Reader's Casts
May 11th, 1998
The Dolly Varden Story

by Patrick C. Welch

I went to the Kenai River (Alaska) to fish the second run of red salmon one bright and sunny July morning. I was as excited as the lead dog on a dog sled team as I stood in line waiting for the ferry to take me across the river.

Once on the other side, I rigged up a new medium weight rod that I planned to use for silver salmon. I slipped a three-way swivel on the new monofilament line and attached a half-ounce sinker to one of the connections. Then about twenty inches of leader to the other connection. A red and white streamer fly completed the outfit and I was ready to fish.

It wasn't long before I had a couple of red salmon on the beach. As the sun came over the trees I felt my shoulders warm up according. My spirits rose like a loaf of bread in the oven. I cast upstream and felt the sinker 'ticking' along the bottom, sending messages like telegraph.

Suddenly I felt a strike that was altogether different than a red salmon. This fish shot up out of the water and headed upstream like a Cruise Missile. I finally regained control of the situation and turned the fish downstream. A few more minutes of battle and the fish tired. I gently brought it up on the beach.

When I saw the beautiful markings, I realized I had captured one of the nicest Dolly Vardens I had ever seen. I quickly put the fish out of its misery and took a couple of pictures before I headed upstream to the ferry crossing carrying my reds and the Dolly Varden.

Dolly Varden
I felt very happy as I trekked up river to the ferry. As I stepped onto the deck on the ferry, one of the other passengers commented, "That's a really nice Dolly Varden you have there." Thanking him for the compliment, I told him it was one of the most beautiful fish I had ever caught.

Patrick C. Welch

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