Summertime Angling: Hello Dolly!

Summertime Angling: Hello Dolly!
Summertime Angling Adventure: Hello Dolly!

"Watch this."

With those innocuous words, the bush pilot manning the controls of the float plane over the wilds of British Columbia, nodded toward the earth far below.

But there was suddenly very little of that earth below us, at least as far as solid ground was concerned.

The sudden absence of terra firma came quickly after our flight up and through a gap in the craggy mountains around Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. What was one moment a solid ridge-top filled with evergreens reaching skyward, suddenly plunged into a yawning chasm more than 2,000 feet deep.Nearly a half-mile below, a tiny ribbon of blue flowed, giving at least some cursory evidence as to the reason for our flight into the Canadian high country.


"Boy, did the Creator have fun here," I thought.


When Ian dipped the controls and banked the de Havilland Beaver down and to the left on the ultimate roller coaster ride, I leaned forward, straining to catch the first glimpse of our alpine destination.

As the plane turned and began losing altitude, the turquoise waters of a glacier-fed mountain lake came into view -- a deep and foreboding body of water surrounded by jagged peaks, but one also filled with cruising coastal cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden.

Minutes later, as Ian trimmed the craft's air speed down for landing, I felt the quick tug of resistance as the plane's pontoons reached for and finally discovered the water's surface in a swoosh of white spray.

The engine was cut and our outback taxi glided to a stop near the shoreline, gently rocking in the stony, shallow water. One by one, our band of anglers stepped onto the plane's pontoons, grabbing rod tubes, vests and backpacks before taking a wader-clad step. That step would begin our adventure among glaciated peaks that utterly defined the word spectacular. Having finally ventured far from my Texas roots to seek large, wild cold-water fish on the fly, the Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma) was perhaps the most unfamiliar element of the Canadian bush ... that and the nightly serenades of loons.


Before all was said and done, I hoped for a proper introduction.

Named after a colorful character in the 1841 Charles Dickens' novel "Barnaby Rudge," North America's Dollies -- chars closely related to bull trout and Arctic char -- are found around the rim of Alaska and down the spine of coastal British Columbia to Puget Sound.

On this glorious summer day, Dollies would be found -- we hoped -- cruising for an easy meal or two around miniature gravel deltas where the creeks dumped their icy discharge into this mountainous sea.


As I rigged up my fly rod, our guide, Matt Sharpe, a immensely talented twenty-something guide from Vancouver, began putting anglers on the various rocky ledges that jutted out into the lake.

He reached into his bag of tricks and handed out flies along with last-minute instructions as the Beaver plane's engine roar faded in the distance.

Finally, the rod was rigged and it was my turn.

"Lynn, if you don't mind, I'm going to put you over here on this last stream coming into the lake," said Sharpe.

"I want you to cast this sink tip out as far as you can -- watch the trees behind you -- and let the fly sink before stripping it in with quick, short bursts. If you feel a take, let 'em have it." "No problem," I muttered, peering through my polarized shades into the milky tinted but otherwise clear water that sloped off steeply into an azure abyss, wondering if we were on the British Columbia version of a snipe hunt.

I began casting, trying in vain to decipher the physics and geometry of tossing a sizable subsurface fly on a 5-weight graphite fly rod with tall evergreens reaching out to try and disrupt each cast.

On one of my first half-dozen casts of the morning, I felt a sudden resistance at the end of my fly line.

"Set the hook," my mind screamed as it tried to send the right synapses to my rod hand.

A millisecond later, the struggle was on.

"Hey, Lynn, is it a big fish?" Sharpe queried from down the way.

"Can't really tell," I answered back as I saw the first brief underwater flash of the hooked Dolly some distance away.

But as the watery game of tug-of-war waged, it soon became apparent that something out of the ordinary was at the end of my tippet.

For every yard of fly line I would gain, my aquatic adversary would strip out at least two. At times the fish would gain a burst of energy and make a strong run into the deep that caused my fly reel's drag to sing with that big-fish whine, truly one of the best sounds in all of the outdoors world.

Slowly, however, the battle began to turn as my unseen challenger began to tire, allowing me to finally make some headway in retrieving the fly line.

As the fish approached, Sharpe peered into the depths for its shadowy form.

Suddenly, he turned around and looked at me with saucer-sized eyes and whispered, "Oh, my gosh!"

A few moments later, after the 29 ½-inch, eight-pound fish had finally been landed, I too was muttering as we admired my first -- and only -- fish of the day.

"Hello, Dolly," I mused. "How very nice to meet you."

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

In the booth of one of fishing's all-time great reel makers, Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead and Andrew Wheeler of Pure Fishing discuss one of the brand new baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia being released at ICAST 2019.

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

As Mustad continues to expand into an all-around tackle company, Reid McKinstry shows off some innovative features that make the Mustad Skatter Shad bladed jig a winner in big bass waters.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix them. Fishing How-To

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time. Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes. Wild Game

10 Recipes for Your Backyard Get Together

Game & Fish Online Staff

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip. Other Freshwater

240 Pounds! Massive Alligator Gar Taken on Father's Day

Lynn Burkhead - June 22, 2020

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip.

Various companies show appreciation to frontline defense – healthcare professionals – against the pandemic with special giveaway. News

Outdoors Industry Honoring Healthcare Heroes: COVID-19

April 27, 2020

Various companies show appreciation to frontline defense – healthcare professionals – against...

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths. Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths. Fishing

Chase a Mixed-Bag Bite at Lake Oconee

Larry Larsen - April 28, 2020

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now