Dolly Varden must be considered one of the most beautiful fish in Alaska. They look like a close cousin to the Brook trout in the lower 48. Like the Brook trout, they appear to be hand painted by someone and at times take on the look of a circus clown with all their bright colors. The Dolly Varden are also quite numerous in many streams in Alaska, making them a top species to target while on a fishing trip to this amazing state.
We target these magnificent sport fish is a few streams where catching under 40 of them in a day would be considered an off day. They tend to school up in huge numbers when the salmon are spawning and can be such a blast to catch. They fight much like a trout, and will jump, run, and twist their way off your hook as hard as they can. When fishing behind spawning salmon, the Dolly Varden can really be a blast and not too picky with the presentation or egg imitation you choose.
One thing that many anglers do not know about this great fish is their desire to hit a swing fly called a gurgler. Alaska signature flies ties some great foam over flies in orange and red that are just perfect for these Char. The amount of fish you catch on top-water patterns will not be as high as fishing sub surface patterns, but the sight of a 26” chasing down a skated fly is really hard to beat!
If you are in an area that allows you to harvest one, they make a great shore lunch too! All it takes is some butter, foil, salt and pepper. Simply gut the fish, spread butter in the cavity, and add some salt and pepper. Wrap up in the foil and put in the coals of a small fire. In a short while, the fish is ready and the meat will fall off the bones. A true delight for a shore lunch!
These fish hold a special place in my heart. They are beautiful, good fighters, and more than willing to take a fly. How could you not put these fish on a top list for fish in Alaska?