For a small fish, Grayling put on a great show.
Their entertainment value is derived from their feisty nature, dramatic physical features and the fact that they are usually located in prime moving waters.
Further to this, Grayling are not fussy and tend to take a variety of presentations, including small spoons, spinners, wet and dry flies. They continue to prove impressive when caught, cutting and slashing through the water with their large, vibrant dorsal fin.
We started our day on the Upper Takhini River with a steep portage down to the shore. We decided to skip the paddle from the Kusawa campground in order to get into prime Grayling country.
Our first stop was at a shallow sand bar loaded with eddies. An eddy is a small mass of water on a river that slows down and swirls laterally and possibly upstream. There is usually an obstruction — large rocks, trees or a sand bar — creating this pool. Grayling either hang out in the eddy or along the edges trying to pick up bugs or fry caught in the cross-current.
The usual technique is to cast into the main part of the river and wait until the lure or fly crosses or drifts into the eddy. This highly effective presentation is often referred to as a “wet swing”.
It is very important as your lure or fly drifts into the eddy to maintain some tension on the line and not too much slack.
If it is drifting freely you may miss the soft take and won’t have time to set the hook. Once the swing is complete, a slight retrieve through the eddy can often entice a strike.
It is most beneficial to work each eddy in a systematic way. Start from the outside and with every cast start moving it inward. It is also a good idea to work the water at different depths. Grayling can be almost everywhere in the water column with the larger ones often stacked up at the lower depths.
If the “wet swing” approach is not working, don’t hesitate to try a dry fly. Grayling are a blast if they are hitting flies on the surface. A nice, controlled drift with a dry fly can lead to viscous strike from below.
As we leisurely paddled down the Takhini River, we scanned the sides looking for eddies to fish. This spectacular and clear river offers opportunities to stop and fish at every turn.
In the interest of time we parked at only a half dozen spots and casted away. Using a variety of techniques we all caught and released a number of Grayling this day.
This river is part of the Yukon River drainage and is a special management area. Best to confirm the specific regulations in place to protect these amazing fish.
With so much still-water in the Yukon, it is quite refreshing to pick some eddies and fish in swift-moving water.
If you would like to share your fishing story, or hear more about this one, visit Dennis Zimmermann’s Yukon fishing blog at www.fishonyukon.com.
PHOTO: DENNIS ZIMMERMANN