The months of autumn begin to see the mature Dolly Varden migrate from their ocean habitat of the early summer to the headwaters of their birth streams.

Dolly Varden are not mature enough to migrate until year four at the earliest.

Some Dolly Varden will not migrate until as late as year seven. The year of migration depends largely on their growth rate.

A good rule of thumb is that those in the northern part of the distribution grow slower than those in the southern part of their distribution and as a result will mature much later.

Dolly Varden that are in the southern end of their distribution in places like Oregon, Washington and other states to the west of the Rockies, spawning starts later at low elevations in September or even later if the water temperature.

Dolly Varden Fall Fishing Tips

Dolly Varden often school with other Salmonades like Coho Salmon, Steelheads and Pacific Salmon. When fishing for Dolly Varden, it is not uncommon to catch salmon as well. They also use the same bait and fishing techniques.

Casting with spinners and spoons is very effective in the clear waters that they travel. They are often found in the middle of the stream. They are not concerned with seeking out cover as they head upstream to find cover.

Dry Flies and Wet Flies

To be successful, cast to the opposite side of the stream so that the lure passes in front of them by about three to five feet. Anyone that has fished for Dolly Varden for years knows that the best approach to fishing for them is using fly gear.

The use of dry flies is perfect for river fishing. Dry flies float and won’t get caught and snag on rocks and other debris because they do not sink.

They also replicate natural movements of insects and other bait much easier in moving water than is done using casting methods.

Wet flies sink below the surface where they land. They take a little more effort, but have the ability to imitate more baits. Some can even look like bait fish like minnows along with aquatic insects.

Dolly Varden River Resting Spots

Dolly Varden like to rest or hold up in deep pools or riffles before jumping up rapids or taking a break from the current. They will often congregate with other Salmonade species.