Taking advantage of a long day the key for being outdoors

Saturday was the 2014 summer solstice. For those of you who do not know what that means, June 21 was the longest day of the year in terms of daylight.

The extra time during the day allowed me to do quite a few things before the sky finally became dark at nearly 10 p.m.

That morning I ventured to my camper in the Pine Creek Valley to enjoy the long day. The plan was to spend some time at the campground, do some fly fishing in the evening and finish the night around the campfire.

Upon arrival it did not take long for the activities to start. First, my kids pulled their bikes out of the camper, strapped on their helmets and did a few laps around the property. Next it was time for wiffleball. Then they painted some rocks before grabbing a bite to eat. Finally, we headed for the creek.

Once we pulled into the parking area near my favorite hole, the Knepp family unloaded our SUV. Out came the bikes, fishing gear and items for the little ones to play with.

While many anglers spend the majority of the day fishing, I am usually only in the water for an hour or two before dusk to catch the last hatch of the day. By this time the large crowd of fly fishermen slims down, along with water traffic from kayakers, canoers and those using tubes.

During these evening hours, my kids stick to an order of activities from the time we arrive until we head back to the camper.

Once the water begins to warm each summer Bella and River hit the water running when we first pull in streamside. They swim, catch tadpoles and skip rocks while the sun is overhead. Once the evening approaches, it is time for more wiffleball, biking on the rails to trails and arts and crafts. Their night along the water usually ends with ice cream from a local general store as they watch me make my final few casts.

Saturday’s fishing got off to a quick start as I spotted several trout sipping blue-wing olives. It did not take long before I landed and released a few small rainbows. The action eventually slowed and I took a seat on a stump and searched for more rising trout while watching my kids.

Before I started fishing again I waded over to a friend who had not been able to hook any trout and gave him a fly that seemed to be the go-to pattern that evening.

When the trout started to feed again I was able to land several large brown trout while losing a few others. If my children saw me while hooked up, they would cheer and ask what kind was on the other end of my line.

The last trout released was the eighth of the night. I also lost four others after extended battles. It wasn’t a record book outing by any means, but a good, steady night of tossing dry flies to feeding trout.

Without a watch, I had no idea what time it was when I decided to wade toward the picnic table where my family was awaiting my return. I knew it was past the time I normally called it quits, but the solstice provided time for a few bonus casts. On the way there I decided to stop for one last attempt to trick a fish into taking my fly as it floated downstream.

I hooked a nice brownie and made my way to the bank and handed the rod to my son River as I do with my last fish of the evening most outings. I made the mistake of not battling the trout myself more before giving the three-year-old the reigns.

With net in hand, I watched the fish make one last run and pop the hook when River continued to reel. The fish was going back in the water anyway, but I would have liked a photo of the little guy with the lunker. Regardless, he was still happy he got to fight a trout.

I waded back out into the stream to try and hook River another fish to land. By that time only one other angler remained on the creek. Soon he started to laugh when he heard my daughter say, “Daddy, it is time to quit fishing!”

A few minutes later my family was around the campfire as we enjoyed s’mores, hot dogs, sausages and mountain pies. After the kids went to bed I stayed out for a few more hours and discussed the fishing and shared stories with a friend as the longest day of the year eventually gave way to June 22.


Zach Knepp writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.