We Don’t Want Easy Fishing

by | Jan 3, 2024 | 13 comments

I love this career, because building the Troutbitten media company is a daily reward, in so many ways. Because learning from other anglers and paying it forward is a great way to lead a fishing life.

I aim to build something that lasts, with each branch of the Troutbitten project. From filming, photography and editing, to recording podcasts and writing articles, these works are a creative outlet and a chance to hopefully inspire others to dig deeper into the outdoors and share their rivers with family and friends. Spending time with your boots in the water leads to more smiles and an easier spirit. And when enough of that goes around, the whole world gets a little better.

Trout fishing with a fly is an endless mystery. It comes with a set of questions renewed at each sunrise, and we prize the trout among game fish for its selective nature and discriminating disposition.

If trout fishing is easy, may I suggest that you’re casting to the wrong fish? A half century ago, a common mindset was to go where the fishing was easiest, catch and keep your limit, then go home. Hatcheries and fish commissions across the country helped foster this idea by stocking eager trout that were willing to play a simpler game. But catch and release trout fishing has changed much of that. And the art of the sport has taken prominence.

Make no mistake, wild trout fishing can be fast too. Our Eastern Brook Trout is not known for selectivity. The particular challenge of catching a brookie is in approaching the water and putting on the miles to get there. These trout welcome you into some of the most stunning valleys on earth, and they’re not about to snub your efforts if you’ve earned your way there.

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Most of us though, certainly those here with the Troutbitten crew, spend our best days chasing wild brown trout in some of the most challenging rivers on the planet. I’ve been around a bit, but I also have friends who’ve traveled the world in pursuit of tough trout, and they confirm that we cast over some of the pickiest trout anywhere.

We love it.

No forgiveness. No freebies. Just wild trout that require your best effort and then some. It might take fifty perfect drifts on a dry fly, among a scattering of lanes and pockets to find one trout that’s hungry and willing enough to turn on the green light. You might be an hour into cycling through streamer presentations and changing patterns before finally turning those flashes and refusals into real hookups and a few trout in the net.

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Austin

Then everything changes.

And we’re thankful for the challenge. It drives us. The unanswered questions scratch our curiosity.

“What if I try a speed-lead with my stonefly nymph next time out?”

We wonder and muse. We plan and prepare.

“Because those stoneflies are crawling to rocks and tree parts to hatch, I know they’re swimming and moving around. And they’re probably doing it more downstream, with the current, more than fighting against it.”

The habits of trout and their response to the myriad of environmental variables lends endless complexity to a day on the river. It’s a riddle with several solutions. And at any given moment, seemingly on the whims of Mother Nature or God himself, all that we’ve learned for the day shifts. The etch-a-sketch shakes. The table is reset.

From our best trout rivers, we’re dealt a fair game. We know what trout want. They look for something safe to eat. Something familiar. Something easy with a positive calorie reward for their effort. Something natural, with maybe just a little spark.

Trout fishing with a fly can be easy for a while. We might have days or weeks where the fish eat the same thing at the same time, every day, predictably. But that will change.

And we’re thankful for the complexity. Because easy fishing is boring, and no one builds an interesting life around it.

We don’t want it easy. We want to solve a puzzle — or at least put a few of the pieces together.

Fish hard, friends.

 

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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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13 Comments

  1. Dom and Team, been pretty dedicated to following Troutbitten for about a year now. Only fly fishing about 3 years at this point, but learn so much in an enjoyable way. I travel for work and love the podcasts on the roads to keep me focused. The Glossary episode was great. Anyway, wanted to say thanks for the efforts and I’ll be fishing on and hard for sure.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Mike. Glad to hear you’re getting after it.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
      • This is so true; the mystery of it all; the lost and missed fish are the greatest memories: “what was it?!” Forever etched into biochemistry.

        I feel that trout stocking has created a monster of unreasonable expectations. It encourages excessive harvest, lackadaisical river keeping, “gold rush” mentality. On repeated occasions have overheard the conversations of stock chasers and the common theme is, “they don’t stock enough, in enough places, like they used to, what’s my stamp buying me?” Etc.
        The big problem with this is it then infects all streams including non stocked ones where barbless c&r no bait rules apply. I find Styrofoam bait cups *every* time I fish these streams. Some have been obliterated during COVID.

        Reply
  2. Amen to that.

    I know several bass and crappie fisherman that will only fish from a boat with Livescope, or something very similar. Personally, I feel like its hurt fishing. Turned it into more of a video game for folks with too much money to throw at a boat. And added to the illusion of “if you have more stuff (especially if its expensive), then you’ll be more successful”.

    The river I spend the most time with my feet in has wild browns, a few wild brookies, a few stocked cutties and lots of stocked rainbows. And boy our browns are tough too. Many never or rarely get to see one. But according to our fish commission, they are swimming at a 1:1 ratio in the river. Yet the catch ratio for the wild ones is so, so very far from that mark generally speaking. And there are enough days where even the stockers will test your presentation skills, so that you revel in the really good days.

    I so do enjoy the reflection on a goose egg trip, trying to understand where I went wrong and what I should have done better. Or from a successful one that is burned into my soul. Gives my Rat-l-trap for a brain a lot to chew on.

    Reply
  3. Well said! It’s the skunking and stumping that brings me back. And I attribute all of it to the River Gods. Lately they have been smiling on me, after a few months of misery. In my skunked out hapless state, I changed my casting technique and my leader, and invented an effective dry/dropper combo. Bingo. I adapted my shee to the desires of the trout. Fun. As Little Feat said, “All I want in this life and time is some hit and run.”

    Reply
    • Thanks Dom for your writing. You bring out the essence of what fly fishing means to me. Here in South Australia, it’s a very marginal trout fishery and usually tough going with low, skinny, clear, slow moving creeks. The browns are super spooky. But on the rare times your lucky enough to hook a fish (and in my case, it’s luck…), its the icing on the cake.

      Thanks again.

      Matt

      Reply
  4. Your commentary makes a stated and implied preference for wild trout over hatchery trout. I agree. Your point that as fly fishers develop they lean toward wild trout and away from “easy trout” is another valid point, A note on the profound damage hatcheries and hatchery trout dumps do to fisheries should be added.

    “When you stock fish, you stock the size you want to catch. The hatchery fish suppress wild fish that would grow larger. But hatchery fish don’t live long enough to grow big.” Montana Fish Biologist Richard Vincent.

    Targeting wild over “easy trout” is a great idea. Shutting down hatcheries is even better.

    Reply
  5. I’ve been fishing the Truckee river over 20 years my fishing techniques change every seasonal change I’m after the big boys now and it’s totally an unorthodox technique that brings the big fish to my hand no matter the time of year.

    Reply
  6. Dom, another great article. Keep up the good work that you and the Troutbitten crew do including Becky who is the glue that holds everything together.

    Reply
  7. Well said, once again. You do such a nice job of articulating why we do it– why we chase the tough fish and embrace the ever-changing puzzle. If nothing else, it’s nice to know there are others who feel the same way.

    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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