Dolly Varden are usually olive green to gray above with white undersides. The fish are marked with a pattern of light yellow or pinkish-yellow spots above with small red spots on the lower sides. The adipose fin of Dolly Varden is larger than most char and trout.
Dolly Varden are most often confused with the bull trout, which is similar in appearance. Both species sometimes inhabit the same environments.
Adults average 2 to 5 pounds; trophy fish may reach 10 pounds or more. The flesh of Dolly Varden trout is pink, firm, and full-flavored.
In North America, Dolly Varden range from Alaska to Northern California. Anadromous Dolly Varden tend to remain close to shore near river mouths. The species is also found inland as far as Alberta and Montana.