The Arctic Grayling

Thymallus arcticus

More about the Arctic Grayling

Arctic grayling are a freshwater fish that can be found in abundance in drainages of the Arctic Ocean.


Arctic grayling have evolved many strategies to meet the needs of life in harsh and uncertain environments. Some grayling migrate. Each spring they may travel up to 100 miles for spawning, returning to feeding grounds in summer and wintering in fast moving rivers or deep lakes.

Reproduction & Growth

o They spawn for the first time between 4 and 7 years

o Females lay between 1,500 and 30,000 eggs

o Grayling may spawn many times during their life

o Fry hatch 3 weeks after spawning

o They emerge at a length of around 0.5 to 0.7 inches

Finding Grayling

Grayling are referred to as “the flower of the fishes.” They are closely related to and resemble salmon. Grayling, however, have one major distinguishing feature — their spectacular dorsal fin.

Fast Facts

Common Name: Arctic Grayling

Scientific Name: Thymallus arcticus

Average Size: 13 inches long, 3 pounds in weight. The largest measured was 30 inches and 8.4 pounds

Range: Native throughout most of Alaska, along the U.S./Canada border, and as far south as Montana. Widely introduced in the rivers of the western U.S.

Habitat: Freshwater fish preferring clear, cold open waters and large rivers

Lifespan: Typically 15 years, record of 32 years

Diet: Mainly insects, sometimes smaller fish and on occasion voles and shrews

The arctic grayling mount on display in the Mason Exhibit was taken from the Mackensie River, Northwest Territories in 1989.