Hello dolly

spent the morn on the skagit below rockport river is in great shape sadly but this year normal no steelhead ran into a couple of other spey guys lots of long rods around these days no fish either. the usual amount of boondogglers and the same leak in my left leakline bootfoots kinda defeats the plus of 5mm with one wet foot.:bawling was given the pleasure of meeting and releasing the fattest dolly I've ever seen I've caught them in this system all the way from the upper cascade down to the swinomish slew in laconner this one reminded me of my wives house cat. surely a benefit of our stellar chum run hope the pink nets this summer aren't to hard on these fine fish they are nice to have around on a year like this. upriver rumor mill says that the spring season will go on as planned. Maybe the nats faired better in the open ocean than their clones did? we'll see

I have managed to catch/blunder into several varients of the salmonid/char grouping of fish. I have yet to catch a dolly/bull trout/char. I am really curious about this species of char and what I might do to hook into one. Do Dollies require a larger rod (8 wt.) or would a six be pleanty? What type of flys and how deep? What type of a drift and what type of water??


Active Member
6 weight is fine....purple, black, sometimes olive (green) colors work in assortment of flies, purple joe's are what I have had with the best luck lately. egg sucking leeches are the usual ticket for these guys....stay with the purple/black and red combo. But remember sometimes tastes and colors change and hopefully you will get some other input and refine your tactics. GOOD LUCK
heres what always seems to work pertend your fishing for steelhead todays fish was caught on a 1.5 aj purple spey after you swing is slowing at the hangdown let the flie sink and give it a couple of quick pulls sometimes you'll pick up a following steel lots of other times it'll be a dolly fish for them in the tailouts of any pool or in pocket water in fast moving mountain streams. Even in the esuary's they seem to follow till the last minute before taking often right at the bank so don't wade just pitch from the beach hope this helps
oh ya rod size If you fish a 5 or 6 your sure to catch a steelhead.
I've probably caught more dollies in tailouts and in steamy runs than I have at the head of the riffle. I also agree with one of the other posts which says that stripping can pique their interest.
In 3 trips, I've had good success using Clouser minnows. Just about all the colors worked,but it seemed having a white belly on the fly brought steady takes. Try tying a single egg pattern off the bend of the minnow. I caught one last year that went 9lbs doing that. With all the dead Chum up there, flesh flies work well too.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
Wouldn't all this be proof that catch and release protection for wild fish species helps restore their numbers and sizes?! I caught a ten pound dolly on the Hoh on Christmas eve.And several well over six pounds! all in about an hour or two of fishing for steelhead in one spot. Sometimes they are awesome!
I remember when guys usta blame these same fish for depleting steehead and salmon stocks because they'll eat fry when the real culprit was just low escapment. wherever it is no matter what species all around the u.s. you rebounding stocks when escapment numbers are allowed to increase,common sense huh? Kinda like if you do the dishes after dinner you'll have something to eat on at breakfast.


Active Member
Sure seems like it to me. I'm not sure why the dollies have such huge numbers on ther Sauk/Skagit these days, but the 20" minimum size reg must have had something to do with it.


Banned or Parked
Another trick, especially in slow deep pools is to use a really heavy fly with a floating line and strip it to give an up and down jigging action. When I lived in BC, the gear fishermen would nail bull trout on red and white bucktail jigs and I found that emulating that action resulted in a lot more hookups. Quite often, making a final pass through a pool with the heavy fly and an up and down action would result in an immediate strike after having no success with more typical presentations.
I don't want to be a jerk but maybe I'll just have to be. Do we really want to target dollies as a group of honorable fisherman? Why are dollies listed as endangered in many waters? Is there not some attrition in every catch we make? We can't avoid dollies if we are going to fish for steelhead. But to target them seems to me to be something else.:dunno


Active Member
The dolly (actually bull trout) population in the Skagit/Sauk system is quite healthy; it is one of the few river systems where bull trout can be legally fished for (and kept for that matter; two over twenty inches). In waters that are not specifically listed as open to fishing for dollies/bulls (most rivers in the state) it is, technically, illegal to target them whether they are released or not. That would, of course, be a difficult charge to make stick. I quite agree, it is unethical (as well as illegal) to target them where not specifically allowed, but the Sauk/Skagit population has increased about tenfold since implementation of the twenty-inch minimum size regulation ten or more years ago.
I think the last time I targeted dollies was when I was 18 since I'm 40 its been a few years the plain fact about it is this when you swing wets for steelies your fishing for dollies to it just happens be sure to release them over 20" included on all river systems. All of us to be sure have questioned the mortality rate of released fish as fly fishers our hooks seem to do less damage as say a plug but our battles with the same fish last longer than most boat\gear caught fish. The dollie I caught last week looked alot like a madison river rainbow with plenty of hook scars a survivor yes but every battle leaves a mark on our souls and our fish. One last thought on catch and release,as a guide in AK I worked a river where we practiced catch and release on all hen kings and silvers even though the state allowed you to kill either often some of these fish I released I'm sure didn't make especially the kings and this bothered me but I would hold fast to the simple fact that they had a better chance in the river than in my fish box. Thanx for the soul search bob it reminds us all that we should play our fish quickly handle them gently and keep them in the water or out quickly for our pictures.


Active Member
Does targeting Bulls/Dollies where it is legal make one dishonorable? No, not to this fisher. I'm not sure how threatened status in other areas affects ethical choices on the Skagit. Coho are threatened in CA (*federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1996 when coho salmon were listed as threatened), so, should we not fish for Coho, either? Steelhead are listed as threatened in the Colombia River (*National Marine Fisheries Service listed steelhead trout in the lower Columbia River system as threatened under the ESA in 1998), so, no fishing for steelhead, anywhere, for the honorable fisher? Chinook are listed as threatened in a number of systems. I don't follow the logic on this one Bob. Should Bulls/Dollies go to mandatory C&R instead of the 2 fish over 20 limit, yes, I hope so. But they sure are doing well on the Skagit these days. Would the honorable fly fisher, who chooses to target Bulls where legal, treat them with care and release them? I hope so!

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