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I don't keep what I catch.I fish just for the fun of it. For the record,I just read the "regs" and they said that it is legal to fish and keep Dolly varden/bull trout from the mouth to Gorge Dam. I think that the person who started this thread just wanted to know if a 6wt would work. I say be careful you could end up with a broken rod. You don't know what you could catch on the Skagit. I agree with Chris. Don't beat this to death. Just my nickle. Jim S.
 

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I fished Skagit Dollys a bunch back in 78-82 when I was working for SCL out of New Halem. Rockport was "Lower Skagit" to us locals. In those times, we didn't know that there was such a thing as bull trout, or the slight possibility of there being Bull Trout mixed in with Dollys below Gorge Dam. And since the Dollys were obviously abundant and eating salmon fry and eggs, they were generally regarded with distain, even by the wardens and "Staters", folks from the WDG. It was generally considered a good thing to thin them out. Some folks caught massive Dollys in Ross Lake and I think there's a higher likelihood that some of those were Bull Trout.

Their fish is paler and softer than other game fish, so the taste was a little disappointing. Much less appealing than their relatives the Brookies. And the fight was much less exciting than a steelhead, but sometimes the large size compensated.

Some years earlier, I found myself in SE Alaska where the locals had much less respect for Dollys. They generally would heave them up into the bushes or wack them over the head and throw them overboard.

I was called on to put on a wet suit and snorkeling gear to rescue some equipment that got fouled in a few feet of water near the gravel pits below Goodel Creek. It was December and the chum were spawning everywhere. But I was amazed to see lots of Dollys, some as big as chums, hanging right below the redds, ready to pick up any lose eggs. They were so big, I was a bit worried they might take a chunk out of me. After seeing all those big Dollys, I was one of the few locals who targeting Dollys because I found that when the chum were spawning the "hatch" was on. We were all hardware chuckers up there, at least for the river fish, and it never occurred to me to try a fly. I threw red and white or red and brass steelie and other spoons into the spawning bed tailouts. Hooking chum in the tail or the back was a waste of time and money, because it would take half a hour to get the spawnout to shore and the spoons cost $1.85 each so I'd do all I could to get the spoon back. We'd take the trebles off the spoons and put on a single siwash hook rigged to point up. Didn't try eggs, but I wonder if an egg pattern fly would work. I also wonder if you might find Dollys behind spawning pinks would also be good too.
 

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There are several ways to distinguish bull trout from Dolly Varden. The best way is through the use of DNA---both Paul Spruell's lab at the University of Montana, and Sewall Young's lab in Olympia can do this work for you. They both have the necessary markers to make this distinction, and no, you won't get different results as in the case of the latest and greatest lynx work.

Morphometrically speaking, one can identify bull trout by several ways. . .the length of the lower jaw, the orientation of the eye, and the number of branchiostegals, to name three. Refer to Gordon Hass' or Ted Cavendar's work for more details.

As for the Skagit, there are AT LEAST 10 bull trout (notice I didn't say Dolly's) for every one wild steelhead. The majority of the "Dolly's" in the Skagit are actually bull trout. The same is true of the Peninsula rivers.

For God's sake, just release all anadromous natives and leave it at that. Isn't it obvious that there are more than enough hatchery maggots to go around. Whether it is char, steelhead, SRC's, chinook, coho, whatever. And if you do choose to take a fish now and again, only take what you'll eat--don't be a meat hog.

FYI: Bull trout designated areas are described in terms of a specific DPS (Distinct Population Segment--i.e. Puget Sound bull trout), NOT an ESU (Evolutionary Significant Unit--i.e. Puget Sound chinook).

I may be a pirate, but I'm not a hog. . .
 

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Amen Pirate. Release them all. I've always assumed that the "dollies" in the Skagit system were not salt fish, but rather White Chuck and Cascade etc spawning Bull Trout. I've seen how Alaskans treat Dollies (guides being some of the worst) and of course there is the old idea that Dollies eat eggs and fry of Salmon & Steelhead to the detriment of those species- yes they clean up the mess but only enhance the other species. There's no reason to meat fish or kill fish for dollies, but they are a great light sport C&R option whenh legal in the winter. The more value they have to sport fishermen the more attitudes will change to respecting and protecting them.
 

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Dollies are great sport here on certain "peninsula" rivers, most of the "Dolley" water in the upper sections of the rivers I fish is just perfect for using an outfit such as the one you have, 6wt with a floating line. Just stick to the shallow riffles with good directional soft water seems I.E. the end of a gravel tailout with a deep bank channel adjacent to it. Use a long 10ft+ leader and a fly such as a gold cone head wooley bugger with a good bit of crystal flash in the tail. Give the fly quite a bit of action also, not really stripping it in but twitching and plusing it as it moves through the slot. Dolleys in my experience are allways on the prowl for something to chew on and are very aggressive at times and they are exceptionally resiliant fish. They are a Char closely related to the bull trout and very carniverous. In Alaska, where we do an aweful lot of Dolley, umh, I meant Char fishing, our big joke is "It's a Dolley if you can drive to it and a Char if you have to fly out to it", get it, nobody is going to pay $4000 a wk to fish dolley's. a good article on Dolley / Char fishing was recently published in Northwest Fly Fishing Mag. issue Spring 2001, page 36, by Billy Herzog titled Quinault River, WA Olympic Peninsula Trophy Char.
Have fun with those Dollies.
 
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