Dolly Varden trout [ Salvelinus malma malma ] are arguable the prettiest of the Alaskan trout species. Named after a famous late eighteen hundreds Can-can dancer of Klondike area, the Dolly is a typically a sea-run fish, spending its winters in the Bering sea and returning to our streams mixed in with the Sockeye and Chum salmon as chrome bright bullets. Within a couple of weeks they start to look like swimming Christmas trees and by the end of August are fully sporting their brilliant spawning colors. Unlike the salmon, that die after spawning, the Dolly Varden can spawn multiple years. Each year brightening back up in the sea for next year’s return.
Now the argument kicks in. Some of us consider the brilliant orange and yellow of our Arctic Char to be even prettier than the green, pink and red of the ‘Dollies’. We happen to have a handful of river systems that seem to produce the most intense color variations of the species. The males almost appear to be on fire with their clown-bright orange lips.
For us anglers, these fish are much easier to see than the Rainbow trout and make for some great sight fishing in the small creeks and rivers throughout our territory. This week brought back mostly return guests and a few friends that were lured up to our lodge like a Dolly Varden taking an egg imitation. And like the fish, these new guests got hooked and will undoubtably land here again. Fishing was best described as ‘solid’ with some days making you work at it a bit and other days the catches were so unbelievable in both numbers and size it seemed slightly surreal.
The Rainbow trout record fell to the hands of Mimi Gates only to be tied by Jim Konkel later in the week. The Silver salmon fishing remained slow on the lower Togiak River, but it appeared the fish were just not holding as the upper stretches in the wilderness zones were packed with them along with the afore mentioned Dollies. The Goodnews was still that, good news. Loads of chrome bright fish awaited those willing to make the long trek out that way. The little streams of the Katmai National Park were now fishing well for Rainbow trout and were also loaded with bears. Again this week, the great bear photos kept coming back with the groups that ventured over that way. The bears of Katmai that are true berry-&-salmon-a-voires during the summer and seem to understand that anglers in goretex are off the menu. Whew.