Patterns for dollies

My brother is coming up for the show at Meydenbauer (he is one of the invited tyers) and we get to fish together for a day. I'm thinking about dollies and wonder what might be suggested patterns for both salt and fresh water for late February.
I've had very good luck with #2 thru #6 gold beadhead woolly buggers. Black and brown with flash have worked well too, but gold (not yellow) has been my most consistent producer. Muddler minnows in the larger sizes work well too. I've found that dolly's are not that particular generally, very aggressive, and I've been surprized at the sizes I've caught. Last week on a small creek on the coast north of the Queets I landed several 12-15" fish but also four hogs-- a 19, 20, 22 and a 25". All this without any knowledge of what, if anything, was in the creek.

Don't overlook the unknown rivers/streams, some hold nice surprizes.



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If I'm not mistaken, Dolly/Bull Trout are only legal to target in WA State, in the Snohomish and Skagit river systems. Specifically the mainstem Sky, Sauk and Skagit. I'm unsure of the salt regs. Not to be a stickler. Take it for what its worth.


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Snohomish, Skykomish and its tributaries, the Sultan and the Wallace (but not the Snoqualmie), the Skagit and its tributaries, the Baker, Sauk and Cascade. The Suiattle (thributary of the Sauk) is open to fishing for bull trout but only during the June-October season. Most of the bull trout will probably still be up in the rivers in February.

I've done well over the years with a simple white rabbit-strip pattern with bead chain eyes.
Egg sucking leeches (usually purple, sometimes black w/chartreuse head) & black bunny leeches are my front-runners. At the right times of year, fleshies have produced too. I agree though, I don't think dollies are normally too picky. :smokin


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They are moving right now, down river for the sea runs, and towards main stems for the fluvial fish. If Smalma is reading he might offer more behavior specifics. I have a hunch that late Feb will be even tougher to find them. Personally I have found the dolly fishing more difficult in the past 3 weeks on the Skagit/Sauk. The big ones love to chow whities. They just might take a dry, a big white bomber skated over holding water. Let us know how you do!
Thanks for all the ideas. I'm sitting at my tying desk right now tying silver bodies with orange, purple, and black rabbit "wings". Next comes white marabou, white chennille pattern. Will keep you posted.


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I was out on the Sauk today... Got skunked. I fished in all sort of different types of water. At some point in the day I figured out I really don't know what the heck I am doing when it comes to Dollys. :) Could anyone share what type of water I should be targeting for them?
I was out on the Sauk all day Saturday and was able to land two nice size dollies. Dark patterns dragged across the bottom seemed to work best. They don't seem to be hiding out in the deep water. The ones I got were in less than three feet of water close to shore.
I don't want to step on anybody's toes or piss anyone off, but I think this thread needs some clarification: Dolly Varden trout are very close to being listed as endangered. In most streams, they must be released immediately upon capture. It is difficult, if not impossible, to fish for steelhead and not nail the occasional dolly. But there should be no patterns tied especially for them, no areas targeted, and, in fact, the least said about them the better.
I got a nice dolly on the swing over on the Hoh and let me tell you it was a damn thrill to feel my rod pulse again, and the reel sing to me as only a Hardy can. Dollies are, indeed, lots of fun.
Also, I can readily understand your need to produce some sport for your visitors. The pressure is on.
But with that said, we have to give respect to these fish. If they become so critically endangered that extinction is eminent, the Feds. might close all rivers to all fishing until the species recovers.
Now wouldn't that be a fine kettle of fish (excuse the pun)?
I personally believe that at least one in five fished released is going to die no matter how careful we are. So a bucket of Dollies, even if released, could spell trouble if everyone does it.
Please think about it as a sportsman. I'm not telling you what to do- that is not my place. But I just thought it would be unethical of me to let this thread go by and say nothing.:thumb

Your opinion has been noted and I appreciate you backing up your beliefs with some thought. With that said, I do believe the Sauk and Skagit systems are open for the fishing of Dolly's and/or Bulls. So at this time, I will have to entrust the State biologists to determine what is practical for the fishery in question. If you, or anyone else, can provide me with some data that would point to the fact that these same biologists have not done their homework on the Sauk/Skagit systems, I would gladly join you by your side. Until then, I will continue to fish for them in systems that it is legal to do so. Sorry to disagree with you Bob, but this is my view on the subject....

I concur. Just release them alive so I can do the same. Also I disagree about 1 in 5 fish dying. I would be surprised if it is 1 in 30. If that were true there would be hundreds of dead fish at Rocky Ford instead of a few.

Hmmmm. 1 in 30 might be right if everyone was very carefull with fish. Fight them quickly (more fun than waiting till they spawn); don't touch them if you can help it. Never take them out of the water except for a photo and then make it quick--seconds count here. I hope you are right; makes me feel better to think so.:dunno