Fishing amid the pandemic? While many states banned fishing temporarily as the lockdown began in order to deter gatherings, the broad answer now, to the delight of many, is yes — with relaxed restrictions that vary from state to state.
According to the fishing website, On the Water, most states are encouraging fishermen to spend time on the water provided they maintain standard safety measures. Like several sports, fishing is often all about “social distancing,” as it is an often solitary activity. In addition to meeting and exceeding that standard, fishing almost always provides stress relief and a boost for mental health. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can abandon guidelines. Here are a few suggested by the site specific to those ready to enjoy fishing.
• Stay home if you are sick or showing or feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, coughing or troubled breathing
• Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. A good way to measure this is with your fishing pole. Hold the pole straight out in front you. If you can turn in a circle without hitting anyone, that is a safe distance.
• Follow CDC guidelines, such as wearing a mask in public. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available.
• Drive to your fishing spots only with your immediate family members and only if everyone is feeling well.
• Don’t share fishing gear with others. Each angler should have their own fishing gear (rod and reels, bait, lures, towels, pliers and other personal items).
Also remember, while it’s extremely safe on the water by yourself, other risks do present themselves.
Travel, fueling and crowds on boat ramps can be conduits for exposure to the virus. You’ll also find that while many ramps might be open, public facilities such as restrooms are not. Experts recommend you wear a mask in public around others, as well as gloves to protect yourself from touching objects that might be contaminated.
While it’s true many enjoy fishing by themselves, others associate time on the water with the company of a buddy or two. Minimizing contact during these types of outings can be a challenge. You should agree to fish at opposite ends of the boat and to avoid sharing tackle or any food or beverages you take along for the trip.
Even the close proximity of sharing a ride could present some risk. If you choose to do so, wear masks and keep the windows down to allow air to circulate out of the vehicle.
As with any activity outside your home the guidance is clear — enjoy the fresh air and mental health benefits, but follow common sense and take precautions.