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Dolly Varden picture

How to fish for Dolly Varden

Dolly Varden are easily confused with Bull trout which are now known to be a separate species. The Dolly Varden occurs from the sea of Japan throughout the Kuril Islands to Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, throughout the Aleutian Islands, Alaska and the Yukon Territory, down the Canadian west coast to the Northwestern United States. Dolly Varden inhabit deep runs and pools of creeks and rivers. They are also found in lakes and the sea. Dolly Varden require very clean mountain streams with gravel bottoms and plenty of cover. They are typically anadromous, but many populations are landlocked. They are opportunistic feeders that have a diet that includes insects, small fish, fish eggs, shrimp, and leeches.
Since the Dolly Varden migrate to sea from lakes in the spring, a lake outlet stream, stream mouth, or associated beach should be good from April through June. Good Dolly Varden fishing can be found in salt water during May, June, and July. As the mature fish return to their home stream to spawn and feed in August and September. You can usually locate Dolly Varden near spawning salmon, in deep holes, and at the creek mouth on an incoming tide. Lake fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden can be good from late August through November. The fish begin entering lakes in late August and are in prime condition after their spring and summer growing season. 
Most Dolly Varden that an angler will encounter will be 4 lbs or less. Lighter Fly gear offer exciting fishing for Dolly Varden as these fish are strong fighters. A 9 foot 4 wt, 5 wt. or 6 wt. graphite fly rod that has a matching reel spooled with a sinking tip fly line and a 9 foot 6 pound test leader will work for most areas. Flies that are productive for Dolly Varden are Zonkers in White and Natural, Egg sucking leeches and flesh flies, Glo Bugs, Wooly Buggers in White, Flash Fry in natural colors, Alevin, Bow River Bugger, Conehead Kiwi Muddler, Baitfish Minnows in Grey and White, Battle Creek Light. Deep Minnows in Olive/White, Red/White and Gray/White, Alaskan Sockeye Fry, Janssen's Minnow, Stinger Clousers in Olive/White and Gray/White, Salmon Fry.


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