Regional Reports-West

Arctic grayling are easy to catch, but that's not why they're my favorite fish. The mountain lakes they inhabit are cold, glassy jewels, only free from ice a few weeks out of the year. But that's not why, either. The truth is I can't say why they're my favorite. Grayling are not really pretty (they're a purplish black, and they only average three-quarters of a pound). They do hit dry flies like the Adams and Light Cahill with desperation, however, and they will take a lure, like a Mepps, even though their mouths are small. Another attraction could be that they're native. Grayling originally inhabited many of Montana's rivers, but non-native fish and other factors have driven them from most streams. In northwestern Montana, grayling are found in Elizabeth Lake in Glacier Park and Cyclone Lake near Polebridge. In southwestern Montana, try Agnes Lake near Glen, Hyalite Reservoir near Bozeman and Miner Lake near Jackson. And in the south-central part of the state, grayling swim in Sedge, Dollar and Big Moose lakes in the Beartooth Mountains. A resident fishing license costs $13, plus $4 for a conservation license. A nonresident license costs $45, plus a $5 conservation license. The limit in lakes is five daily in the western and central fishing districts and 10 daily in the eastern fishing district. Try catching some of my favorite fish-they might just become your favorite, too. Contact: Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (406-444-2535).