When it comes to fishing, I’m often anti-social to a degree.
During the current pandemic, I’m glad I am. I keep my physical distance if I’m on shore and almost always fish by myself out of my boat.
There are several reasons for my mindset. I often fish with long rods - 8-9 feet when fly fishing and 7-10 feet when on shore. That automatically means physical distance. If I’m fly fishing, I don’t want to put a No. 10 woolly bugger or a No. 4 or No. 6 Clouser minnow in somebody’s head or back. My boat is a small (10 feet) Bass Hunter that two could fish out of, but not very comfortably (especially when fly fishing). Consequently, I usually fish alone.
Actually I’m not really anti-social. I fish with a group of guys from shore at times, but we’ve always kept our distance, especially when trying to find where the fish are biting.
During this pandemic, fishing is a great respite from things. It’s also relaxing to be in the outdoors doing something you enjoy. Gov. Mike DeWine tweeted that fishing is fine during the crisis as long as people observe the 6-foot rule.
On a recent outing, I had a gentleman keep walking toward me wanting to talk. I’ll talk and listen, just don’t do it closer than 6 feet. I had to constantly back away from him and finally tell him to keep his distance.
If you’re out fishing, enjoy it. But please follow the 6-foot physical difference. In certain areas, it has become apparent that anglers are not following this recommendation, especially when walleye fishing the the Maumee River. Such infractions have been disturbing to Toledo Metropark personnel. There is the possibility the run could be shut down because of such infractions. One should keep his distance from other anglers during the run anyway.
Signs at some metro parks say: Safe fishing. Practice social distancing. This area will remain open as long as long as visitors follow the 6-foot rule. Toledo Metro Parks.
Fremont Mayor Danny Sanchez on Wednesday afternoon closed all public fishing access to the Sandusky River in his city during the annual runs (white bass enter the river usually later this month). It was estimated that 75 percent of the anglers fishing in the Sandusky were from outside of Fremont. The mayor does not want outside anglers bringing COVID-19 into his city.
This was not an easy decision since it means lost money to the city. It was estimated in 2018 by the Sandusky County Convention and Visitors Bureau that the fishing from March to May in the Sandusky River has an impact of $2.5 million.
“We are very grateful for the number of anglers that are drawn to our community annually and under normal circumstances would welcome everyone. However, at this time of crisis, it’s not the fishing that is of concern. The city is unable to provide adequate facilities such as restrooms and hand washing stations for visitors. Our local grocery stores are struggling to keep their shelves stocked and the influx of sportsmen would deplete our resources even further. The decision was made for the health, safety and well being of our residents,” a Fremont city press release stated.
In Michigan, the Tippy Dam Recreation Area along the Manistee River has been closed due to a surge in visitors, who are not observing 6-foot social distancing. The area below Tippy Dam is one of the best trout, steelhead and salmon fishing areas in Michigan. The area also includes a good bluegill and crappie fishery. Anyone entering that recreation area by vehicle, foot or bicycle may receive a civil infraction with fines up to $500.
Michigan is among some states that has shut down guided charter boat trips. Again, the reasoning is that proper social distancing cannot be observed on such boats. Launching any kind of watercraft is prohibited in Michigan under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-in-place order.
All tournaments on the FLW circuit scheduled through May 3 have been postponed. Eight B.A.S.S. Tournaments scheduled between March and May have been postponed.
In a non-tournament situation, a bass boat is one kind of boat where anglers can observe the 6-foot physical or social distancing. In this situation, two anglers should agree to keep their distance and stay on opposite ends of the boat.
Do not touch an area where your fishing buddy has. If you have wipe the area down with a sanitizing wipe. If one nets a fish for the other, wipe down the net handle or any area on it someone has touched. Wear surgical gloves if you can. If none are available, work gloves are better than no gloves at all.
Because questions about how to decontaminate your personal flotation device are surfacing, the U.S. Coast Guard has posted recreational life jacket decontamination guidance on their website uscgboating.org.
If you think your product has been exposed to a virus, clean as recommended by the manufacturer and then let dry in warm, low humidity environment for at least 72 hours before reuse.
Time around or on the water is an enjoyable way to ride out this pandemic. Don’t get complacent. Make sure you are doing it safely.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL