The normal habitat for the Dolly Varden is not a lake habitat, but a river habitat that leads to the ocean and the ocean itself.

There are some lakes where the river has been blocked from returning to the sea where they live their entire life in a lake habitat.

However, in most lakes where they can be found, locked away from the ocean, they have been placed there by stocking programs. This includes reservoirs.

Lake Fishing for Sea Run Dolly Varden

Sea run Dolly Varden are desired because they are bigger and offer a better fight than lake run Dolly Varden. To lake fish for sea run Dolly Varden, the only window is between late August through to November.

August sees the Dolly Varden in their best shape after having feasted and grown from spring through summer.

Dolly Varden casting Tips

Lake fishing is best accomplished by casting from a boat or the shoreline. Trolling is a good techniques too, but the quiet offered by not having an engine on seems to fit in better with the northern locales where the Dolly Varden is found.

When I was a kid, I thought you could just cast your line over the fish and they would jump at it like ducks would bread. However, casting too close is just as bad as casting too far away.

Cast your line so that the bait will come within three feet, or one metre of where the Dolly Varden is located.

Lake Fishing Tips

If the water is too deep to find them, use a dual beam sonar to locate them. Some anglers consider this cheating, while others like us see it as a way of getting you to the action quicker.

It is still possible to catch Dolly Varden without a sonar but it takes a little knowledge of their preferred habitats and knowledge of the water temperature. They prefer 55F degrees and will go deep when the surface goes above this temperature range.

Look for areas of the lake that have gravel or smooth rocky bottoms. They can also be found near rock piles. When they are spawning, they do not care about cover as much, but outside of this time, which occurs in the fall, they will seek shelter by rock piles, over hangs and sunken debris like many other fish.