Grayling belong to the Salmonidae family and are related to trout and whiteﬁsh. They are distinctive-looking ﬁsh, with a sail-like dorsal ﬁn, and are a superb sportﬁsh known primarily in the cool- and coldwater northern regions of North America. Their ﬁrm, white ﬂesh is good table fare, although it is not on a par with that of the wild trout and the charr that inhabit similar ranges. Grayling are excellent when smoked, however.
IdentificationWith its graceful lines, large ﬁn, and dramatic coloration, the grayling is a striking ﬁsh. Most striking is its large purple to black dorsal ﬁn, which extends backward and fans out into a trailing lobe, speckled with rows of spots. This fin may look bluish when the ﬁsh is in the water. Grayish silver overall, grayling usually have shades or highlights of gold, lavender, or both, as well as many dark spots that may be shaped like an X or a V on some ﬁsh.
Young arctic grayling can be distinguished from similar-looking young whitefish by narrow vertical parr marks (whiteﬁsh have round parr marks, if any). When the arctic grayling is taken from the water, a resemblance to the whiteﬁsh is especially apparent, as the beautiful colors fade to a dull gray. It has a small, narrow mouth with numerous small teeth in both jaws. The arctic grayling also has a forked caudal fin and relatively large, stiff scales.