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The Fishing Report: Roadside grayling in Denali Borough

Fireweed grows along the Denali Highway.
Fireweed grows along the Denali Highway.(Grant Robinson | KTUU)
Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 5:46 PM AKDT
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CANTWELL, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska is home to fish far larger, harder fighting, and more culturally significant than the Arctic grayling, but the “Sailfish of the North” is one of the most beautiful fish to call Alaska home.

Between their sail-like dorsal fin and colorful, geometric scales and body markings, and their willingness to take just about any small bug-looking fly nearby, grayling are a popular sportfish among fly fishermen.

The Denali Highway is legendary for its beauty and grayling fishing opportunities, but even those traveling the Parks Highway between Anchorage and Fairbanks can make a short pit spot and find the fish.

While Roadtrippin’ to Denali National Park, Channel 2′s Hank Davis and I found grayling in clear streams at road crossings. Culverts almost always create a slower moving pool of water upstream and often plunge pool downstream, giving grayling a good spot to hang out and wait for food passing by without having to fight too much current.

We caught grayling on small Wulff-style dry flies and nymphs. Ants are also a popular choice, but they can be harder to see.

With dry flies, our approach when we could see fish but they weren’t taking the fly was to try a smaller fly.

When fishing in such clear water you can see the fish approach your fly.

If you’re like me, you’ll need patience when fishing for grayling - not in the sense that it’s going to be a long time before you catch a fish - but when you see a fish rise to take your fly, it can be so exciting you set the hook and pull the fly out of the water before the hook is fully in the fish’s mouth.

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