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Thread: Dolly Varden

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    Default Dolly Varden

    I've heard Dolly fishing starts April on the Homer Spit. Do they bite on herring, or what tackle do you use? Fish on the top, middle, or bottom? Can you catch them anywhere else on the KP?

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    Best place to fish them is in front of the Homer harbor entrance. Hour before hi tide to an hour after hi tide is best. Calmer waters also best but not neccessary. Lures include crockadiles, swedish pimples, Kastmasters, and daredevil type spoons etc. Have caught them on streamer flies on the fly rod when waters/winds were calm. Medium sized lures but have often gotten good results on 5 inch crockadiles. When waters calm they stay close to shore (within 10 ft often) . When rough they will be out farther in mid depth (in front of harbor entrance.) Come later May-late June, they may even be caught all along the spit. They travel in schools targeting needlefish. If you see comotion like needlefish scattering on the surface u can be sure the dollies are after em.
    Most streams on KP are closed in spring but they can be had in Kasilof R and Kenai when and where it is open.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cod View Post
    Best place to fish them is in front of the Homer harbor entrance. Hour before hi tide to an hour after hi tide is best. Calmer waters also best but not neccessary. Lures include crockadiles, swedish pimples, Kastmasters, and daredevil type spoons etc. Have caught them on streamer flies on the fly rod when waters/winds were calm. Medium sized lures but have often gotten good results on 5 inch crockadiles. When waters calm they stay close to shore (within 10 ft often) . When rough they will be out farther in mid depth (in front of harbor entrance.) Come later May-late June, they may even be caught all along the spit. They travel in schools targeting needlefish. If you see comotion like needlefish scattering on the surface u can be sure the dollies are after em.
    Most streams on KP are closed in spring but they can be had in Kasilof R and Kenai when and where it is open.
    What are needlefish?

    When you talk about the harbor entrance do you mean by lands end by the tripods in the water? Don't really know what and where the harbor entrance is. Thanks!

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    Mouth of the harbor.
    Quote Originally Posted by Eatsleepfish View Post
    What are needlefish?

    When you talk about the harbor entrance do you mean by lands end by the tripods in the water? Don't really know what and where the harbor entrance is. Thanks!

  5. #5

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    He's probably referring to sand lance. I've heard people call them needlefish before.


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    Yep, they are often mis-referred to as Needlefish but they are Sand lances or Candlefish.


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    Anyone know where to catch some in PWS? I have seen a few photos of people with them but its a big area...
    2007 Kingfisher 2825 - Stor Fisk

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK2AZ View Post
    Yep, they are often mis-referred to as Needlefish but they are Sand lances or Candlefish.
    Needlefish is one of several common names for sand lance. Sand lance are called sand eels on the East Coast. Candlefish (Thaleichthys pacificus), is one of several common names for eulachion (aka oolichan, hooligan, ooligan) which is a type of smelt, not a sand lance.

    Dollies will also hit flies, and occasionally we get one on a hoochie when we are trolling for salmon close to shore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    Mouth of the harbor.
    Let me see if I know what you guys are talking about. Heading back towards homer where the Kennicott docks the location to catch dollies is between it's dock and the narrow channel where the boats enter/exit to the harbor?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eatsleepfish View Post
    Let me see if I know what you guys are talking about. Heading back towards homer where the Kennicott docks the location to catch dollies is between it's dock and the narrow channel where the boats enter/exit to the harbor?
    That would be the spot. It has been a couple of decades since I have fished dollies off the spit, but a sweedish pimple used to hammer them in that area. Try casting out at a 20-30 angle. The dollies seem to parallel the shore. (if that makes sense). We used to catch some dandies!
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    Quote Originally Posted by JR2 View Post
    Anyone know where to catch some in PWS? I have seen a few photos of people with them but its a big area...
    The short answer is yes! Fish the estuaries.
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    DOLLY DAYS

    Excellent quarry anywhere you can get them. Bleed immediately if you are on the harvest. Soaking in salt water hardens the flesh before going to the knife. This fish is a superior smoker; I serve them as appetizers and they always impress my guests...

    Rosenberg; Sarasota, FL / Kodiak, AK / Zhengzhou, CN
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    Yes, what I referred to as 'needlefish' are really 'sandlance'. They are often found alive by crows foraging in the seaweeds at low tide. If you see crows in the seaweed, they are likely finding sandlance. If a guy searches where they do, you can bag a few up yourself. They fish super for dollies under a bobber along the shore. The dollies will roam in schools and push the sandlance along the shoreline and then tear them up. Sometimes quite a sight.
    When fishing the harbor entrance the Coast Guard dock/ship will be a couple hundred yds to your right while standing on the beach. They can be caught anywhere along the spit, but this is the most productive spot overall.
    Saltwater dollies, I find are excellent table fare. Much different than river/lake dollies.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cod View Post
    Yes, what I referred to as 'needlefish' are really 'sandlance'. They are often found alive by crows foraging in the seaweeds at low tide. If you see crows in the seaweed, they are likely finding sandlance. If a guy searches where they do, you can bag a few up yourself. They fish super for dollies under a bobber along the shore. The dollies will roam in schools and push the sandlance along the shoreline and then tear them up. Sometimes quite a sight.
    When fishing the harbor entrance the Coast Guard dock/ship will be a couple hundred yds to your right while standing on the beach. They can be caught anywhere along the spit, but this is the most productive spot overall.
    Saltwater dollies, I find are excellent table fare. Much different than river/lake dollies.
    +1

    I don't know if its even legal now but many many years ago, if you just dug at low tides in the sand in the area, you could find a few. No identifying marks, just random scooping.

  15. #15

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    are these any good to eat? I've always heard they were terrible. We catch a few on accident and always let them go.

  16. #16

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    Dollies that are caught in river have sometime been feeding on the flesh of spawned out Salmon so aren't great table fare but if you're catching them in the estuary or in a clean river they're fine-delicious even.

    Any flashy lure will take them they aren't the fastest horses in the barn.

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    There used to be pretty good sea run Dolly fishing along Lowell Point near Seward. The Dollys had three bodies of fresh water to over winter in. Preacher's Pond, Grouse Lake, and Bear Lake. Preacher's Pond is just that a small pond. Grouse Lake is a small lake that used to get hit pretty hard by the ice fishermen. Bear Lake is a large lake but the co-op that operates the fish weir on Bear Creek has not allowed Dollys to migrate back into the lake for many years now. I think that's put a major hurt on the sea run Dolly population in Resurrection Bay.

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    The edibility factor of a Dolly Varden Char is excellent. It is unfortunate that they are sometimes mal-aligned as being not good table fare due to misconceptions at the local level; those suppositions include how they feed and how they feel. I have consumed this fish from both fresh and salt water habitat in Alaska with no difference in taste. As well, I have seen this fish retail in upscale markets for as high as $17.99 per lb.

    Like any wild quarry, if you handle it poorly, then prepare it poorly, it will eat poorly. I never allow this fish to flop and then bruise when it hits the bank, and it is an incessant flopper. I am always there with a ready-rag, immediately securing the fish, cutting the gill, and then storing it in salted water until I fillet it.

    Baked, fried, grilled, steamed, smoked, or even stuck on a stick and roasted over a bed of coals, this fish named after a character from a Charles Dickens's novel is a fish of quality...

    Rosenberg; Sarasota, FL / Kodiak, AK / Zhengzhou, CN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bernard R. Rosenberg View Post
    DOLLY DAYS

    Excellent quarry anywhere you can get them. Bleed immediately if you are on the harvest. Soaking in salt water hardens the flesh before going to the knife. This fish is a superior smoker; I serve them as appetizers and they always impress my guests...

    Rosenberg; Sarasota, FL / Kodiak, AK / Zhengzhou, CN
    Unlike rainbows, they are also oily enough to make a great stew!!!

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    For you fly fishermen, try a single salmon egg fly. My experience (more than three decades) has been that this is an awesome producer.

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