by | Jan 5, 2015 | 0 comments

Good thing we don’t just go fishing to catch fish, because there wasn’t a whole lot of that going on yesterday.

Burke and I teamed up for a Sunday float, and we tried to make the Steelers’ playoff loss quickly drift away into a fading memory by rowing through some cold water and quiet forest.


Rule number one for a good float — Get an early start.  Done.  But it was about an hour later than planned because I had to turn around and go back for the grill I’d forgotten.  That’s part of the next rule …

Rule number two — bring a grill. This proved to be the most important element of the day, as lunch gave us a look-forward-to throughout the slow morning of fishing, and it changed our spirits for the afternoon.

Here is an important secondary rule concerning stream-side grilling: NO frills.  This isn’t mom’s kitchen table; it’s a river. “Do you have any plates?” No, use your hands. “Excuse, me. Do you have a fork?” No, use your hands. “Hey, do you have grill tongs for…”  No, use your hands!  Better yet, use your fishing forceps; just rinse ’em in the creek afterward. “And, did you bring mustard?” Hell NO, we didn’t bring the mustard. Meat and bread. That’s Troutbitten. With that said, there’s no reason why you can’t get fancy with the meat. Pat brought brats and ribs again. Damn good lunch.


So, the food (and legal adult beverages) picked us up a bit; and as it started to rain, we got back in the boat with renewed vigor and optimism.  Burke even found himself a fish and finally removed his skunk.

Pat Burke — it just took you half a day to finally hook up, but hey — good fish, buddy.  Truth is, I’d already piled up my huge fish count to 3 or 4, and I was feeling a little sorry for Pat;  so I rowed him into a spot that even he couldn’t screw up. Blind squirrels, nuts and all that.

There really is nothing finer than floating a river with a friend. We only stopped once to get out and wade fish an island because sunlight is scarce these days, and we prefer to be at the take-out before dark.


One final rule for a good float — leave with a lasting memory. We fish a lot, and the single events of anything that you do repeatedly can smear together into a blurry collage if you don’t find at least one good moment and make it stick. Here’s the image of the day …


I hooked a tree limb on an otherwise perfect casting day (-right-). And like any skilled oarsman, Burke rowed me into position to retrieve my fly from the branches. I got my fly back, but as we drifted away, I felt something lift the hat from my head. What the . . . ?  Look closely, and you’ll see that some other bastard wasn’t lucky enough to retrieve his streamer. Hmmph, and I thought we were the only ones who ever fished this river . . .

Memory made.

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Lost Fishing Friends

Lost Fishing Friends

The lost friendship transforms a river bend — the one with the ancient and hollowed-out sycamore — into an active tombstone. The towering tree with the undercut bank becomes a place to remember shared moments of casting into cool waters, where the ghosts of laughter and fond companionship persists.

Seven Days

Seven Days

For those who fish daily, the routine resonates. We are part of the pattern, not mere observers of the design.

We have time to learn and grow, to breathe deep and sigh with satisfaction. We’ve the time to stand tall, to rise from the constant crouch and the intensity of a fisherman, to take in the surroundings, not once, but regularly. It’s the ferns, the sun and the rain, the trout in the water and the birds on the wind. It’s everything . . .

What water type? Where are they eating?

What water type? Where are they eating?

Fast, heavy, deep runs have always been my favorite water type to fish. I can spend a full day in the big stuff. I love the mind-clearing washout of whitewater. No average sounds penetrate it. And the never ending roar of a chunky run is mesmerizing. I also enjoy the wading challenge. The heaviest water requires not just effort, but a constant focus and a planned path to keep you upright and on two feet. Constant adjustment is needed to stay balanced, and one slip or misstep ends up in a thorough dunking. It reminds me of the scaffold work I did on construction crews in my twenties. I always enjoyed being a few stories up, because the workday flew by. When every movement means life or death, you’d better stay focused. I always liked that . . .

The Twenty Dollar Cast

The Twenty Dollar Cast

“Okay, Dad,” Joey bellowed over the whitewater. “Here’s the twenty dollar cast . . .”

His casting loop unfolded and kicked the nymph over with precision. And when the fly tucked into the darkest side of the limestone chunk, Joey kept the rod tip up, holding all extra line off the water. It was a gorgeous drift. And the air thickened with anticipation.

We watched together in silence as Joey milked that drift until the very end. And I think we were both a little surprised when nothing interrupted the long, deep ride of over thirty feet.

“Not this time, buddy,” I told him.

Joey flicked his wrist and repeated the same cast to the dark side of the rock. And because the world is a wonderful place, a no-doubter clobbered the stonefly nymph . . .

Nobody Home | Nobody Hungry

Nobody Home | Nobody Hungry

Nobody home means there’s no trout in the slot you were fishing. And sometimes that’s true. Nobody hungry suggests that a trout might be in the slot but he either isn’t eating, isn’t buying what you’re selling, or he doesn’t like the way you are selling it.

Does it matter? It sure does!

New Structure | Old Structure

New Structure | Old Structure

One of my favorite places in the world is a deeply shaded valley that runs north and south between two towering mountains of mixed hardwoods. The forest floor has enough conifers mixed in to block much of the sunlight, even in the winter. The ferns of spring grow tall, and thick moss is spread throughout. The ground remains soft enough here that all large trees eventually surrender to the valley. When they can no longer support their weight in the soft spongy ground, they fall over, leaving a broken forest of deep greens and the dark-chocolate browns of wet, dead bark. It’s gorgeous.

Fallen timber also dictates the course of this cold water stream. The fresh tree falls force the creek to bend away from the hillside. Rolling water carves away the earth and lays bare the rocks — these stones of time, as Maclean puts it. And when water cuts into a neighboring channel, previously dry for centuries, new river banks are undercut and fresh roots exposed . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Articles

Pin It on Pinterest