Dolly Varden

Named, it is said, for a type of colorful women’s dress popular in the 1870s, the Dolly Varden trout is beautifully marked and fun to catch.
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Where and When?

Dolly Varden are found in streams and rivers along the northern Pacific and Arctic coasts, from Puget Sound north along the coasts of British Columbia and Alaska. In Asia, they can be caught on the Kamchatka Peninsula and in northern Japan. They are abundant throughout their range and put up a great fight. Because these fish live in northern rivers, peak times to fish are usually in July and August.

About Dolly Varden

Dolly Varden are actually a char, not a trout, and are sometimes mistaken for bull trout or Arctic char. Some populations of this fish are anadromous or semi-anadromous. Dolly Varden are olive or gray in color with orange and red spots and a hooked lower jaw. During the spawning season, they develop brilliant colors: red bellies, bright orange and red spots, and red and black fins with white tips. Dolly Varden in the northern part of their range tend to grow to larger sizes than those in the southern part.

How to Catch?

Because they share their waters with salmon, Dolly Varden feed heavily on salmon eggs and juvenile salmon. Small silver spoons and spinners that imitate small fish work well, and if you’re fishing during a salmon run, using salmon roe for bait is very effective. When fly fishing for Dolly Varden, try egg patterns, leech patterns, streamers, or Clouser minnows.