Skykomish Dollies

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by jmara6864, Aug 26, 2014.

  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?
  2. This one ate a dead-drifted mega prince on the Sky.

    Kyle Smith likes this.
  3. They were hiding from Ryan hung.
  4. Awesome!
  5. Are you sure they weren't suckers?
    the_chemist and bhudda like this.
  6. nymph a stonefly right in to them.

    But isn't it illegal to target Dollys?
  7. Not on the Sky- 20" minimum to jeep
  8. The rule of thumb was that Labor day was a good time to fish for dollies in the Suiattle. Should work for the Sky also.
  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.

  10. No I didn't see any bait fisherman.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
    Chris Johnson likes this.
  13. 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!
    Jeff Dodd likes this.
  14. 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.

  15. Luckily It aint rocket science. If you arnt by-catching them with steelhead patterns, sculpzillas, white, tan, black or brown bunny leaches or other big ass chunks of natural colored rabbit fur will do the trick.

    They may not fight like steel, but always love the aggressive grab of a fat bull.

  16. I used to think the ones north of the Puyallup were dollies. I now accept Smalma's opinion as gospel and call them sea-going bull trout.
    Gary Knowels likes this.
  17. On a purple leach last winter. Love bull trout

    Attached Files:

  18. The WDFW maintains records for both dollies and bulls. At one time the fish north of the Puyallup were thought to be dollies. I wonder what would happen if a good sized fish was caught in the Skagit or one of its open tributaries that was of record size. Would the WDFW class it as a dolly or a bull?
  19. I don't think I'd ever heard that, I do know that a migratory char from the Puyallup was described by G.Suckley in 1858 and named Salmo confluentus (all char were later reclassified into the genus Salvelinus). But that was in the day when "splitters" ruled the taxonomic roost and almost every newly discovered fish, no matter how little it differed from close relatives, was awarded specific status. "Bull trout" was a commonly applied name for the large freshwater trout occurring in the Columbia River basin and intermountain areas though biologists still considered it to be a Dolly Varden (S. malma).

    It was only 1978 that Dan Cavender, at Ohio State University, carried out an extensive examination of existing specimens and concluded that there were significant and consistent skeletal differences between S. malma and this "other" char and in 1980 it was granted status as a species and given the name originally applied to that long ago Puyallup River fish; S. confluentus. Subsequent genetic studies have reinforced this result, showing all of Puget Sound's char to be S. confluentus, as well as showing it to be more closely related to the Asian white-spotted char (S, leukomaenis) than to any North American char.
    Matt Baerwalde and Chris Johnson like this.

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