This is the End

by | Jul 15, 2015 | 9 comments

The fisher awoke before dawn. He put his boots on.

He took the rod from a gallery of graphite and cork and walked down the forest hall.

He moved through thick, hazy darkness — miles toward the island, with no sound but the crunch, crunch, and rustle. Footfalls on sandy dirt, on roots and rotting leaves. The log. The water. The red halos around orange spots as big as nickels, randomly speckled and enhanced by the minor refraction of cool water sliding and dripping across the broad sides of wild magnificence, the size of which as rare as any to be called legendary.

Blue was the first color to appear. Then the greens showed themselves, and the trees came into focus as the sun lent the sky its own red and orange from below the horizon.

This was the end. The end of elaborate plans, of feathers and furs piled inches deep in the recesses of some ancient wooden desk. The end of minutes and hours, of weeks and years laboring over blue meandering lines bordered by mint green contours indicating the depth of the divide between mountaintops, and perhaps the gradient and the ferocity of charging water passing through a bouldered valley. The end of fishermen’s stories.

He slid into the tailout, just off the bottom tip of the island. Quickly up to his waist, he skillfully braced against a current of murky water more than thrice the common flows for a midsummer morning . . . and then he cast.

The line sliced through thin air and thicker water, carried in large arcs by a heavyweight creation so carefully crafted that the pulsing plumes and flowing feathers, working in natural harmony with the water’s current, could create life itself.

And how could it not be alive? This fly of so many particular hours spent refining, dreaming and modifying, that it carries a piece of its creator’s soul. These moments of inspiration, imagination, belief and then conclusion. The decisive and confident hope that this one will swim with perfect, enticing realism . . . and perhaps . . . come to life.

With the eternal hope of a fisherman, he teased the living fly near the bottom, and then parallel with the fallen and submerged tree — surely this was the preeminent home of the watery beast in the stories that had brought him here.

On the third cast the fly swung and fluttered at the end of the drift and gracefully glided to the surface as if exhausted from its trip downstream — spent prey struggling to maintain equilibrium.

. . . And here comes the freight train . . .

It hit hard. A confident, decisive, straight-line, hungry charge forward and upward, deftly capturing all the life, moments and hopes conceived in a fly, and then horseshoe curving back toward the unseen depths of its address.

The fisherman saw the ambushing train charge and capture its prey. And with the patience of a hunter, he waited to feel the line tighten. (There is so much life in half a second.) As the spotted brown engine rounded the horseshoe, the fisherman set the hook.

The sharply crafted metal point found its firm hold in a bony jaw. And then . . . the line . . . broke.

Silence in the valley when the echoes of exasperation finished the chorus.

The fisherman’s hands were wet and shaking as he doubled over, kneeling in the surface fog of the water from the heavy punch in his gut.

Time passed, and then he arose.


This is the end, beautiful friend.
This is the end, my only friend. The end.
It hurts to set you free, but you’ll never follow me.
This is the end.

— Lyric from “The End”  by The Doors. Copyright © 1967 by Doors Music Company


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky



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.


  1. Inspiring. Thank you.

    • Thanks for reading.

  2. Talk about a clash of mindsets…

  3. Now you did it Dom! Now I’m goin fishin 2 days in a row. Lol

    • Nice. Let me know how it goes.

  4. Know that feeling well…along with the “long distance releases”. But, hey, just fuel for the fire for another day. 🙂

  5. Well, Dom, you are either baiting those of us 66-72 year olds who grew up with the Doors, or you are truly advancing an intellectual view of what makes life fulfilling by eliminating all that current events noise and offering what is good and proper to pursue for those of us who love to fish.

    • I do love to fish. Always loved the Doors.

  6. Can’t listen to this without mentally seeing Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now…. “What happened to your hand, Captain? Fishing accident on R&R, Sir…”


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Articles

Pin It on Pinterest