Epic Blog

Dolly Varden Evoke Visceral Connection with Alaska Fishing



There’s more to Dolly Varden than stunning fall colors.

We’ve recently shown the incredible colors of the Dolly Varden. But here, after his 6th trip to SAFARI camp, one angler reflects on a deeper connection with these magical and memorable Alaskan fish.

“My initial allure to fishing in Alaska was salmon, but once I caught my first sea-run Dolly Varden at the Alaska Wilderness SAFARI camp in 1997, my connection with fishing Alaska dramatically changed. The Dollies here teem in streams that bear no pressure from any other anglers. Because there are few other anglers… for hundreds of square miles in any direction.

The Dollies strike with determination at streamers or egg patterns. My favorite is using streamers in fast water and see these large, aggressive trout chase after large, meaty flies. Trout this size are often “snakey” in appearance in the lower 48, but all the Dollies in EPIC’s waters are plump, healthy, and very strong. This contributes to the battles on fly rods that every angler aspires to experience. Rods bent tightly, fish on the reel, and trout thrashing with exuberance.


Guide Jordan and Angler Stef (on his 6th Alaska fishing trip) show off a large and beautifully colored up Dolly.

Plus, they abound in unimaginable numbers, and any angler at EPIC’s camp is going to be overwhelmed with the sheer number of Dolly Varden. It is not uncommon to stay in one run and land a dozen fish before you need to move up 50 yards to the next stretch.

These Dollies have the advantage of endless supply of oxygen in the super cold waters of the remote Alaska Peninsula streams, so they never seem to run out of energy. Even once landed, they are difficult to photograph as they never stop writhing, abundant with zeal and frantic desire to get back into the water.

Where on earth does one experience this?


– Stef, in 2015

Posted in All Posts, Guest Journal, Photo, SAFARI