A Christmas Story, and a Troutbitten Thank You

by | Dec 23, 2018 | 56 comments

Growing up, my wish was not for a Red Ryder BB Gun (Ralphie). It was for a flowing trout stream in my backyard. I wanted more trout at the end of my line, but it was more than that too.

With limited trout fishing opportunities in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, I’m not quite sure how I attached myself so deliberately to trout fishing. It was a springtime thing for us, mostly. But oh my, the places we would visit. We traveled swiftly through the predawn frost over unlined two lane roads, with the steamy scent of Dad’s hot tea filling the warmth of the old Buick. We camped within earshot of the riffles, along small streams in Pennsylvania’s northern tier. And every time we arrived, it felt like someone plugged me back in, like a piece of me was rightfully back in place.

I needed to fish. And like anything that you might love too, I wished for more of it.

Long ago, after my first attempt at college, I realized that my own path would be different than most. The things that made others content didn’t do it for me. And it took me some extra time — well into my mid-twenties — to sort out my values, to find a place and a purpose in life. After roaming around for a while, I knew I would no longer move somewhere for a job, but I would first choose a place that I loved and then build a life around it. I did the same when I returned to college, studying English and philosophy (readin’ and thinkin’ hard). And within a few months of meeting the captivating girl whom I shared a desk with during Advanced Literary Theory, my path toward being a husband and father became clear. We married and moved to central Pennsylvania after graduation. These were natural decisions.

Joey at seven years old

My mother will tell you that I’ve always done whatever I wanted, and that I insisted on doing things my own way. And that sort of independence led me here — into Troutbitten. I started the blog in 2014 with no intentions but to share some stories and have a creative outlet for writing. Now it’s all of this. And I’m pretty happy about that. I’ve chosen the model of self-publishing, because these days having full ownership of your own creative work is an effective strategy if you’re dedicated to it and willing to dig into the technology side of things — if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and wearing a dozen hats. I don’t mind.

Now I finally have that trout stream in my backyard. (It’s arguably the best one in the state.) I have the family that I dreamed of. And I have this Troutbitten business.

Thank You

Thank you for that. Troutbitten succeeds because you take the time to read these words, because you return for the next article, because you contribute all the comments and encouraging thoughts across every media channel and in my inbox. Your growing presence not only lends me the inspiration to keep writing but has also attracted advertisers and industry partners to Troutbitten, allowing me to step into a new career as a business owner — as the Troutbitten guy. It’s a media company now. And it’s a fly fishing guide service.

New friends

I started guiding a year ago, because you asked me to. I figured I’d guide a couple of trips a month at first. But a few days ago I wrapped up my sixty-second trip for the year. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, but the quality of clients that have come from all over the country and beyond are an unexpected surprise. Thanks to each one of you who trusted me with all the hopes and dreams that you put into a fishing trip. I’ve made some wonderful friends along the way that I know will last a lifetime. Accordingly, I’ve allowed even more time for guiding next year.

What else for the new year? In 2019 you’ll see more Troutbitten ads from companies that I’m proud to partner with. That ad space drives the revenue to keep me writing, and every time you click through and buy something from one of those ads, you support this cause. I’ll keep honestly looking for good deals and good products to share with you.

In 2019, I’ll launch an online Troutbitten Shop. There you’ll find shirts, hats, stickers and who knows what else. I’m working on it — because you asked.

I also gave about twenty presentations last year. Most were in the Mid-Atlantic region, and I was fortunate enough to travel to Indianapolis and Johnson City, Tennessee, meeting (as always) die hard trout junkies, sharing and learning along the way. Thank you to every club and organization that brought me in.

Thanks too for the random packages that have ended up in my mailbox. It’s like there are a bunch of Secret Santa’s out there with the key to my P.O. Box lately. After I wrote the Troutbitten’s Favorite Books article, someone drop-shipped me Fisherman’s Summer, by Roderick Haig-Brown. A hearty thank you to that mystery giver — I’m on chapter four.

All of this Troutbitten progress is really quite humbling. I’m just a fisherman with a unique set of companion skills to keep this one-man-show clicking and humming along. It’s a good life. I have the trout stream that I always wanted, and now I have all of this too — a life on the water. And for that I’m forever grateful. I will not forget.

Merry Christmas, friends.

 

Photo by Matt Grobe

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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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.

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56 Comments

  1. Domenick,
    I think we should say thanks to YOU Domenick, your blog/media is wonderful, helpful, philosophical and entertaining all at the same time. As one of your followers on the other side of the pond I love tuning in for the latest installment. Here’s wishing you, yor family and your future ventures all the best for 2019.
    Jonny Spencer

    Reply
  2. Thanks for all of your insight and inspiration. I wish you the best this holiday and look forward to 2019

    Reply
  3. I’d say you’re welcome, but you built the empire and not us. That takes ingenuity, curiousity, and a passion. I have been following this site for some time and I push others to it regularly. It may be the best overall resource I have for my style of fishing.

    I know I can come here twice a week to immerse myself in a fishing literature that is subpar to none. The stories remind me of the nostalgia of some of my favorite trips, as well as drive me towards new passions and turns in my fishing career.

    On behalf of the Troutbitten community, thank you and merry Christmas. I can’t wait for February when I share a stream with you and we chase down a whiskey. I am not a drinker, but I hope on that day we share a stream and a shot. Regardless the outcome, I know I will be gaining invaluable knowledge and likely a connection/friend for a lifetime.

    Happy holidays Dom!

    Reply
    • That’s a memorable couple of paragraphs for me. Thank you, James. I look forward to meeting you in person also.

      Reply
  4. Love it. Thanks for all your hard work. Looking forward to the day I get to drive up your way for a guided trip.

    Reply
  5. Gratitude is a powerful lens. Thanks for digging deep and exploring why fishing is so much more than the fish count. Piece by piece you have created something mighty special, capturing and revealing truths with your words, photos and tips. Congrats!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Stephen. That’s a really cool perspective. When I back up and see all of Troutbitten as a whole, or consider everything on my hard drive in the TROUTBITTEN folder, it is quite a diary.

      Merry Christmas.

      Reply
  6. I was born and raised in Beaver County, PA, but I had to drop out of Pitt and find myself in Veracruz as a commercial fisherman before I discovered the fishing world. I set the net and the bait aside 35 years ago in the West, fly fishing rivers big and small, and even venturing back into the salt for bonefish and permit. I raised two excellent fishers, who are now about to raise their own. Your stories and photographs are a pleasure for me to read, especially because they are set in the Pennsylvania waters I have never fished. I am so glad that still today people manage to find their own way, live their own lives, and make a life on the water, surrounded by the trouty world so many of us love. As my friend Nick Lyons likes to quote his friend Norman McLean, people like you are “beautiful”. Happy holidays.

    Reply
    • That’s very kind, Kerry. Sounds like you too have had a wonderful life on the water.

      Reply
  7. Christmas is about rebirth, and many of us keep getting reborn every time we go fishing. Your contributions to my continual resurrections have been considerable. Thank you.

    Reply
    • I love how you put that, Alex. I also enjoy your thoughtful contributions here.

      Merry Christmas.

      Reply
  8. Domenik,

    When I was introduced to your blog, I was skeptical. Now I look forward to the email for another story. I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with many tight lines.

    Reply
  9. Domenick,
    A wonderful read this Christmas eve. A highlight this past year was getting to spend the day this past spring with you on the river. I wish you and your family a happy holiday and a healthy new year.
    Marty

    Reply
    • Thanks, Marty! Looking forward to seeing you in the spring!

      Merry Christmas, buddy.

      Reply
  10. Domenick,
    Thanks for sharing your life and love of waters and woods and trout with all of us. I always look forward to your posts and am often amazed at the depth of insight you demonstrate for a young man. Many never achieve what you have now. Merry Christmas to you and your family and tight lines in the new year.
    Best regards,
    Alton

    Reply
    • Merry Christmas, Alton.

      I’m probably a middle aged man by now . . .

      🙂

      Reply
  11. Thanks Dom. I’m with you. Good stuff.

    Reply
  12. If there’s a better blog out there on the technical aspects of nymph fishing I have yet to find it. A great resource.

    Reply
    • Thank, Greg. I’ll keep building on to it too.

      Cheers.

      Reply
  13. Thank you for the blog and Merry Christmas from Oklahoma!

    Reply
  14. Domenick,

    The passion you have for the written word and your ability to communicate via that medium bring your enthusiasm to us. We live through the words you write. We fish with you and your family. We wade in the streams feeling the riverbed below our feet. The cast, the take, the release reverberate through us because of your words.

    So thank you so much for your choices that led us all here, today.

    Christmas blessings to you and your family.

    Steve

    Reply
    • Thank you, Steve. That’s cool. I do think that writing as the ability to do what you describe, even more so than video. If written effectively, the reader can create a scene around his own experiences and desires, feeling and flushing out the story in a personal way.

      Cheers.

      Reply
  15. Domenick,

    You cannot imagine the pleasure you bring me through your writing. When you write about the rivers and streams of Pennsylvania it allows me to enjoy their beauty and tranquility while dreaming of days I might actually be able to explore them. I grew up with a trout stream literally in my back yard in Bedford, Pa. It was there I learned to trout fish. Unfortunately, the Raystown Branch of the Juniata was strictly a put and take stream so my fishing was limited to Spring time for the most part.

    Here’s wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy and productive New Year! If you continue in your present vein I’m sure even more success will come your way. Thank you so much for such a well written and enjoyable missive. I can’t wait until the next edition appears.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Norm. That’s very kind. Sound like you and I grew up near similar waters.

      Reply
  16. Another great article Dom – a man brave enough to follow his instincts, and make his own path through life away from the common trail.
    Thank you for this piece and the others preceding it! Best wishes from an angler in England.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Kerry. Honestly, once my wife and I had kids, she is the one who kept me on track toward these pursuits. I would no doubt have a 9-5 “regular” job if not for her.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
  17. Thank you Domenick. It’s been a great year and I have learned so much from you, here and on the water. Looking forward to getting out with you again soon. Merry Christmas to you and the family, have a happy and prosperous new year.

    Reply
  18. I agree w/ some of the others … We are blessed to have you to read and enjoy and I was one of the lucky guys to fish w/you .. and hope to again this season All my best Brian Mac Elroy

    Reply
  19. Merry Christmas Domenick.
    I live on the opposite side of the Globe. South Africa. May you prosper in all your endeavors. Your articles are something to look forward too, written is such a crisp and compelling manner. Your blog has truly been an inspiration to me and I am sure many others.
    Thank you.
    Wishing you and all the rest of the fly fishing pursuers well over the festive season.

    Ahmed

    Reply
    • Thanks, Ahmed. I never get used to the idea of anglers like yourself reading these words from so far away. What a cool world. Where do you fish, Ahmed?

      I like the description of “crisp” for my writing. My English Lit adviser would be proud of that one too.

      Dom

      Reply
      • Compliments of the new year.

        Apologies for late response. We fish the Vasl river here in South Africa for species called Yellow fish. It’s feeding habits is similar to that of Trout. It’s a real feisty fish. Domenick, you can google it for more info.

        I’m glad you liked the word “crisp” that I used and I trust that your advisor would be more than proud of you.

        Ahmed

        Reply
  20. Thanks Domenick. ” May you cast your flies into beauty and draw them back over the waters of peace.”
    from “Thy Rod and Thy Creel” by Odell Shepard. ( 1930 )

    Reply
  21. Domenick, please indulge me one more quotation:
    ‘Piscator non solum piscatur'( it is not all of fishing to fish )
    the motto of the Flyfishers’ Club, England.

    Reply
  22. Merry Christmas to you and yours Domenick! And thank you for taking the time to send out Troutbitten – I’ve learned soo much!

    Reply
  23. George Daniels linked me into your blog and hooked me into my most pleasant surprises of 2018. Love and enjoy your efforts and keep living a great life. Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  24. Domenick, Like these other comments before me, I am so glad to have found and subscribed to your blog. Really appreciate the sound advice, and insights you provide. Great content for this 70 year old to continue to apply to my cold water fishing pursuits.

    Reply
    • I’m glad you found Troutbitten, Stan. Where do you fish?

      Reply
      • Hi Dom,

        Brookville Tailwater, about 45 minutes from my home in SW Ohio is my home stream, but I try to hit up the West and East Branch of the Upper D, as well as the Beaverkill, and Willow, a couple of times a year, (Spring and Fall) and the Farmington less often. My oldest Son, turned me back onto flyfishing about 5 years ago, and taking a couple of floats down the South Holston with guide Patrick Fulkrod, really ignited the fire. Sold my BassTracker and am happy to walk in water in these – my retirement years.

        Reply
  25. It is tremendous how you’ve grown things and continue to thrive. All the best in 2019 and beyond! (I’m looking forward to that online store…)

    Reply
    • Thanks, Dave. I have about a hundred more things I’d like to get working on. All in good time.

      Cheers.

      Reply
  26. We are all recipients of the benefits of your formidable artistic, visionary, and coaching skills as well as your generosity with all things trout fishing. It’s so important and rewarding to have a mentor of your perceptiveness and expertise. I wish you great success as you develop your business endeavor and encourage you to stay as balanced in life as you seem to reflect in your commentary.

    Reply
  27. Congratulations Dominick. For me, reading about fly fishing and watching fly fishing media can be linear. I have many memories with many great people on the river. The late founder of Outward Bound (Ernest ‘Tap’ Tapley) taught me how to fly-fish in the Valle Vidal region of northern New Mexico in the early 90’s. I was lucky enough to have a friend that was his neighbor and he took us fishing in the backcountry. He taught us how to fish but the haunting memories aren’t necessary about fishing.

    I resonate with the way you describe your experiences. In fact, you inspired me to seek the river again in region that I didn’t think I’d connect with in the southern Sierras on the Kern River. When I first emailed you after reading your blogs, I referenced a connection with people and places as opposed to ‘conquering nature’ as a standout quality of your work. Those qualities still hold true. You fish and you love to fish, but it seems that you are enthralled by the overall experiences of people and places.

    P.S, if you haven’t read any Stephen J Meyers books (Notes from the San Juans, San Juan River Chronicles, Lime Creek Odyssey) , by all means, get on it! They are short and inspiring. Happy New Year to you and your family.

    Reply

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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.

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