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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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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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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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