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Thread: ANWR/Brooks Range, where to go?

  1. #1
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    Default ANWR/Brooks Range, where to go?

    I'm coming up for a month, the second week of August. I want to see the Brooks Range region. I want to find a lake or river, or both, with big, hungry char. I've contacted several air transporters, but what about driving in on the haul road and backpacking in. Are there any really good places within, say, 5-10 miles of the road?

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    Member pike_palace's Avatar
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    The char in that area are like the caribou: They are either all there or there's nothing.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cobrad View Post
    I'm coming up for a month, the second week of August. I want to see the Brooks Range region. I want to find a lake or river, or both, with big, hungry char. I've contacted several air transporters, but what about driving in on the haul road and backpacking in. Are there any really good places within, say, 5-10 miles of the road?
    No, if Char is your target fish. For everything else it would be good. Air transporter is best bet for what you want. The two small lakes where you would find char off the haul road are landlocked and won't accept much pressure so catch and release would be advisable.
    Here's info on every lake and creek along the road. No car rental companies will rent you anything to drive that road and there's hardly any safe place to park.

    http://www.alaskaoutdoorjournal.com/...isheries2.html

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default dolly vardon....

    Few char in the state compared to dolly vardon. They are very similar and few people get the names right. Only distinguished as seperate species in the 90's if I am not mistaken. I float NW Alaska rivers each Fall and can tell you plenty if that is of interest. Biggest dollies in the state. The float trips take a week or so on the rivers I have been. Safe and easy paddling for the most part. We have spent 22 days up there on the last two trips and have not seen another person yet. Wonderful scenery, solitude, wildlife, great fishing, gin clear water, and all of it to yourself. NO place quite like NW Alaska. The rivers I have floated have been in the Noatak Preserve. An easy self guided trip for someone with basic outdoor skills. You could rent a raft, tent, stove, etc.. from Walt Maslen in Kotzebue. He frequents the forum and can be reached by his website www.northwestalaska.com Great guy. Logistics are easier than most would think. It just takes some planning and money. Like anything else in life. So you want big dollies? Fly to Kotz, bush plane from there to a river about 70 miles north, then float and fish for 5-7 days. Best dolly fishing in the state. We have caught them in the ten pound range but have lost some bigger. I am hoping to improve on that this Sept on our next float trip. Late August and Sept are best time to go. That is when the dollies are getting back into the rivers from the ocean to over winter. Below are some pics from a recent trip we took up there. If any of this is of interest to you, shoot me an email for details. Happy to help if I can. In the below link, cllick "slideshow" in the upper right.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2114408...7603639892399/
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  5. #5
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default dollies...

    Dolly Varden: Beautiful and Misunderstood
    Dolly Varden's Reputation as Varmint Undeserved

    By Fred DeCicco

    A Dolly Varden in striking spawning colors. Dolly Varden have been much maligned as a predator of salmon. Although they do eat salmon eggs, they are more scavenger than predator.

    The Dolly Varden is one of the most beautiful and diverse fish in Alaska. Some spend their entire lives in freshwater lakes or rivers. Others spend part of the year in saltwater, a few months or just a few weeks, but spawn in fresh water. In some populations, only females migrate to sea, growing larger and producing more eggs before returning to their home water and spawning with the small resident males. There are even populations of dwarf Dolly Varden in many parts of Alaska. In spawning colors, the Dolly Varden is perhaps our most striking fish. The name “Dolly Varden” stems from a character in the Charles Dickens novel, “Barnaby Rudge.” Dolly was a young girl with a rosy complexion. In the late 1860s a popular green fabric adorned with small crimson polka dots was marketed under the name Dolly Varden. A 15-year-old girl named Elda McCloud is credited with connecting the name Dolly Varden with the fish. McCloud’s uncle, George Campbell, was the proprietor of the Soda Springs Resort in Northern California. Upon viewing the catch from a successful fishing trip to the upper McCloud River (tributary to the Sacramento River), the girl remarked that bull trout was a poor name for such colorful fish and that they would better be called Dolly Varden. Whether young Elda had recently been making a dress from the spotted fabric, or had recently read “Barnaby Rudge,” remains unknown, but the name caught on and has been with us ever since that eventful day.

    However, the story is one of misidentification. Bull trout and Dolly Varden are two different species. The Dolly Varden found in Alaska, Salvelinus malma, were never present in the McCloud River. The fish likely viewed by Elda McCloud were in fact bull trout, Salvelinus confluentus. Bull trout and Dolly Varden were confused by anglers and biologists until 1978 when Ted Cavender of Ohio State University demonstrated that bull trout was a valid species separate from Dolly Varden. At that time the world record Dolly Varden (32 pounds) from Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho became a record “bull trout”.

    Misidentification has not been limited to the southern extreme of the Dolly Varden’s range. In the north, Dolly Varden and Arctic char have been confused by anglers and biologists. To address the identity problem we must go back to original species descriptions. Carl Linneaus, the famed Swedish naturalist and the founder of the modern classification system for plants and animals, first described Arctic char, Salvelinus alpinus, in 1758 from specimens in an alpine lake in Swedish Lapland. Therefore, any fish that fits the original description is considered an Arctic char. Arctic char occur across the northern regions of the world, and three subspecies are present in North America. The Arctic char is a lake (lacustrine) species, which has anadromous forms present in many areas. Anadromous Arctic char generally spawn and overwinter in lakes, then move to sea in summer to feed. Dolly Varden were first described by Johann Walbaum in 1792 from Kamchatka, Russia. Dolly Varden are a riverine species in northern Alaska, and anadromous Dolly Varden generally spawn and overwinter in flowing water. The common anadromous Dolly Varden in Kamchatka is the same species as the anadromous char found in western Alaska.

    The Dolly Varden is one of the most widely distributed salmonids in Alaska. It occurs throughout the coastal areas of the state from southeast Alaska across the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea into the Beaufort Sea to the Mackenzie River in northern Canada. It also occurs in streams in Interior Alaska and the Brooks Range.

    There are two forms of Dolly Varden in Alaska. The southern form ranges from southeast Alaska throughout the Gulf of Alaska to the south side of the Alaska Peninsula. The northern form ranges from the north side of the Alaska Peninsula northward to the Mackenzie River in Canada. Recently some char from the central Canadian Arctic drainages of the Tree and Coppermine rivers have been identified as Dolly Varden. Arctic char occur there as well and whether the current Arctic char angling record of 32 pounds 9 ounces from the Tree River will be reclassified as Dolly Varden remains to be determined.

    Southern-form Dolly Varden differ from northern-form Dolly Varden in number of vertebrae (62-65 for southern form and 66-70 for northern form) and in number of chromosomes (82 for southern form and 78 for northern form). In addition, southern form Dolly Varden generally overwinter in lakes, but northern-form fish overwinter in rivers. Stream-resident and lake-resident populations are present in both forms but lake-resident northern populations are rare. In addition, northern-form Dolly Varden can attain a much larger size than southern form fish. The current Alaska angling record from the northwestern part of the state is 27 pounds.

    Dolly Varden have been much maligned as a predator of salmon. From 1921 to 1941 there was a bounty on Dolly Varden in Alaska. It was terminated when analysis of the 20,000 tails submitted for payment in 1939 revealed that more than half were from coho salmon, and of the remainder, more were from rainbow trout than were from Dolly Varden.

    Although Dolly Varden do eat salmon eggs and salmon fry, they have not been found to be significant predators in areas where their feeding habits have been studied. They primarily eat drifting salmon eggs that would not have hatched anyway. They are more of a scavenger than a predator. In fact, they perform a beneficial hygienic function, eating dead or fungus-infected eggs that could infect the entire redd (spawning nest).

    In cases where they eat outmigrating fry, Dolly Varden primarily feed on pink salmon. Their ability to capture these is directly related to fry abundance. Thus, more fry are eaten when large numbers are available and the overall effect on the population is less significant. When other fish such as Arctic char, cutthroat trout or young coho salmon are present, Dolly Varden have always been shown to be the least effective predator.

    Despite all the confusion, misidentification and misinformed slaughter, Dolly Varden remain a widely distributed, beautiful, diverse and sought after species that provides high quality sport fishing opportunity throughout Alaska.


    Fred DeCicco is the Northwest Area Management Biologist and has worked for
    the Sport Fish Division since 1974. He has specialized in the study of
    northern form Dolly Varden in northwestern Alaska and is a member of the
    International Society of Arctic Char Fanatics.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  6. #6
    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    I agree with Dan. Here's a pic of my buddy with a nice char caught on a float hunt we did in that area.
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