A bad rap

Dolly Varden have a bad rap. They don’t get huge (back home on Prince of Wales 20-inchers are common) and are largely an after-thought. They don’t have the vibrant colors of a rainbow or cutthroat trout and taste good only when cooked stream-side. The biggest indictment of the Dolly was their purpose in relation to their potential impact. A June 1936 issue of what is now Alaska Magazine reported people making $2000 on a 2.5 cent-per-tail Dolly bounty. The bounty was to reduce the predatory fish to help boost sockeye salmon numbers. Of course lost on those that were making decisions back then was the fact that the Dolly Varden is not some farmed, or scientifically produced fish. If Dolly Varden had not eradicated red salmon by the time humans started thinking about it, it probably wasn’t going to happen.
A fresh Dolly has faint spots that get more pronounced as spawning nears. One of the things I like most about a Dolly is its proportion. It always looks like a fish. Soggy stocked trout that gorge on pellets or live in concrete raceways that sand down their tails, fight like depressed fish with no will to live. I don’t like obese fish. I like thick, muscular fish that look like they work out, not spend their lives in slow water eating fast food and watching the Kardashians.
My buddy Daniel has been getting into Dolly Varden from his place in Sitka. He’s jealous of my browns and rainbows, I’m a little jealous of his Dollies. It could be the nostalgic pull of catching a fish on my home water, but either way a trash fish makes no one jealous.
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