Ground water sources play a part in the spawning of Dolly Varden. While not required, it is a preferred habitat for them and they will lay their eggs in the general area of the spring.

Understanding the significance of the springs is that they offer warmer water than the surrounding river water.

In many places in the south, springs bring chilled water to rivers and streams, but in the north where the water is just above 32°F/0°C, ground water is often much warmer.

These ground water springs play a role in overwintering, spawning and rearing juvenile Dolly Varden.

Knowing the location of these springs will have you knowing the location of the Dolly Varden as well as other Charr species that require springs for building nests and over wintering.

Winter Fishing Resting Spots

After spawning, Dolly Varden often head downstream from where they spawned, but will not head to the ocean. Most of the time, they just head down stream until they find a good deep pool or riffle in water deep enough for stay them over the winter.

Areas that offer group water springs are of significant interest as they offer warm water and help keep the ice from freezing too far down.

Lake bound Dolly Varden will also spend time close by ground water springs. If no springs are available, they will go deep seeking out warmer water.

Dolly Varden Ice Fishing

Knowing their migration routes is the first step in knowing their winter location.

Good sources for this information include state fish and game, ministry of resources and local governments and chambers of commerce that can direct you to experienced guides that will know this information. After all, it is their job to understand the best fishing spots or they cannot stay in business.

When drilling your first ice hole, head off shore for about 30 yards/27 meters. Outside of spawning, they are found by and over underwater obstructions like sunken lumber, trees, boats and rock mounds.

Ice Fishing Gear

Warm weather clothing is the first essential gear. Make sure your clothing is breathable. Your boots should be capable of at least -40°F/-40°C and water proof and bring along some hot poutches. These are good for extra cold days or when you need immediate heat.

Ice fishing huts offer a great barrier against the elements. For those areas where ice huts are not available, consider the use of canvass huts, which are much like tents.

They may seem flimsy, but blocking the wind can mean all the difference when out on a frozen lake in arctic conditions with no shelter and the winds blowing at -20°C/-3°F or colder.