First I will start with some clarification. These two species are very closely related. In fact, to know the difference you actually have to do a dissection and look at variations in the digestive tract. That being said, guides generally know whether the population you’re fishing for has Dollies or Char. Both species, along with Lake Trout, Bull Trout and Brook Trout are members of the Char family. This has to do with the presence of vomerine teeth on the upper palate, something not present in the trout family. OK. Now that we’ve got the science out of the way, how can you target them?

Certainly we can start with the Upper River Drift and Kenai River Full day trips. You’ll be catching them right along with those Rainbows, and the fish in the Kenai system are Dolly Varden. All of the caveats discussed in the rainbow trout fishing hold true for the dollies. The best fishing is right when the season opens June 11 for the first couple of weeks and then again in September. The trips are valuable and worth taking the rest of the season, but the action may not be as fast due to over supply of food in the system. The large Fall Dollies are a sight to behold.

We have various fisheries on the Ultimate Expedition that can target one or the other, and it’s not uncommon, because of the multi stop venue, to catch both on the same day. We target some sea run Dolly Varden, that return in incredible numbers where the fishing can just be insane in terms of volume. The fish arrive at the Bay of Pigs with the Sockeye Salmon in mid June. They are there to stay for the season. Catch these fish in September, when they overlap with the Silvers at the Bay of Pigs, and you’ll get some real beauties in spawning colors. If we elect to cross the other mountain range and head to Lake Clark National Park, we will strictly be fishing for Char. We have numerous fisheries in the park that are reliable for high volume smaller fish, and in late July and early August we’ve got a gem of a place where we catch fish regularly from 3 to 6 pounds with an occasional behemoth pushing double digits.

Another great resource for experiencing some of the hottest Dolly Varden action anywhere is the Crescent West Fly in late July to the end of September. And I just have to tell you, the Crescent West Fly In is probably my favorite venue for close-up viewing and photography of Brown Bears. When the Dolly Varden are in, the fishing with fly rods and light spinners can provide nonstop action. And there are some big fish in this system as well.

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