Dolly Varden

Dolly Varden

Name Origin

The name "Dolly Varden" comes from a character in Charles Dickens' novel Barnaby Rudge, so named due to the Dolly Varden's unique coloration that is reminiscent of the book character's vibrant attire.


The Dolly Varden trout looks very similar to the bull trout, so much so that they are often confused with one another, especially since their ranges overlap. The major differences are that the Dolly Varden has a more rounded shape and less prominent hooked lip. Dolly Varden are typically olive green, with the back being darker than the sides. Small, pale yellow spots cover the back while reddish-orange spots are spread out over the sides. During spawning season, a male's underbelly gets right orange and the spots become brighter. Ocean-going Dolly Varden do not achieve the same spectacular colors and are often more silvery.

Maximum Size

Dolly Varden can reach weights over 20 pounds (9 kg).

Geographic Range

Native to the Pacific Northwest, from Washington north to Alaska across the Bering Sea and in pockets in Siberia and northeast Asia. Inland Dolly Varden can be found as well in Idaho and Montana.


Dolly Varden thrive in deep lakes, reservoirs, and rivers with abundant cover.


Small fish, invertebrates, and fish eggs.


Spawning takes place in late summer-late fall.

Information credit: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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