You Are Troutbitten

by | Dec 22, 2019 | 75 comments

The whole thing started with four fishermen and a long email chain. That quickly became unwieldy, so Sloop and I set up a private message board for our small group of Pennsylvania anglers and titled it, Troutbitten. Each of us invited close friends — trusted fishermen — the kind of guys who could keep a secret, even after a few beers. And for a short while, a small, core group of guys called Troutbitten fished hard and shared their discoveries with one another.

From the beginning, my posts to our private forum were . . . more elaborate than most. For better or worse, I went on and on about trout fishing, about the way a sunset hit the water and how the wind whispering at the top of the pines blended with the riffling current to sound a lot like the flanger on Hendrix’s Axis Bold As Love. It was a creative outlet for me, a chance to stretch my writing wings. But I also teased out many tactical discussions from our group of experimental anglers. This is where the Mono Rig was born — or more accurately, all that is really possible with a tight line system.

The rivers tied us together. We fished the same waters. And even when I fished in solitude, it felt . . . familiar . . . knowing that my friends had fished the same undercut just last weekend — and understanding what tactics had taken trout. These ten guys were the fishiest people I’d ever met. And looking back, I realize what exceptional anglers Pat, Matt, Sloop, Steve, Bill, Troy, other Steve, Young Love, Chase and Rocketship really were.

Because good trout fishing is like solving a puzzle that divides into more pieces — just when you think you’re close to the end.

I think when the madness of trout fishing threatens to take over part of your life, you look around for others who feel the same about wild trout and moving waters. You want to believe that a life spent chasing a fish is legitimate — that it’s worthwhile, somehow. And finding others who share that same wonder lends validity to the whole thing. It makes the discussion with your wife easier, by telling her that you’re leaving for another three-day trip but you aren’t truck-camping all by yourself. “No, honey, Sawyer’s wife said she thought is was a good idea too. Hey, maybe you two should hang out while we’re gone.” Troutbitten was like a support group for the afflicted. It gave each of us a license to fish even harder. All my life, I had never met anyone else who thought about trout fishing like I did. And then I came to know the guys who would call themselves Troutbitten.

Nothing beats the beauty of a winter river

Now, so many years later, much of the knitting that wove together our original group has fallen apart. Some guys moved to different parts of the country, others had kids and lost their free time. Some grew tired of traveling for trout fishing, and others moved on to different species. The forum eventually stalled out too. But five or six years was a good run.

In truth, once I started the Troutbitten blog, most of my writing energies and creativity went in that direction. I had graduated with an English degree in 2003, with a minor in philosophy. And now, I quickly discovered how rewarding writing for a like-minded audience could be. In 2014, I started the blog and wrote the first articles for what would become the heart of my career. With no intentions other than enjoying the process of writing, I never imagined that Troutbitten would have an LLC and a trademark associated with it. I just enjoyed the process of building and publishing articles.

Pat wrote for a year too, until he eventually told me that writing took too much time away from fishing. I love that about him. He’s right. I’ve spent untold hours writing when I could have been casting. But for me, all of these are equal loves. The creativity of writing, of sharing stories and tactics, of photography and web design, and presenting all of this for a Troutbitten audience far wider than I ever imagined is just as rewarding as a good day on the water. In fact, it’s this creative process that keeps me in the game so much. Learning, guiding others and meeting more obsessed anglers keeps my ideas fresh and flowing. The chance to capture a great photograph drags me out before dawn. And writing the Night Fishing for Trout series has me continuing to search for answers out there in the darkness.

In truth, it’s you, the readers and supporters of Troutbitten that keep all of this going. It’s your search for knowledge and the pure enjoyment of everything on the river that makes you Troutbitten.

Growing up, I read all the fishing magazines I could get my eyes on. I bought books and videos too. But I felt like most of the authors weren’t writing for me. (They probably weren’t.) Much of the writing in fly fishing is for the casual angler, for the guy who fishes more destination waters than he fishes the river that flows through his backyard, even if it is full of trout. Many writers and anglers I encountered were far too proud about emphasizing the word fly in front of “fishing.” Who cares? In short, most of the writing about fishing that I read didn’t dig deep enough. These guys didn’t fish hard enough. They weren’t dirty enough. So when I started writing, I tried to capture not only the beauty that calls us to the river in the first place, but also the tactical mystery that keeps us coming back. Because good trout fishing is like solving a puzzle that divides into more pieces — just when you think you’re close to the end.

Winter

I believe that much of the fly fishing industry underestimates you. They think you’re here for a year or two and then you’ll be off to another hobby. They don’t believe that this is your way of life. And that’s why so much of your fishing gear falls apart. Because your wading boots weren’t built for a Troutbitten angler who fishes every day after work and twice on the weekends. You aren’t expected to walk very far away from the gravel lot, to put so many river miles on your waders or turn that many revolutions on your large arbor trout reel.

But we do. Don’t we?

In 2017, the opportunities that Troubitten presented became my life. I began a transition away from the seventeen years I’d spent as a professional musician. The traffic on the site reached a point where advertisers were eager to present to a dedicated group of die hard anglers — you. That ad revenue changed my future. It changed what was possible. Next, I started guiding because I had so many requests — enough to believe that I could make a living by guiding the kind of clients that every fishing guide wants to fish with — you. And now guiding is a large part of my career.

Last week, I finally finished the Troutbitten Shop. And after a full year of intricate work, I learned more about web development than I ever knew was possible. What started as a small project to make a couple of Troutbitten t-shirts turned into a full-blown shop with nearly forty tees, hoodies, hats, stickers and canvas prints. Why? Mostly because my Troutbitten friends asked for it. And because the added revenue from the shop allowed me to play my final music gig last Saturday. (Bittersweet? Yes, because I loved the musicians I played with. But it was also time to move on.)

Five hundred and fifty-thousand. That’s how many words fill the pages of Troutbitten. It’s enough for six long books (or one very heavy twenty-two-hundred page hardback). And among these chapters — these stories, thoughts, philosophies and fishing tactics — a handful of ideas stand out. These recurring themes are the building blocks. This is the foundation of Troutbitten.

As a writer, I’m proud that these self-published words are the roots of my company. It’s the writing that connects everything else: the guiding, the speaking and the shop. None of it means anything without the support of those five hundred and fifty-thousand words.

So I owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support through the years. Sincerely, thank you.

And I’ll continue to write, adding to the words, themes and ideas here. I’ll guide a hundred days a year. I just finished the last guide trip of my fall season, and now I’ll spend the winter working on a full rebuild of the Troutbitten site. I want to make it easier to find what you’re looking for, to make the categories more like chapters in a book.

Josh Darling (Wilds Media) and I will start shooting videos after the New Year, and watching those projects come to fruition will be a different kind of reward. Some things can be communicated only through images. For the shop, I have more designs on the way that I really love, along with a few custom items like hand-tied leaders and maybe a full Mono Rig kit. Who knows what the future holds?

All of this is on the horizon, because Troutbitten has become my career. So, cheers to you for making it possible. And one more time, thanks for everything. You are Troutbitten.

Fish hard, friends.

Merry Christmas
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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

VIDEO: The River Doesn’t Owe You Anything

VIDEO: The River Doesn’t Owe You Anything

Today, I’m proud to announce the launch of Troutbitten videos, in collaboration with Wilds Media. The journey begins with a video adaptation of, “The River Doesn’t Owe You Anything.” This story has been a Troutbitten favorite since it was published in the spring of 2019. . . . The river gives you what you need. The river gives you what you earn.

The Secret

The Secret

There are two kinds of secret places, I suppose: one’s that are truly tucked away somewhere unknown, and ones that lies right underneath a fisherman’s nose. This place harbors a little of both . . .

Riverside

Riverside

Smith and I hopped the guardrail as traffic whizzed by at sixty miles an hour. Smith went first, with his rod tip trailing behind, and he sliced through the brush like a hunter. I followed with probably too much gear for a three hour trip and a puppy in my arms. River is our family’s eleven week old Australian Shepherd, and with a name like that, he has no choice but to become a great fishing dog. Time on the water will do it . . .

Aiden’s First Brown Trout

Aiden’s First Brown Trout

Hundreds of times Aiden has snagged the bottom, pulled the rod back, and either asked me if that was a fish or has told me flatly, “I think that was a fish.”  This time, he finally experienced the certainty that a couple of good head shakes from a trout will give you . . .

Waves and Water

Waves and Water

. . . But when all of that dries up, when the travel seems too long, when dawn comes too early and when chasing a bunch of foot-long trout seems like something you’ve already done, then what’s left — always — is the river . . .

The Foundation

The Foundation

There is tranquility and stillness here — a place to do nothing but think. And that alone is valuable. Because there aren’t many places like this left in the world . . .

What do you think?

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

75 Comments

  1. Godspeed brother!

    Reply
    • Cheers.

      Reply
  2. As of today, the sun is coming back. This is a resurrection like no other. I wish you and your family a warm and glowing season of lights.
    Alex

    Reply
    • Same to you, Alex. Thanks for the support.

      Dom

      Reply
  3. Fortunate that I discovered your writing. Appreciative of the skills learned on our guided adventures. Very much looking forward to more in 2020 and beyond. Thanks for everything Dom! We’re Grateful that you’ve shared your Light with all of us!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Marc.

      Dom

      Reply
  4. Life takes many paths…I’m grateful ours crossed!
    Merry Christmas to you and yours Domenick and the Troutbitten family!
    Bruce B

    Reply
    • Thanks, Bruce.

      Reply
  5. Good stuff brother. Hard earned, well deserved success.

    Enjoy the day. And remember… PAP.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Chase!

      Dom

      Reply
  6. I was lucky enough to engage Domenick’s guiding service from the very beginning. This has evolved into an annual event. The experience has been envigorating but opportunity to hang out with him for a day on the river keeps me coming back. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Marty!

      Reply
  7. Always enjoy your writings. I retired after over 30 years and moved to a fly fishing paradise. Troutbitten fits my life now and I appreciate the time and effort you’ve undertaken to wrap words around this wonderful life.

    Reply
    • Nice! Good for you, Brian.

      Dom

      Reply
  8. Dom, thanks for including us all in the Troutbitten world. I always look forward to the next post, you are blessed with a great gift. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Bob. Same to you.

      Dom

      Reply
  9. Great story and I’m glad I have a bit- part in it. I’ve already notified my agent to expect a call…

    Reply
    • Ha. There ya go.

      Reply
  10. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge. Very much appreciated.
    Wishing you and your family a safe, happy holiday and a very prosperous new year.

    Reply
    • Same to you, Peter. Have a great Christmas.

      Dom

      Reply
  11. And Merry Christmas to you Dom.

    Reply
    • Cheers.

      Reply
  12. Dom,
    Thanks so much for sharing your fishing life in such detail; you’ve earned your success many times over with your honesty and integrity. Selfishly, please keep writing.

    Reply
    • You keep reading, and I’ll keep writing.

      Dom

      Reply
  13. You’ve been Blessed in so many ways Domenick (as we all have if we simply take the time to recognize it), but most importantly, you’ve faithfully shared those gifts with others!
    Whatever new journey Troutbitten goes on, I and many others will be along for the ride…
    May God grant you many more successes, and a Blessed Christmas to you and your family!
    -Greg

    Reply
    • Thank you, Greg. That’s nice, man.

      Dom

      Reply
  14. Congratulations! You show a lot of class, a lot of growth, and a wonderful example for us all. Also, I note that you have a wonderful supportive wife to make this switch. All great things.

    Reply
    • It sure does take the right life partner to pursue a career doing something that you love.

      Dom

      Reply
  15. Thanks so much. Your writings have been a great help

    Reply
    • Cheers, Tim.

      Reply
  16. Thank you Dom I’m a big fan Merry Xmas to all Ps I just bought a hoodie and hat … Will it help me catch more fish ??? ( I know the answer …… but I’ll still wear them ) Mac

    Reply
    • Yes. All Troubitten gear is guaranteed to put more fish in the net. You know that!

      Dom

      Reply
  17. Congrats and keep up the great work. Just tied some mono leaders and hope to develop some tight line skills. Always enjoy your thought provoking articles.
    Herb B.

    Reply
    • Good luck, Herb.

      Reply
  18. Well done and have enjoyed Troutbitten for many years.
    All the best in the future.
    Merry Christmas and Tight Lines

    Reply
    • Merry Christmas, Keith.

      Reply
  19. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Dom. We all look forward to gobbling up your newfound free time, on the stream or on-line.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Steve. Let’s fish.

      Reply
  20. Thanks for all you do for us. Best info on the net. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Reply
    • Same to you, Louie.

      Reply
  21. Merry christmas and happy new year keep up the great work

    Reply
    • Cheers, Norman.

      Reply
  22. Domenick, Thank you so much for the gift of ‘Troutbitten’ you have given us! The information you’ve shared on your website/blog is my favorite resource and has inspired me to get out, ‘Fear No Snag’, and get better!

    Reply
    • Right on.

      Reply
  23. Love all your stories. I’ve learn a lot since discovering Troutbitten. I try to get others to discover what Troutbitten has to offer as well. I’m still read articles that I haven’t read before. 1 of the best was your tip on getting fluorocarbon tippet cheaper by using seaguar which works great. I just wanna say all your hard work is much appreciated and well worth it! Thank you

    Reply
    • Thanks, Mike.

      Reply
  24. At 71, I find it a wee bit more effort to fish hard, but when I can’t, your writings help me feel I’m knee deep with a tight-line. I’ve gleaned a lot of sound advice from your blog and appreciate your writings. Good on ya for being such a good ambassador for our sport. Merry Christmas to you and yours Dom.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Logan.

      Reply
  25. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs. I have learned a lot of technical stuff as well. I plan to use the Harvey leader for my dry fly fishing next spring. The technical information that you provide is extensive and some of it is difficult to apply it to actual scenarios on the river. I think it will become easier when you start to incorporate videos. I wish you the best of luck with your new endeavors and i look forward to keep reading your blogs. Merry Christmas.

    Reply
    • Thanks Eli. All the advanced stuff will come together with time on the water. Reading things can seem confusing until you get to try it out live. Then come back and read it again.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
  26. So that’s how it all started. Sorta like a cult

    Reply
    • Much like a cult — minus the sinister overtones.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
  27. Thanks Dom. Merry Christmas.

    Reply
    • Merry Christmas, Gene.

      Reply
  28. Dom, Merry Christmas to you and your family. I am very glad I discovered your blog a few years ago. Thanks for all your effort to teach me new things. Hope to spend a day being guided by you sometime. Bob Garman

    Reply
    • Cheers, Bob.

      Dom

      Reply
  29. I’m retired and travel around the country with my wife in our Winnebago fishing for trout. I enjoy your blog because you wax so poetically about a fish. A silly fish.
    But I get it I actually totally get it One of the things I so dearly love about trout is that they live in such beautiful places !
    I have fished the Delaware but admittedly Pa streams were not high on my list of destinations. My plans for 2020 are all made but 2021 is wide open and I think I’ll come to pay your state a visit. You paint a lovely picture. donM

    Reply
    • Right on. The Deleware system is very different than the rest of PA fishing, honestly. Good stuff, but different.

      Reply
  30. The best & most helpful blog by far. Thanks for all you do.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the support, Larry.

      Reply
  31. Dom, you have a gift for expression on things that matter… family, trout, water, woods and seasons. And then you share those gifts with us. Thank you. Best wishes for continued passion, success and happiness in your endeavors. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Reply
    • That’s nice, Alton. Thank you.

      Dom

      Reply
  32. I was injured last winter and started 2019 undergoing a surgery that precluded me from my normal winter sports. I casted a fly rod for the first time on Jan 23 of this year, then found your website shortly thereafter. From mono-rigging through the strike zone to perfecting s-curves on top, Troutbitten has been my primary inspiration through it all. The thoughtfulness you bring to the learning process is refreshing. Thanks for challenging the status quo. Last weekend I hit day 75 on the water. It was -16 when I started the approach down to the stream. The fish were spooky and the water was crystal. I needed more distance than the mono was suited for, so, I tied on an indy just below my sighter. After a few practice casts I got the hang of the mono’s casting action. I fished hard.

    Reply
    • I love it.

      Reply
  33. Dominick
    Thanks for opening up your world to us who want to be better fisherman who read your blog to find those tested pieces of wisdom.

    Your regular entries have no rival. I look forward to each entry.

    God’s blessings to your family and your success in this venture your share with your readers!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Mike!!

      Reply
  34. Thanks for feeding us! I love that you want to see other people succeed through your sharing! Cheers Dom!

    Reply
    • I appreciate the support, Mike.

      Dom

      Reply
  35. Following from Arkansas. All the best in 2020!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Danny!

      Reply
  36. Dom
    We are fortunate to have you share with us your knowledge and experiences. I started fly fishing about 10 years ago and people would say I was obsessed with it all. I know now that I was just Troutbitten!!
    I was surprised to hear that you played your last music gig a few months ago. I hope that doesn’t mean that we will no longer hear the music from Ted and Molly you used in one of your the tying videos.
    Good luck to you in 2020.

    Reply
    • I hope to continue to use Ted and Molly’s tunes in future videos. Ted writes songs as often as I write articles.

      Reply
  37. Thank you for your friendship and the many memorable Thursday nights Paul and I enjoyed your music at The Ale House! Our weekends started on Thursday thanks to you!

    Reply
    • That’s very kind. Thanks to you and Paul for all of your support over the years, too. Miss you.

      Dom

      Reply
  38. This blog is an incomparable resource and making the categories more like chapters in a book is a brilliant idea. All the best for the future, Dom.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

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

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest