Fishing reel

Grayling Fishing in the Yukon


The Question

I have recently been blessed with the opportunity to move to Whitehorse.

I have two young girls aged five and eight and would like to take them fishing for grayling. Actually I already took them to the Takini River, but it would be nice to actually catch some fish. I don’t have a boat (yet) and find it nerve racking with young kids fishing beside a fast moving river. The Yukon is not like eastern Canada where you can take kids fishing for rock bass and perch from almost any lakeside dock. I figure grayling is a good choice for kids, or at least a good start, we can build up to lunker lakes and pike later (well at least until they graduate from their Barbie fishing rods). We need to make this fun.


It seems like everyone I talk to have different feedback so its time to Ask A Pro.

So Gord, I’m looking for your advice on how to catch grayling with young kids. It would be nice to learn about their seasonal tendencies, what they prefer to eat, type of gear and any secret hot spots that you would like to share.

The Yukon and Alaska beckons and I am ready….well almost ready,


Many thanks.

PS: I had my first trip up the Dempster highway to Rock River a while ago. It was unbelievable. I saw lots of caribou, grizzlies, sharptail and spruce grouse, ptarmigan and a couple of monster bull moose.


The Answer

You’re a lucky man, both to be living in such a beautiful part of the country and to be sharing it with your daughters.

As a general rule, grayling are quite easy fish to catch as they’re usually both plentiful and aggressive. In other words, they usually not overly selective about what they eat. Having said that, however, it is important to remember that the average size grayling probably averages less than a pound in weight, so don’t use lures that are too large or over bearing.

Also as a general rule, grayling prefer moving water, the area below rapids, riffles and small waterfalls and where the current swings along the shore. That is why they’re so plentiful in creeks, streams and rivers. Even when you find grayling in lakes, you tend to catch them best along the windy shoreline as well as where creeks, streams and rivers either flow into or out of the lake.

I truly enjoy fly fishing for grayling, especially using dry flies and 4 to 6 weight outfits, but that is likely not an option for your young gals. In that case, I would consider one of the following approaches.

The first would be a relatively lightweight rod and reel spooled with 4 to 6 pound test line. I would thread a sliding bobber on the line and affix a bobber stop (nothing more than a knotted piece of thin elastic band or braided line) at the depth I wanted the bobber to stop, so the lure is riding close to the bottom, but not so close that it is constantly hanging up. Then I would tie on a small 1/16th to 1/8th ounce brown coloured jig and I’d tip it with a brown or black 2-inch scented Berkley or Exude twister tail.

Another option would be to use a weighted #8 to #12 nymph or fly like a Woolly Bugger or Muddler Minnow. As I mentioned, grayling aren’t selective like trout so anything that looks like food is rarely passed up.

Simply cast the rig upstream and let it float back down naturally with the current. When the bobber goes under it will signal a grayling eating your lure.

The second option is casting a small (#00 to #1) Mepps spinner or 1/16 – 1/8th ounce spoon upstream and across river. Pass the rod over to one of your daughters after you’ve casted out the lure and let her reel it in. A nice moderately slow retrieve is generally perfect. There will be no mistaking when a grayling hits. Even though they’re generally a tad on the small size, grayling hit hard and give a good account of themselves.

Good luck, and keep me posted on your results.

A friend.

Gord Pyzer
Fishing Editor