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Thread: Stupid Question...Is a Char the same as a Dolly?

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    Member mossyhorn's Avatar
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    Default Stupid Question...Is a Char the same as a Dolly?

    I'm not from Alaska but was curious if an Arctic Char the same as a Dolly Varden? One thing I want to catch up there is a sea run Arctic Char, they look beautiful. Can one be caught on the kenai peninsula?

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mossyhorn View Post
    I'm not from Alaska but was curious if an Arctic Char the same as a Dolly Varden? ?
    No. From my understanding, this was just established in the early 1990's. Different species and for what ever reason, folks love to tell you about the arctic char they caught. Truth is, there are not many arctic char in Alaska. Most the rivers that folks are fishing in do however have good supplies of dolly varden. I think the name just sounds cool, arctic char. But that is BS, most the fish being called arctic char are in fact dollies. Read up on the subject and you will agree. Dolly varden or arctic char? Smart folks that don't have the right info, will call them char (or charr). Inupiat in NW Alaska towns like Nome and Kotz simply call them trout. But the educated folks writing magazines, filming tv shows, savvy traveling fisherman, and the like just can't seem to get it right. What a bunch of tards. If you will fly 4,000+ miles to catch a damm fish, be sure you can verify what the species is.




    I have fished for dollies a good bit. Done three remote floats in NW for them. Great fish and very underestimated in my opinion. Here is a 14 pounder I got on a fly rod....




    Here is my wife with a nice 10 pounder...




    Straight from the expert on 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 (retired) 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.

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    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    well i guess that covers it.......dan your signature cracks me up.....



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    Cracks me up too. Funny thing, Chuck said it in a nice heated fishing discussion with a monkey recently, but I live by that motto as well. Religion, politics, etc.. you choose your poison. I am confused on both subjects. But karma? Can't fight the karma man. The only question is do you have good juju or bad juju
    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.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mossyhorn View Post
    Can one be caught on the kenai peninsula?

    Oh sure. Here is some goober I saw on the side of the river in Sept





    Here is my wife with a little one. Not John, the fish.








    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.

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    Member mossyhorn's Avatar
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    Nice fish! Very interesting, looks like the fish I've seen the most in pics are in fact Dolly's. I found a couple other articles that helped spell out the differences.

    Thanks for the info and the pics, beautiful fish!

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    It is kind of interesting. The 2 species are very dificult to distinguish.
    I could probably post a pic without location on it and it could very easily cause a huge fight over wether it is a dolly or arctic char.

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    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    I've given up trying to tell the difference and just call both "Charlies".

    For simpletons like me, that's an easy way to keep up with them
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Here's a great publication that has info on ranges where each are found, types of waters they inhabit, biological differences, and lots of good color photos.
    http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/Stati...ollyvarden.pdf
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

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    Default Charlies

    Quote Originally Posted by Phish Finder View Post
    I've given up trying to tell the difference and just call both "Charlies".

    For simpletons like me, that's an easy way to keep up with them
    This has been good reading to me but I still do not think I could consistantly tell them apart. So, Charlies it is for me too.
    "Bark,bark,bark,sniff,sniff,bark,and bark" - Lynchs Blue Roan Lynch E.C.K.

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    Default No they are not the same

    Quote Originally Posted by mossyhorn View Post
    I'm not from Alaska but was curious if an Arctic Char the same as a Dolly Varden? One thing I want to catch up there is a sea run Arctic Char, they look beautiful. Can one be caught on the kenai peninsula?

    Dolly are sea run and much larger than char.

    If you want the big Dollies you need to go to NW Alaska out of Kotzebue and fish the Wulik, Kelly, Wrench Creek or the Kug Rivers. My clients routinely catch 15-16 ponders with a few in the 20's. State record is 27-7 (Pounds Oz) on the Wulik. Great fly fishing and go in Aug.

    Walt
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    Member FishGod's Avatar
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    Default Arctic Char

    Quote Originally Posted by northwestalska View Post
    Dolly are sea run and much larger than char.
    Not entirely true. Not all dollies are anadromous or sea run. Many are resident lake dwellers. The largest arctic char in the North West Territories was around 27 pounds. Very few can tell the two apart just by looking externally. Arctic char have larger spots, slimmer caudal peduncle, different number of gill rakers and pyloric caeca. Most arctic char are resident lake dwellers, but populations of anadromous fish do exist.

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    Talking I'm waiting

    for Monkey to tell us the diff - in 2000 words or less.
    Gary

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Usually only takes him 12-16 words
    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.

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    hap
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    I got to spend a day with Fred in October while he laid out the research he has done on char over his career. To call it just mind boggling is to snub his discoveries. Dollies he tagged in NW AK were caught in Russia 60 days and over 1,000 miles later!

    And there was much more...
    art

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    Default Char.

    Not to ad to the confusion, but even though I admit I have a hard time telling Arctic char and dollys apart. I know that both are in the char family so calling them both "CHAR" is correct. Brook trout and lake trout are both char as well.
    "Bark,bark,bark,sniff,sniff,bark,and bark" - Lynchs Blue Roan Lynch E.C.K.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Agreed man. If one can't tell the difference, char is a great choice of word. Admittingly, I like the Inupiat term "trout". Although not correct, it does encapsulate many species and avoids the nit picking
    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.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hap View Post
    I got to spend a day with Fred in October while he laid out the research he has done on char over his career. To call it just mind boggling is to snub his discoveries.
    You said it man, Fred is THE man when it comes to dollies/char/charr/trout/arctic char/etc........

    Been in contact with him for years and he is a scholar and a steward of the land.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary View Post
    for Monkey to tell us the diff - in 2000 words or less.
    Gary
    1 word "probably"



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