Meet The Fish: Dolly Varden and Arctic Char
Named for Charles Dickens eponymous character with a predilection for brightly spotted dresses, the Dolly Varden char is indeed a flamboyant dresser especially during spawning season. Occurring in almost all regions of the state, in both fresh and salt water, the Dolly is perhaps the most available of all the salmonid species. Available from April to November, the best fishing for Dolly Varden occurs during the months of June, July, and August. Varying in size from 8 inches to 20+ lbs, the average dolly is between 16-22 inches, and 1-4 lbs. Good Dolly fishing often occurs at estuaries and river mouths during spring fry migrations as the Dollies gather in huge shoals to feed on the out-going fry, and in late summer as the dollies await the egg-drop from spawning salmon.
Gear and Flies:
The estuarine nature of a lot of Dolly Varden fishing calls for tough, saltwater-resistant gear. Good quality, sealed-bearing reels are a "must-have" for the corrosive environment of the river mouth. Matched to a 4, 5, or 6wt rod, this setup will be a good fit for Dollies of all sizes. In Switch rods, look to use rods in 10-11' in legnth rated for lines 3-6wt. Depending upon the method of presentation, fly line choices include full-float weight-forward lines, clear tip lines, sinking tip lines, and multi-tip systems to deliver your offering to the proper depth. Fly patterns for Dollies are dependent upon the primary food source at the time. In spring, minnow and fry patterns are the ticket. As the salmon start to spawn, beads and glo-bugs are the fly of choice, and as the spawning salmon die off, the flesh fly comes into its own.