What Are You Working On?

by | Mar 8, 2020 | 19 comments

It’s a question I ask of my friends and those whom I’ve just met. What are you working on? Because, whether we realize it or not, we’re all working on something.

“What do you do for a living?” is a common small-talk question. But I don’t ask that one much. I save it for later. What do you love? What are you passionate about? And what are you working on? Those are the more interesting queries that get to the core of each person.

So I’ve asked these questions for years. And it surprises me how often the answer is a blank stare. Some people simply don’t know what they love — yet. And that’s alright. Maybe they’re still searching for some passion in life. But inevitably, it’s those who light up with enthusiasm that I connect with. Tell me what you’re into. The topic hardly matters. I can listen for hours to someone who knows their craft from every angle, who understands what they love, why they care about it and what they plan to learn next.

I make this key inquiry of all my guests on the water. What are you working on? Most have a quick response. And because I’m a teaching guide, many anglers come to me with a handful (or a bucket load) of questions at the ready too. I love it. And while we all know that the best teacher is time on the water (learning from our own mistakes), we can certainly cut down the learning curve by absorbing what other good anglers have already discovered.

What are you working on?

I’m built for the long goal — for a marathon more than a sprint. And I’m old enough to look back at my own history to see the trends. Time and again, I’ve chosen life paths that have taken the long way around. I enjoy the journey, and maybe I like to struggle a bit while I’m getting there.

So what am I working on?

For the last few months I’ve been rebuilding this Troutbitten website, from the ground up. The words and ideas here aren’t just the core of my business. They are the tangible extension of who I am. My thoughts and ideas, my own passions and accounts of my history are contained in enough words here to fill five large books. And sharing what I know and love about fly fishing for trout is rewarding when I hear that it helps or inspires you to wade into a cold trout stream.

This website rebuild has been as I expected. I’ve done this before, and I well know the frustrating mix of the creative and the technical, of art and math, of design and development.

READ: Troutbitten | You Are Troutbitten

What you see now is the third generation of the Troutbitten website — TB-3 as I’ve labeled it in my backend files. (Screw you, Tom Brady.) Thematically, it looks very much like the previous generation, but that’s because I already liked the look, the feel and style of the old site. Years ago, I sampled every color that’s now on your screen from a favorite picture of a wild brown trout. And I’ve always prioritized simple but elegant navigation.

TB-2 was aging on the back end. It simply couldn’t handle the traffic demands. More specifically, I wanted more options for displaying the 550+ articles. I wanted to make it easier to find what you’re looking for and what you’re interested in. I needed better search features and more category layout choices. So over a year ago, I started the long process of building the Shop side of Troutbitten, and all the while I kept this main rebuild in mind. When I finished the shop last Christmas, it sat in its own WordPress installation, but much of the back end work for the rebuild was in place. So the last remaining (huge) project was to rebuild the main site, from the ground up, and then move the shop over to join the article side.

READ: Troutbitten | The Troutbitten Shop Launches: Tees, Hoodies, Hats, Stickers and Canvas Prints

I’m happy to say that it’s done. What you see here may not seem all that different, but that’s sort of the point. I chose to build my own theme from scratch, and I modeled it on the old site. This is a wide, solid foundation to expand upon for many years. I’m excited about the possibilities, and I’m ever so relieved to be at the end of another long, long trail.

Like good fishing goals, this kind of work is never finished, but that’s what I like about it too. Trout give us endless opportunities to refine our skills and ask the next questions.

Photo by Austin Dando

Here’s one more thing about long goals: It helps to let yourself enjoy the ride. If you allow too much focus on the ending — on the destination — it’s hard to accomplish the small things that allow you to get there. When you’re close to the end of a project, don’t allow that proximity to become a distraction. Just do the next thing, and trust that the reward is right around the corner. Likewise, if your goal is to fish Tricos well, then working on casting in mixed current with the necessary tippet slack at twenty feet is a good start — then thirty feet, fifty and so on.

With much of Troutbitten 3.0 complete, I can now get back to what I love most. I’ll have more time for fishing and writing. All of this is just in time for Little League season, as our daily practices begin this week. My guide season starts soon too, as I’ll do my last bit of travel for a couple more presentations in a few days. It’s almost like I planned it that way . . .

Now I can move on to the next long goal. And I know exactly what I’ll be working on.

Fish hard, friends.


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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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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  1. A new note here is always the highlight at the top of my emails, and this is a great post for a Monday morning. I think I’ll steal your question, I like it alot better than “what do you do?” which I’ve found to be as tedious to ask as it is to answer.

    The new site looks great, and it works great.

    As a native Bostonian, I’m half insulted at the Brady jab, and half on board – depends where he goes in the off season.

    • Ha! I wrote that in on my rough draft, because it was amusing to me. And I left it in, because I really, really don’t like Brady.



  2. Looking good, Dom. Only question is where did the search feature go? I found I used that quite a bit when I was here to key in on specific things.

    • Hi Heather.

      Thanks very much for pointing that out. The search icon was not on the mobile version, and that was my oversight. I just loaded the search icon and the cart icon onto the mobile menu for both article side and shop side pages.

      Incidentally, the Search feature is vastly improved with the new site, so you can better find what you’re looking for. Also, I will leverage that excellent search feature in some upcoming navigation pages that I’m excited about.

      Lastly, to all readers, if there’s anything you have trouble with on the site, if you see errors or can’t find what you’re looking for, always feel free to contact me. I need your eyes. Because it’s impossible to predict how the site will lay out across the range of devices that people use.

      Thanks again.


  3. I’m glad you spend time writing to pass along you’re wisdom. Yes time on the water is the best teacher. Each time on the water I’m working on reading trout water and improving my line contact. Your wisdom as well as writing from other experts help me accelerate my learning. Being a working man with a special need young man I look after there’s never enough time on the water.

  4. Great stuff Dom! I’ve enjoyed your wisdom and great stories through all versions. Plus, I’ve learned many useful things that I’ve been able to apply to my fishing. Kudos on finding your sweet spot with this endeavor. Hopefully we can do some fishing this year!

  5. New water and improving the technique.

  6. Dom: New to all of this and I seem to have all kinds of problems with “coiling” mono off the reel. Yes I stretch it out but a short time later its back to coiling if I shorten my line back on the reel. Yes I am using your recommended brand, style and weight of mono. Help would be appreciated.

  7. I had a friend (a physicist) whose first sentence upon meeting a friend was, “…so, what’s new and interesting?” And his enthusiasm for pretty much everything in life showed that he couldn’t wait to hear your answer. I can’t imagine how dull my life would be like if I didn’t want to keep learning new and interesting things, especially about fishing.

    When I was a kid, it was all about numbers of fish I caught. Later, it was all about catching big fish. Now, well, if I don’t learn something new every time I’m on the water, or I forget to appreciate the intangibles of being out there in such beautiful places, I’m disappointed in myself.

  8. Contact<
    Do you Kno a Hippie they call HEAD:)

  9. This guy hits on all cylinders always. You could get 500 a day to just work with any level fisherman,just if it’s to fine tune,let alone full out basics. Love this page

  10. TB3 looks fantastic and functions very smoothly, Dom! Thanks for all you do. Excited to see what you’re working on next.

  11. Great article, Dom! As we fly fishers age, we make adjustments – to behavior, to aspirations and to equipment. All in the pursuit of the “tug” or rise. One very frequent problem we face (I am 70+ yrs and fly fished since 14 yrs.) is the swollen prostate and the resulting frequency we have to pee. I have the great satisfaction of helping 100’s of old wand wavers (including me) to stay in the river and not on the bank. As you have written several times, I install my EZ-P relief zipper in any brand of waders. No more peeing in your pants or wearing Depends (yuk) under your waders! Bill bjuniata@verizon.net


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