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What is Grayling?

Alex Paul
Alex Paul

The grayling is a species of fish which is commonly found in Europe and Russia. It is part of the salmon family and is a freshwater fish and hence isn’t found in oceans or seas. The Thymallus thymallus, as it is scientifically known, is a relatively small fish although it can reach up to 24 inches (60cm) in size in some cases. Its diet is partly made up of other fish as well as plants although it is also prey for larger fish. The fish are regularly used as targets for recreational fishing in the United Kingdom and France although this is limited to certain seasons for conservation reasons.

Although the maximum recorded size of a grayling fish is around 24 inches on average they are much smaller than this. Typically, the fish will weigh less than 15 pounds (just under 7 kilograms) although most weigh considerably less than this. The fish can live for a relatively long time — some have been recorded to live more than 14 years. All these variables depend on the living conditions of the fish.


The grayling usually lives in cold and clear waters such as rivers and streams. It can be found, however, in certain lakes. Along with smaller fish it also eats insects and spiders amongst other things. Along with the Arctic grayling the fish is important as it is raised for both sporting and commercial reasons. Although the fish is protected under the Bern Convention it is placed in the “least concern” category when it comes to conservation status.

Amongst fishermen or women the grayling is often called the “lady of the stream.” This is a reference to the fact that the fish used to be hunted in order to reduce competition in rivers for other fish such as trout. For a certain period of time the grayling was thought of as a pest. Even though trout are generally larger fish the grayling usually hunts in shoals and hence is difficult for the trout to compete with.

Fly fishermen or women in the U.K. fish for grayling during the coarse season, which runs from the middle of June through to the middle of March. This type of fishing involves using certain flies, which are made to mimic food of a specific type of fish. Fishermen or women in France who want to catch the fish are also restricted to certain times of the year. In France, the fish is a popular dish for its light texture.

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