Searching Through the Margins

September 28, 2018

**Note**  This December 2014 story is revisited here. Enjoy.

I guess I was about ten years old when I started pushing past the boundaries of my parents’ twelve acres of hills and trees. I easily remember the day that I walked into the damp valley and past the tiny runoff stream which I always imagined may hold a few trout — or at least a few minnows. Instead of staying on the near side of the watery divide, I crossed it. I looked back once. Then I started up the hill toward the unknown. In my boyish, drifting thoughts, anything was possible . . . and I’ve been wandering ever since.


I expanded the perimeter of my knowledge that day by simply walking over the hill.  I found a patch of wild blueberries and was amazed by the reward of the sweet fruit I’d gained by walking a little further than ever before.  And so I continued to walk.

But soon the brush was thick. As I struggled and fought to push my ten-year-old body forward, doubt crept in, and for the fist time I considered turning back.

Instead, I made my way toward a clearing. And I remembering the thrill of finding what all explorers seek . . . a path.


Not every path is welcome to the eager adventurer, but after beating through the brush for a while, sometimes the means for speedier navigation is exactly what you’re looking for.

I’m certain that I only traveled a few hundred yards into the unknown on that first day, but it was the beginnings of something I’ve done ever since — I compulsively explore the edges of what I already know.

Today, that vigorous desire to survey new pieces of earth led me into what most fishermen would consider a marginal trout stream, specifically toward a stretch of water that I had fished around but never through. I’d fished below and above but had never put my boots in these pools and riffles.


I parked the truck, rigged up and began my search. I needed to find a way to walk two miles downstream so I could turn around and fish all the way back up, hoping to time it just right and be back at my truck again just after sunset. There are no fishermen’s paths here. It’s marginal water: no special regs or designations, no wires, signs, structured banks or footbridges; there are no boot tracks, gum wrappers, bait containers, empty spools of Stren, and no noise other than a bit of highway chatter mostly masked by the incomparable sound of moving water.

It was a good walk.

It took a full hour, but finally I found myself on the bottom end of new water, filled with the eternal hope of a fisherman. And then, as it usually does, the rest of existence faded away until I was immersed and alive in the intricacies of fishing.




Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

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.

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