upper lobe. Arctic grayling have compressed, elongate bodies.
These fish are strikingly colored. The dorsal fin is dark purple or blue black to blue gray with a narrow purple edge with rows of reddish to orange or purple to green spots. The head is olive-green with a pinkish iridescence. The sides are gray to dark blue with pinkish iridescence and scattered dark spots, these being more numerous on the young, and a gray to white belly. Their coloring generally fades to a dull gray when taken from the water. Arctic grayling have a dark longitudinal stripe in the fold under the mouth. The pelvic fins are dark with irregular diagonal orange-yellow stripes. During spawning the colors darken and the male becomes more brilliant than the female.Back to Top
Where they live
Arctic grayling inhabit mid-sized to large rivers and lakes with clear, cold water. They prefer water temperature between 42 to 50 °F. In lakes, grayling are most often found at river mouths or along rocky shorelines, returning to rocky streams to breed and are seldom found in deep water. The species is sensitive to pollution, but can thrive in water that has low levels of dissolved oxygen and survive in deep pools under thick ice during the winter.
Arctic grayling forms schools in moderate numbers and either spend their entire lifecycle in one section of a river or lake or are migratory utilizing different streams during summer and winter, spawning and juvenile rearing.Back to Top
What they eat
Arctic grayling are omnivorous feeding mostly on the surface but will occasionally feed at lower depths. Crustaceans, planktonic , insects, insect larvae, and fish eggs form the main part of their diet. Larger Arctic grayling become fish-eating feeding upon species such as young salmon smelts and may even take small aquatic mammals, such as lemmings. They will eat large amounts of food during the summer to prepare for the scarce months of winter often living under the ice. Young feed on zooplankton with a gradual shift to insect larvae.Back to Top
This species has an average length of 12-15 inches and weighs in at 1-3 pounds with a maximum recorded length of 30 inches and a maximum recorded weight of 8.4 pounds and a maximum reported age of 18 years.Back to Top
Spawning takes place in the spring. Grayling are closely related to salmon and will migrate anywhere from short runs to the tributaries of a lake to over 100 miles upstream to spawn. The males are territorial and will drive away other males while on the spawning ground. Actual spawning occurs during daylight. The highly energetic courtship by both the male and female, as the eggs and milt are deposited, displaces some of the bottom material and buries some of the fertilized eggs. Grayling scatter the eggs and milt over rocky substrates. After spawning, Arctic grayling return to the lakes and larger rivers and do not guard the eggs. The eggs hatch quickly, 13 to 21 days after being deposited.
The newly-hatched grayling remain in the substrate until all the yolk sac has been absorbed. They emerge at a length of around 0.5 to 0.7 inches, at which time they form shoals at the river margins. The juveniles grow quickly during their first two years of life.Back to Top
No state record found