Grayling, Arctic Phil



High Wasatch stream
Date Caught: 
Friday, September 8, 2017


vanner's picture

There it is!

RoughFish's picture

Beautiful fish Phil, right up there in my top ten fish to catch before I die

andy's picture

Dude, nice. I'd love to hear more about this catch.
Mike B's picture

Cool flag for a grayling of that size, The dorsal on grayling I catch that size always have small, undeveloped dorsals. That grayling looks mature. Is that about as big as they get where you are? Montana?

mike b

Hengelaar's picture

Beautiful, Mr. Phil!

Fishn sure is neat

Phil's picture

Thanks, I was very stoked-  and I wish there was more to tell - in my dreams it was to be more along the lines of a Gevning-esque adventure with a two day hike and an epic show down with my great grandfather’s ancient bamboo fly rod somehow tipping the scales.

The actual situation brought to bear what has become a more often experienced reality of chasing species, particularly on limited time, involving more internet scouring and free-lance searching than mountain orienteering.  At any rate there was no way I wasn’t going to try to take advantage of the back half of two days I had available within easy range of my arch-nemesis the cutthroat trout and maybe if I was lucky I would shoot for the stars and try for a grayling.

The first day was spent in less than ideal conditions getting stuffed again by the mythical cutthroats, although rainbows and browns were active in the rain run-off conditions and even up pretty high (still not sure why these were stocked in native trout range, I guess people like to catch/fry fish). 

On the second day I decided to set course for the high country lakes, but of course with just one quick stop on the way to try to try for trout. Well, after two hours disappeared into thin air I was now in danger of not making it into my target lake in time to fish.  Although my research had yielded a trailhead at the same elevation and a few scant miles to a lake of sail-fin dreams, I knew it wouldn’t be horizontal the whole way and I wasn’t in the same shape I once was. 

I made the decision to bail out and try a drive-to reservoir that had some scant murmurings of grayling on some deep buried web posts.  The impoundment was definitely nestled between some nice peaks but the visual at the waterline did not exactly match my dream image: the spring melt had long since run through and even with recent rains, the September conditions had 100 yards of gravel and mud beach stretching from the high water shoreline out to where the water actually started.  There were a couple of dudes reclining on lawn chairs way out by the water, turns out they were dowsing nightcrawlers and power bait for stocker rainbows, it was a bit a bit deflating but I needed some intel so I slogged my way out to strike up a conversation.

Of course they were great guys and tried to help me out in finding anything other than a rainbow but I know they really didn’t get why I was trying to find chubs or suckers.  I threw out a hail mary and asked if they had ever seen a grayling come out of here.  The more talkative of the two furrowed his brow and thought for a bit, “yeah I once saw a guy catch a grayling out of the collection pond at the bottom of the overflow spillway . . . but there’s no water going over there now.” 

That sounded like it happened years ago but that was enough for me, I headed for the spillway, which as promised was a sunbaked concrete apron with an unimpressive puddle at the base- but as things often go on these adventures, one thing leads to another.

I saw that the outlet culvert at the base of the earthen dam was emitting a nice flow of crystal clear water and following it down past the heavy riffles it opened up into a nice but rugged little stream running through the fir trees.  I admit I was thinking I might be back in the game for trout, and trout there were: in any bit of a back eddy or soft water there was a constant supply of the gnarliest brookies I had ever seen.  Oh well at least I was fishing-and catching fish along a bubbling brook with no one else in sight.

Then in right in front of me on a stretch of fast flat water I saw a quick flash of movement against the bottom before I even saw my line stop or move.  Then, like any other lifer, all of a sudden, after years of plotting and visualization it was simply there and somehow gulping up my offering.  With the adrenalin flowing and in the tight quarters, I can’t really say it was much of fight and before I knew it I had a grayling in my grasp.  Then the real challenge began, to drink in the moment, contain the wriggling and very green grayling and get a good picture without dropping it on the rocks or back into the water.  This had me hyperventilating, but after a couple of classic blurry aerial acrobatic shots I got a reasonable photo and watched one of the coolest fish I have ever seen dart back into the mysterious folds of the current.

I still had time to race back down the road and try for another species but instead found a flat boulder amid the wildflowers to lean back on, pulled out my sandwich and water bottle and just sat and absorbed the experience.  Looking around there wasn’t any discernable difference between where I was sitting and any other setting twenty miles further into the wilderness.  I scrolled through the photos and kind of shook my head, no photo would really do full justice.  I just wanted to be satisfied and however this experience came about I was very satisfied.

With the time I had left I discovered that on this day at least the grayling were simply meant to be as I caught several more in short order and probably could have kept going but decided to leave the stream as close as possible to the undisturbed state in which I found it, so that is what I did.




RoughFish's picture

Great story