Winter Cookout

by | Jan 20, 2015 | 0 comments

Last Sunday Sloop John B set up the annual Troutbitten winter cookout. I think most of us prefer to fish with a little space around us, so I’ve never been one to get excited about fishing with a load of people, but at this location, there are so many different directions to go and so many nice pieces of water that it is easy to spread out and find a little room, and that’s what we all did. We basically broke up into pairs, fished the morning, then met up for lunch and drank a few legal beverages; then we split up and went fishing again. It was great to see some old friends and meet some new guys that are clearly Troutbitten. Gotta love it.


Dad and I started the morning by backtracking up the road a bit; I crossed the creek and we fished opposite sides of the water for a while. If the river is big enough, this is one of my favorite ways to fish with a friend. The fishing was pretty good for most of the morning on real small stuff like Zebra Midges and WD40s.  It didn’t seem to matter which small pattern I put on, they would usually take it over whatever fly I was trailing it behind. Action was good, but not quite good enough to be one of those days where you just stick with what you’ve got; and I’m a restless soul, so I’m always looking for the pattern that may be lights-out on a given day.

It was awesome to fish with my Dad again because ….. well, he’s my favorite fishing buddy. We have a lot of river-memories together. Dad also kindly loaned me his Simms G3 waders because I’ve been getting wet while wearing my backup pair of the original Simms guide waders from about 1999.  They have more than a few patches, and if I’m in the creek for more than a couple hours, the incoming water eventually soaks through all the layers of wool and synthetics and I get wet. My “good” waders are in the middle of a return process, so I wore Dad’s extra G3’s while he wore his G4’s.  Yes, he has both. When I grow up I want to be just like my Dad.



The action right after lunchtime wasn’t as good for me, but I enjoy the kind of fishing where you really have to work to pick up a fish, and that’s what it was. If I hit a good spot hard, changing tactics and/or flies , moving to change the angle of the drift, or leading a little quicker and giving the nymphs some motion, I could usually pick up a fish. It was the kind of afternoon that felt like if you tried hard enough, you could almost make something happen. That’s fun fishing.


I was probably too stubborn about sticking with the small stuff that had been working in the morning, and by mid afternoon, I seemed to figure out that I could do better with larger patterns, and I started moving fish more consistently on  size 14’s hung from a tag dropper about 18 inches above the point. The trout never did turn on to egg patterns, but with about an hour and a half of daylight left I changed out the point to a large stonefly and things turned on. It’s hard to say that it was just the pattern (thought it certainly could have been) because with the daylight fading I also started moving quickly upstream, cherry-picking the prime spots, and about a half hour before dark I arrived at a great little run just above the parking lot and things got silly.

I’ve had good luck on this creek many times right before dark in the wintertime, and in this very same spot, I have a memory of laughter echoing off the steep canyon walls as Pat and I hooked a fish on just about every other cast one winter evening at last light. The action wasn’t quite that good, but it was fun. Everything took the stonefly.

Pat’s picture here is uncharacteristically out of focus, but he is making me post it because it was the fish of the day.


It was an enjoyable day on the water, and thanks to everyone who stopped by and fished with us. Joe King, Sloop JohnB, and Matt Vance and his crew. We’ll do it again sometime.

At lunchtime a guy pulled into the small parking area and was surprised to see so many people and vehicles on a winter day. “Are you guys part of of an organized group or something,” he asked.

Well, no sir.  This is Troutbitten.


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

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 . . .

Light Dry Dropper in the Flow

Light Dry Dropper in the Flow

. . .The flow of the fly line through the air is finesse and freedom. Contrasted with nymphing, streamer fishing, or any other method that adds weight to the system, casting the weightless dry fly with a fly line is poetry.

The cast is unaffected because the small soft hackle on a twelve-inch tether simply isn’t heavy enough to steal any provided slack from the dry. It’s an elegant addition that keeps the art of dry fly fishing intact . . .

We Wade

We Wade

We wade for contemplation, for strength and exhaustion, for the challenge and the risk. We wade for opportunity . . .

Eat a Trout Once in a While

Eat a Trout Once in a While

I stood next to him on the bank, and I watched my uncle kneel in the cold riffle. Water nearly crested the tops of his hip waders while he adjusted and settled next to the flat sandstone rock that lay between us. He pulled out the Case pocket knife again, as he’d done every other time that I’d watched this fascinating process as a young boy.

“Hand me the biggest one,” my uncle said, with his arm outstretched and his palm up.

So I looked deep into my thick canvas creel for the first trout I’d caught that morning. Five trout lay in the damp creel. I’d rapped each of them on the skull after beaching them on the bank, right between the eyes, just as I’d been taught — putting a clean end to a trout’s life. I handed the rainbow trout to my uncle and smiled with enthusiasm . . .

Eggs and Olives

Eggs and Olives

The early spring season is very much defined by the resurgence of the egg pattern. And by the time the suckers are done doing their thing, our hatch season is in full swing. Then, just like that, the egg bite turns off. Suddenly the trout favor mayfly and caddis imitations over the full-color egg options.

But as reliable as the egg bite can be in early spring, you don’t want to sleep on the Olives . . .

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

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest