Grayling belong to the Salmonidae family and are related to trout and whitefish. They are distinctive-looking fish, with a sail-like dorsal fin, and are a superb sportfish known primarily in the cool- and coldwater northern regions of North America. Their firm, white flesh is good table fare, although it is not on a par with that of the wild trout and the charr that inhabit similar ranges. Grayling are excellent when smoked, however.
Identification. With its graceful lines, large fin, and dramatic coloration, the grayling is a striking fish. Most striking is its large purple to black dorsal fin, which extends backward and fans out into a trailing lobe, speckled with rows of spots. This fin may look bluish when the fish is in the water. Grayish silver overall, grayling usually have shades or highlights of gold, lavender, or both, as well as many dark spots that may be shaped like an X or a V on some fish.
Young arctic grayling can be distinguished from similar-looking young whitefish by narrow vertical parr marks (whitefish have round parr marks, if any). When the arctic grayling is taken from the water, a resemblance to the whitefish is especially apparent, as the beautiful colors fade to a dull gray. It has a small, narrow mouth with numerous small teeth in both jaws. The arctic grayling also has a forked caudal fin and relatively large, stiff scales.
Size. A small fish, with maximum lengths to 30 inches, the grayling can reach a maximum weight of about 6 pounds. The all-tackle world record for arctic grayling is a 5-pound, 15-ounce fish from the Northwest Territories in Canada, but any arctic grayling exceeding 3 pounds is considered large, and a 4-pounder is a trophy.
Life history/Behavior. Adult grayling spawn from April through June in rocky creeks; fish from lakes enter tributaries to spawn. Instead of making nests, they scatter their
American grayling, arctic trout, Back's grayling, bluefish, grayling, sailfin arctic grayling; French: ombre artique, poisson bleu.
Distribution. Arctic grayling are widespread in arctic drainages from Hudson Bay to Alaska and throughout central Alberta and British Columbia, as well as in the upper Missouri River drainage in Montana. Previously known to inhabit some of the rivers feeding Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior in northern Michigan, arctic grayling have been considered extinct there since 1936. They have been widely introduced elsewhere, especially in the western United States.
Habitat. Grayling prefer the clear, cold, well-oxygenated waters of medium to large rivers and lakes. They are most commonly found in rivers, especially in eddies, and the heads of runs and pools; in lakes, they prefer river mouths and rocky
Grayling, Arctic (continued) shorelines. They commonly seek refuge among small rocks on the streambed or lake bottom.
eggs over gravel and rely on the action of the water to cover the eggs with a protective coating. The eggs hatch in 13 to 18 days. Grayling are gregarious and flourish in schools of moderate numbers of their own kind. Arctic grayling of northern Canada may be especially abundant in selected areas of rivers.
Food and feeding habits. Young grayling initially feed on zooplankton and become mainly insectivorous as adults, although they also eat small fish, fish eggs, and, less often, lemmings and planktonic crustaceans.
Herring and their relatives are among the most important of commercial fish worldwide. They are also extremely important as forage fish for a wide variety of predatory fish, sea birds, seals, and other carnivores. In the past, some countries depended entirely on herring (or related species) fishery for their economic survival. Wars have been waged over the rights to particularly productive herring grounds, which are found in all seas except the very cold waters of the Arctic and the Antarctic.
Most members of the herring family are strictly marine. Some are anadromous and spawn in freshwater, and a few species (those of freshwater origin) never go to sea. Herring typically travel in extensive schools; in the ocean, such schools may extend for miles, which makes harvesting possible in great quantities.
Herring are plankton feeders, screening their food through numerous gill rakers. As such, and because they are generally small, herring are seldom a deliberate quarry of recreational anglers (American and hickory shad are notable exceptions). They are primarily used as bait, either in pieces or whole, by freshwater and saltwater anglers for various game species.
Prominent species with the herring name include Atlantic herring, Pacific herring, blueback herring, and skipjack herring. At least two members of the herring family, alewife and blueback herring, are collectively referred to as river herring.
There is minor angling effort for some species, such as blueback and skipjack herring, when they ascend coastal rivers en masse to spawn; this fishery is generally geared more toward procuring food or bait than to pure angling sport. They may, however, be caught on light spoons and small jigs or flies. When massed, they are taken by snagging (where legal) and in cast nets as well. Coastal herring are sometimes also caught, snagged, or taken by a cast net, mainly for use as bait.
Members of the herring family have a wide lower jaw that curves, a short upper jaw that reaches only to below the middle of the eye, and a cheek that is longer than it is deep.
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