Don’t Force It — Just Fish It

by | Jul 9, 2023 | 2 comments

Trout eat a well presented fly, or they don’t. So the key to catching fish and having fun comes down to three things: picking the right spots, showing trout what they’re looking for and knowing when to move on.

It takes a lot of river experience to fish with confidence. Reading water and picking the best spots is a skill to be studied. Likewise, presenting the fly and offering trout what they’re looking for takes a lifetime of learning and refinement. But that third element to catching trout — knowing when to move on — is easier. And it comes down to this: Don’t force it. Just fish it. That’s something to remember.

Around here, we’re late enough into the season that most trout anglers have surrendered. They’ve hung up the fishing rods for summertime, finding various reasons to stay home. Some of these are legitimate. Warming temperatures are perhaps the best reason to give trout a break. And on the main trout rivers, especially larger ones, there’s no doubt that mid-summer trout need a respite from angling pressure as temperatures rise.

READ: Troutbitten | PSA — It’s Hot Out There

But trout water is varied, in every region. There are tailwaters, spring waters and tribs that remain cold, even in the hottest months. Many of these locations are full of wild trout, but the fishing is technical in low water with the high sun of summertime. It’s tougher, the weather is uncomfortable, and a walk might be necessary to reach these cold locations. But while most anglers stay away, they are missing one of the best challenges of the year.

Approaching low, clear, sunny water and still catching trout is an accomplishment. Likewise, handling the winter elements, finding trout that are willing to eat, and putting a few in the net is another challenge to overcome. And if you can catch fish in these extreme conditions, you can catch them anytime.


Now go back to what I said at the start — the three things necessary to put trout in the net. Choose the right water, give them a good look and then have the confidence to move on.

This has been a theme for my own fishing in the last year or two. I’ve talked with my guided guests about it, and I’ve written articles. Keep moving. Cover water, and keep showing your fly to the next trout.

READ: Troutbitten | A Good Fishing Pace
READ: Troutbitten | Get a Good Drift, Then Move On
READ: Troutbitten | Cover Water, Catch Trout

This becomes most important in the shoulder seasons. When trout are less active or when they’re more spooky in technical water, you simply cannot force a trout into submission. In fact, wherever wild trout are found, “don’t force it, just fish it” is a helpful principle that leads to more opportunities, more water covered, more scenery and yes, more trout in the net.

Trout eat the fly or they don’t. Remember, it’s tough to convince a trout that has already said no. Don’t force it. Just fish it.

Fish hard, friends.


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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. Dom,

    This is a great article and is encouraging. Luke and I went out Sunday and fished a tailwater that was super low, just like Spring Creek when you took us out. Ordinarily, prior to getting guided by you, I would have been frustrated and given up when I didn’t have success immediately.

    Instead, I decided that I would alter my tactics to emulate what you taught me…look for the faster water and fish it even if it’s shallow. I ended up having the most successful time on that particular river I have ever had. At least 3x the amount of fish caught.

    The next step is to get better at seeing the strike…looking past that indicator as you teach us. I missed a bunch of nice fish because I didn’t get a good hookset even though I had them on for 10 seconds.

    Thanks to you and the Troutbitten crew for this amazing resource.

  2. best advise from forever.


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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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