Domenick Swentosky

There are two sides to every fisherman: one that simply enjoys being on the water (hoping to catch a fish), and the other that desperately wants to know how to put more fish in the net. Troutbitten aims to address both.

This Troutbitten site started as a creative framework for documenting the things that I’d like to show my sons someday: a diary of events, and of things learned on the water. I soon realized how deep this all would go.

This site is more of a book than a blog. Contained in the 550+ articles are tips and tactics, adventures, stories and philosophies. I give presentations on much of this material for clubs and schools. And Troutbitten has grown into a four season Pennsylvania fly fishing guide service.

I grew up on twelve acres of wooded hills, but with no trout streams. The south corner of my parents’ land drained into a valley that held water for most of the year, so I made rock dams and imagined that someday I may find a trout there.

As a child, I learned to fish live minnows on a spinning rod, and I began to absorb the natural connections to the woods and water than run deep in our family. My uncle taught me to read the river and trust what it shows. My father taught me the determination to be persistent. And my grandfather taught me to walk with the earth — not on top of it. This all grew inside me until fishing became more than an occasional recreation; it was a theme to build a life and family around.

Life is about discovery. And it seems I’ve spent a large share of my days learning about trout. I’ve grown to understand the places trout live, and I’ve come to know myself better . . . all while searching for a trout. The best trout streams harbor a quiet peace that I cannot find elsewhere, and I need to walk in these waters on a regular basis.

When I turned sixteen, my parents gave me the keys to the family sedan, and I drove the two-plus hours to Spring Creek in Bellefonte, PA. I followed a hand-drawn map, which the local fly shop owner had given me, and I fished with flies — leaving the minnows home for the first time since I was ten years old. I caught nothing that day, but the seeds of my future were sown. I knew that Spring Creek and the central PA region was special, and I did what I could to find my way back.

I went to Penn State after high school, then later finished at IUP with a BA in English. I minored in philosophy. I met my wife there, and after graduation we moved to within walking distance of Spring Creek. I was home. Finally, I had the classroom I’d always wanted. Wild trout were a short reach beyond my back door.

For six years I fished five days a week, in all four seasons. During the days I explored every corner of this region with a 4×4, some maps and a fly rod. At night I played music in the clubs of State College, PA.

When my first son was born, that freedom to fish was replaced with the responsibilities and gifts of being a father. I’ve now spent the last eleven years dedicated to raising two boys and being a good husband.

There is wonder in my sons’ eyes when standing knee-deep in rippling current. They smile when they feel the tug of a trout, through the line and into their hands. I believe they love the river and feel its comfort in much the same way as I do. I think it’s my job, at least, to give them that chance.

Family, friends, fish, the rivers, and this site — all of it matters, because every connection and experience is greater with a life on the water.

 

Read History

Read History

The Fisherman is Eternally Hopeful

The Fisherman is Eternally Hopeful

Rich had cancer, and it was spreading fast. We both knew this was our last trip together and that a dear friendship was coming to a close.

We fished a long morning, and eventually, I worked upstream toward my friend. From thirty yards, I could see the exhaustion in his face. Rich stood where a long riffle dumped into his favorite glassy pool. He breathed a long breath and gazed at the cloudy sky. Reeling in his line and breaking down his rod, he looked at me, and we smiled. We each knew we were at the end of something . . .

Eggs for Breakfast, Eggs for Lunch, Eggs for Dinner

Eggs for Breakfast, Eggs for Lunch, Eggs for Dinner

It was an early summer morning. Late June probably, and I was fishing my home water. Once the fog had lifted from the cold spring creek, I’d done alright. I caught enough trout to keep me moving upstream at a steady pace, hitting each pocket and every likely bank lie...

What to Trust

What to Trust

Note: This article was published to Troutbitten in January, 2016. It's revised and revisited here today. The tall man crossed the old railroad bridge above me. He paused at the midpoint, lingered and watched me cast for a moment, then he bellowed downstream to me with...

From Pennsylvania to Montana and Back

From Pennsylvania to Montana and Back

Early August in Montana, 2007. The afternoons burned hot, but the mornings were bitter and covered in frost. Our days swam together until neither the time nor the day of the week mattered at all. Dad and I had two weeks and more, long enough that the internal nagging and questioning about how long before all this had to end were sent away. We watched no television and kept the radio off. We visited no restaurants and no bars. With two coolers and a camper-freezer full of food, we restocked at a grocery store only once.  It’s as far away from everything and anything as I’ve ever been, for as long of a time as I’ve ever known. There were timeless, surreal moments, and they were fantastically long . . .

Boys and Dads

Boys and Dads

I opened my eyes to full daylight. And the first sound I heard was rain in the gutter behind the bedroom window. I’ve learned to gauge the amount of rainfall by the dripping sounds of water inside an aluminum tube. Without pulling the window blind, I understood that the storm was steady. Somehow, I also knew it would continue all day.

Down the hall and on my way to the coffee pot, my nine year old son caught up to me, and with his characteristic excitement for everything in life, he asked, “Dad, can we fish today?”

I have a self-imposed rule for parenting. There are three things I always say yes to: baseball, music and fishing. When either of my boys wants to throw a ball, strum a guitar or sling a fly rod, I do everything I can to make that happen . . .

This is Real Silence

This is Real Silence

Hatch Magazine published my story, "This is real silence." Excerpts . . . -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- . . . It can be dead silent on that mountain, quiet enough to remember a place in time with no interruptions, a day that started in a bustling, wide valley and...

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