Social distancing. That’s the new catch phrase for everyone to follow. COVID-19 did that to us. And don’t forget to wash your hands!
At a time when a worldwide pandemic is threatening our day-to-day lives, it’s important to take the time and reflect on our outdoor experiences. Even get out of the house to do so and pick up a fishing rod to do some exploring. However, it’s important to put some distance away from other people. Use some common sense and give that 6-foot barrier some serious thought. In fact, when it comes to fishing, you can put a lot more distance than that when it comes to finding that secluded fishing spot. Six feet is easy to figure out when you have a fishing rod in your hand.
As the inland waters continue to be stocked around the state in preparation for the inland trout and salmon opener on April 1, think about going back to “old school” type fishing. Keep it as simple as possible and stay completely away from other fishermen. Try and stay away from each other when you are in a boat, too. These certainly are scary times and it’s simply not worth it to take any unnecessary chances.
Stocking around the state is being ramped up to get those fish in the water, a direct impact from COVID-19. The Randolph Fish Hatchery made the announcement last week that staff will be putting as many as double the stocking numbers early on to clear the hatchery out as soon as possible – before mid-April.
It’s important to get out and stretch those legs. Nature has a way of calming our fears. Fishing has a way of distracting us, allowing us to make time stand still, if even for a few hours. We need this time to relieve the stress we are experiencing every day.
The best distraction is the fact that the fishing has been great! Lake Erie perch fishing has taken off, the lower Niagara River trout fishing has been very good, the Great Lakes tributaries have been keeping anglers busy and the piers in Lake Ontario have been on fire. Get out there an enjoy some time outdoors.
One of the hardest hit groupswill be the guides and charter captains. If COVID-19 didn’t scare off clients, it was the fact they had to travel or were laid off from work and they just didn’t have the funds available. Keep that in mind when this all turns around – and it will – and normalcy returns to our day-to-day lives. Support local businesses as best you can.
I’m just getting ready to head out for a fish fry pick-up from a local restaurant to help the cause. I could thaw some walleye, perch or salmon out of my freezer if I wanted to but decided I would try and do more things for the community when I can. I bought groceries from a small market down the road and purchased new tires from a shop in town that was struggling. A little bit can go a long way if everyone chips in.
Just around the corner is another distraction that many have been waiting for – spring turkey season! The Youth Weekend Hunt is set for April 25 and 26, so make your plans now to get those junior hunters out chasing bearded birds. The regular season is May 1-31, giving you plenty of time to fill your tags. At the very least you can get your gear organized, sight in your gun and practice your calling. There are no excuses this year about not having enough time to get ready!
As we all learn to deal with this pandemic, realize that it could be worse. Say a prayer and think about the good times – and make some new ones – as we band together and move forward. And take this all seriously, including social distancing. Here’s hoping everyone is staying safe out there.