Skykomish Dollies

#1
Saw something I have never witnessed before on the Sky last week. A big pod of Dolly Varden in a small hole. There were about 20-25 of them from 18-30 inches in length. They were mostly staying put but would occasionally chase each other and make high speed runs toward the shallow back end of the hole and then dart back to the deeper water. I tried in vain for a while to get one to bite. Streamers, nymphs you name it I tried it and no takers. I have never tried to target Dolly before. I hear streamers are the way to go? Has anyone seen this behavior before? Does anyone feel like sharing their techniques for catching them?
 

Smalma

Active Member
#9
Sounds like you stumbled upon a pod of pre-spawn bull trout. This time of year it is common for groups of them to stage in the better holding areas near spawning areas during which time they behave much like you have described. Depending on the size of the spawning population and the amount and quality of holding habitat at or below the spawning grounds it is common to see staging groups of those bull trout number from a handful to 50 or more individuals. Those fish are pre-spawn fish that are waiting until the water temperature drops sufficiently for spawning to begin. It the case of the Skykomish that will be 6 to 10 weeks from now.

As I said one usually sees such behavior near the spawning areas. You may wish to check the regulations for the specific location where you saw those fish. The areas where the bulls typically collected in those pre-spawn staging groups are typically closed to the fishing for bulls and may be closed entirely.

curt
 
#11
Sounds like you stumbled upon a pod of pre-spawn bull trout. This time of year it is common for groups of them to stage in the better holding areas near spawning areas during which time they behave much like you have described. Depending on the size of the spawning population and the amount and quality of holding habitat at or below the spawning grounds it is common to see staging groups of those bull trout number from a handful to 50 or more individuals. Those fish are pre-spawn fish that are waiting until the water temperature drops sufficiently for spawning to begin. It the case of the Skykomish that will be 6 to 10 weeks from now.

As I said one usually sees such behavior near the spawning areas. You may wish to check the regulations for the specific location where you saw those fish. The areas where the bulls typically collected in those pre-spawn staging groups are typically closed to the fishing for bulls and may be closed entirely.

curt
Interesting. I thought that if the char are in a river system that has anadromous fish some of them are sea going and therefore would be considered Dollies not Bull trout. I am by no means an authority so if anyone can shed light on this topic please do.
 

Preston

Active Member
#13
Ahh, one more time. As noted above, read Curt's excellent Skagit Bull Trout Bio. Briefly: Although the range of the Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma) does reach as far south as Washington, they are restricted to small, high-elevation tributaries, usually above barriers to anadromous fish in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains where they never achieve any great size. The large, anadromous and resident char found in Puget Sound and coastal rivers are bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus). Bull trout are found as far north as Southeast Alaska and Dolly Varden share the waters with them along the coast of British Columbia.
 
#14
I was way up a Sky trib yesterday. I had hiked above a number of waterfalls. I was fishing a nice sized plunge pool and I thought I was most likely above the uppermost point of upstream fish migration. So I was pretty surprised when a rainbow swiped at my dry fly, I lifted the rod, and the dropper came tight (yes I put a dropper on yesterday for the first time this summer and it upped my catch rate big time). It came tight to a FAT bull trout, which barely seemed to notice it was hooked. The fly came loose which is probably a good thing because I was fishing a light rod. It's amazing how good those fish are at getting over barriers. From my understanding, a lot of times they don't jump the falls. They find side routes and use their snakey selves to slither up in the shallowest skinniest water. Fishing my way back down, I caught about a 6" char. It also threw the hook before I got to examine it. It was brookie sized, but there's obviously a population of bulls in there. And then, down by the bridge, I spotted another adult bull holding in a glide. So yeah, pre-spawn staging time. Almost time for them to get BIZ-ZAY!
 

Old Man

Just an Old Man
#15
They did close a large section of the N/F Skykomish for the spawning of the Bull Trout. Before they closed it down it was a good place to catch fish. There were some nice holes in that now closed section.