Other names: Char, Dolly
The namesake for this species was derived from a character in Barnaby Rudge, an 1841 novel by Charles Dickens, who wore brightly colored polka-dot dresses. Dolly Varden in ocean coloration are typically silver with pink spots along their sides and white leading edges on the pectoral, anal, and pelvic fins. These markings intensify as the fish approach spawning readiness. Males also develop hooked jaws tinted orange and a red-orange tint to the fins. Individuals within populations of this species are known to exhibit both sea-run (anadromous) and stream resident life history strategies. Anadromous fish typically rear in fresh water for three to four years, migrating seaward in early spring. They return in late summer/early fall to spawn or rear in lake systems. Dolly Varden typically spawn after their second summer of rearing in the marine environment and can attain lengths of up to 36 inches but are typically 12-20 inches long. Similar to cutthroat and steelhead trout, Dolly Varden spawn in subsequent years (up to two or three times). Because this species has a more ventrally located mouth, it feeds more on benthic or bottom dwelling insects compared with rainbow and cutthroat trout.