Flyfisherman Magazine

Alaskan Salmon Sith

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For the few of us over in Iraq, what did the article say? Where were they talking about when they said "above" the arctic circle? How far above?
 

Gulkana Rafting

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March 2009

March 2009

It hit the news stands Feb 4th and featured the best Char fishing in North America. The article looked atThree Rivers Nunavut, Ungave Quebec and Unit 23 in Northwest Alaska (Kotzebue)

Up here the rivers featured are the Wulik ( home of the state record-27 pounds!) the Kivilina, Kuggurorok and the Kelly/Wrench. Lots of great pics, good contact numbers. Nicely written and lots of tips for the do it yourselfer.

The author was one of my clients last summer and he hammered the Char when he came up in mid August for the spawning runs. His group averaged 15+ fish a day each with most in the 12-15 pound range and the largest was a monster at 23 pounds! We are talking fish boys!

Fishing up here can be done for a lot less than you think and you will have the river all to yourself! I hit the Kelly last summer and in 4 days we only saw 1 airplane that landed for a day trip of Char fishing. No crowds, wide open spaces and lost of great fishing!

If you are interested in finding the best Char fishing spots in the state drop me a line of visit my web site at www.northwestalaska.com

Walt
Northwest Alaska Back Country Rentals
Kotzebue
Your best bet in rafts, canoes and camp rentals!
 
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char?

char?

I have visted the website previously. Great looking fish and it certainly would be fun.

I believe the char in unit 23 are all dolly varden. I used the interactive mapping on the ADF&G website and it does not list any populations of "arctic char" in the unit.

I will be sure to read the arcticle and post a response after I read it over.

I do not disagree "char" are present in unit 23...according to ADF&G they are all dolly varden. I always wanted to go to the Northwest and fish for some of the best "char" that are there.
 

Gulkana Rafting

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Dolly/Char

Dolly/Char

The debate to what is an Arctic Char and what is a Dolly rages and always will. If you refer to the AF&G web site and look at he category listed Dolly Virden/Arctic Char you will see the following



Arctic char/Dolly Varden 10 lb. 27/6 2002 Wulik River Mike Curtiss

The web site is found at http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/Statewide/Trophy/record.cfm

Mike and his monster Char is pictured in the article in Flyfisherman.

You call them Dolly and I and the rest of the fishing world call them Char. I think of Dollys as the small cuz to the larger Char!

Any way come on up and chase the Char, best in the state plain and simple! I have hooked them in the 7-10 pound range many times and landed a few that will challenge the best Silver Salmon in size and with all of the color of the Char! I am still looking for that 20+ pounder and come hell or high water I will be on the Wulik this summer and try again! Stay away from my hole!!

Walt
 

bigcox

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Dolly/Char?

Dolly/Char?

From looking at some of your photos, all I know that those are some really, really big fish. Char or Dolly, well the only evidence I see is that interactive mapping from ADF&G. I don't think they would publish such a mapping system separting Dolly Varden or Arctic Char without some kind of evidence, or research. Walt, does you company take care of the logistics of a trip to any river out of Kotz? Thanks for any info...

Fish On!
 

Gulkana Rafting

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Yes on the trip planning!

Yes on the trip planning!

From looking at some of your photos, all I know that those are some really, really big fish. Char or Dolly, well the only evidence I see is that interactive mapping from ADF&G. I don't think they would publish such a mapping system separting Dolly Varden or Arctic Char without some kind of evidence, or research. Walt, does you company take care of the logistics of a trip to any river out of Kotz? Thanks for any info...

Fish On!


You bet! Trip planning and all the gear that you will need to put together a great trip.

My personal favorite trip is Wrench Creek (part of the Kelly River) and down to the village of Noatak. It can be done in as little as 4 days but is best fished for 5-6. Both Wrench Creek, the Kelly, and the Kug offer excellent Char/Dolly Fishing and can be done with a 1 way charter and float out to Noatak Village with a Bering Air flight back to Kotz. Saves on cost and gives you a fantastic fishing trip. The Wulik is another great river, a little shorter and it will end up in Kivilina Ak.

I work with 2 local flight services who can fly you into some very nice drop spots. The both operated 185 and 206 aircraft and charge between $600-$650 an hour for the plane. A 206 can handle about 900 pounds of people and gear. All 4 rivers mentioned are about 1 hour out of Kotz.

Don’t forget the monster Pike our area also offers. Last summer my son and I hit 15- 36 inch fish in a row and then we started catching the big ones.

Walt
 
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The debate to what is an Arctic Char and what is a Dolly rages and always will. If you refer to the AF&G web site and look at he category listed Dolly Virden/Arctic Char you will see the following



Arctic char/Dolly Varden 10 lb. 27/6 2002 Wulik River Mike Curtiss

The web site is found at http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/Statewide/Trophy/record.cfm

I have seen this before. I agree. The posting leaves much ambiguity for a definitive resolution. Hence, I am sticking to using the interactive mapping to determine where the different species are present.


You call them Dolly and I and the rest of the fishing world call them Char.

splash_verizon_crowd.jpg


Interesting tactic, I remain skeptic. Using the Verizon network as a source? I seriously doubt I am all by myself on this one. I certainly do agree that portions of the "fishing world" hold your same view point, however your gross exaggeration leaves me to discredit your theory. This is a good example of trying to support an argument with out any true substance. After all you previously stated in the begining of your post " The debate to what is an Arctic Char and what is a Dolly rages and always will." :confused: I guess you were refering to me and the rest of the fishing world aka Verizon network?



I think of Dollys as the small cuz to the larger Char!

My wife also thinks size matters, however I do not think she was refering to "arctic char" vs dolly varden?

I think you need to post a source less riddled with ambiguity before I can be convinced the species can be distinquished by sheer size alone. Show me the beef!

Wheres_the_beef_commercial.jpg


Any way come on up and chase the Char, best in the state plain and simple! I have hooked them in the 7-10 pound range many times and landed a few that will challenge the best Silver Salmon in size and with all of the color of the Char! I am still looking for that 20+ pounder and come hell or high water I will be on the Wulik this summer and try again! Stay away from my hole!!

Walt
Sweet, can not wait to catch some big Dolly Varden also know as "Char"
 

bigcox

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I just picked up that issue of Fly Fishermans Magazine, that is a great article about Char. I also noticed a picture of a huge potential world record Arctic Grayling, according the magazine at 5 pounds 1 ounce. Holy Crap! They estimated the fish as being 35 years old. Thats older than me! Crazy Stuff!


Fish On!
 
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Char: Fly Fisherman Magazine

Char: Fly Fisherman Magazine

Read them all.

My opinion has not changed. The articles read more like advertisements. None of them used any scientific sources for species indentification. The Defying Description section was the only portion that attempted to reference a source for specieis identification, and there was no mention of any arctic char in Northern Alaska. P. 43

Great photo of the dolly varden that the Colorado fly fishing guide / author / and all around great guy, Landon Mayer caught on his trip. Sounds like he was very pleased with your rental business and you expert knowledge on area fishing and hunting opportunities.

I did learn if you want to catch Arctic Char one should go to the Tree River in Canada.
 

Gulkana Rafting

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I have seen this before. I agree. The posting leaves much ambiguity for a definitive resolution. Hence, I am sticking to using the interactive mapping to determine where the different species are present.




splash_verizon_crowd.jpg


Interesting tactic, I remain skeptic. Using the Verizon network as a source? I seriously doubt I am all by myself on this one. I certainly do agree that portions of the "fishing world" hold your same view point, however your gross exaggeration leaves me to discredit your theory. This is a good example of trying to support an argument with out any true substance. After all you previously stated in the begining of your post " The debate to what is an Arctic Char and what is a Dolly rages and always will." :confused: I guess you were refering to me and the rest of the fishing world aka Verizon network?





My wife also thinks size matters, however I do not think she was refering to "arctic char" vs dolly varden?

I think you need to post a source less riddled with ambiguity before I can be convinced the species can be distinquished by sheer size alone. Show me the beef!

Wheres_the_beef_commercial.jpg


Sweet, can not wait to catch some big Dolly Varden also know as "Char"

Jedi:

Not trying to pick a Nit picking fight here! Dolly or Char I will need to count gill rakers next summer when I am slaying them. All the same I fully intend to enjoy life and catch some monsters!

Care to join me?
Meet you on the Wulik!

Walt
www.northwestalaska.com
 

adulac

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As a college student who is in the Fisheries Management field, although I think I only went that way because I like to fish, this Dolly vs Arctic Char debate intrigued me a little bit. Knowing that they had separate scientific names Salvelinus alpinus (Arctic) Salvelinus malma (Dolly) I knew there had to be some differences. I did a little digging and found this:

Arctic Char are distinguished by these characteristics: Spots usually large and less numerous; gill rakers on upper limb of first gill arch 7-13, on lower limb 12-19; pyloric caeca 20-74.

Dolly Varden: Spots round, small, and numerous; gill rakers on upper limb of first gill arch 3-9, on lower limb 8-14; pyloric caeca 13-47.

Now I know that no one is going to go count gill rakers; just thought if you were interested it might clear some things up about telling fish species apart in a photo, probably close to impossible. Got this info from a dichotomous key at http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/keys/questions.cfm.
 

Caddis1979

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I was on that trip...

I was on that trip...

Walt's gear was fantastic! Zero compliants, if you get the urge to head that far north.....

Thanks again Walt..I will let you know when Landon and I want to return for some Sheefish!
 

danattherock

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dollies or char...

dollies or char...

Jedi:

Not trying to pick a Nit picking fight here! Dolly or Char I will need to count gill rakers next summer when I am slaying them. All the same I fully intend to enjoy life and catch some monsters!

www.northwestalaska.com


Lets just call them "trout" like most the native folks in NW Alaska call them:)



They are dolly varden, so says Fred Decicco, retired ADFG NW area bio that studied these fish for over 20 years. But then again, dollies are one of several forms of char in Alaska. So, dollies or char are both appropriate terms of course. But like I said, the native term "trout" covers things pretty well also. At least in NW Alaska I should say.




Below is a much more official word...



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.



Below is a pic of my biggest to date, a 14 pounder that fell victim to my fly:)

2882687207_a3d5bb54fa.jpg



Anyone wants to get into some of these in NW Alaska, shoot Walt a pm. Walt can rent you all the gear you need and tell you where/when to go. If you have your own gear and want to take an unguided float trip, shoot me a pm and I will be happy to talk with you as well.





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Finally got it done Walt!

Finally got it done Walt!

Thought it was neat to look back on this post and add a comment 8 years later...

WE DID IT - counted the rakers and can confirm those fish are DV - trophy size Dolly Varden on the Wulik over 10 years in the making @bigcox and I finaly got it done.
 
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