Dolly Varden Trout (Salvelinus Malma)

Dolly Varden trout

Last updated on June 23rd, 2022 at 08:21 pm

Dolly Varden trout is one of the most colorful species of trout, which has given them their name; they’re often called the Colorado River rainbow trout or redband trout due to their distinctive bands that run vertically along their body. These fish are native to the northern latitudes, including Alaska, Yukon, and British Columbia, and can be found in lakes and large rivers where there are cold water temperatures and flowing currents.

Wherever you live, you’ve probably encountered Dolly Varden trout fish (Salvelinus malma). Not only are they one of the most popular game fish in North America, but they are also one of the most beautiful. Their coloring and distinctive markings make them easy to identify and make sure they are not confused with any other type of trout.

As with most trout species, these fish can grow to be very large, over 20 pounds in some cases, which gives anglers quite the thrill when they pull up one of these beauties from their fishing holes!

Origin and descriptions

Dolly Varden trout

In Asia and North America, the Dolly Varden trout (Salvelinus malma) inhabits cold-water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean. There are 51 recognized species of char in the genus Salvelinus, including brook trout, lake trout, and bull trout, as well as the Arctic char. The species occurs in both fluvial and lacustrine habitats throughout the range, despite many populations being semi-anadromous. As with many populations of bull trout, Dolly Varden trout and Arctic char overlap, it is considered part of the Salvelinus alpinus or Arctic char complex.

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The name “Dolly Varden” was first used to describe a fish of the species Salvelinus confluentus that was caught early in the nineteenth century in northern California. In his book ‘Inland Fishes of California‘, Peter B. Moyle describes a letter he received from Valerie Masson Gomez on March 24, 1974.

Dolly has olive green and muddy gray on the back and sides, shading to white on the belly. The body is covered with scattered pale yellow or pinkish-yellow spots. The body and fins have no black spots or wavy lines. A few red spots can be found at the bottom of the body. The spots are usually indistinct.

There are a few light spots on the caudal fin rays, but otherwise, the fins are plain and undisturbed. Salvelinus malma is remarkably similar in appearance to both bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) and Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus), to the extent that they are sometimes referred to as “native char” without distinguishing characteristics.

Species profile

Dolly Varden trout

Dolly varden trout belong to the family of salmonids (salmonidae), which includes salmon, char, and trout. They are one of four species native to lakes in Alaska’s Bristol Bay area. Because they live so far north, they have a white belly like an Arctic char, giving them their name.

And like Arctic char, they grow very slowly, taking up to five years to reach maturity and becoming sexually active at just two or three years old. Their slow growth rate is probably related to how cold it is where they live; most fish (like trout and salmon) tend to grow more quickly when it’s warmer outside.

Overall, these kinds of cold-water species use significantly less energy than warm-water fish like bass or bluegill because colder water means there’s less oxygen available—they can spend less time swimming around looking for food without worrying about suffocating! Since that reduces metabolic rates, it also slows down how quickly fish get big.

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Habitat

Dolly Varden trout are native to the freshwaters of British Columbia and can be found in Lake Erroch and Columbia River. Because they are so adaptable, they are now one of America’s most popular freshwater fish. Their habitats include lakes, ponds, reservoirs, mountain streams, rivers, coastlines, and brackish waters.

They prefer well-oxygenated water with a hard bottom for spawning.

Dolly Varden trout size

This species is considered an excellent game fish, reaching up to 28 inches and 10 pounds. They usually live up to 16 years or more and reach sexual maturity at 2 years old when about 11 inches long.

What is the biggest Dolly Varden ever caught?

Dolly Varden trout

The Alaska state record Dolly Varden was caught on June 30, 1998. It weighed in at 27 pounds. This fish was 21 3/4 inches long and had a girth of 17 1/2 inches. It was caught by Mr. Bob Wylie of Palmer, Alaska while fishing in Turnagain Arm near mile marker 22 with green spinners on Jigging Rapalas using salmon eggs as bait.

What is another name for a Dolly Varden trout?

Dolly Varden trout, coho salmon, redband trout, steelhead trout, and silver trout are all names for a species of fish called Salvelinus malma. The dolly varden is an anadromous fish native to Alaska’s western coastline; it spends part of its life in freshwater and part in saltwater. The salmon that migrate upstream are called smolts. They are also referred to as bull trout.

Where can I find Dolly Varden trout?

Dolly Varden trout are typically found in southwest Alaska, from Yakutat to Bristol Bay, and in interior British Columbia. Dolly Vardens prefer cold clear waters. If you’re an avid fly fisherman for salmon or lake trout, chances are you’ve hooked a Dolly in your time. While often called a char, salvelinus malma is not actually a char but one of many species of Pacific salmon that migrate between saltwater and freshwater.

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How can you tell Dolly Varden from bull trout?

The easiest way to tell Dolly Varden from bull trout is by counting anal fin rays. Bull trout have seven anal fin rays and Dolly Varden has eight. It can also be difficult to distinguish between these two species, especially for anglers who may not know much about identifying salmonid species or even see Dolly Varden often.

Are Dolly Varden trout edible?

All members of Salvelinus are edible. Dolly Varden trout from Alaska and eastern Russia seems to be of very high quality. Many people confuse Dolly Varden with rainbow trout, but they are quite different in taste and appearance. They have also been confused with arctic char, which is not an issue if you know what you’re eating.

While Dolly Varden lives in shallow freshwater for most of their lives, these fish spend some time in saltwater before returning to freshwater to breed. This means that like salmon, Dolly Varden is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids which make them prone to spoilage very quickly.

How does Dolly Varden taste?

The taste of a Dolly Varden is what separates it from other trout varieties. Compared to its brown trout cousins, Dolly Vardens are considered more oily and hearty with a less pronounced fishy taste. They’re best prepared simply: pan-fried, broiled, or baked. You can also use them in homemade smoked salmon or kippered herring recipes if you’re feeling adventurous.

Dolly Varden trout is prized by anglers for its excellent taste. The firm-fleshed fish is usually pan-fried or grilled, and it has a sweet flavor that many compare to walleye or mahi-mahi. As with all freshwater fish, it’s best to eat Dolly Varden within 24 hours of catching it, as it can begin to taste fishy after too much time in storage.

What color is Dolly Varden meat?

Dolly Varden trout is known for its pinkish-orange color. With a soft texture and small bones, Dolly Varden makes for excellent table fare. It can be prepared in a variety of ways including baking, broiling, frying, or steaming.

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Where do you fish for Dolly Varden?

Dolly Varden trout

If you like fishing in rivers and lakes, you’ll want to try your hand at catching Dolly Varden trout. These are freshwater varieties of rainbow trout that live in a variety of habitats—and they can be found across Alaska. But where do you go to find them? They’re often caught in some of Alaska’s biggest rivers, including Tazlina River, Katalla River, Copper River, Chitina River, and Kuskokwim River.

How do you fish for Dolly Varden trout?

There are many different ways to fish for dolly varden trout. These fish can be caught on a wide variety of fishing tackle and methods, depending on what kind of water you’re fishing. But there are a few things that will help you catch these beautiful fish no matter where you go patience, stealth, and being able to recognize their behavior patterns.

You’ll need to check in regularly with your local state or provincial agency about regulations or restrictions; Dolly Varden is considered threatened in some areas due to over-fishing by humans.

Are Arctic Char a Dolly Varden?

Arctic char is not a true Dolly Varden and should never be called a dolly or Vardener. A true Dolly is actually Salvelinus malma, commonly referred to as a bull trout.

What is a Dolly Varden cake?

Dolly Varden cakes are a favorite for any child’s birthday party. The cake consists of a vanilla pound cake that has a blue raspberry filling in between two layers of cake. It is frosted with white icing and garnished with sprinkles, small candy hearts, or cookies.  The top layer of cake is cut into heart shapes to make it more appealing to children. This sweet treat will not disappoint you. If you have never had one before, try one at your next special occasion celebration!

If you like confectionary treats as much as I do, then Dolly Varden cakes are exactly what you need to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings!