Spring Camp With Two Boys | 2016

by | May 26, 2016 | 9 comments


My Dad and I have often visited a campsite in the same remote spot atop a state forest mountain for almost fifteen years now. The spring trip is a four or five day event focused on fishing for wild brown trout in the limestone waters at the bottom of the mountain, and through the years we’ve comfortably locked into our own habits and customs.

Traditions often grow and evolve into something else, though. Some things remain the same while other things become altogether better.  In recent years my uncle (my father’s brother) has joined us at camp, and a few years ago I started taking my sons. At first, I brought my oldest son for just an overnight trip when he was three. Last year, I took both boys for an overnight trip, and this year, in submission to the eager requests of my five and seven year old sons, I took them both for three days and two nights to our special campsite on the mountain.


The boys with their grandfather



When we do something once a year, we tend to notice the differences, and it was remarkable to watch two boys find their way through the valleys of ferns and be content in places where they struggled to be comfortable just a year earlier.

These are fishing trips. Sure, we brought baseballs and bicycles, and each of those activities had their moments (throwing pop flies among the limbs and leaving tire tracks in the mud), but foremost in our minds was when we would next be traveling down the mountain for fishing. (That, and how many hot dogs and marshmallows we could roast over the fire.)




I take the boys fishing a lot around here, and they are familiar with the water. They both seem to have a love for all of it built inside them, yet in each, it comes from a different place. Our fishing trips back home are shorter, though, and after a couple hours, we hike back to the comforts of civilization. So I explained to my sons ahead of time that this camping trip would be different, and we would spend twice as long on the river as usual. With young ambition and an underdeveloped sense of time, they agreed and were more than ready for the excitement of these fishing trips.

We saw uncommon wildlife: bald eagles, snakes, turtles, and even a bobcat, and we heard the whippoorwill in the oak trees at dusk. The boys enjoyed it all as we brought only one fly rod and took turns fishing, exploring and relaxing streamside. They both grew up before my eyes on the riverbank.





But it wasn’t always perfect. In fact, it was an exceptional challenge, at times, to overcome the wants, needs and complaints of such young boys in the woods.

I have a few friends who are also fathers and fishermen, and their sons are now grown men who do not fish much. They see my photos of the boys and hear my stories and tell me they wish they’d done things differently — that perhaps they should have taken their sons fishing more even against the protest of small voices. Those words echoed in my head over this camping trip, and I eventually had a thought: if a boy can spend hours in front of a television, content and happy, then there’s no good reason why he can’t find the same happiness on the banks of a trout stream. And if it takes a little time to find that contentment, so be it. We’re not giving up — there’s too much to miss.


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

Canyon Caddis

Canyon Caddis

Some of these caddis were swamped by the current or damaged by their acrobatic and reckless tumbling. And the broken ones didn’t last long. Large slurps from underneath signaled the feeding of the biggest trout, keying in on the opportunity for an easy meal.

Smith and I shared a smile at the sheer number of good chances. Trout often ignore caddis, because the emerging insects spend very little time on the surface, and trout don’t like to chase too often. But with a blanket hatch like this, the odds stack up, and trout were taking notice . . .

Natural vs Attractive Presentations

Natural vs Attractive Presentations

. . . Let’s call it natural if the fly is doing something the trout are used to seeing. If the fly looks like what a trout watches day after day and hour after hour — if the fly is doing something expected — that’s a natural presentation.

By contrast, let’s call it attractive if the fly deviates from the expected norm. Like any other animal in the wild, trout know their environment. They understand what the aquatic insects and the baitfish around them are capable of. They know the habits of mayflies and midges, of caddis, stones, black nosed dace and sculpins. And just as an eagle realizes that a woodland rabbit will never fly, a trout knows that a sculpin cannot hover near the top of the water column with its nose into heavy current . . .

Cicadas, Sawyer and the Clinic

Cicadas, Sawyer and the Clinic

Just as the Cicada settled again, with its deer hair wing coming to rest and its rubber legs still quivering, the pool boss came to finish what he started. His big head engulfed the fly, and my patience finally released into a sharp hookset on 3X. The stout hook buried itself against the weight of a big trout . . .

You Need Contact

You Need Contact

Success in fly fishing really comes down to one or two things. It’s a few key principles repeated over and over, across styles, across water types and across continents. The same stuff catches trout everywhere. And one of those things . . . is contact.

. . . No matter what adaptations are made to the rig at hand, the game is about being in touch with the fly. And in some rivers, contact continues by touching the bottom with something, whether that be a fly or a split shot. Without contact, none of this works. Contact is the tangible component between success and failure.

Find Your Rabbit Hole

Find Your Rabbit Hole

Understanding the ideas of other anglers through the decades is how I learn. It’s how we all learn. The names change, but the process remains. We build a framework from others. Then we fit together the pieces of who we are as an angler . . .

One Last Change

One Last Change

Every angler goes fishing to get away from things — and most times that means getting away from people too. So whether they be friends or strangers on the water, going around the bend and walking off gives you back what you were probably looking for in the first place . . .

What do you think?

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


  1. Awesome pics. I’m doing this with my kids in the fall.

  2. Of all the post I’ve read this past month, this one is my favorite. I can relate, my grandson loves to got fishing with his Pops, whenever he and is brother and sister come to visit. His younger brother and sister are still too small to make a trip, but Bryson will soon be seven and loves landing bluegill and catfish. He hasn’t made a trip on our local tailrace yet to fish for rainbow, but that will be in the making hopefully this year when his Dad will make that trip with us. Great post, thanks for sharing

  3. The best memories I have are the ones when I went on fishing and camping trips as a child. I wouldn’t trade those memories for any amount of money. Great post Domenick.

  4. Domenick, love your articles and tips, I was just wondering where do you get your kids rods and outfits? I can not find anything for my son.

    • Hi Matt, and thanks.

      I just have my boys use my rods. I did buy a short 4 weight for them, but they actually fish better with more length in a rod. We usually nymph. I also bought an 11′ Tenkara rod for them for even more length. They both handle it well, but I find the Tenkara setup to be neither simple, convenient or efficient. The lack of ability to quickly adjust for length without a reel is tough for kids because they can’t always wade into the proper position. There are other shortcomings with that Tenkara setup too. … Anyway, because we are nymphing, they do best with long, light rods. Email me if you’d like to get more specific about it. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned.

  5. This is what it’s really all about. Well done, sir. I hope to do the same in the years ahead.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

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.

Pin It on Pinterest