Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus) are a special species of fish that were originally found throughout the Madison and Gallatin rivers within Yellowstone National Park. Over the last few decades their presence within the park has become reduced, limiting them to just a few small lakes. Although their home range within the park has decreased grayling numbers in Grebe and Wolf lakes remain high giving anglers an excellent opportunity to catch a few of these magical fish.
The hike to get back to Grebe and or Wolf lakes is about three miles long on a well groomed trail. Fly anglers should always carry bear spray anytime they hike in the park, but with this trip it is exceptionally important as bears frequent these lakes just as the fishing starts to get good. Once at the lake you will find fish are eager to show themselves feeding greedily on any unfortunate insects that happen to be on the water's surface.
There are a couple of key patterns anglers should target while fishing at these sites. Both these lakes have good hatches of Callibaetis mayflies and Damselflies. Depending on if you hit the timing just right you can actually sit on the shore and watch the rainbows and grayling leap into the air chasing damsels. Fishing with dry flies imitating both Callibaetis and damsels is definitely a good place to start but adding a nymph dropper will increase you catch rates for the day. Pheasant tail nymphs, Prince nymphs or small emerger type patterns in natural colors will get the fish's attention.
To fish grayling on either Grebe or Wolf lake simply look for rising fish (feeding rings or fish jumping) and cast your fly in this general area. In most cases you will have to let the fly sit still on the surface for long periods of time. Fish will stay within the same general vicinity so keeping your fly where you see feeding activity will give you the best shot at catching fish. Don't be afraid to move around the lake and fish different groups of fish. You can sit and fish in one area and not get a bite for an hour then move to a different group of fish and catch a dozen in a few minutes. A couple of good places to try on Grebe Lake would be out in front of the mouth of the Gibbon river or by the Lilly pads on the west side of lake.
If you are a fly angler looking to try it all once then fishing Grayling has to be on your agenda. Grebe and Wolf lakes in Yellowstone National Park offer you the opportunity to catch lots of these amazing fish while enjoying some of the best scenery the park has to offer.
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