Hooked on Dollys

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Simplebugger, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    DOLLY_CU.JPG
    Here's a nice picture of a bull (caught by Leland Miyawaki, photo by Mike Kinney), truly a beautiful fish.
     
  2. c1eddy

    c1eddy Member

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    Hell yeah... I bet that was a stunner! First time I've heard of a good-sized bull taking a small dry fly. Was there a bug hatch going on at the time?
     
  3. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    While bulls are fish eaters they are not above "snacking" on insects; including dry flies. On my home waters this time of year it is not uncommon during mayfly hatches (as sparse as they are on this water) to see the odd rise. Often it is bulls (especially the smaller -sub-20 inch) taking advantage of this additional food source.

    While those actively feeding fish will usually take a well presented streamer if one desires they will also take a drag free dry. The trick is to be prepare to take advantage of those opportunities. I will often carry a dry line and a box of dries for some change of pace fishing -rarely will the dry fly game be as productive as streamers/flesh flies/egg patterns there is something satisfying taking a handful of bulls on dries on a nice winter afternoon. My best "Dolly" on a mayfly fished dry was a 26 Skagit male in January. In addition to mayflies they also can come to the surface for "stones". Back in the day when there was that CnR spring was the norm on the Skagit/Sauk during a March morning as I walked out of the woods to a favorite Sauk run I noticed a Skwala stone on a bush. I paused a moment where a side channel joined the main river in a nice riffle run of a 2 or 3 feet deep and before stepping into the water noticed a splashy rise. Upon taking a closer look say another Skwala as well as a handful of black stones on the water. As I changed over to a dry line and knotted on a Swkala dry it was obvious that there were at least 4 nice fish actively taking dries in that run. 3 of the 4 took the fly on the very first drift over them and the other took two casts.. All 4 were bulls of 4 to 5#s; just an example of being prepared for an unique opportunity. Those fish are much more memorable that the other bulls or even the steelhead that came later that day on more traditionally fished streamers.

    For this angler at least the more I learn about and fish for bulls the more intrigue I have become with them.

    Curt
     
  4. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    About 3 weeks ago, I caught a couple of bull trout while stripping a 3 inch long steelhead popper / skater through the inside seam of a run in an S River. From what I could tell, maybe 1 in 4 would actually hit it. I am basing this on the fact that I caught quite a few more fish on my second pass using a sink tip and wet fly. Anyhow, I had been toying with this notion for a few years but had never bothered giving it a try.

    http://waterswest.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_188&products_id=974
     

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  5. cuponoodle breakfast

    cuponoodle breakfast Active Member

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    Some of the best dollie fishing I've had was a couple years ago on a rainy August day swinging small buggers for steelhead. The river was low and it seemed like the rain had every fish in the river turned on. In a couple hours of fishing I landed about a half dozen cutthroat, a half dozen dollies, and a hatchery steelhead. All on a floater. View attachment 36724 View attachment 36725
     

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  6. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    Bull trout are for sure a fun species to target.
    One particular fish I caught really sticks in my mind. A buddy and I were fishing steelhead on a small stream and I was using a light sink tip. I had just tied a unweighted purple bunny leech with a chartreuse chenille head. The tail has electric blue flashabou on the pattern.
    First cast I toss it across the river. The fly hadn't been wet yet and the tip was light, so the bunny just floated on the surface. It travel about five feet and got attacked on the surface but the fish missed the fly. Next cast a nice 25" bull inhaled the fly. I ended the day bringing eleven bull trout to hand, with six of them coming out of one log jam.
    Everyone was caught on either a black or purple leech with a chartreuse head with blue flashabou. That has become my go to pattern now when I target bull trout. I tie them both with and without weight. Here is one of the fish from that day.
    SF

    Chromer.jpg
     
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  7. lando

    lando Member

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    Nice fish. Love Bull Trout. Caught this guy in August on a white streamer:

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    A little historical background: Char of the western United States were originally considered to a southern extension of the circumpolar distribution of Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). Scientific investigation subsequently showed that these more southerly char differed sufficiently from their northerly cousins to be re-classified as a separate species, S. malma, commonly called Dolly Varden. In 1978, Dan Cavender of Ohio State University carried out a comprehensive study of existing specimens and found significant and consistent differences between S. malma and more southerly and easterly populations and proposed that the latter be re-classified as a separate species to be given the name S. confluentus. Through a large part of its range this fish was known as the "bull trout" and that has come to be the commonly applied name.

    Bull trout occur from coastal southeast Alaska, where they mingle with Dolly Varden, south to the Columbia River drainage and east into Idaho and northwest Montana They populate most of interior British Columbia and Alberta as far north as the borders of the Yukon and Northwest Territories and, at one time, were found as far south as the McCloud River in northern California. Isolated populations continue to exist in the upper reaches of the Klamath River in southern Oregon and the Jarbridge River in northeastern Nevada.

    Only in the Pacific Northwest, however, from the Washington coast and Puget Sound north, has the bull trout taken on an anadromous lifestyle. Although the range of the Dolly Varden extends south into Washington, they are restricted to the smallest headwater tributaries, usually above barriers impassable to migratory fish. The large, sea-going char found in the rivers of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula are bull trout.

    Common names, changing as they do over the years can create a great deal of confusion. The name "Dolly Varden" was originally applied to large char caught in great numbers at Soda Springs Lodge on the McCloud River in northern California in the 1870s. The name was taken from a character in Charles Dickens' 1841 novel, Barnaby Rudge. Dolly Varden (the fictional character) was such an appealing, albeit coquettish and somewhat spoiled young woman, that her name came to be applied to, among other things, a dance, a style of lady's hat and a line of popular and colorful dress goods, some of them presumably polka-dotted, which came to be known as Dolly Varden. One can imagine some wife of the period admiring her husband's (or perhaps her own) catch of a large and colorful "salmon trout" from the McCloud River and declaring it to be a"real Dolly Varden". The popularity of the name quickly spread along the west coast even into Alaska. It is ironic that the char originally dubbed Dolly Varden would now be classified as a bull trout. These McCloud River fish, the southernmost population of native char in the west declined rapidly and became extinct after construction of Shasta dam in the 1940s.

    skagdolly2.jpg
     
  9. Pat Lat

    Pat Lat Mad Flyentist

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    So if the first dolly was really an S. Confluentus bull trout, then we should call our bull trout in Washington Dolly varden. This means S. Malma in Alaska, etc. needs a new nickname. I vote that they simply be reffered to as Curts.
     
  10. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    Here is a bull I estimated at 8-10# from 4 years ago. It wasn't very long but was football fat. I've never seen one so filled out head to tail.
     

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  11. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    Here is my favorite pic of a Skagit char.
     

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  12. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    S.confluentus was a long-disused name originally applied to a migratory char from the Puyallup River back in 1858; those were the days when nearly every newly-discovered fish was classified as belonging to a new species (and sometimes a new genus). Taxonomy (the process of applying scientific names to living things) changes as our knowledge of the relationships between differing genera and species changes (remember when rainbow/steelhead were Salmo irideus?). Among other techniques, the science of identifying DNA strains has led to many taxonomic revisions.

    Common names being what they are, I suppose you could call any fish anything you'd want to; just don't expect everyone to understand what you're talking about. What's a "blueback"? It depends on where you are: in many places it's a sea-run cutthroat, but if you happen to be fishing the Clearwater (Queets tributary) it's probably a sockeye salmon. Those of us who have fished for bull trout for many years (including Curt) still occasionally refer to them as Dolly Varden or "Dollies" simply out of habit, although we try to remember that they are bull trout.

    image0-001.jpg [/ATTACH][/ATTACH][/I][/ATTACH][/I]
     

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  13. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    Here is a random pic my buddy took of an early morning bull trout. The camera was on the wrong setting so it's three pics in one but I still like it. We were at the boat launch and I took one cast and got a nice one in the very early morning.
     

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  14. _WW_

    _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

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    Here's one from Sunday morning...

    [​IMG]
     
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