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Thread: question from a non ice fisherman

  1. #1
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    Talking question from a non ice fisherman

    why is it that ALL the dollies caught through the ice are called CHAR???
    my understanding of the char vs dollie classifications are that there are durn few char living south of the artic circle and that the taxinomic differences are next to impossible to tell in the field (unless you're an ichyiologist/sp?)
    I know there are some big dollies living in Big Lake, but since the water got hard all the photos are of char? where did the dollies go?
    inquiring minds need to know.
    Gary

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Default Answer from an ice fisherman

    Short answer - ADF&G tells us they're char.

    First off - many of the lakes that are icefished are stocked lakes, and they are usually stocked with rainbows and/or salmon and/or arctic char (not Dolly Varden).

    From what I've heard/read, there are two subspecies of Arctic char - one is the anadromous variety that runs up and down rivers and typically lives above the Arctic Circle (north slope AK and across Canada). The other is the landlocked variety, which is found in lakes across AK (and below the Arctic Circle).

    Regarding Big Lake, besides the fact that ADF&G says those fish are char
    http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/state...tail/LakeID/10
    and maybe we all just trust the biologists to know the difference. But from the fish I've seen caught in November/December in post-spawn colors, they look a lot more like an Artic Char than a Dolly Varden, at least IMO.

    Also, from the ADF&G website, this is a pretty interesting publication on char versus dollys. (It's a pdf, so may be slower to load). And as shown on the first page, Arctic Char range below the Artic Circle on the interior (that is in lakes).
    http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/regio...ollyvarden.pdf

    There's definitely some dissenting views on all this, and most people don't figure it's worth the effort to distinguish. My general rule of thumb - if it's caught in a river/stream in south AK it's a Dolly. If it's caught in a river/stream in north AK it's an arctic char. If it's caught in a lake (at least all the lakes I fish) it's an artic char.

    Or just call them all "char" (wich includes arctic char, dollys, lakers, brook trout, and bull trout) and you're good to go.
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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    because most non lake trout char caught through the ice are in fact Arctic Char.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Member JediMasterSalmonSlayer's Avatar
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    Default Dolly Varden of the North, they are not Arctic Char

    Quote Originally Posted by Wyo2AK View Post
    There's definitely some dissenting views on all this, and most people don't figure it's worth the effort to distinguish. My general rule of thumb - if it's caught in a river/stream in south AK it's a Dolly. If it's caught in a river/stream in north AK it's an arctic char. If it's caught in a lake (at least all the lakes I fish) it's an artic char.

    Or just call them all "char" (wich includes arctic char, dollys, lakers, brook trout, and bull trout) and you're good to go.
    My general rule of thumb is there are no arctic char in any river or stream in north, AK they are only present in lakes. Just like the reference supports that you posted on pages 7 and 11. You kinda conterdicted yourself???

    I do not know of any arctic char that migrate in any river or stream in north AK or are resident in a river or stream. I do know there are a lot of dolly varden that migrate into the rivers and streams in north, AK. Here is a couple other links to reference:

    http://www.wc.adfg.state.ak.us/index...rticles_id=147

    and try this

    http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/SARR/...ps.interactive

    click on the "start mapping" link. This interactive mapping tool shows there is no "arctic char" in the streams and rivers in north AK but there are dolly varden. This is not my theory, its from those published sources. Does anyone have a published source that can show or tell me where all these arctic char are at? I have not found it....still looking

    Call them all char....why would it matter?? just like all the salmon right? pink, king, red...just call them all salmon? Or rainbow, cutthroat, brown, golden...just call it a trout? good to go right?

    Good post...I am sure some others will post. The ole dolly varden vs arctic char battle continues.
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    Member JediMasterSalmonSlayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyo2AK View Post
    From what I've heard/read, there are two subspecies of Arctic char - one is the anadromous variety that runs up and down rivers and typically lives above the Arctic Circle (north slope AK and across Canada). The other is the landlocked variety, which is found in lakes across AK (and below the Arctic Circle).
    The reference you posted states on page 7 in the first sentence:
    In northern Alaska, all known populations of Arctic char are lake resident
    (spend their entire lives in lakes).


    the last sentence states:
    All known anadromous populations of char in
    northern Alaska are Dolly Varden.

    From what I have read and saw on the ADF&G interactive fish mapping there are no "Arctic char" that migrate in any of the North Slope rivers, they are dolly varden. There are migrating "arctic char" in western Alaska. check the mapping out for yourself.
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    Default char/dollie

    although the state doesn't stock dollies, but does stock char, there is no stocking plan for Big Lake, as it receives some natural salmon runs. I still think those are post spawn dollies.
    I'll check the references offered and do some pondering. Thanks for the responses.
    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary View Post
    although the state doesn't stock dollies, but does stock char, there is no stocking plan for Big Lake, as it receives some natural salmon runs. I still think those are post spawn dollies.
    I'll check the references offered and do some pondering. Thanks for the responses.
    Gary
    there are probably dollies and arctic char in big lake but the fish most people catch are Arctic Char, note their giant spots, deeply forked tail and orange color, dollies turn black in the winter not orange/yellow.

    (big lake was stocked with sockeye for a little while, maybe rainbows and char at one point too)
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    For the best and most detailed explanation of the differences and geographic ranges of Dolly Varden and Arctic char, see the book Trout and Salmon of North America, by Robert Behnke.

    This book is a layman's guide and a handsome reference book by one of the preeminent trout biologists in the country. Your local library might have it. It has maps, color prints, etc.

    Short answer, though, is posted above by JediSalmonSlayer.

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JediMasterSalmonSlayer View Post
    My general rule of thumb is there are no arctic char in any river or stream in north, AK they are only present in lakes. Just like the reference supports that you posted on pages 7 and 11. You kinda conterdicted yourself???
    um yeah... I made a mistake. I didn't re-read that publication and obviously didn't remember it correctly in my post above. I'll edit my post so I don't confuse the issue further - thanks for the correction.

    streams/rivers in AK = dollys
    lakes in AK = char/dollys
    got it
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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    hmm... guess I can't edit it anymore. No matter - Jedi set the record straight.

    As for calling them all char - just trying to poke some fun at the fact that the names themselves (Brook trout, Lake trout) can be confusing/misleading. Call 'em what you want.
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    Wait a minute....this whole time I thought I was catching Bull Trout-??!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JediMasterSalmonSlayer View Post


    the last sentence states:
    All known anadromous populations of char in
    northern Alaska are Dolly Varden.
    Sea run dollies don't get that big
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    From ADF&G's Wildlife notebook

    The Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus Linnaeus) is present in North America in both the anadromous (seagoing) and the nonanadromous (freshwater resident) forms. It is distributed throughout the polar regions and is the most northerly distributed of char and its closely related cousin, the Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma Walbaum). It was only in the 1980s that taxonomists established the relationship between these species in North America. This relationship, however, is still under consideration by some scientists.
    There are some external characteristics which can be used to differentiate between Arctic char and Dolly Varden. Arctic char generally have a shorter head and snout, a trait particularly evident in spawning males. The tail of an Arctic char has a slightly deeper fork than that of a Dolly Varden, and the base of the Arctic char's tail is narrower.
    General description: Like all chars, Arctic char have light colored spots on a dark background. They are variable in color depending on environmental conditions within their lake of residence and time of year. The back is dark with a brownish or olive cast. The sides are lighter, fading to a pale belly. The overall color may be brown, yellow, gold, orange, or red. As the char approaches spawning, the spots, belly, and fins take on a bright orange, red, or gold cast, and the lower fins have brilliant white leading edges. The entire body may become golden or orange. Spawning colors are more exaggerated in males than in females.
    " There's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot" - Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary View Post
    although the state doesn't stock dollies, but does stock char, there is no stocking plan for Big Lake, as it receives some natural salmon runs. I still think those are post spawn dollies...
    Gary
    What kinds of fish did they have at the Big Lake Hatchery? Although Big Lake has no current stocking plan, I would think that it must have had one in place for a number of years, prior to the last few. I'll call them dollies from now on when I post my big Lake pictures, if it makes you smile.

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    Member JediMasterSalmonSlayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyo2AK View Post
    As for calling them all char - just trying to poke some fun at the fact that the names themselves (Brook trout, Lake trout) can be confusing/misleading. Call 'em what you want.
    Agreed confusing to say the least...Just like an atlantic salmon is not a salmon it is a trout. Sometimes I call them dinner.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    Sea run dollies don't get that big

    With Salvelinus species....anything is possible....and indeed, those biguns in the Wulik etc. are Dollies and they are searun.

    I realize that the Dollies in Kodiak and southeast are pretty dinky yet numberous, but out west and up north (even the Kenai)...there are some pretty nice sized Dollies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch It View Post
    With Salvelinus species....anything is possible....and indeed, those biguns in the Wulik etc. are Dollies and they are searun.

    I realize that the Dollies in Kodiak and southeast are pretty dinky yet numberous, but out west and up north (even the Kenai)...there are some pretty nice sized Dollies.

    Right, and in talking to the biologists that were working on the Kenai last fall I found out that a number of the Dollies in the Kenai migrate up and down the inlet.
    They told me that they have tracked dollies that run up the Kenai to feed during the summer and fall and winter over in Tustumena Lake.
    Pretty interesting stuff I thought.

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    They did a big radio tagging project on the Kenai several years back, and they found what you mentioned, as well as some that never went to the saltwater....and all within the same watershed.

    I think the reason that nearly all of the ones caught through the ice in lakes are called char is because they are char...Arctic char. Always exceptions, but many of the Dolly populations I know of, overwinter in slow deep holes in the bottoms of rivers and in places like Togiak, Goodnews and Quinhagak...they catch GOBS of DOLLIES right in front of the villages throughout the winter (ice fishin the river) due to these tendencies to overwinter in large groups in this kind of habitat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch It View Post
    With Salvelinus species....anything is possible....and indeed, those biguns in the Wulik etc. are Dollies and they are searun.

    I realize that the Dollies in Kodiak and southeast are pretty dinky yet numberous, but out west and up north (even the Kenai)...there are some pretty nice sized Dollies.

    they don't get that big on the seward penninsula either, and if the did (theres a few that get to 30 but not many) there would be massive populations of 1st and second time spawners (in the 14 inch and 18-20 inch size range) instead of all the fish being in the 20"+ size class which is what you see on the slope and with the sea run char in bristol bay. I think that based on size alone we can say that north slope char are indeed arctic char given that every sea runn dolly population I have ever seen or read about has numerous small fish (10-15" fish) that are spawners whereas every sea run arctic char population I have seen or read about first time spawners are around 20"

    As far as I can tell there have been few studies on char on the north slope and I believe that the incorrect conjecture that arctic char can only spawn in lakes and are only in systems with lakes lead adf&g to call those fish dollies varden, but from all the pictures I have seen and stories I have heard those fish are S arcticus and not S malma

    interestingly enough there is an edemic char in alaska called the Angayukaksurak char which was described basically once and lives at the crest of the brooks range. SOme dude at UAF is currently studying them.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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