Who knew we’d be talking about social distancing and the threat of the COVID-19 virus as it runs havoc through the country? One good thing is that as they say, “we are not alone” on this, as everyone is affected one way or another. Many have been laid off, businesses closing, schools are closed and parents have to work and homeschool at the same time. Other states have closed fishing season for commercial and also to recreational angling. Numerous events and shows, too many to count, have been canceled and/or postponed. The good news is that according to The Centers for Disease Control, the tactics requested by the state and federal government are working to slow the virus. I know a few people with it and its serious business, a few are recovering fine, some are in trouble, one friend found out she’s a carrier and asymptomatic [no physical signs of having it], which is why her boyfriend is in intensive care.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued some guidelines to keep people apart, such as staying 6 feet away from others, even when outside. That’s the length of a fish pole, standard 6 feet medium action spin rod. Or for the astute walleye angler, three 24-inch walleye. So, if you are fishing and someone gets close and you can swat them with your pole and they yell “ow!” and some other superlatives, they are too close. Fly fisherman are to stay 8 feet 6 inches or 9 feet away from one another. An errant back cast is always a good “warning shot” to other fisherman crowding you. Barbless hooks are suggested if you want the fly back … just kidding, not.
The DEC has shut down all guiding and charter boat operations for the time being, which means my charter business is on hold this spring. It also means our trips to Lake Ontario with a few guide buddies for steelhead, brown trout and salmon are postponed until they are allowed to have customers. While it’s a devastating financial blow to many fishing operations, if you think about it, most clients/customers come from other parts of the state or country to fish our local waters. They could potentially carry the virus in, and we get close on a boat, so better safe than sorry.
Despite the doom and gloom, fishing and hunting have not been canceled here and if everyone uses common sense about groups, gatherings, and proper use of public boat launches, we should stay open and have the ability to get out and enjoy the outdoors. I see the public fishing area in Rock City Falls were full of fishermen and families looking for some trout. People are fishing the Mohawk River and the local kids are hitting the Cayadutta Creek running through Gloversville and Johnstown. It’s great to see everyone out and about. Getting outside for some local fishing and hiking is beneficial to the body and soul. It’s proven to relieve stress, lower blood pressure, increase the immune system, and put a smile on a face, nothing better I say.
If you don’t have a fishing license, and you want to be responsible and do your civic duty to stay apart from people, you can get your state fishing license on-line at: www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6101.htm. The DEC stocks streams with trout and the listing can be found on-line as well at: www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/20sprtroutstock.pdf.
Here is some other useful information regarding fishing that is available online, and by not going to a crowded store: Current regulations — freshwater fishing regulations, trout fishing info — techniques and methods, and methods for handling fish — catching and releasing trout. All this information is available through the DEC websites.
It’s obvious that with school out and some with reduced work hours — or out of work — families are spending time afield. I stopped into Harnish Outdoor Supply to get some beaver lure for trapping and Chris Harnish said he was out of beaver lure. How could that be I asked? Well, the situation we are in has given a lot of people who didn’t have time to trap the time now. The benefit of earning a buck or two trapping has rejuvenated the trapping scene apparently.
Well, in closing it’s good to reflect on what we do have, and that’s an open hunting and fishing season so far; other states don’t have that. We have time to spend with our families and hopefully passing on some traditions and woods skills. We have time to enjoy and appreciate wildlife and the natural beauty of the southern “foothills” of the Adirondacks and Mohawk Valley. Its spring, and we’re not going into a cold winter, so we have great weather and the lakes and mountains to enjoy. Mud season will be over soon and the hiking trails will be nice and dry for family hikes to mountain tops and remote lakes and streams. Hang in there everyone, this craziness will be over soon and I think we will emerge as a stronger community and better as people, in general. They talk about the “new normal” once this is over. Not sure what that is, but as always, we’ll figure that out when we cross that bridge.