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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's the deal,
I need something to fish for when I can't make it out east. I'm not equipped for steelhead and not too keen about fish that don't eat anyway. I've heard the Dollys are good sport, but could use some advice about technique. I'm wondering if it is reasonable to fish a river like the skagit without a sink tip line. Any help is appreciated :CONFUSED
 
G

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Here's the deal,
I need something to fish for when I can't make it out east.

...Oh I get it, when you are stuck out west here and bored you wish to hammer our Dollys. Are you aware that for most of the rivers in this state Dollys are off limits because of low population numbers. An "ethical" flyfisher would not TARGET Dollys, now, even where open. Ethical: Do the right thing.

I'm not equipped for steelhead and not too keen about fish that don't eat anyway. I've heard the Dollys are good sport, but could use some advice about technique.

...Sorry, not going to help your efforts.

I'm wondering if it is reasonable to fish a river like the skagit without a sink tip line. Any help is appreciated :CONFUSED

...I understand there is a man in the Mount Vernon area, Tingley is his name I believe, who operates a pay to fish farm. You might try him for some Eastern flavored fishing opportunities. Psssst...it's like fishing legally at the hatchery, really great sport.

...Dollys are too special to be targeted any longer as long as their general populations suffer so severely. Incidental catch, great!, now give thanks and release it for the future.

An old man viewing my children's hollow legacy...
:TSKTSK
 

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Take it easy, Stump. Don't be so hard on a guy who's just looking for a little variety in his fishing, without having to buy new gear capable of handling winter steelhead.

Sure, Dollies are a fish to be careful with. However, not being an expert on the subject, I would argue that they are not any more sensitive to catch and release fishing than are wild stealhead or sea-run cutthroats. People target those species all the time. You're even allowed to keep Dollies on some rivers, not that you should! Just like you should release wild steelhead in most cases.

Jaysus, if you're discouraged by fish that "don't eat," I assume that Dollies don't truly eat either when they enter the rivers to spawn.

I'm sure that your six weight floating line will work if you try hard enough. Just add some weight to the leader so the fly gets down low.
 

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I fish for Dollies all the time in rivers where it is legal and they are a great sport fish. How is it ethical to fish for steelhead on the Skagit but not for dollies when there are 10x as many dollies in the river? Granted on some rivers they are strictly protected and rightfully so. I've never kept one so I don't know how they taste but I do know they aggressively feed in the rivers and aren't hard to catch if you know what you are doing:WINK

I'm not interested in helping out a meat fisherman either but a dry line on a 6wt will work fine if you use some weight. Make sure you check the regulations before you go. The coolest thing about fishing for dollies is you never know what you are going to catch but it usually is something. Last Saturday my brother and I caught dollies, rainbows, white fish, and a steelhead all on the same pattern while fishing for dollies.
 

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I just got back from forks when all the rain ended the trip but my buddies uncle who we were staying with says he catches dollies all the time in the hoh river. pretty good population I guess. if the indians dont kill them in there nets then throw them overboard. Ben
 

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Well, here I go.

I agree, Stump, that you're being a little harsh. Doesn't sound like the poor chap understands all the implications of the issue. After all it's true enough that fishing for dollies on the Skagit is legal. You'll catch more flies with honey and all that.

That said, however, the difference between fishing for dollies or fishing for steelhead/SRC is that Dolly Varden/bull trout (native char) are LISTED AS THREATENED UNDER THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT. And I don't know that I would say there are ten times more dollies in the Skagit than steelhead, just because they are easier to catch. The Skagit population is one of the healthiest in the state, which is why WDFW gets away with letting you fish for them, but I don't know that means the population is in good shape. I mean, healthy compared to what? Native char are facing extinction throughout their entire US range. Leaving them alone in one of the few drainages where they're holding their own might not be a bad idea.

I might also suggest a little tweaking in some of your thinking. Instead of determining that it's "just as ethical" to fish for depressed dollies as depressed steelhead, maybe the proper conclusion is that you shouldn't fish for either. (And keep in mind that it will likely not be legal to fish for wild steelhead on the Skagit this year -- or dollies -- after Feb 1.)

But -- the fact is that this week it's legal to fish for dollies on the Skagit, so if you decide for yourself to go ahead and fish for them, well that's none of my business is it? Unless you ask for my opinion; so let this be a lesson to you. (I will say that you are unlikely to have much of an impact on the population with a floating line.) However, it is absolutely ILLEGAL to target dollies on the Hoh. I'll just leave it at that.
 

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Well, there's Dolly's then there's bull trout. Bull trout is the ESU. Dollys aren't endangered in much of their range. The problem is you can't tell the difference unless you have your pock electophoresis kit with you. The additional problem is that on the west side of the Oly Pen., Leary and Allendorf found both species together, so you gotta turn them all back. Do they think there is both in the Skagit below Ross Dam?

In SE Alaska, there were so many DVs, the anadromous kind, that people treated them like squawfish, I mean, Northern Pike Minnows, and wacked their heads on a rock before chucking them back. But those were Alaskans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Allow me to clear the air about something

Stumpfisher,
I'm not quite sure how I offended you so easily, but I'm quite certain you misunderstand my intentions. I will try to refrain from attacking you personally, but I don't much like your remarks about the pay fish farm. Assuming that I'm out to violate your natural resources so you can unload on me is a lame way to make your point.
I have no intention of eating any Dollies, I would just like to catch one as I have never seen one before. My catch and release tactics are every bit as sound as yours and as it was said on other posts, I will be commiting no greater offense than anyone fishing for wild steelhead, and probably less, as those steelies are losing precious energy needed to spawn. Do you fish for steelhead? I'll bet you do. I'll admit that I was not aware how scarce they are and knowing this will change how often I pursue such a fish, I am just asconcerned with the stability of threatened wild populations of fish as anyone. I am a member of trout unlimited and have a degree in environmental conservation and am not going to "hammer" as you put it, anything. Many thanks to other posters for alerting me to this in a CONSTRUCTIVE manner. I normally go east to the Yakima because I'm not equipped for sea run fish and can't afford to be so, it has nothing to do with elitism or being bored. I think you should cut people some slack and not assume the worst, the next time you go off on me like that you are going to get it back in similar fashion.
 

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Curious - what is the difference between a Dolly and a bull trout? Is the Dolly the anadramous version? Or is there some other distinction? When I was a lot younger, my friends and I used to fish the Chiwakum River over by Lake Wenatchee with spin gear (note for all you sticklers for the regs - this was back when it was open), and would every once and a while catch a fish my friends called a Dolly Varden. If the Dolly is the anadramous version, is it possible there could have been Dollies back up in the Chiwakum, or would they have been bull trout?
 

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They are a tough call to ID, but you might ask FishPirate, as I work with him and he is a pro at distinguishing them.

In general, Bull Trout have more tranlucent, unmarked fins than the DV, and they have a longer head in proportion to the body. Otherwise, they look the same, consequently, they are treated the same under the regs.

And I was taken through his shots of the fish, having to ID each and every one, and it was tough.

Rob :pROFESSOR
 
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Allow me to clear the air about something

The trouble with targeting Dolly -

1. They are generally considered a threatened species over most of their historical range within this state.

2. They are a poor excuse for fishing other closed waters. Parts of the Upper Skagit salmon spawning area is closed to fishing for salmon yet because it is open for Dolly Varden the area gets heavy fishing pressure. And guess what they're catching - salmon, not Dolly. Pinks, silvers, chum, with no Dolly being caught. These are the gear guys, the bait guys, and the fly guys. All using typical pink and silver salmon patterns to fish the closed salmon area through a loop hole large enough to drive your 4X4 through.

Old man tired of the lame excuses, denials, etc. which got us here...
 

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There is essentially NO reliable way to tell the difference between a Dolly and a bull trout, even through DNA analysis (studies have shown that using the same test, different researchers will get different results from the same fish, and using different tests will skew the results even more). To make it even more complicated, there seem to be anadromous and resident forms of both Dollies and bull trout, so it's not as simple as one just being the anadromous and/or resident form of the other. For ESA purposes, dollies and bull trout are treated as exactly the same (WDFW no longer tries to make a distinction for management purposes and calls both "native char"); in other words dolly varden are considered part of the bull trout ESU (which includes their entire historical range). Dolly Varden are effectively listed as Threatened under the ESA, which is why it's illegal to fish for them in most parts of the state, including the Olympic Peninsula.

Under US Fish and Wildlife's 4d Rule for bull trout, it's OK to fish for "native char" where WDFW has determined that their population is healthy, and the regs are considered conservative enough by USFWS. I imagine that assessment will be subject to periodic review. That's why it's OK, for now, to fish for Dollies on the Skagit (and a few other places, I think). Again, I suppose it's up to each of us to decide where we draw our own lines.
 

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So if legally fishing for a non-threatened species (on the Skagit at least)is unethical what is ethical when it comes to fishing? Maybe fishing itself is unethical? Surely anything but flyfishing is unethical then? Or maybe better we should all do what Stump told the first guy to do and go fish in a stocked pond and definitely not for Dolly Varden?

I love flyfishing and for the most part I've found the people who get involved with it are conservationists and class citizens. However, what I can't stand is "flyfishing snobs" such as telling people "it may be legal but I wouldn't do it". You are probably a dry fly purist as well and think nymph fisherman might as well be using PowerBait. I wish everything was catch-and-release flyfishing only but it isn't.

The guy was asking for help not a study on fishing ethics or the difference between the 18th gene in Dolly Varden and Bull Trout. If you don't want to help then don't reply. Unless someone is fishing illegally - "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all".
 

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It's utter ethical crap to think fishing for native wild Steelhead is fine but fishing for Dollies isn't. Steelhead are in massive decline throughout their entire GLOBAL range and most certainly deserve to be listed under the ESA. Dollies on the other hand are abundant in much of their range and in fact very little is even known of them in WA state. They are obviously abundant in the Skagit system, legal to catch (and keep- with a limit of 2 last I checked), and provide fun sport for the flyfisherman. Go ahead and release them. Last I checked you could keep a limit of Dollies in most North Sound Rivers. I see very little difference between SRC and Dollies as far as fishing ethics go.

I agree with Jroni- keep the high and mighty to yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You helped get us here yourself

Well I see your point about areas being open to Dollies creating a loophole for catching protected fish, but fishing for anything around here puts you in jeopardy of that. Since you are sick of other people's denial, excuses and questionable ethics, how is it that you are justified in fishing for steelhead when there is a chance you might hook up with a threatened Dolly or Salmon species which is protected? For that matter what about the steelhead themselves? I have been here only six months, but it sure seems to me that Wild steelhead exist in numbers that are a mere fraction of their historical population. There seems to be little doubt that the wild strains of steel are headed for trouble in the near future and yet You continue to fish for them, I've seen your name all over this forum on the topic. Correct me if I'm wrong but the fact that steelhead have yet to be listed probably has more to do with Commercial value, sportsman activism, potential impacts on logging or hydro power, or some burocratic distinction between hatchery fish or Raibow trout than the sheer reality of their plight. Getting anything on that list is more complicated than it was 10 years ago. At any rate, with current policies being what they are I see the situation getting more desperate, not better. I'm not about to tell anyone what to fish for, but is the wild Steelhead in such better shape than the Dolly?
This brings me back to you being sick of other people's conduct. I would argue that you are part of the problem, in denial yourself, and consequently a hypocrite for your sanctimonious condemnation of me and people who fish where and for what you don't want them to. Where I come from it is considered extremely bad form to fish for spawning fish period. If you come upon a pod of rainbows spawning you let them be. I just wanted to catch and release what I now understand to be a resident Bull Trout. We ALL are having an impact on the future of all these fish by the nature of our endeavor, and I think it is up to the individual to use good judgement and handle fish released responsibly. This idea that it is other people and not you that are contributing to the problem is ridiculous :HMMM
 

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Whoa.

I'm just trying to provide some facts. People were discussing the issue and I thought they might be interested to know how the management actually works, vis a vis dollies and bull trout. If you read my first post, I acknowledged a couple of times that it's legal to fish for dollies on the skagit, and tried to imply that if that's good enough for you, knock yourself out. In my second post I explicitly acknowledged that it's up to each individual to decide for himself, once he/she knows the facts. (And I very studiously avoided saying what I'd do, because I haven't decided.)

The thing that I have trouble with is the equation that if it's OK to fish for declining steelhead, then it's OK to fish for declining dollies. Seems to me that if you think they're both declining, maybe you shouldn't fish for either. (By the way, how are dollies not threatened? The Skagit's one of the only places in the state where it's legal to fish for them. USFWS and WDFW manages them as if they're listed under the ESA. If you killed a dolly inconsistent with WDFW regs, you could be prosecuted under the ESA, and possibly be fined tens of thousands of dollars. Somebody thinks they're in trouble somewhere. And what does WDFW's permission mean to you anyway, as far as deciding in what shape the resource is in? Saying everything must be fine becoause we don't know much about dollies is not vey wise management. It's how we screwed everything else up! WDFW says its OK to commercially harvest ESA-listed chinook in Puget Sound, and they also think we should be harvesting MORE wild steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula. Do you agree with them on that?)

Like you, I also have little patience for any flyfishing elitism, and I try to poke holes in it whenever I get the chance. (That goes for the crap about all flyfishers being "conservationists" compared to other anglers. Just practicing catch and release, if that's as far as your "conservationism" goes, doesn't exactly make you Aldo Leopold.)

But whatever. Maybe I didn't make myself clear enough, and if so I apologise. Yes: It's legal to fish for dollies on the Skagit; go ahead if you want; I've got no beef with anybody fishing according to current regs.

Oh, and one more thing. As far as keeping the "high and mighty" to myself, this is a FORUM. That means when someone makes a post, they are ASKING for anyone else's input. While I try very hard to keep it respectful -- even when I disagree with someone -- I'm absolutely free to add my opinion, whatever it is, on any subject in this forum. Stumpfisher's even free to go off a little half-cocked if he wants. That's what makes the world go 'round. Just like you have every right to insult me and make unfounded assunptions about how I feel about other people's fishing.
 

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Agreed. Ray, I was replying to the first reply more so than yours. My point being that those living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones i.e. if you fish for wild Steelhead, it doesn't make sense to oppose Dollie fishing. I'm not sure that not fishing for either species benefits us in the long run- I believe sport fishing does indeed introduce conservation to people as well as some value for and commitment to the resource. Since Dollies have no commercial value it makes sense that they be evaluated according to sport fishing impact- quite a unique species in that manner (at least for Washington State). I don't think anyone is claiming to be Aldo here, just wondering about the Dollie fishing in Rivers where it is legal.
 
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You helped get us here yourself

No, I do not target Dolly Varden. Never have.

No, I do not fish for Dolly Varden and have never taken any as incidental catch.

Have I fished recently in areas open to the taking of Dollies? Yes, but not in their known water or with tackle specifically geared towards them.

Do I fish for Steelhead, wild or otherwise? Yes, but THEY ARE NOT on any threatened species list anywhere around here.

And I don't use one specie's open fishery rules to fish another specie's closure. Period!

As far as an answer to your question about when wild steelhead will be listed as threatened - well, not today. Obviously someone (feds, WDFW, courts, and tribes) believes that the numbers warrant at least a limited fishery. The question which you should be asking, but aren't, really shows the flaws in your conservation ethics - When will the State outlaw the fishing for wild steelhead with tackle and techniques which consistently results in a high mortality rate after release? You know, bait and gear. Deeper takes with their barbs and all destroying their mouths, tongues, gills and such. The State knows a great deal of these fish will not survive yet allows the practice to continue.

To further answer your questions - Were wild steelhead listed as threatened I would hang up my steelhead gear until the fishery recovered. I would not even fish for the hatchery brats (which, BTW, I am not opposed to killing, though I personally don't). See, catching fish is not the Holy Grail to me as it is with others. It's the other intrinsic elements, combined with the possibility of a fish, which holds the real value for me.

More questions - A flyfishing only advocate? Yep, went flyfishing only in summer 1973, barbless and catch and release as well. A dry fly purist? Nope, nymphs are alright with me though I still wrestle with the split shot issue. I'm just an old school guy. Even still, I guess the real difference between me and others who have spoken on this issue is that they want their share now before it's too late and I, on the other hand, am willing to forego any share to insure a future fishery. The selfish and the selfless, depending on ones point of view...

And I am very comfortable with my ethics, how's yours?

-A harsh, shrill, and now hypocritical and sanctimonious, old man.
 
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