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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I am new member to the forum and seeking some Dolly info.
I currently am on a quest to catch every species of charr/trout in North America on a fly and I have still not caught a native Dolly Varden. Unfortunatly, I am not going to have much time to fish in the future, so I would love to be able to sneak in a Dolly Varden trip as soon as possible. I understand that this is not the best time to go after dollies, but I would really love to catch one (big or small). Can you guys help me out with some info? I would never ask for any one's secret spot, but a general area and some fishing techniques would be very helpful. I dont want to get on a plane from PA w/o leaving every stone unturned. Thanks guys, I really appreciate the help.
 

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Small fish in a big pond
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The Sauk and Skagit have some really nice dollies in them. Find the chum and below them will be the dollies. Fish egg or flesh flies either dead drifted or swung.
If no salmon, fish sculpin patterns this time of year or stick with egg patterns fished below an indicator. The water on the Sauk is an easy read, but the skagit can be intimidating. If fishing the skagit, go up near marblemount and the cascade river. good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I am a small stream fisherman.... So big water can be sometimes confusing to me. What rod weights are we talking? Sinking lines? Fly sizes? Lead? Am I crazy for coming out there this time of year? haaha Are the dolly varden stream residents? Thank you for your patience.
 

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Just an Old Man
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No Dollies up in Canada?

The Sauk is not a little stream. A 6wt would work. But being that it's winter time, a 8wt would be better. Sink tips work and Streamers are the ticket.

But I haven't fished there for over four years now so I'm a little out of touch.
 

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This subject comes up here as regularly as the seasons change. The fish that many folks here refer to as 'Dollies' and which commonly appear in our coastal rivers are in reality bull trout. Dollies and bull trout are virtually indistinguishable to all but a trained fish bio, and even he would have to use very precise measurements to be sure.

The range of the true Dolly Varden extends from Alaska south along coastal Canada and across the border into mountainous Washington in a very few spots, usually in isolated headwaters streams above barrier falls. Your odds of catching a true Dolly Varden in this state are so low that even if you did get lucky, you'd probably have to have it confirmed by a fish bio in order to distinguish it from the *much* more common bull trout.

K
 

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You could go to the East Fork Quinault and perhaps find both, but you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

Have you already got a Lake Trout on a fly? Or a siscowet? Now that would be a trick.
 

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No Dollies up in Canada?

The Sauk is not a little stream. A 6wt would work. But being that it's winter time, a 8wt would be better. Sink tips work and Streamers are the ticket.

But I haven't fished there for over four years now so I'm a little out of touch.
Nah, solid advice IMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yep, I have well over twenty natives in their native range to my name. As for the Sunapee or Blueback Charr, I just caught my first ones this past fall in late September. It was a sixteen hour drive from my house and extremely remote, but well worth it. If I could figure out how to post photos, I would put a few up here for ya's.
Agreed Kent... But, just for clarity, the "Dolly Varden" that are in the Sauk, Cascade and Skagit are actually Bulls? I have looked in depth and I still am getting conflicting information.
The genetic information I have found is pointing mostly to BC and north, but there are some residents in WA, but fairly remote. Can anyone nail this down for me? I suppose I can put a call in to WA fish and game, but they dont always know for sure.

HAHA, and no I do not have the Sisco! Not yet atleast... I havent quit figured out how to strip a wolly bugger in 200-ft of water yet.
 

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The native char that we catch in the Sauk and Skagit this time of year are indeed bull trout. To my knowledge every fish that has been tested genetically from those waters have been bull trout. The area is unique (at least I think so) in that these bulls can be and often are anadromous.

There are few Dolly Varden found in Washington; as you noted they are found in headwater streams and rarely larger than 8 inches or so. They have been found in the upper Sol Duc, a handful tribs on the upper Nooksack, Skagit tribs above the dams, and maybe the Queets. Those waters are only open for fishing during the summer season (June to October) but not for fishing for Dolly Varden/bull trout.

Tight lines
Curt
 

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Kent has given you accurate information. Although Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma) do occur in Washington, they are found only in the headwaters of a few mountain streams in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, usually above permanent barriers to the migration of anadromous fish species, and usually don't achieve any significant size. The large, anadromous char found in Washington rivers tributary to Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean are bull trout (S. confluentus).

The two are difficult to differentiate and, in fact, it was only in 1978 that the bull trout was awarded specific status but studies since then have defined the ranges of the two species in Washington.
 

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I've recently been doing a little "research" on this subject myself for a forthcoming blog article. What I found interesting is bulls and Dollies weren't given official separate identities until 1978 or 1980, so even the date is confusing ; ). Dollies and bulls have overlapping territories, and the Puget Sound area is apparently one of those overlapping areas.

Then on the Alaska FIsh and Game website I saw a photo of a Dolly in spawning colors that looks nothing like the Dollies allegedly in rivers around here. Looks more like an Arctic Char than a bull trout.

The only clear conclusion I've been able to draw is that the confusion runs rampant. I'll be watching this thread with great interest, hoping to have all confusion cleared up on the matter ; )
 

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I see that you're from Reading, PA. I grew up very close to there and now live in Seattle. Send me a PM and I can give you some advice on how to adapt what you know from back there to the bigger waters you'll find out here.
 

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Itchy,
Sorry, I meant to say that Cavender's research was done in 1978, so the decision to allow the bull trout specific status was quite likely made later, in 1980 (?).

The common name, 'Dolly Varden" was originally applied in the late 19th century to char from the McCloud River in northern California; the southernmost population of char on the Pacific coast, wiped out by construction of Shasta Dam in 1947. The popular name spread north as far as Alaska.

Dolly Varden was an engaging female character in Charles Dickens' novel Barnaby Rudge who became something of a cultural phenomenon at the time, with a style of hat, a dance and a line of dress goods named after her. It was probably a perceived similarity between the fish's spots and a polka-dotted dress fabric that led to the name being applied to to the fish.
 

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Itchy,
Sorry, I meant to say that Cavender's research was done in 1978, so the decision to allow the bull trout specific status was quite likely made later, in 1980 (?).

The common name, 'Dolly Varden" was originally applied in the late 19th century to char from the McCloud River in northern California; the southernmost population of char on the Pacific coast, wiped out by construction of Shasta Dam in 1947. The popular name spread north as far as Alaska.

Dolly Varden was an engaging female character in Charles Dickens' novel Barnaby Rudge who became something of a cultural phenomenon at the time, with a style of hat, a dance and a line of dress goods named after her. It was probably a perceived similarity between the fish's spots and a polka-dotted dress fabric that led to the name being applied to to the fish.
Preston, your dates weren't the cause of the confusion- I've run into several articles that stated either 1978 OR 1980 as the date for the separate classification. I find it amusing that with such a confusing issue, even the dates of this conclusion are confused :D

And to think that I thought the Dolly was named after:
 

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And to think that I thought the Dolly was named after:
I can see how it'd be easy to confuse the two - the fish and the person I mean . . .

K
 
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