Grayling fishing Alaska has opportunities in almost every corner of the state. The best arctic grayling fisheries to focus on can be found in the interior, north slope, western and southwestern regions. The only regions of Alaska that lack native grayling populations are the Aleutian Islands, Kodiak island, and most of Southeast part of the state.
Best Grayling Fishing in Alaska
It would be impossible to distinguish where the best grayling fishing in Alaska is – all grayling fisheries in the state are pretty great! However, easy access to productive grayling waters can be along the Denali, Glenn, Parks, Richardson and Steese highways. Perhaps the better question is, where do you want to catch one? In a stream? In a river? Or in a lake? Grayling fishing Alaska provides opportunities for fisheries with lots of fish or trophy fish. Alaska also provides many opportunities to fish for grayling with different tactics so bring the right flies.
If you are looking for trophy grayling your best chances are going high up in a cold watershed. Remember, the Alaska state record grayling weighed over 5 pounds and was caught in the headwaters of the Seward Peninsula. We believe that having access to salmon protein helped this record grayling grow so huge!
From our experience, watersheds with a predator species (rainbows or pike) tend to produce the largest grayling, although there are usually fewer grayling in these bodies of water. This is because grayling are very susceptible to growth stunting. As seen in many high alpine lakes, grayling quickly overpopulate and stay dwarfed from competing for nutrients – so having a predator species to keep them in balance helps create trophy grayling fisheries.
Top 5 Areas for Grayling Fishing in Alaska
Arctic grayling can be found across the state of Alaska, but these are perhaps our favorite areas to concentrate on just catching grayling!
1. The Parks Highway:
The Denali highway is a great jumping off point to fly fish for arctic grayling. The Cantwell area in particular has a plethora of clearwater rivers and streams filled with these opportunistic sailfish-of-the-north! Check out the above forks of the Chulitna River, the Nenana River and the Jack River. There is a local grayling guide in the area, so I won’t give too much away out of respect for him.
2. The Old Denali Highway:
While the entirety of the Old Denali Highway is great access for the grayling angler, it seems to be better at either end of the highway. Above we briefly mentioned fly fishing near Denali on the Cantwell side. The Paxon Lake side might actually be an easier fishery to access as it is mostly tundra and less willow-encroached banks. Spend some time around Tangle Lakes and many of the small creeks and streams that meander in the area. As always, it’s hard to beat an Adam’s fly here, but you might find bigger fish by skating a mouse like you would for trout!
3. Grayling Fishing Kenai Peninsula:
It is no secret that lakes on the Kenai Peninsula hold abundant arctic grayling populations! Fly fishing Bench Lake on Johnson Pass is debatably one of the best, although you’re looking at a full-day hike to reach it. There is a rumor that some of the grayling even reach 22 inches in this lake. Other great options include Crescent Lake and Upper & Lower Russian Lakes. Don’t forget to pack your bear spray and insect repellent!
4. Chena Hot Springs:
This is a two-birds-one-stone kind of thing; visit Chena Hot Springs and fly fish for some grayling along the way! Outside of Fairbanks, the Chena Hot Springs road is 56.5 miles long with many access points to the Chena River. Fly fishing seems to be most productive in the recreation area.
5. Grayling Fishing Near Anchorage:
Grayling fly fishing near Anchorage is really not worth pursuing compared to the rest of the list above. Arctic grayling have historically been stocked in Anchorage’s suburban Sand Lake, Campbell Lake, Trade Fair Lake and DeLong Lake. However, if you have time, we recommend doing the gorgeous hike into Symphony Lake in the upper Eagle River Valley where grayling were last stocked in 2003. Otherwise, your time would be better spent driving down to the Kenai Peninsula or up the Parks Highway.